Ideas to Create a Personalized Headstone

Here at Samcro Memorials, we have partnered with tens of thousands of individuals, couples, and families as they work through the process of creating a memorial. We strive to draw out what made their loved one’s life (or their own life) unique so we can be sure to accurately capture their legacy and tell their story in stone.

Many people prefer a stone with only names, birth dates, and final dates of themselves or their loved ones while others desire to create a completely unique, never before seen on the face of the earth, type of memorial. These are the two extremes but most people fall somewhere in the middle.

Even if families have the desire to add some unique elements to create a personalized headstone, they often don’t have much of an idea of how to do so. It’s our job to explain what their options are and how they can incorporate personal elements into a beautiful final memorial.

1. Choose a Unique Color

Did you know there are more than three or four colors of granite to choose from? You might not realize this by strolling through a cemetery as a majority of the stones are either black, gray, pink, or brown. Most people have no idea the range of colors available in granite until they walk into our showroom and see the variety of colors we have on display.

If someone has loved the color blue for their entire life then maybe they would like a Blue Pearl or Blue Silk memorial. If they love red maybe a Wausau or India Red. Or, maybe, a person sees a color in our showroom they’ve never seen before and that’s the stone they have to have. We have this happen a lot with a color called Paradiso. Paradiso stones never last long in our showroom!

Others may choose a color based on geographic preference.

Believe it or not, you can mix and match colors too! Maybe you want a gray memorial on a black vase or vise versa…not a problem!

2. Don’t Use Granite

Memorials don’t have to be granite! Granite is a great option due to its durability but there are many other options out there as well, such as field stones, quartzite, marble, etc.

Fieldstones are great because no two stones are the same. 

Quartzite is a beautiful option as it always has such beautiful variegation. 

Marble has a beautiful finish and can be easily sculpted into beautifully elegant shapes.

3. Create a Custom Shaped Memorial

Memorials don’t have to be the standard shape (unless your cemetery requires it)! One of the easiest ways to create a completely personalized headstone is to design a uniquely shaped stone.

For the most part, if you can imagine it, we can make it when it comes to the shape of your memorial. 

This is a great idea because a bench memorial serves multiple functions. It creates a personal and intimate memorial by providing a place for visitors to sit and reflect, which is, in itself, a personal and customized experience for all who come to visit.

Whether it’s a fieldstone (as mentioned previously) or a piece of granite that hasn’t been cut square, a natural stone offers a more rugged look to any stone. Usually, at least one surface will be sawed to provide a smooth surface for the lettering, but this isn’t always the case!

Incorporating a sculpture into your memorial design is yet another great way to create a custom shaped memorial.

4. Design Custom Carvings

Carvings are a way to provide a glimpse into the life of the person being memorialized. They can give visitors an insight into what that person was passionate about. Perhaps they absolutely loved their career as a nurse, police officer, or farmer. Let’s put a nursing emblem, police badge, or tractor on their stone!

5. Add a Meaningful Epitaph

We’ve all seen a picture of a headstone with a funny or clever epitaph scrolled across the stone. Well, it’s true, you can say what you want on your stone and there’s not a lot anyone can do about it! Well, again, it depends on cemetery rules and regulations but, for the most part, you should be alright.

6. Capture Your Marriage Date

For our married customers, including your marriage date can add an important and personal element to the story being told by your memorial. You and your spouse’s special date can also be included in a graphic that conveys even more information to the viewer about how you lived your life as a married couple.

7. Inscribe Your Children’s Names

Customers most often include the names of their children along the bottom of their memorial or on the base, however, we have seen some very creative ways of incorporating the names into the design of the stone.

8. Utilize Our Laser-Etching Technology

Perhaps the biggest technological advance in the memorial industry in the last half-century is the advent of laser-etching. If done correctly, laser-etching can create a permanent, photo-quality image on granite. The only caveat is that can only be done on black granite otherwise it won’t look right.

The most common utilization of our laser-etching technology is to include photo-quality portraits and photos on a memorial. Seeing a real picture provides an unparalleled glimpse into the life, legacy, story, character, and personality of the person memorialized on the stone.

Our laser-etching technology also allows us to create lettering in ways that are impossible using the traditional sandblasting methods. With the laser, we can include incredibly intricate lettering.

If you chose a stone that is not black, it doesn’t mean you’re out of luck when it comes to including some lasers on your stone! We have worked with many families to design a stone that has a special black granite insert incorporated into the design so they could include a portrait or image.

9. Insert a Porcelain Photograph

Another method to visually tell the life story of the person being memorialized is to use porcelain inserts that include a baked-in photo! Don’t worry, these things are durable. If you go through an old cemetery there’s a good chance you’ll see a clear, in-tact porcelain photo from 100+ years ago!

10. Add Bronze Elements

Bronze is a metal that has been used in memorialization for a very long time. It has a beautiful aesthetic as it ages and its colors change. In fact, there are some cemeteries that require all memorials to be bronze. Others require a certain percentage of the stone to be covered with bronze. Most cemeteries don’t have these requirements but, nevertheless, many people love to include a bit of bronze simply for the beauty and elegance it brings to any design. Let’s look at some of the ways bronze can help you create a personalized memorial.

The most common bronze elements we see are the free bronze plaques and medallions provided by the VA for our military veterans. They offer a variety of styles and shapes which makes it easy to find a way to include them in the design of any memorial stone.

Bronze emblem medallions are a great way to incorporate the symbol or emblem of your career, clubs, hobbies, or military branch of service. These usually incorporate color into the design to add even more beauty and detail to your memorial stone.

Instead of sandblasting flowers, hands, crosses, or other symbols why not incorporate those same elements as bronze attachments? A tactfully placed bronze cross, rose, or bird can add the perfect final touch to a beautifully designed memorial.

Perhaps the most fun way to incorporate a bronze element into a memorial is to have some boots or shoes bronzed! It sounds crazy, but it is possible to take a beloved pair of cowboy boots and have them completely encased in bronze.