Ashes to Ashes: The Origins of Cremation and Cremation Urns

For as long as cremation has existed, it has been a hot button issue among people and beliefs. While some cultures and religions support cremation, some find it macabre, and even more find it downright disgusting and say it is an improper way to dispose of a body. Whether you support cremation or not, it stands as one of the longest running processes, and memorial traditions, in the history of our species.

Cremation From The Beginning

Cremation has been around for a very, very long time. Scholars today generally agree that cremation began during the early Stone Age ~3000 B.C. in Europe and The Near East. Near the end of the Stone Age, cremation practices began to spread to northern Europe, as can be seen from historical finds of decorative pottery in the Slavic regions of Russia. With the onset of the Bronze Age, cremation began to move into the British Isles and Ireland and into what is now known as Spain and Portugal. Cemeteries for cremation develop in Hungary and northern Italy and also spread to northern Europe.

Cremation In The Classical Eras

By the time of the Greeks, cremation had become an integral and elaborate part of the Grecian burial customs. It even became the dominant method of disposition by the time of Homer in 800 B.C. and was actually encouraged for health reasons and was an expedient burial method for soldiers slain in war. Cremation was seen by many classic cultures as a very hygienic disposal of human remains, especially after plagues ravaged many of the early cities.

Following the Grecian trend, historians note that the early Romans began using cremation as part of their funeral rites around 600 B.C. and became so prevalent that the Roman Senate had to put a ban against the cremation of bodies within the city during this time. By the time of the Roman Empire, cremation became widely practiced, and cremains were placed in elaborate urns and often stored in niches in columbarium style buildings. Even though the practice was popular and part of Roman society, cremation was rare with the early Christians who considered it pagan along with Jewish culture where traditional burial is preferred.

By 400 A.D., as a result of the Christianization of the Roman Empire, earth burial had completely replaced cremation except for rare instances such as plague and war, and for the next 1,500 years this would be the accepted mode of burial throughout Europe.

Modern Cremation

Modern cremation, as we know it today, began in the 19th century. The modern cremation movement started almost simultaneously on both sides of the Atlantic after Professor Brunetti of Italy perfected and displayed his cremation chamber model at the Vienna Exposition in 1873. At the same time, Queen Victoria’s surgeon, Sir Henry Thompson, fostered the use of cremation in the British Isles. Hazardous health conditions prompted Sir Henry and his colleagues to promote cremation and found the Cremation Society of England in 1874. By 1878, England and Germany were home to the first European crematories in Europe.

In North America, cremation was being experimented with in the early 1800s. It began to become more common practice in 1876, when Dr. Julius LeMoyne built the first crematory in Washington, Pennsylvania.

Today, the popularity of cremation is continuing to rise,not only has it become an acceptable form of disposition, but also less expensive than traditional ground burials, and the popularity of cremation is only matched by the constantly evolving styles of cremains vessels. In fact, there are so many urn types, that they are often classified by the style and functionality, rather than materials.

Many religions that were previously against cremation have accepted it as a tradition. Cremation can offer the same options for families that traditional burials do, such as viewing of a body or even burial in a ground plot in a cemetery. Whatever the reason, cremation gives us an alternative for the farewell of our dearly departed in a dignified and time honored way.

Alternative Memorials: Biodegradable Urns

A while back, we posted about some alternative ways to memorialize a loved one. On that list included using some biodegradable urns that also act as planters for flowers or trees. With cremation rising in popularity, people are looking for ways to honor their loved one’s memory in a way that would be fitting to them. While some still consider using the traditional urn, others have begun to look for greener ways to create a living memorial for those that have passed. Here are some greener options for those who are looking to create a lasting memorial outside of the traditional methods.

Bio Urn Tree PlanterBio Urns

Bio urns are a style of biodegradable urns that also contain seeds to different breeds of trees, or can be customized to include a flower or plant that your loved one enjoyed. These urns usually come as simple containers that look like outdoor seed starters. This style of “green” urns are a great way to honor someone who loved the outdoors with a beautiful plant in their memory. For example, the Back to Nature Bio Urn, is one such bio urn that also acts as a planter. While it comes with a pine tree seed, they recommend that you go to your local nursery to find something that is more suited to honoring the person you wish to memorialize along with making sure that it has a chance to thrive in the climate you’re located in.

Forget-Me-Not flower memorial

“Forget Me Not” Biodegradable Urns

Additionally, there is the option of forget-me-not paper urns. These urns are small, shaped paper urns that contain perennial seeds within them, usually forget-me-nots. You can usually include a small amount of the ashes in with these paper urns, and hand them out at the funeral service to friends and family so that they can plant them and honor the person’s memory with a beautiful flower. Additionally, it is a cost-sensitive alternative to the traditional urn, or to other styles of biodegradable or scattering urns.

Sea Salt Urns

Finally, if you are planning on scattering the ashes at sea, there are urns that you can use that will dissolve into the water and not create a biological issue. This style of biodegradable urns are made from sea salt, so they are completely natural and leave no footprint or problems behind. Sea salt urns are a great option to consider when considering a scattering funeral service for the ashes. Instead of pouring out the ashes and possibly having them blown back onto the boat or onto the mourners, this keeps the cremains contained while still providing an honorable and heartfelt memorial.

6 Of The Weirdest Funerals and Memorials

Most memorials are tributes to the ones we’ve lost. We each honor our loved ones in different ways, each memorial as unique as the individual it pays tribute to. However, that hasn’t stopped some people from being memorialized in very eccentric and different ways. Here are some of the weirdest ways that people have been memorialized.

#6 – Modern Day Pharaoh

While he hasn’t passed yet, this one starts off our list. Fred Guentert plans on spending eternity like a pharaoh. For the past 27 years, Mr. Guentert has been building an Egyptian-themed coffin at his home near Orlando, FL. A great admirer of Egyptian art, Guentart has been working on this coffin since the mid 1980’s. Hand crafted and painted, the coffin sits at an impressive 7 feet long and is made from cedar. Speaking of an egyptian send off…

#5 – Bruce Reynolds was scattered in the Valley of The Kings

The Great Train Robbery mastermind Bruce Reynolds, had some of his ashes scattered in the Valley of The Kings in Egypt. Reynolds had been responsible for masterminding the 1963 Great Train Robbery which was the robbery of a royal mail train which lead to the robbers getting away with over 2.6 million GBP, which would be the equivalent of 48 million today.

#4 – Posed on His Motorcycle for His Wake

David Colon had told his family that he didn’t want a traditional casket. So, when he passed suddenly in April, the funeral home organized for Mr. Colon’s body to be dressed in biking gear and placed on top of his motorcycle while his family and friends paid their respects during his wake.

#3 – James Doohan is sent into Orbit

As a final send-off to the man who played Scotty on the original Star Trek series, James Doohan was sent into space according to his last wishes. The ashes of Doohan, were put into a capsule and fired off on a rocket out into space by a private company.

#2 – Hunter S. Thompson is fired out of a cannon

The gonzo writer Hunter S. Thompson, most famous for his book, Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas was shot out of a cannon as part of his last wishes. Talk about going out with a bang.

#1 – Boxer Posed In Makeshift Ring At Wake

In February of 2014 mourners of Christopher Amaro, found him at his wake posed in the corner of a makeshift boxing ring. Amaro’s family wanted to do something that commemorated his love for boxing, so they posed him as such.

However you choose to honor the memory of your loved one, there is no wrong way to. Why some memorials might be more eccentric than others, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t done without love and compassion for the one who has passed.

Alternative Memorials: Scattering at Sea

We all know the pain of losing a loved one. When they pass, their memory lives with us, but we still want to celebrate the person and honor their memory. There are many options to choose from when deciding how best to celebrate your loved one’s memory. One such option that people sometimes choose is to scatter the ashes at sea.

Numerous boat captains perform these services, and they are as unique as the individual who the ceremony is honoring. Services for sea scatterings can vary immensely, some include clergy-led prayer or can even be as simple as mourners recalling favorite memories of the person who has passed.

For those thinking of doing a scattering at sea, there are a few things that you must think of logistically to make sure that the ceremony goes smoothly. Firstly, usually you cannot simply dump the ashes, even though most is a sand like substance, the finer particles will blow back on to the boat and can cling to the boat or get on the passengers. A simple container that is biodegradable or water soluble should be used. Memorial Gallery carries several different lines of scattering urns, and even more specifically, carries those meant for scattering at sea. Additionally, most scattering services allow you to scatter flowers or petals, meant as a sign of love for the departed along with the ashes. Finally, with scattering at sea, you are going to have to find out what the occupational limit is for the boat. While scattering at sea is a beautiful and touching memorial, it does not allow for many people to bear witness for the funeral. However, if you’re looking for something more intimate and private, a scattering at sea is the perfect answer for those needs.

Death is one of life’s most difficult realities. We all have lost loved ones, so we know that it’s a very painful and emotional experience. During this time, empathy and patience is tantamount. At Memorial Gallery, it is our honor and privilege to assist you and your family during this difficult time. Your complete satisfaction is our goal. If you’re curious about our products or would like us to help you can always reach us at our website or by calling us at 1-877-996-URNS.

From the Ashes: Memorial Gems and Crystals

For those of us who want to scatter the remains, but want to still keep some back as a memento of those we’ve lost, there are other options other than the traditional urn. While thumbprint jewelry and other memorial jewelry exist, for those who want something a little more subtle, there are memorial gems and crystals. This unique jewelry allows you to create a beautiful memorial of your loved one. This style of cremation jewelry will instantly become an heirloom for generations to come.

This option is becoming more and more popular among memorial options by creating a one of a kind memorial of the loved one who has passed. Cremation gems are lab grown and include the ashes in the process. All sorts of crystals and gemstones can be made this way, including diamonds! While a more expensive option, there is no doubt that it is an extremely unique option to memorialize someone. Additionally, creating a cremation diamond is a long process and can take upwards to a year to create. Unlike memorial diamonds, the crystals are made by infusing a combination of glass with the ashes, and while it makes a crystal that is softer than diamond, they do normally hold up extremely well, thus letting the memorial jewelry become an heirloom if you so choose. When working with a funeral director who offers this service, each piece is created by hand and is given a personal touch with your specifications in mind.

Whether you go with a piece of cremation jewelry to have a subtle memorial option for your loved one or you go with the more traditional memorial urn or scattering, Memorial Gallery is honored to serve your family.

8 Beautiful Ways to Memorialize a Loved One

It is always hard to say goodbye to a loved one, when they’ve been with you for so long, it’s hard to think of life without them. Everything you see or do, you see them in it. Everyone always says that the hardest part of grief is letting the person go. However, even though their physical presence may be gone, there are different ways in which you can honor their memory, here are some options you can consider.

Tree Memorials

With the rise in popularity of cremations, green  memorial options are becoming more widely available. One such style are biodegradable urns that are also starter planters for a tree. Most of these come with different tree seeds in them so you can pick and choose which one you feel would best memorialize your loved one.

Blooming Memorials

Like the tree memorials talked about above, there are also options such as seed embedded memorials that contain perennial seeds. This living tribute can be a favorite flower that the person enjoyed, and can be passed out to friends and family so they all have the ability to create a personal memorial for the deceased.

Memorial Web Site

Additionally, if you wanted to build something online, you can create a memorial website for the deceased. This could be used as a repository for photos as well as favorite memories of the person. There are many different internet providers that have free space for websites.

Memorial Jewelry

As we’ve written about in the past, memorial jewelry is becoming a very popular memorial option for the surviving family members. This can range from fingerprint and photo jewelry or can even be gem jewelry that is made from the cremation ashes. Additionally, many companies will also create custom jewelry that with your input can create the best memorial for your loved one.


A good way to remember someone can also be to help others. Volunteering to be a grief counselor, or setting up a charity or fund in their name for a cause they supported can sometimes be the best way to memorialize something by helping contribute to something they loved.

A Memorial Bench

Whether it is in your local park, or just in your backyard, making a memorial bench for your loved one can give you the support and rest you need during your time of grief. If you would like to create a memorial bench in your local park, you should find out if your local municipality has a program to do that.

Memorial Album

Like the website, you can ask family and friends to donate pictures or stories to create a memorial album of your loved one. This will help create a physical memorial that can be looked through to remember them.

Garden Tribute

If you feel up to it, creating a memorial garden is another alternative for memorializing your loved one. You can create a flower garden to which all forms of life can come and feed off the flowers or stay as a safe haven and just place a plaque saying whatever it is you want to say to memorialize your loved one.

Losing a loved one is never easy to come to terms with. However, by memorializing their life and love it can help you be proactive and honor the person you lost and help you on your own path while you work through your grief.


Funeral Urns can be Artistic

Usually when we think of funeral urns we think of the traditional one that we’ve always seen. It’s usually made of bronze, or granite, or some sort of ceramic, and looks…well it looks like an urn. Not something that you would want to put on your shelf or have as a display piece on the mantle. However, with the rising popularity of cremation, it has in turn inspired artists to begin creating these beautiful pieces of art that don’t look like urns at all. From hand carved wood urns made from local hardwoods to Raku covered clay pieces. Each urn being a work of art and one of a kind.

The artistry that is put into each one of these works of art is incredible and requires an artist’s eye and skill. You can only talk about it so look below, because these you need to see to believe.

Copper Raku Funeral UrnCopper Raku Cremation Urn

This urn was done using a Raku style of firing. Raku is a style of clay firing where the clay is baked at over 1800 degrees Fahrenheit. Afterwards it is placed in a smoker with some different combustible materials, and the glaze reacts to the smoke and creates unique and interesting patterns and colors. Each piece reacts differently and creates beautiful designs and colors from the glazes.

Horse Hair Artistic Cremation UrnHorse Hair Funeral Urn

The style that this urn is done is very similar to the Raku style described above. The ceramic is removed from the kiln at 1200 degrees Fahrenheit, and horse hair is placed on it rapidly before it cools. The horse hair is burnt off leaving different dramatic carbon scorching mark behind. Each urn is then glazed several times to preserve the marks and how the hair lands and burns makes each urn unique.

Hand Painted Ceramic Artisan UrnHand Painted Ceramic Urns

Finally, this last one features an artistic painting on a ceramic urn. While closer to the more traditional urns, these style of urns can still symbolize something that your loved one cared for before passing.

We know that dealing with the passing of a loved one is a very painful and emotional time for everyone. During this sensitive time patience, empathy, and integrity are just as necessary as product accuracy, knowledge and efficiency. It is our honor and privilege to serve you and your family in this difficult time.

Fingerprint Jewelry: A Personal and Poignant Memorial

Fingerprints are like snowflakes, no two are the same. And when they are gone, there will never again be another. Capture the unique fingerprint or paw-print of a loved one as an enduring symbol of all that made them unique and special.

Okay, so lets say you’ve decided to have a piece of fingerprint jewelry created for you. Now what? Step number one is to capture a high-quality print. Remember that the detail of the finished piece of jewelry will be limited by the quality of the fingerprint provided. There are three ways to capture prints.

First, there is the good old fashioned ink print. Any black ink pad will work. Remember that a light touch with a moderate amount of ink produces the best prints. Take several impressions until you achieve the result you are looking for. To submit ink prints, scan them at the highest resolution you can, attach them to an email and send them to us.

The second method to capture a print is to use a digital scanner designed specifically for this purpose. Most funeral homes have these devices and are happy to take a print at little or no charge. The quality of the print produced by these scanners is very good. The scanner will produce a graphic file that can be emailed to us.

The third way to capture prints is by taking a high-resolution close-up photo. This is the best way to capture the paw-prints and nose-prints of pets. It does not work well for people prints. They lack the contrast necessary to separate the print elements from the surrounding area.

No matter how you take the prints, it is a good idea to send several options. The person who will be working with your prints is a skilled and experienced professional graphic artist and print making technician. They will pick out the print that will produce the best finished product.

We hope you have found this helpful. If you have any questions about personalized fingerprint jewelry please give us a call or shoot us an email.

We look forward to working with you!

What is Cremation Jewelry?

Death is not extinguishing the light; it is putting out the lamp before dawn has come.
– R. Tagore

Cremation jewelry, also known as memorial jewelry, is a beautiful and intimate way that people choose to memorialize a loved one. Cremation jewelry usually takes different forms, but is commonly done as bracelets, pendants, or rings. This jewelry is often worn or displayed and is becoming a popular option amongst the growing trend of cremation options available for memorializing loved ones who have passed. This is usually done when the family keeps a small portion of the ashes after the cremains are buried or scattered. Cremation jewelry is very similar to normal jewelry outside of an inner chamber, similar to a locket, to hold the cremains.

Cremation jewelry is usually prepared from different materials and can even include precious or semi-precious stones. Sometimes, you can even have the ashes made into different gems or colored glass as part of the jewelry. This jewelry can become a family keepsake to help remember the lost and even become an heirloom in time. Cremation jewelry itself has been around since the Victorian Era. In the 18th and 19th century, friends of the bereaved often presented gifts, such as memorial jewelry, or keepsake urns, featuring symbols of loss or the person’s birth and death date.

Memorial jewelry isn’t for everyone. For those looking towards this option, it is a unique way to keep those we’ve lost close to us not only in spirit, but also physically. However, the versatility of memorial jewelry is very high, you can choose to wear the piece or to display it, whatever you feel most comfortable doing. It is a much more unique way of memorializing your loved one than the traditional urn, and while some may not choose to memorialize someone this way, others find it as a beautiful and subtle way to remember those we have lost.

Whatever your choice may be, we at Memorial Gallery have many different options in how you can choose to memorialize the memories of those you’ve lost. Our caring staff are more than willing to help you through this tough time and will answer any questions and concerns you may have discreetly and with the utmost care.

Rise of Cremation Rates Creates New Memorial Options

I’ve heard many different reasons why cremation rates are on the rise. From shifting demographics to the increasing transient nature of our society. However, looking for the root cause has not lead to a solution, what needs to change is the perception of why this shift is happening. Families are not looking for the cheapest or most extravagant option but are looking for the option that will give them the most value from their own perspective. The challenge for the memorial industry comes from the consumer not knowing what they want or need when it comes to memorial options, which, in turn, makes them focus on price.

A Shift to Cremation

Up until 1965, cremation had stayed steady at a rate of about 4% per year. Since then, the rate of cremation has since skyrocketed to around 40% per year, and is predicted to reach nearly 60% by 2025. Numerous factors have contributed to this rise in cremation, most notably are the increased economic restraints on most families. With funeral costs rising higher and higher, people are looking for an alternative that allows them to celebrate their loved one’s life and honor their memory.

New Memorial Options

Angel Wing Cremation Jewelry Pendant

With this shift towards more cremations, the options to personalize how you are memorialized has grown with it. While the standard cremation urn or vase used to showcase on a shelf is still available, other options have begun to appear as well. People have used the ashes to create cremation jewelry such as necklaces or rings, by having the ashes pressed into crystal or gems. They have also spawned more green alternatives in the form of biodegradable urns or being used as part of the soil in a tree planting. People have also had their loved one’s fingerprints etched into sterling silver or gold pendants that can be worn. However, those still looking for burial can do it

With the rise of cremation, it has given people more options to choose from in how they wish to be memorialized. This personal touch allows those looking for alternative ways of being remembered and won’t have to break the bank to do it. Additionally, this will allow them to choose something important to them and will have a lasting impact and stronger memory for the one’s they left behind.