How To Choose An Urn - 4 Simple Steps
1. Consider The Final Resting Place
Families may want to think about the final resting place of a loved one's cremation urn before looking at urn styles. Will you scatter the ashes, bury the urn, or place it at home / in a niche?
Scatter the Ashes
You may want to look at the choices in scattering urns or scattering tubes, water burial urns, or less expensive urns as the urn itself is only temporary.
If you plan to have a permanent memorial in a cemetery -- in other words -- bury the urn, then you have a wide selection of cremation urns. Almost any urn can be placed in an urn vault and then buried. You may wish to check out cultured marble urns as they are especially popular for ground burial.
Placement at Home or in a Columbarium Niche
The style of the urn can become more important if you will have the urn 'on display’ at home. The dimensions of the urn are important if the urn will be placed in a columbarium niche.
2. Select The Correct Size
Consider the capacity and dimensions.
The typical size needed is an Adult cremation urn. Adult size generally will hold the ashes of anyone who was 200-220 lbs. or less prior to cremation. Medium urns are needed when dividing one person’s ashes among several people or for children. Keepsake urns are for small amounts of ashes to be kept in remembrance. Extra large urns are available for very tall or larger framed individuals (over 6 feet tall).
The actual dimensions of the urn -- height, width, diameter -- may be important. If you are using a niche in a church or columbarium, call ahead to find out the niche size before choosing your urn. Some columbariums have very compact niches, so we encourage you to find out the niche size before choosing an urn. Other columbariums have family niches -- like family cemetery plots -- with room for larger urns or multiple urns.
For those who need an urn for a compact niche, we often recommend rectangular urns such as our cultured marble urns at 6.5 inches high or our Haven Cedar Cremation Urn at 5 inches high. But again, Stardust Memorials recommends that you find out more specifics on the niche size before making a purchase.
3. Narrow Down The Choices By Urn Style Or Material
Urns are made of materials from brass to wood to marble. Most people choose the a cremation urn based on a “look” they like -- the traditional look of a brass urn, the warmth of a wood box, or the stately look of genuine marble.
If you are looking for a unique or artistic statement piece, check out our glass, ceramic, or raku urns. Choose marble or cultured marble if permanence is most important to you. Cultured marble is ideal for burial as it can be permanently marked with the person's info via engraving, and these urns often can be buried without the added expense of an urn vault. (Be sure to check with your cemetery first though).
Within the last twenty years, the selection of urns has expanded so that you have a wide range of styles from multicolored glass urns to aluminum urns dipped in popular camo patterns.
Traveling on a plane? Choose an urn of material that can be x-rayed (wood, paper, cultured marble).
4. Make It Personal
Small details that remind you of your loved one can bring comfort. Many urns can be personalized with engraving of a name and even artwork.
Personalization can be done in one of two ways: direct engraving on the urn or engraving of an urn pendant or plate. With direct engraving, the urn is placed in an engraving machine, and the words and symbols are cut directly in the material of the urn. With an urn pendant, the engraving is done on a pendant that is draped around the neck of the urn from a ribbon. Brass plates are ideal for square or rectangular urns and are affixed to the urn after being engraved.
There are other ways to express individuality. You might choose an urn in his or her favorite color. You may choose an urn that can include a photo. Finally, the urn itself may have a theme such as lighthouses, motorcycles, or flowers.
Following these 4 simple steps will help you to narrow down your selection quicker and find the perfect urn for your loved one.
Download a simplified version of the 'How to Choose an Urn' PDF Here
Call our urn experts for personal assistance with choosing a cremation urn for ashes.
For additional tips on selecting an urn, see some of our blog topics below.
Tips for Families Shopping Online for Cremation Urn
Four Reasons Color Choice Matters When Choosing a Cremation Urn