Learn about different types of materials that are used for funeral urns today and what you need to know in order to choose the right urn for a departed loved one or for yourself in the future.
John Maher: Hi. I’m John Maher. I’m here today with Victor Buonfiglio of Boston Cremation. Our topic is materials for funeral urns. Welcome, Victor.
Victor Buonfiglio: Hi John.
What Are Funeral Urns Made Of?
John: Victor, funeral urns are sometimes called cremation urns. What are they typically made of?
Victor: Well today, the cremation client has a lot of options. The funeral industry and manufacturers and we call the death care industry are really starting to cater to cremation families today more than ever.
John: Is that because more people are being cremated than they were in the past?
Victor: Yes. Massachusetts right now, where [we have] roughly about a 40% to 45% cremation rate in Massachusetts, which is doubled from the last 10 years. In New Hampshire, which is 20 minutes north of us, is they’re at a 68% cremation rate.
John: Why do you think that is just north of us in New Hampshire?
Victor: I’m really not sure what the trend is up in New Hampshire, maybe they’re closer to Canada, because Canada’s 70% cremation.
Victor: Typically, we usually see the trend start from the West Coast and move towards us. New Hampshire’s just a little bit ahead of us.
John: People are maybe a little bit less religious, so they don’t have some of the religious beliefs that are holding them back from doing that and then, of course, it’s expensive to have get a burial plot and bury a body and that sort of thing.
Victor: Without a doubt cremation urns are much less expensive than caskets that’s for sure. They make a lot of different styles in families have different choices today. The biggest selection I think that we see today is definitely going to be metals. There’s a lot of spun brass, which seems to be the economical metal that’s being used for rum for cremation urns. There’s many, many different styles. They’re pretty intricate, there’s a lot of scrolling and hand carving.
You can really personalize them and find a color or design that you like. There’s literally thousands and thousands of cremation urns. Some people are selecting wood urns. We are pretty happy. We have 70 urns on display at our Malden location. Right now, the popular choice seems to be the Howard Miller line. Everybody’s familiar with Howard Miller, he makes beautiful clocks. Now, families are coming in and buying the Howard Miller memory chest. It’s burled woods and maples and mahoganies and stuff. They’re really, really rich. People like that warm feeling looks more like a piece of furniture than an urn.
John: Right, like something you might keep your jewelry on. Something like that is it literally like a little chest with a lid on the top?
Victor: Exactly yes, yes, yes. The Howard Miller piece, they’re using brass-piano hinges and felt lined interior. It’s really a warm comfortable-looking piece of art versus a traditional funeral urn.
John: Metal and wood, anything else?
Victor: Glass. There’s glass. Now, we have this company called Art Glass and they’re actually putting cremated remains into the glass in spinning and creating art with it. That’s pretty popular.
John: Obviously, you’d have to have that done after the cremation takes place?
Victor: After the cremation is done, then the family will send us a small amount of cremated remains and then we send it off to Art Glass and then they actually, they heat up the glass. They put the colors in it and then they’ll actually sprinkle the ashes in that and create a design in it.
John: You end up with a vase-type of urn that has the cremated remains in it?
Victor: It’s called the eternal flame. It actually looks like that. We have them on our website if you see them. It’s pretty amazing. Then there’s another company who’s doing almost like eggshell style urns. Some people [are] familiar with those Faberge eggs or whatever they put in their curio cabinets. Something along those lines. There’s a lot, there’s a lot. We have porcelain urns.
John: That’s what I would think of as being a more traditional one of porcelain type of with a lid on the top.
Victor: The artwork today is incredible, what you’re seeing. We have an urn that looks like a bookcase. It looks like a row of books. That’s somebody if you had a bookshelf, you can put this urn in the bookshelf. It’ll just blend in you don’t even– You don’t know what it is.
John: That kind of thing could be really good for a person who was a book lover or somebody something like that.
Victor: We have all kinds. We have a motorcycle gas tank. We do. People come in, this is what they want, the person was a motorcycle enthusiast. We have a Red Sox baseball urn.
John: I was going to say somebody that I know said, “I want to have my dad wants to be cremated and put into his favorite football team urn or something like that.”
Victor: The manufacturers are hearing this and they’re listening. Every year, something new is coming out.
Does One Material Trump Another?
John: Do you think is one type better than another type in terms of, is it made of metal? Or wood? Is there a difference or is it really just a personal preference?
Victor: It’s a personal preference but some would be better for certain things. Obviously, if you’re going to bury an urn, then you might not want to use something that’s going to be porcelain. That’s not going to be very durable.
John: Would be the same thing probably.
Victor: Yes, we would use the same thing. We have certain urns that we would consider to be burial urns. Those are typically made out of marble. It is a personal preference and there’s a lot of choices today for family. We have families who spend more time selecting the urn than they do trying to plan the ceremony or service because there’s just so many options today.
John: All right. That’s really great information, Victor. Thanks again for speaking with me today.
Victor: Thanks, John.
John: For more information, visit bostoncremation.org or call 781-322-0909.