Choosing a headstone for a loved one is a deeply personal and often emotionally charged decision. This guide aims to help you navigate the various options available so that you can select a headstone that appropriately honors and commemorates your loved one. When it comes to honoring your loved ones with a lasting tribute, Headstone Designs by SunsetStone & Memorials offers a blend of elegance and personalized detail that stands the test of time. 

The Purpose of a Headstone 

A headstone serves multiple important purposes, primarily acting as a lasting tribute to the deceased. It marks the final resting place of a loved one, offering a physical space for family and friends to visit, reflect, and pay their respects. Beyond its practical function of identification, a headstone also tells a story. It conveys the essence of the individual’s life, values, and legacy through inscriptions, symbols, and designs. In many cultures, headstones are an integral part of mourning rituals and traditions; they provide comfort and a sense of continuity by preserving the memory of those who have passed. 

Material Options for Headstones 

One of the first decisions you’ll need to make when choosing a headstone is the material. The material affects not only the appearance of the headstone but also its durability and maintenance requirements. 


Granite is one of the most popular materials for headstones due to its durability and wide range of colors. It is extremely hard and resistant to weathering, making it an excellent choice for an enduring monument. Granite headstones can be polished to a high sheen or left with a more natural, rough texture, depending on your preference. 


Marble has long been prized for its elegance and beauty. However, it is softer than granite and more susceptible to weathering and erosion. Over time, inscriptions on marble headstones may become less legible. Despite these drawbacks, many people choose marble for its aesthetic appeal and classic look. 


Bronze offers a modern and versatile option for headstones. It can be cast into intricate designs and patterns, providing a level of detail that other materials might not easily achieve. Bronze plaques are often mounted onto a granite base, combining the strengths of both materials. One consideration is the cost, as bronze can be more expensive than other materials. 

Other Materials 

Other materials used for headstones include limestone, sandstone, and slate. Each of these has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Limestone and sandstone are relatively soft and can be easily carved, but they may not withstand the elements as well as harder stones. Slate offers a unique texture and appearance but can be prone to cracking. 

Selecting the Appropriate Size 

The size of the headstone is another important factor to consider. This decision will depend on several factors, including cemetery regulations and personal preference. 

Common Sizes for Headstones 

There are standard dimensions for headstones that are commonly accepted by most cemeteries. These standards help ensure that the headstone fits within the allotted space and complies with specific guidelines. 

Single vs. Companion Headstones 

Single headstones are designed to mark the grave of one individual, while companion headstones are intended for two people, typically a couple. Companion headstones are larger and can accommodate more text and design elements. 

Cemetery Regulations 

Before selecting a size, it’s crucial to check with the cemetery for any restrictions or guidelines. Some cemeteries have specific rules regarding the dimensions of headstones, which may limit your options. 

Choosing the Right Shape 

Headstones come in various shapes, each offering different aesthetic and practical benefits. 

Upright Headstones 

Upright headstones are the most traditional and common shape. They are tall and vertical, providing ample space for inscriptions and designs. Upright headstones are highly visible and can be customized with various tops, such as rounded, pointed, or sculpted. 

Flat or Lawn-Level Headstones 

Flat headstones lie flush with the ground, creating a sleek and simple appearance. They are easier to maintain and provide a clean, unobtrusive look. Flat headstones offer less space for inscriptions and designs but can still be personalized to a significant degree. 

Slant and Bevel Headstones 

Slant headstones are cut at an angle, making them easier to read from a standing position. Bevel headstones are similar but have a less pronounced slope. Both types are midway between upright and flat designs, offering a balance of visibility and simplicity. 

Custom Shapes and Designs 

For those seeking a unique tribute, custom shapes and designs are available. These can include hearts, crosses, or other meaningful symbols. Custom headstones allow for a high level of personalization, ensuring that the monument reflects the individuality of the deceased. 

Color Selection 

The color of the headstone can significantly impact its overall appearance and emotional tone. 

How Color Affects Aesthetics 

Different colors evoke different feelings and associations. For example, black or dark gray granite conveys a sense of solemnity and permanence, while lighter colors like white or pink can seem more gentle and serene. The choice of color should align with the message and mood you wish to convey. 

Popular Colors and Their Meanings 

Common headstone colors include: 

  • Black: Represents strength, dignity, and permanence. 
  • Gray: Neutral and timeless, suitable for various designs. 
  • White: Symbolizes purity, peace, and reverence. 
  • Pink: A softer, more affectionate tone, often chosen for its warmth. 

Tips for Choosing a Durable Color 

Some colors, particularly lighter ones, may fade over time due to exposure to the elements. Darker granites generally maintain their color better. It’s worthwhile to ask your memorial provider about the long-term durability of the color you are considering. 

Cost Factors 

Several factors influence the cost of a headstone, including material, design complexity, and installation. 

Material Costs 

As previously mentioned, different materials have varying costs. Granite and marble are generally less expensive compared to bronze. Within each material category, there can also be price variations based on color and quality. 

Design and Customization 

The level of customization you desire will also impact the cost. Intricate designs, detailed engravings, and additional elements like photos or symbols will increase the overall price. It’s essential to balance your budget with the desire for personalization. 

Installation and Maintenance 

Installation fees vary depending on the cemetery and the complexity of setting the headstone. Additionally, consider potential future maintenance costs, especially if you choose a material that requires regular upkeep. 

Personalization and Customization 

Adding personal touches to a headstone can make it a truly unique tribute. 

Importance of Personal Touches 

Personalization allows you to create a headstone that reflects the personality, interests, and legacy of the deceased. This can be a comforting and meaningful way to honor their memory. 

Options for Engravings and Epitaphs 

Engraving the name, dates, and a heartfelt epitaph are standard practices. You can also include quotes, poems, or verses that hold special significance. Some headstones incorporate photographs or etched images, providing a visual element to the memorial. 

Religious Symbols and Motifs 

Incorporating religious symbols or motifs can be a powerful way to reflect the deceased’s faith and beliefs. Crosses, stars, or other religious icons can be integrated into the design. 

Working with a Memorial Provider 

Selecting a reputable memorial provider ensures quality and satisfaction with the final product. 

Choosing a Reputable Provider 

Look for providers with positive reviews and testimonials. Recommendations from friends or family who have gone through the process can also be invaluable. A good provider will offer a range of options and work with you to create a fitting tribute. 

Questions to Ask Before Purchase 

Before making a purchase, ask questions about: 

  • Material durability and warranty 
  • Customization options and associated costs 
  • Installation procedures and fees 
  • Maintenance recommendations and services 

Warranties and Guarantees 

Ensure that the headstone comes with a warranty that covers material defects and engraving quality. Understanding the terms of the warranty can provide peace of mind and protect your investment. 


Choosing the right headstone involves thoughtful consideration of various factors, including material, size, shape, color, and cost. By taking the time to explore these aspects and working with a reputable provider like Headstone Designs by SunsetStone & Memorials, you can create a lasting and meaningful tribute to your loved one. This guide aims to equip you with the knowledge and confidence to make informed decisions during this significant process.