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Urn Jewelry: Keepsakes to Treasure

By John M. Stuart, MSW

Embracing heart cremation urn necklace

Throughout the ages, memorial keepsakes have been emotionally significant in remembering those we have lost. In earlier generations, often a bit of the deceased’s hair was placed in a locket and worn by the bereaved. Although memorial keepsakes have evolved through time, their significance has remained the same. Like an anchor that holds a seaworthy vessel in its place, keepsake urn jewelry are treasures that anchor us to memories not even death can erase.

What is urn jewelry?

With cremation as an emerging trend, more choices are available today for memorializing those we love.

Cremains are fine ash powder left after a body has been cremated. Cremains can be scattered over a beautiful landscape, buried or displayed in an urn for ashes. Keeping the cremains in cremation keepsakes is another popular option. These keepsakes can be displayed or worn as jewelry for ashes.

Jewelry with ashes allows us to keep a deceased loved one close to our heart. Urn necklaces, cremation pendants and cremation keepsakes have a chamber for ashes in which a small portion is easily inserted, often with a funnel or a flat toothpick. Most cremation jewelry is made so that you can insert the cremains yourself.  Since only a small portion of cremains is used in any one piece of jewelry, cremation jewelry and many small keepsakes allow family members to share the cremains of a loved one. It's not uncommon for someone to buy cremation jewelry for the entire family so that everyone can have a memorable keepsake.

Keepsake urn jewelry design

The memorial industry is designing unique and custom urn jewelry to capture the essence of the lives that impacted us so dearly. Materials such as crystal, glass, brass, pewter, gold, silver, silver sterling, vermeil, titanium, platinum, maple, oak and walnut give a particular piece of jewelry its unique look. Personalized urn pendant designs can range from a photograph to an engraved fingerprint of the deceased. Religious imagery is frequently used in creating urn jewelry to bring spiritual comfort.

Cremation keepsakes are unique in design. Keepsakes can be personalized with birthstones, specialized engravings and with designs that heal the grieving heart. Just as a butterfly spreads it wings and soars away from its cocoon, so a butterfly necklace can be a healing reminder that the spirit has shed its cocoon, the physical body. 

How is cremation jewelry used? 

For those who have chosen full body burial instead of cremation, funeral keepsakes don't have to hold cremains. As in ages past, a lock of the deceased’s hair can be kept in a pendant. A pinch of soil taken from the grave site, or crumpled bits of dried flower petals that beautified the casket can be placed into urn pendants. As with any memorial, what is important is to remember that the perfect memorial keepsake will be what most helps us remember and connect with the ones we lost. 

Selecting jewelry for ashes and other keepsakes.

cremation keepsake, such as jewelry for ashes, can be a source of healing and comfort. When making a selection, here are a few thoughts for consideration:

  • Do we want to display the cremains or wear them as jewelry? Memorial keepsakes can be anything from a mini urn for display to a pendant to be worn as a necklace. Personalized charm bracelets with a chamber for cremains are also an option.  
  • What keepsake designs resonate with us in memorializing those we love? Designs such as a teddy bear, a heart, and a Celtic cross are available. Relying on our deepest thoughts and feelings about the deceased can make for the most meaningful keepsake selection.
  • What is the purpose of the keepsake? This will help determine the size of the keepsake's chamber. Some keepsakes are designed with two chambers, using it as either a companion urn or putting a lock of hair in one chamber and cremains in the other.  
  • What do we want to pay for our memorial keepsake jewelry? Keepsake urn jewelry can range from $20 to  a few thousand dollars depending on the design and materials used. Remember, a memorial keepsake doesn't have to be expensive to be a dignified memorial.

One of the benefits of cremation jewelry is that it provides us with a discreet way to keep the memory of a loved one close. To the outside world it may look like an elegant and beautiful necklace or bracelet, but for the person wearing the jewelry it becomes a constant connection to something beautiful in their lives.

To learn about the history of cremation jewelry read Funeral and Cremation Jewelry

John Michael Stuart, MSW has been a social worker since 1997. He has worked in nursing home, hospice and home health settings, including one of the nation's largest Social HMO demonstration projects where he coordinated care between physicians, patients and their families. John has had cerebral palsy since birth and has authored Perfect Circles, Redefining  Perfection. He is also a public speaker and currently works as a home health social worker in Las Vegas.