Choosing the Right Headstone Dealer

When buying a cemetery memorial for your loved one, you want to make sure you get it right the first time. Unlike purchasing most any other product or service, you not given the chance to try again if you are not satisfied the first time. The cost, let alone the fact that a monument is one of the final purchases made for your loved one,, It is very important to take your time required to ensure you get it right the first time. The first place to start is in evaluating the monument dealer you plan to purchase from. There are many schools of thought when selecting criteria to apply to someone who is doing work for you, but let us consternate on the three important items. They are– product quality, customer service, and price.

Product Quality

The last result of all your efforts in buying a headstone is to have a lasting headstone to your loved one. One that can be peacefully looked at for years as you visit your loved one’s grave. It is very important that the quality of the product and the craftsmanship is first rate. How do you know what’s first rate? – you might ask. Depending on the type of headstone and the material used, there are several things to consider. Here are the most important ones in two categories --

Sandblasted Monuments The monuments are made using high pressure air and sand that’s used to carve the design and lettering into the surface of a granite or marble monument. Here are some things you should look for :

Adequate detail of lettering - Look for deeply cut lettering and lines in the design. Most companies paint in the lettering and design for contrast and this is fine.

Shallow carving / etching – this type of carving is okay when it is on a dark color of granite such as jet black. In this case it is preferable to lightly carve the lettering into the stone’s surface as this will still allow light to reflect off the carved areas providing the best contrast.

Lettering - should have fine edges and be aligned with spacing. Make sure the floating areas of letters such as A, B, R, and P’s are intact. In some cases these parts of the letters tend to be blown out by the high pressure from sandblasting.

Designs - the design should look great and appear pleasing to the eyes. Of course on black granite, surface will work just as well, but most people choose to have deep lettering with white paint for contrast on black granite. Since granite is a product of nature it is acceptable for solid granite colors to have blemishes. These slight imperfections give your loved one’s headstone’s its unique character. During the quarrying process it is very hard if not impossible to procure a perfectly even colored piece of granite.


Bronze grave memorials consist of a bronze plaque mounted to a granite base and in most cases have a flower vase. They are made using a casting method in which molten bronze is poured into a mold made from sand. There are only a few of bronze memorial companies which sell through a network of headstone dealers. Here are some things to look for if you have a chance to inspect samples of bronze plaques. Lettering and dates – Look for the lettering and dates to be aligned straight without being crooked.

Relief work – Raised spots of the bronze design, also known as relief work, should have adequate definition and the raised portions should be properly highlighted.

Bronze finish – The paint and clear coat should be applied evenly. The raised parts of the design and lettering are typically polished . This provides a nice contrast and should look as good as examples you see in the brochures or images provided.

Product Price

Price is one of the most important aspects of any purchase. You don’t want to overspend, but you don’t want buy on the cheap and sacrifice on quality either. Yet in the funeral industry, it has been reported that some charge prices that reflect profit margins in the 1000% range. How can you make sure you are getting a good price on a quality monument? Typically cemeteries and monument companies will be priced higher, but offer you the option of seeing actual samples. Online monument dealers can only provide a showroom if you are willing to travel, but do offer much better pricing on many of the same products that the cemeteries and headstone dealers carry. In many cases it is hard to compare like characteristics when purchasing a headstone memorial. In general cemeteries, monument dealers, funeral homes and online monument sellers get their products from a variety of different sources making it almost impossible to compare pricing on an even field. The best way to compare pricing is to make sure you are getting a quote for the same size headstone or bronze memorial from each company. Also, make sure the following headstone attributes are the same or similar for comparing :

Headstone design

Granite color

Monument accessories - such as vases or ceramic pictures.

Customer Service

Customer service is an important role in the purchase of any item, but in situations where feelings are involved it is often regarded as the most important aspect of the whole experience. Since a person buying a monument is at some stage in the process, it’s always important to see this fact and for a headstone sales person to help them with the most care and consideration possible. Sadly some sales people in the death care business who attend to view this as an opportunity and take advantage of their grief to increase the size of the sale. Since you are purchasing a customized headstone that can take weeks to finish, there is a chance that you will be in contact with the company throughout the duration of the whole process. Here is a simple checklist of things to look for:

Do they listen to what it is you want and are you confident they understand you?

Are they available when you contact them, or do they return your calls/emails within a reasonable time?

If they make promises, do they keep them?

If they make a mistake will they correct it ?

Many of these things are hard to determine prior to purchase.

Final Details

After the sale is finished you want to be able to look back on this purchase with no regrets. Making a bad choice in choosing the wrong headstone dealer will not only add strain to an already difficult time in your life, but there will be a constant reminder each time you visit your loved one’s beautiful monument. It is uncommon for headstone companies to make mistakes on monument orders, but you want to feel comfortable that they will work with you . Never be afraid to ask what kind of mistakes they have made in the past and how they fixed them. If a headstone dealer says they have a better quality granite or bronze than someone selling online that they are not familiar with , you may want to consider moving on.


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