New England Monument Dealers Association


Frequently Asked Memorial Questions

Memorializing a loved one can be an intensely personal and emotional experience.  Yet nothing in the human experience is so vital to our sense of personal history.  No other purchase is transacted with so little knowledge as when the bereaved selects a memorial.  The following questions and answers are provided to help you with the selection process.

  1. What is granite made of?
    Granites are formed of an aggregate of crystals which are molded together without any interspace between them or which enclose one another. The magnificent crystallinity of granite is a striking characteristic.
  2. What colors of granite are available?
    Granite colors fall into three basic color families with many variations of each. They are the grays, the most popular in New England, browns/burgundies and blacks.
  3. Where is the granite quarried from?
    Granite comes from all over the world however most of the gray granite comes from Vermont (Barre), the browns/burgundies from Quebec/South Dakota/India and the blacks from Pennsylvania/South Africa. Additionally some granite in varying colors/qualities comes from China and India.
  4. Are there standard memorial shapes?
    Yes, however custom designed shapes are very popular. The standard shapes are: upright (most popular…traditional and contours), slants (bevels/pillows) and grass (flat).
  5. Why do some memorials crack?
    Although granite is incredible and enduring, lesser qualities are porous. Water can seeps into the pores, crack and destroy the memorial.
  6. Does granite stain?
    Yes, lesser quality granite can be stained by the outdoor elements. Staining maybe permanent and could destroy the memorial.
  7. What should I know about imported granites?
    Imported granites from China and India that are custom crafted typically have a much longer lead time (4/6 months) than domestic granites. The quality of the delivered craftsmanship may not match the craftsmanship seen during the purchasing cycle.

    Although undocumented officially the granite polish may initially appear to be equal to domestic granites but maybe susceptible to color changes or show signs of iron deposits especially in the engraving areas. As imported granites are handled by many people and companies during the crafting and shipping process, the opportunity for damage is increased.

  8. Why do some memorials lean and other don’t?
    While the age of the memorial maybe a factor more often leaning/falling over is caused by a poorly constructed, shallow foundation. (The foundation is a concrete slab poured into the ground. At Worcester County Memorials our foundations are 3’/4’ deep.) Surprising some companies will pour a foundation only inches thick and almost guarantee a costly repair.
  9. Why do some engravings look better than others?
    Although the skill of the artisan that does the engraving is very important, the depth of the engraving has a large impact, the deeper the cut the more visible it is. Engravings usually come in 3 different levels: flat (similar to line art), shaped (has some depth) and deep cut (maximum depth and visibility).
  10. What are the elements that make up the cost of a memorial?
    The cost of a memorial varies by the following elements: size (quantity of granite), color (supply and demand), quality of granite, amount of craftsmanship and warranty coverage/duration..
  11. Are memorials covered by a replacement warranty?
    Yes, the leading integrated granite provider offers differing warranties depending upon the quality of granite purchased and the warranty duration. Check with the memorial company to verify they are committed to 100% customer satisfaction for the long term.
  12. Why do prices vary so much between dealers?
    As the saying goes “you get what you pay for” and it applies here. Usually the biggest difference is in the quality of granite, design, craftsmanship and warranty. Additionally some prices include freight, installation, foundation and taxes.
  13. I have been told the cemetery has the final say as to what I can put on my lot. Is that true?
    Yes. Most cemeteries have memorial restrictions limiting the height, length and thickness of the base and tablet. Additionally they can restrict the appearance of the memorial. Some cemeteries can also restrict the type of memorial that can go into a specific section. Cemetery restrictions are usually based upon the number of contiguous lots a family owns.
  14. How can I personalize my family memorial?
    Along with standard engravings, family name and deceased family member names with the associated date of birth and passing, there are many ways to personalize a memorial. Varying the font size and memorial shape is popular. Engraved symbols that have family meaning (floral, religious crosses, angels) along with shaded etching are very popular. Color can be added (gold leaf) to engravings along with bronze symbols or ceramic pictures.
  15. How do I clean my memorial?
    Usually warm water and a soft brush is enough to remove environmental dirt. Do not use a polish or detergent. If you’re in doubt, contact your memorial counselor.
  16. What can I expect to pay for our memorial?
    Pricing can vary depending upon your design, size, shape and quality of granite. If you have a budget, share it with your memorial counselor. It will allow him/her to create a memorial that fits your pricing. Without preliminary memorial requirements, pricing estimates are usually not accurate.
  17. Do I have to purchase a memorial from the memorial company’s display inventory?
    Absolutely not!! Today it is more popular for the family to contribute to the design of the family memorial. Creating a personalized memorial with symbolisms and making the memorial special to the family provides a life long link to our loved one.
  18. How long does it take to get my memorial?
    Typical lead time from the date a final design has been approved is 6/8 weeks. Some memorial companies offer ways to expedite the process if the memorial is required sooner.
  19. Can my memorial be installed anytime during the year?
    Yes and no….Yes if the weather allows it and a foundation has been poured. No if the weather is severe… snow, sleet, ice, and rain. No, if the installation is at a cemetery that only pours foundations twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall.