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5 Features that Make a High Quality Cremation Urn

by J. Malec

 OneWorld Memorials ceramic urns by Kaisersatt

Blades of Grass Ceramic Cremation Urn by artist Michelle Kaisersatt

 A “high quality” cremation urn largely depends on the features and benefits that you, the consumer, require. But it also begins with materials and production, as well as attention to detail in every step of the way until it reaches your hands.

From our experience, the five most common factors that contribute to a cremation urn’s perceived value blend production of the urn with consumers’ needs. These five characteristics are:

  1. Craftsmanship
  2. Quality control
  3. Materials
  4. Functionality
  5. Securely contains contents

1. Cremation urns that resonate with craftsmanship

When shopping for an appropriate cremation urn that is as unique as the life it is meant to represent, high quality is often synonymous with hand-crafted. Urns ranging from hand-carved marble cremation urns with a simple design to artisanal urns are available if you search. A handcrafted urn reflects excellence through intentional use of material, texture, color, engraving or etching, and design.

Benefits of purchasing a handcrafted cremation urn include:

  • contentment that comes from honoring your loved one with an exceptional piece reflective of your unique love and relationship
  • attention to details noticeable with finish and etching can distinguish the high quality manufacturer from the poorer ones
  • unique patterns, colors, variations of etching for borders and designs
  • supporting craftsmen and artisans
  • owning a thing of beauty that will be admired for decades to come

2. Quality control: gatekeeper to five-star cremation urns

A retailer of cremation urns should be able to validate that each urn has been carefully chosen based on exceptional quality. Each piece should be inspected before leaving the production site.

The retail seller should hand inspect each urn when it arrives at the seller’s facility, and again when the urn is packaged for shipment.

3. Materials: high standard leads to exceptional cremation urns

There are a wide variety of materials to choose from when selecting a high-quality cremation urn. You might consider speaking with a retailer’s representative about the historical use and track record of a material that could indicate its quality.

To explore commonly used materials for cremation urns, visit our planning guide on choosing a material that will best suit your needs.

Consider the function that the urn will perform before settling on which material choice is best for you. You might ask:

  • Will the urn be used to scatter ashes?
  • Will the urn be buried?
  • Do you want the urn to reside in a niche? or at home?
  • Do you want the urn to be made of a non-breakable material such as wood or brass?
  • Or, do you want the urn to be biodegradable?

Answering the above questions will guide you to the most appropriate material.

If you intend to keep the cremation urn in a columbarium or for display at home, you will want to think about the durability of your material choice. Wood, stone, metal and glass are all great selections for display urns.

In addition to choosing an urn of appropriate style and size, consider how easily the urn can be maintained. Will it require dusting or polishing? If so, make sure that any surface decoration will withstand the test of time and regular cleaning if necessary.

4. Functionality: does the cremation urn serve its intended purpose?

Another very important consideration is the functionality of a piece.

  • Does the lid fit smoothly and securely?
  • Do the product’s promised features satisfy the intended use (e.g., for scattering, for display, or to decompose)?
  • Is the product description consistent with the actual condition of the item once received?

Don’t hesitate to raise concerns with the retailer should you find that what you get isn’t what you were expecting. Good merchants will always be willing to work with their customers to resolve issues in a timely and sensitive way.

5. Securely contains contents

Each cremation urn comes with a description of how it houses cremation ashes. Some closures are secure but not permanently glued down: a lid that screws on tightly; or, a panel that screws and unscrews. Other lids simply rest on the neck of an urn and may require glue to keep it tightly anchored. Scattering urns should secure the contents, as well as open smoothly to allow the contents to be scattered when intended.

Before choosing an urn, decide on what degree of closure meets your needs. Once you receive the urn, check that the closure will securely contain the ashes to your satisfaction and intended use.

Finding your quality memorial urn

There are many thousands of cremation urns available on the market today, especially if you are searching online. Low cost doesn’t always equate to low quality. Sometimes an urn producer will have overstocked something distributors no longer want, but the public does. Online retailers often get their hands on these gems at amazing bargains. So if you see something that catches your eye check it out. The 5 features noted above will give you a good measuring stick to determine whether you just found a fantastic deal or a vessel you’d rather not have your loved one’s cremains resting in.

Click here to view OneWorld Memorials' full list of artisan cremation urns and keepsakes.

J. Malec is a visual artist and writer whose work often deals with themes related to loss and healing. She lives in Minneapolis, and spends much of her time practicing permaculture in the city.