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What you need to know about headstone materials

Black Granite Headstone

Photograph of Headstones and Grave Markers

When it comes to designing a headstone for your loved one, it can be an emotional process with many things to consider. One basic aspect of headstone design that people don’t immediately think of is the material it will be made of. As you ponder what is the best way to honor your loved one, here are some common gravestone materials to consider.

Black Granite HeadstoneGranite: The traditional look

Granite is a standard stone for cemetery markers and is available in a wide range of colors. While this stone was once too hard for stone carvers to work with, the tools of today make it possible for a granite marker to carry a wide range of designs and text styles.

Most granite headstones come in your choice of four finishes. The rustic cut has a rough-edge finish with a sanded or polished face, while sanded lightens the color of the stone and produces a matte finish that’s also smooth. With part-polish, the marker has a polished headstone face and base top, with the rest of the stone sanded, and all-polish produces a stone with all visible areas gloss-polished. If you are having a hard time deciding on the finish, it may help to take a look at existing markers finished in the four different styles so you can compare them visually.

Bronze Emblem on GraniteMetal: For the modern age

Iron, in different forms, was used for markers in the 1900s but this trend died out because the metal decays and rusts over time. However, stainless steel, bronze and other metals are being seen in markers again today, usually in combination with some type of stone. Considered to be more modern, using metal in your loved one’s marker can give it a more unique look. With proper care, metal can last a very long time and allow for more intricate designs.

The staff at Columbia Gardens Memorials is more than happy to speak to you regarding the design and finish for your loved one’s cemetery marker. We’re here to answer any questions you may have about the marker, its design and its creation. Contact us by calling (703) 527-7774 today.


COVID-19 Update

We are continuing to practice social distancing and following CDC guidelines, to protect our community and staff. However, we are open and available to serve you. Todd and our engravers are back on premises working and we are accepting appointments during our normal operating hours. To schedule an appointment with us please call our office at (703) 527-7774 or email us at

Thank you for your understanding during this time. – The Columbia Gardens Memorials Staff