As cremation becomes more and more popular across the United States, cremation urns are becoming a more and more common sight across the nation. But many urns of today are a far cry from the traditional “Grecian” style (though, to be sure, that style is still readily available and popular). The large selection of urns available through retailers today can prove overwhelming, a consumer guide is necessary. This article aims to answer the question that often proves to be surprisingly complicated: “Which urn should I choose for my loved one.”
Uses for an Urn
The first thing to consider when searching for a cremation urn is where it will likely end up. Urns intended to be buried or permanently stored, out of sight, in a columbarium need not necessarily be as sophisticated or complex as an urn that will be displayed in a home or some other public place. Plenty of simple, stylishly sophisticated, and relatively inexpensive urns can found in most any retailer’s collection that will be entirely suitable for brief display at a memorial ceremony followed by permanent transfer to a burial site or columbarium. These are probably the best choice if an urn is not intended to be on permanent display (whether public or private). And, while a decision to purchase one of these types of urns narrow’s one’s options considerably, there is still typically a sufficiently large number to choose from to assure that your loved one’s personality is adequately represented, and honored, by the choice.
Likewise, if an urn will likely end up on a special shelf – whether it be in a home or a public place – most any retailer will have a surprising number of artistic options that will capture and represent your loved one’s memory perfectly. From religious scenes to tributes to one’s favorite sport, the memorial products industry has an almost overwhelming number of options for beautiful urns that will carry anyone’s legacy forth, gracefully through the ages in just about any indoor setting.
The next thing to consider as you search for a cremation urn is the size. Urns today can be categorized in three ways according to their size: Keepsake Urns, Individual Urns, Companion Urns.
Keepsake urns are the smallest size and are intended to hold only a small portion of a person’s cremation remains. (Small is a relative term, of course. Some keepsake urns are large enough to hold up to a about a third of the ashes, and others will hold only, say, a teaspoon or so.) Individual urns are probably the most common. As their name implies, they are designed to hold all of the cremation remains of a single individual. And, finally, companion urns are large enough to hold the remains of two people, such as a husband and wife. (Companion urns are, further available in two main styles: divided or combined. Divided urns are designed with the intention that the two people’s remains will be stored in separate compartments. Combined urns, on the other hand, have one large compartment in which the urns of both people are combined together.)
Many urn styles are available in all three sizes, but, then again, many are not. Consumers are advised to check with their retailer about the availability of an urn they may see listed in one size category but would like to buy in a different size. It is often available directly from a manufacturer in a publicized size.
Styles and Materials
Once you have determined the use and size of your urn, it is time to begin considering your many options for style and material. The key to this step of selecting an urn is to not rule out any option too early. At any retailer’s website, you will likely come across hundreds (or maybe even thousands) of urns to choose from, and it’s best to spend a little time pursuing as many as you can before making a decision.
Urns are available in wood, marble, granite, glass, silver, bronze, clay and, in the case of biodegradable urns, even cloth. (And that’s just the start of the list of materials from which urns are made today.) And each of these materials has its own unique properties that affect the artistic features of the urn you will select.
Many, if not most, urns available from the memorial products industry today can be outfitted with features that personalize the piece to suite the loved one it memorializes. Metal plaques can be attached to many urns announcing the name and important dates of the deceased and, in some cases, a personalized message can be engraved directly onto the surface of the urn itself. And, in still other cases, urns can be individually crafted by an artist following explicit instructions from the purchaser. In the case of glass urns, some manufacturers even offer a service whereby a family submits a small portion of the cremation remains which are then hand blown into the piece itself by the artist.
Personalization Options are available on far more urns that a consumer may realize, and, while they do add to the cost of the urn, the amount is rarely a prohibitive factor. Inquiring from one’s urn retailer about personalization options is usually a worthwhile endeavor.
This consideration we list last, but, for many wanting to remember their loved ones, it is the most important. It is important to remember that there is no shame or dishonor in being a frugal shopper for a cremation urn, and it should be pointed out that cremation urns are often some of the most reasonably priced memorial products available today. (Especially when compared to headstones and caskets.)
Prices literally range from less than $100 to more than $4,000. The least expensive urns are those stylist pieces that are most suitable for brief display at a funeral followed by burial or storage out of sight. And the most expensive urns are those that involve considerable artistic skill to create. Prices are also based on the quality – and sturdiness – of materials. Biodegradable cloth urns are typically among the least expensive available, and they are much less expensive, by far, than their bronze, or even hard wood, counterparts.
If you follow these guidelines as you search for the best urn for your loved one, it is certain that you will not go wrong in your final choice.