Headstone Pricing: Top 10 Considerations
Headstone Pricing: Top 10 Considerations Sunsetstone Administrator December 17, 2019

Headstone Pricing: Top 10 Considerations

Top 10 Considerations for Determining Headstone Prices

Tombstones Calgary CemeteryDSC 0523 copy

Headstones Calgary Queen’s Park Cemetery

For those who are curious about how much a cemetery gravestone costs, on average you will be looking at monument prices from around $1,000 for a simple flat marker, up to $4,000 or even $20,000 for a fancier, larger headstone with shape carving and a thicker base. In between these numbers lie a huge array of tombstone design options that will meet any family’s budget or design wishes. Never hesitate to call and ask about affordable monument pricing options, as companies with larger inventories always can always help you find something special for a specific budget. Some headstone manufacturers offer a “Monument Package Special”, or they have “Showroom Clearance Sales,” so feel free to call an experienced monument manufacturer to get some answers to your questions.
With today’s tighter budgets, finding an affordable monument may be in the forefront of some family’s minds. If you are looking for a competitive price, make sure to ask for a monument cost comparison from a reputable monument dealer, or simply go back to your preferred headstone supplier and ask for a price match!
Established headstone manufacturers will have the inventory on hand to be able to offer affordable gravestone options.
Below are “Top 10 Considerations that determine how much a monument costs.”
1. Quality of the Granite
Granite Monument Warranty

Headstone Granite Warranty

Not all headstone granites are the same. Focus on a company that sources high quality granite from reputable suppliers, who do not pass off poor workmanship and lower quality stones with imperfections. Be aware that some lesser quality granites are treated with chemicals in order enhance the granite’s tone and color, but these chemicals break down over time when exposed to sunlight.
Choose a tombstone manufacturer that refuses to work with granite suppliers that use chemical treatments on the granite’s polished surface, because over time it will fade or discolor in the sunlight.
A “low cost headstone” is not a bargain if the granite is chemically treated. To protect your purchase and ensure that the gravestones are not treated with chemicals, ask the monument manufacturer if they have a “Warranty on the Granite”. Look for companies that stand behind their product with a “Monument Warranty Certificate”.
2.  Granite Color
Headstones Calgary Cemetery DSC 0452 copy

Granite Headstone Colors

Granite headstones can be ordered in almost any color you like. Just be aware that the color of the granite is dependent on the quarry and continent of origin. For example, “Blue Pearl” granite comes from Norway, “Premium Black” granite comes from either Africa, India, or China, and “Laurentian Pink” granite comes from Canada. For these reasons: quarry locations, granite supply, and quarry operating costs will affect the overall headstone price. Some granite tombstone colors are more cost effective than others. Ask about the more affordable headstone granite colors if budget is a concern. The most cost effective gravestone granite color is generally grey.
3.  Monument Size
Monuments Queens Park Calgary DSC 0432

Various Cemetery Monument Sizes & Shapes

Not only does the length and height affect the price of a monument, but the granite thickness as well.  A good monument manufacturer will generally have various sizes of Flat Markers, Pillow Markers, Upright Headstones, Pillow Markers, or Crown Models to choose from. Look for a gravestone manufacturer that has an extensive supply on hand.  Finding the most affordable headstone may be more dependent on supply and demand. Companies with a large monument inventory will ensure you have the size and selection available to make a fair comparison of monument pricing.
The monument shape will impact the cost of a headstone as it’s usually a custom order that requires more work. Thus the most affordable monument will be either one that has a standard shape that is mass produced (for example a Serpentine monument, or a popular leaning angel over a heart). The large quantities in which these are produced will certainly reduce the cost.
Flat gravestone markers tend to be the most cost effective monuments compared to Upright monuments that sit on a base However, Uprights are more protected from lawn mowing equipment because they aren’t partially buried in the ground. An affordable gravestone option can be found if you clearly define budgetary limits and are open to new designs or colours. If you get a package deal, you may only need to spend $500 more to get an Upright Headstone (with base and vases included) instead of a Flat marker of the same size.
4.  Granite Texture and Shape Carving
Custom Granite Carved Rose

Custom Shaped Carved Rose Headstone

There are a variety of granite textures that can be added to a polished monument. But if you are looking for the more affordable headstone granite texture, selecting an upright headstone that is polished on all 5 sides will be the most affordable monument price option over choosing a monument with rock pitched sides. Also, a polished granite is also much easier to clean off dirt and debris.
But if you wish to add texture and design detail to a granite monument, shape carving can be incorporated into the design. An experienced sculptor can add this monument design feature, which adds character and detail to a monument. Even though this extra monument design element will cost more money than the standard polished square headstone cost, you’d be surprised at how inexpensive it can be, especially if it’s only a small feature in the design.  If you like shape carving on a monument though, find a gravestone manufacturer that has access to quality carvers. This is an art form that requires an experienced skillset.
5.  Artwork and Graphics
Tombstone Graphic Designs

Headstone Graphic Designs

Once the monument style and color are chosen, you may wish to add extra artwork or graphics to the inscription. The cost of inscriptions will depend on the detail of graphic artwork required. A reputable company will provide you with the cost of inscriptions up front so that there are no surprises, or even offer it as part of the package. The price of inscriptions will be dependent on the amount of detail, if the artwork is chosen from their art catalogue, or if the artwork needs to be customized. Make sure to choose a monument company that hires professional memorial designers who have the talent and experience to create the perfect design. Always ask the company to provide you with the headstone inscription costs with their pricing. In some cases, you may even be able to sit with a designer for that hands-on approach and to make the process even easier!
Check out the showrooms to see if they provide a separate room (away from the showroom floor) for families to discuss design options and collaborate as a team.  Does the headstone graphic designer provide a separate viewing screen for families to watch the design changes in real time? You should receive costs for gravestone artwork & design, with your headstone costs prior to beginning the process. The sandblasting process will not begin until after the client has signed off on the design.
6.  Craftsmanship
Monument Craftsmanship


Here is where the employee skill set and the monument company’s customer service are worth noting. Just because a headstone price is less expensive, or it is a more affordable gravestone, doesn’t mean that the quality of craftsmanship should ever be affected. No matter what a headstone costs, the quality of the inscriptions and designs should never be compromised.  Choose a headstone company that focuses on meeting the highest industry standards for all projects. Select a company that employs skilled artisans who have the expertise and technical skillset to follow through with perfection and really care about the final design.
7.  Monument Design, Accessories, Vases, Cameos, Bronze Appliques
Headstone Vases, Monument Cameos, Bronze and Silver Monument Appliques

Cemetery Vases, Porcelain Cameos & Appliques

Vases, porcelain pictures, cameos, and bronze appliques may add a bit more to the cost of the monument but offer a timeless personalized feature to the memorial. Cameos should have a lifetime warranty on UV light fading and should never have to be replaced. These little decorative additions add more of a customized look to a headstone, so if you are curious about additional products and features, don’t hesitate to ask about the cost of monument accessories. Just make sure that you are working with a reputable monument supplier that will have your best interest at heart and who is not pushing extra products. Find a dealer who is focused on providing high quality headstone accessories at an affordable price.
8. Laser Engraving vs Sandblasting
Sandblasted Headstone Artwork & Laser Etching Examples

Sandblasted Monuments & Laser Etched Artwork

Sandblasting a monument is the most cost-effective option, but laser etching can add more delicate and lifelike imagery to a piece of granite. Laser etching can be more detailed so can be used for landscapes or photographs. Sandblasting has its limitations for how large artwork can be portrayed, whereas the laser engraving process is almost like a printer. It can capture very small details that are not achievable with regular sandblasting. It is important to note that manufacturers are only able to laser engrave on “Premium Black” granite, as a high contrast backdrop is required to best distinguish the laser image from the stone.
Ask about the monument design pricing options, if you are curious about comparing the monument inscription cost of laser artwork vs sandblasting.
9.  Shipping, Delivery and Installation
Cemetery Columbarium Monument Installation

Monument Installation

One way to make a monument appear more affordable or less expensive is to separate the overall cost of shipping, delivery, and installation. Make sure you are comparing apples to apples when you are getting headstone prices. Work with a company that is up front with all the factors that affect the overall monument price – from the monument pricing, to the graphic design costs, to the shipping and the headstone installation. Select an experienced cemetery gravestone manufacturer that will coordinate deliveries with cemeteries and provide shipping and installation services with their quote.
10.  Hassle Free One-Stop Shopping
Hassle Free shopping

Compassionate Care

Avoid companies that pay their employees by commission. This is a sensitive time with no room for high pressure sales. Select a monument supplier that focuses on meeting “you and your family’s” needs, not their own.
Remember that there is a price for your time. A hassle-free experience is what busy families are looking for. Find a headstone company that:
Headstone Inventory

Monument Inventory

  • offers a wide selection of monument styles and colors,
  • assists with professional graphic monument designs and artwork,
  • deals with all the cemetery installation paperwork and permits,
  • provides second inscriptions years down that road. (You’d be amazed at how many don’t offer this service after the fact!)
  • provides a wide array of quality accessories and complimentary products
  • provides a timely deliveries and fast turnaround times

How much a headstone costs is based on a number of included services and factors. So overall, keep in mind that a reputable monument supplier will always offer an affordable gravestone option. Never hesitate to inquire about headstone price matching if you would rather work with one company over another. Ensure that you are not receiving a poor quality granite that is chemically treated, so make sure that the company that provides clients with a “Granite Warranty”. Choose the company that understands that your time and the collaborative design experience should be at the forefront of customer service. Look for a company that provides a compassionate working environment that is hassle free.

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