Firstly, condolences. It’s a difficult time, and there’s much to process. You’re probably here to find a way to expedite the funeral and burial rites so you can have time to mourn and reflect on your unfortunate loss. One of the things you need to select is the type of gravestone you’re going to immortalize the deceased with.
Choosing a gravestone can be a somber yet peaceful process. Having a beautiful resting place to visit in the coming years can help you stay connected with your loved one. To make things easier, here’s a simple guide on all the different types of stone for gravestones.
What’s A Gravestone Called?
A gravestone is a large sculpted stone or marble piece with words engraved into it to commemorate the life of a deceased individual. It is used by families that practice the burial ritual for their dead. Some cultures cremate and some cast their deceased loved ones into the ocean.
Gravestones are part of an age-old tradition of burying the dead at a place people can come back to for remembrance, such as a cemetery.
It’s popularly believed that memories with the deceased keep your connection as well as those deceased people alive. And that those memories need to be given a lasting shape in the form of an honorable burial with a stone that will stand intact for decades to come. The gravestone and its words are an homage to the deceased.
Different Stone Types of Gravestones
Granite is an exquisite stone with natural beauty. It has the sturdiness of marble and can withstand high heat, freezing temperatures, and acid rain. It’s practically priced for what it offers so you won’t get ripped off.
The best part is that it lasts virtually forever. There are granite stone engravings from 100,000 years ago that still exist today in perfect condition.
Marble is the most exquisite material you could purchase for a gravestone, and it also offers lots of colors and designs to choose from. A gravestone made from marble won’t lose its luster, nor will it be affected by high temperatures, freeze-thaw weathering, or acid rain. It’s practically resistant to everything.
Marble sculptures from ancient history still hold every last grain of their original detail. The only problem is that marble can be costly to purchase, have engraved, and installed.
Image source: Pinterest
Bronze is an alloy consisting primarily of copper with perhaps 12-12.5% tin. It offers tremendous durability and resistance to weather.
The only problem is, bronze develops a thin brown layer of patina on the surface for protection. Over 30 to 50 years, this patina can turn a shade of blue/green in response to moisture or other agents, which may not be to your liking.
It is possible to reverse this corrosion and restore bronze to its original color through chemical therapy but that can be a costly venture. Bronze makes for a beautiful and lustrous gravestone, but a short-lasting one relative to the other stones mentioned here.
#4. Concrete Or Cement
Concrete is a versatile material to use for gravestones because it can be easily shaped in many different ways. Concrete, as you may know by walking on pavement, can withstand a lot of force and all kinds of weather.
The only problem is that it can be susceptible to mold or moss, especially during the rains. It also needs to be cleaned and maintained regularly.
Iron was the most commonly used material for gravestones in the Victorian era and can still be used today. It’s tougher than concrete. Cast iron can last for eons and can be molded into any shape you want.
Using pure iron, however, may be a bad idea as iron is susceptible to corrosion. It’s better to opt for iron alloys that provide much stronger resistance to humidity and oxygen.
#6. Sandstone and Limestone
Sandstones and limestones are both widely available and very easy to carve. You can make all kinds of beautiful designs with sandstone and limestone.
The only place they fall short, unfortunately, is the most important one — durability. They’re highly susceptible to damage and erosion due to rain or floods. A freeze-thaw cycle can also shatter these stones with ease.
Fieldstones are stones that form naturally and are found almost everywhere. They’re your common everyday rocks and pebbles.
Fieldstones have been used to build structures since ancient history, some of which are still standing today.
Depending on what kind of fieldstone you’re using, their life can be endless. Some cemeteries tend to have rules about fieldstone graves though, so you should check them out before deciding.
How Much Does a Gravestone Cost?
The cost depends on a variety of factors such as the material you’re using, size, the amount of detail you intend to add to it, and transit costs. The average cost of a headstone in the US is USD 1,000 and can go up to USD 10,000 for premium headstones such as pink granite.
What Headstones Last the Longest?
The absolute longest-lasting material for headstones is quartzite, a type of hard, non-foliated metamorphic rock. Quartzite is formed when heat, pressure, and chemical activity trigger a metamorphosis. The rock undergoes recrystallization, combining sand grains and the silica element that holds them together like cement.
The result is an incredibly strong, resistant, and long-lasting stone that doesn’t change for thousands of years and needs no maintenance. Weathering can cause minor damage, but it would take a couple of centuries before it starts to show.