If you are looking to purchase a gravestone, either someone you love has passed away or you are buying your own to save your family the grief of doing so. Either way, it is a somber event and not something you want to dwell on too much. The first thing you need to consider is what will be allowed at the cemetery. If you are buying for a loved one, the deceased is probably already interred (or is about to be) and you have been given instructions for installing a gravestone. If you are doing this for yourself, you may need to buy a burial plot first so you know the rules. Here are a few other things you need to know to make the purchasing process much simpler.
Depending on cemetery regulations, you have some options in the design style of the gravestone. It can be a simple slab that is flush with the grass and rests at the head of the grave or a thicker one that sticks up above the grass about eight inches. If you want it to be more noticeable, a "pillow stone" can be made. This is a wedge-shaped slab that starts at the head and slants backward. The back of the stone will be roughly 18 inches high with the front at grass level. The other common option is the erect, tablet-style headstone sticking straight out of the ground.
Gravestones used to be made of limestone or marble. While you may still choose to go with one of these, it would be better to go with granite or bronze. The first two options are not as durable and will wear down with time and the elements. These are the stones you see in a cemetery on which you can no longer read all the information. Granite will erode too, but not nearly as quickly--of course, even limestone and marble will last for decades. You can have a sealant put on to make it last even longer. Bronze will not erode but it will tarnish. This will not reduce the readability of the marker though so you can choose to have it cleaned regularly or not.
Of course, the cost may be an issue when choosing the gravestone. Once you know what the cemetery will allow, visit a few different vendors to get different prices. Be sure to look at the quality of their work so you are comparing apples to apples. It is also important to find out if the cemetery charges a fee for installing the gravestone or if you will need to hire someone to do it. You do not want to spend all the funds on the stone only to find you cannot afford to have it installed.
Once you have decided what gravestone you want, you need to figure out what to have engraved on it. Then you can contact the vendor, like Palmer Bros Granite Co, to have it made. When finished, check everything to ensure it is what you want and then contact the cemetery and/or installer to have it put in.