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How Much Does Gravestone Engraving Cost?

Last Updated on February 29, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Gravestone engravings provide a meaningful way to memorialize and personalize the final resting place of a loved one. But adding customized lettering, designs, and epitaphs to a headstone or monument can also add to the base cost.

Engraving a headstone or other memorial marker involves etching letters, images, and emblems into the stone’s surface. This is done to display vital information about the deceased as well as symbolic designs that represent their life, interests, and personality. Gravestone engravings can range from basic name and date inscriptions to elaborate custom artwork and epitaphs.

How Much Does Gravestone Engraving Cost?

On average, simple name and date gravestone engraving adds $200-$500 to the base price. More detailed custom engravings with multiple emblems or lettering can cost $800-$2,000 or more. The total cost of a gravestone engraving can range considerably based on the complexity of the design, materials used, and engraving method.

Simple Name and Date Engravings

Having just the basic names, birth/death dates, and simple epitaphs engraved on a headstone typically costs $200 to $500 on average. This assumes medium length text fitting on 1-3 lines on a standard upright headstone. Simple engravings take 1-2 hours to complete.

Custom Designs and Elaborate Engravings

For a more personalized gravestone with custom artwork, longer epitaphs, portraits, symbols, and other embellishments, expect engraving costs from $800 up to $2,000 on average. These more intricate designs can take 5-10 hours of labor to engrave meticulously by hand.

Premium Materials and Engraving Methods

Opting for rare memorial stones like marble or requesting hand-carved engravings from master craftsmen will fall at the highest end of the pricing spectrum. Elaborate engravings on premium materials can cost $2,500 or more. Luxury services are ideal for high-end family estates and customized mausoleums.

At Dignity Memorial, engraving of a name, birth date, and death date typically costs about $500, with prices varying based on additional features like headboards, sheets, protectors, and foundations.

The Signature Headstones prices for headstones and grave markers vary based on styles and sizes. For example:

  • 24″ x 12″ x 3″ Single Flat Marker: From $563.00
  • 20″ x 10″ x 3″ Single Flat Marker: From $399.00
  • 16″ x 8″ x 3″ Single Flat Marker: $259.00

Factors That Determine Gravestone Engraving Costs

Several important considerations affect the total price charged for engraving a headstone or cemetery marker. These include:

Type and Complexity of Engraving Design

More elaborate engravings take more time, effort, and materials than basic designs. Intricate artwork, custom epitaphs across multiple lines, and the inclusion of visual elements like emblems, filigree, or portraits all increase costs. Simple name, date, and short epitaph engravings are most affordable.

More elements mean more work and higher cost.

  • Names/dates only – Most affordable at $200-$500
  • Footprints or small emblems – Average of $500-$1000
  • Elaborate custom scenes – From $1000-$2500+
  • 1–3-line epitaphs – Average $500-$800
  • 4+ lines of text – From $800-$2500+

Photographic portraits or art require an engraving specialist.

Size and Shape of Gravestone

Larger gravestones and those with irregular shapes have more surface area to engrave.

  • Small plaques – Range from $100-$300 depending on font size.
  • Medium upright headstones – Average $200-$600 for engravings.
  • Oversize monuments – Blocks over 24 inches wide can cost $800-$2500 or more.

Type of Memorial Stone

Softer and more intricate stones like marble can cost 10-15% more to engrave versus rugged granite. Engraving very hard stones like bronze also adds expense.

  • Granite – Most affordable stone option. Hardness allows for detailed engravings. Simple designs start around $200.
  • Marble – Softer stone looks beautiful but costs more to engrave starting around $230.
  • Bronze – Intricate engraving is very difficult on bronze. Expect costs from $250 and up.

Hand Engraving vs. Mechanical Engraving

Hand engraving using traditional chisels takes longer but offers more flexibility for custom designs. This specialized technique costs approximately 20-30% more than mechanical engraving methods like sandblasting or laser etching.

Hand work is slower than modern machine techniques.

  • Laser etching – Most efficient at $150-$300
  • Sandblasting – Faster than hand but still customizable at $300-$800
  • Hand chiseling – Highest quality at $800-$2500+

You might also like our articles about the cost of pet cremation, installing granite on a grave, or grave blankets.

Engraving Service Provider

Cemetery memorial suppliers and monument companies offer engraving but often charge a markup. Independent engraving studios can provide more competitive pricing for customized headstone designs.

How to Choose the Right Provider

Researching and selecting an experienced engraving specialist for your memorial is just as important as the design itself. Consider the following when choosing an engraving studio:

  • View past engraving samples – Evaluate quality workmanship
  • Compare pricing – Get quotes from 3-4 studios
  • Ask about certification – Lean towards NAMA certified professionals
  • Discuss stone options – Granite & bronze are most cost-effective
  • Inquire about guarantees – No-risk policies offer peace of mind
  • Check reviews and ratings – Focus on consistent 5-star rated providers

Reputable engraving artisans with excellent past work and fair pricing are worth investing in for a gravestone that will honor memories for generations to come.

Budget Saving Tips

Gravestone TypeFor those working with a tight memorial budget, there are some effective ways to reduce gravestone engraving costs without sacrificing meaningful personalization:

  • Opt for sandblasting instead of hand carving – Saves 15-20%
  • Select granite rather than marble – Saves 10-15%
  • Consolidate text and emblems – Avoid sparse designs
  • Reuse family monuments – Add new engraving to existing stones
  • Ask about package deals – Suppliers offer discounts for combined purchases
  • Use an online customization platform – Order directly from designers
  • Consider smaller plaque markers – Instead of large monuments
  • Request discounted pricing – Some studios offer special rates

Smart memorial planning and design choices make high-quality gravestone engravings more accessible. Prioritizing essential names, dates, and compact emblems can reduce unnecessary expenses.

Final Words

Engraving costs for headstones vary widely, ranging from $200 to $500 for simple name and date engravings, and up to $2,500 or more for premium customized designs.

Factors such as hand carving and the use of marble materials contribute to higher expenses, while design complexity, epitaph length, and additional visual elements can also raise the price.

It’s advisable to compare rates from multiple engraving studios to find the best value, considering budget-friendly choices like sandblasting and granite, which offer significant savings without compromising quality or durability.

Remember, gravestone engravings provide lasting personalization. Focus on meaningful designs that commemorate your loved one within your budget. With proper planning, even elaborate custom artwork and inscriptions can become affordable ways to honor their life.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should be engraved on a gravestone?

Typical engraving elements on a gravestone include:

  • The deceased’s full name and maiden name if applicable
  • Birth and death years or full dates
  • An epitaph – a short text expressing love, memories, or beliefs
  • Imagery representing hobbies, interests, values, or service
  • Family names of surviving/deceased spouses and children
  • Religious symbols linked to the deceased’s faith
  • A family crest, nickname, or personalized quote

Focus on concise text and symbolic imagery that have special meaning and honor the deceased in a dignified, respectful manner.

How long does it take to engrave an existing headstone?

The time needed to add new engraving to an existing headstone depends on:

  • The complexity and length of the added inscription
  • Whether symbols/artwork are being engraved
  • The method used – hand engraving takes more time
  • The material – softer stones take longer than granite
  • The size/shape of the headstone surface area

Very simple name/date additions may take 1-2 hours. Adding lengthy text or artwork could take 4-6 hours or more. Give the engraver adequate time to ensure high-quality results.

What happens if a headstone is engraved wrong?

Reputable engravers will work closely with families to ensure accuracy. However, if a mistake is made:

  • Contact the engraver immediately to have the error corrected. Most will fix it at no cost.
  • For deep engravings, re-polishing or replacing the stone may be required. Check if this is covered by guarantees.
  • If workmanship issues can’t be fixed by the original provider, seek a new studio to redo the engraving properly.
  • If names/dates are inaccurate, ask the cemetery about permit requirements to replace the incorrect stone.

With care and open communication, engraving errors can be corrected to preserve the memorial’s meaning.

1 reply
  1. Alice Carroll
    Alice Carroll says:

    It makes sense that cemetery headstone engraving would indeed depend on the material being used. That would surely be relevant for when we bury the remains of my grandfather in the future. He was cremated a few months ago due to the standard operating procedures of the hospital he was in but we still intend to fulfil his wish to be buried.


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