Take a walk through any cemetery and you will find towering monuments and carefully etched granite and marble — sometimes dating back to the 18th century.

Today, most monuments are made of granite or bronze. From grave markers to prestigious memorial monuments, costs range from $200 to more than $2,000, according to a price guide for monuments website.

“We can design either granite or bronze, however, most of our business is granite,” said Cindy Carman, of Ron Belding Monuments in Geneva. “Granite was created from magma’s heat deep within the earth and is composed of quartz, feldspar and mica. It is found and quarried all over the world.”

Granite has replaced marble because granite is two-and-a-half times harder, making it the most desired material for monuments, which are meant to stand for all time, she said.

“The most popular and newest tools are laser or diamond-etched portraits or scenes on the monuments,” said Lauri Haines Allen, of Haines Monuments in Jefferson. “These are typically done on solid black granite. This allows family to memorialize their loved ones’ hobbies, life, work or just what they enjoyed in their lifetime. Portraits are very popular too.”

Computer drawings are the newest tool available to designing process, Carman said.

“Our customers sit with us and make all decisions with our guidance,” she said. “Some people know exactly what they want when they come in, others don’t. The computer program makes interchanging artwork easy and fast on a color template that shows them exactly what they created.”

There are many colors, shapes and sizes of granite available. Different colors come from different parts of the world. The solid black granites come from China or India. 

“People need to remember that the granite is quarried from under the earth and it just depends on where the granite is quarried what color it will be,” Haines said. 

There are standard sizes and shapes of monuments and markers, but with today’s technology, most any shape and size can be produced. The price of a monument depends on all of these factors.

Custom orders take longer to complete then standard orders. A standard order typically is eight to 10 weeks, sometimes shorter if the dealer has the piece in stock. Custom orders vary between 12 and 16 weeks, sometimes longer if granite is coming in from overseas, Haines said.

Pre-planning a monument has become more popular, Carman said. 

“More seniors are designing their own monument to reflect the things that are important to them,” she said. 

Most people are not aware the cemetery must pour a concrete foundation for the monument/marker to be set on, Haines said.

“This keeps the marker from settling into the ground and tipping,” she said. “Most cemeteries in Ashtabula County pour these foundations once or twice a year, depending on the cemetery rules. Some cemeteries have a waiting period after a burial so that the ground settles before the concrete is poured.”

The foundation must be in place before the monument/marker is delivered to the cemetery.

“Cemetery workers wait until the ground conditions are dry enough to get their equipment into the cemetery to dig and pour the foundation without making ruts,” Haines said. “Most cemeteries try to have foundations in before Memorial Day, weather permitting.”

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