The smallest details can have the most significant impact when choosing what type of urn you’ll want for a loved one’s ashes. Whether you wish to engrave it or bury it, there’s a long list of options available to you when determining what type of urn you desire.
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A box urn is one option available to you. But choosing an appropriate box urn for a loved one can be distressing. To help, keep these things in mind when looking: size, quality, sustainability, and budget.
Once you’ve settled on those parameters, look below for some ideas to get you started.
What’s a Box Urn?
There are many types of urns for ashes, also known as cremated remains and cremains. One of them is the box urn. Artisan crafters have recently been getting creative with the shapes, angles, and positions of these urns, but most are either rectangle, square, or oval, and sit flush (or nearly) on flat surfaces.
Materials used include various woods, stones, nacre, ceramics, and plastics. If they are not engravable, nameplates can be made at any local trophy shop and affixed to the urn. Look for ready options at the funeral home, but you can shop around for one-off versions from artisans far and wide if inclined.
How Much Do Box Urns Usually Cost?
What matters most in purchasing an urn is that you respect your loved one’s memory and wishes, but there’s no reason to go broke in the process.
Here’s a quick breakdown of cost:
- Biodegradable and sustainable options will be at the economic and lower range, costing as little as $20.
- Premium urns can cost upwards of $600 and more.
- Companion urns will be midrange, typically somewhere between $200-$400.
- Pet urns are generally under $50 but expect to pay $100–400 for anything ornate.
Main Types of Box Urns for Pet or Human Ashes
The funeral home you choose will have many options for you. When there, you’ll discover an urn and casket room so that you can see the available options. When you find one you like, ask the funeral director for a catalog to see the options available, like color and engraving. Most people choose this route because they can efficiently complete all aspects of the funeral arrangement in one space.
Still, it’s perfectly acceptable to look for urn makers outside of the funeral home, too. Maybe you have a friend who is an excellent craftsman who’s offered to help. Or, perhaps your loved one made a purchase online long ago, expecting to one day need it. There’s no right or wrong place to purchase an urn to memorialize your loved one.
1. Artisan dovetailing
Complete with dovetailing and personal attention, hand-crafted urns can be found in any variety of woods you request.
Most artists are happy to fulfill any design inspirations, including interior design dimensions and species of wood.
2. Artisan inlay design
Inlay design options let you apply wooden cutouts to the box urn itself. Choose from love birds sitting on a bench, a patriotic symbol, bears and elk, or natural vistas.
Most people who choose these urns want the picture to give a visual commentary about their loved one’s life.
3. Sustainable and eco-friendly designs
A common request for urns includes sustainable or even biodegradable materials using recycled paper and flowers, wool, and various sustainably sourced wood species and even bamboo.
Typically, salt urns come in vase forms (other than a few keepsake options), but you may be able to contact the manufacturer for a special order.
4. Companion box urns
Did you know that you can place two sets of cremated remains in one urn box? Eventually, and as time reveals, both sets of cremains will rest inside.
This works for couples wanting to spend eternity together, no matter what form, as well as for any other intimate relationship—including your pet.
5. Tack box horse urns
At a minimum, horse urns can cost a few hundred dollars, not including the cremation process. That said, when it comes to showhorses and racehorses—and the addition of bronze sculptures atop the urn—prices can soar.
Most common box urns include inscriptions, carvings, and other details to honor your friend, but won’t break the bank.
6. Music box urns
From small replica Motorola record players to clocks and more, box urns can now come fully equipped with a music box insert. Choose from your favorite song (or theirs), then add engraving or religious details.
When lost in thoughts about your loved one, turn the key, and let the sweet memories flow.
7. Simple urns
You’ve heard the old saying, “Just bury me in an old pine box.” Well, you can order new, but simple wooden urns from several manufacturers to suit that sentiment.
Most urn makers will adjust dimensions as needed, too. What you’ll receive is a plain pinewood urn suited to your loved one’s request.
8. A heart-shaped box
No shape is more suited to match the affection you feel for your departed loved ones. For that reason, these boxes, whether full-sized or keepsake-sized, come in a vast array of choices.
As mentioned earlier, you can find them in those biodegradable and eco-friendly materials, including metals, various species of wood, bamboo, and polymers.
9. High-gloss metal
These are ornate and showy. They’re typically made of a base brass material, then coated with a high gloss lacquer. Most will have etching and other design work to show off the details, often for prominent display in someone’s home.
These unique box urns are also suitable for columbariums and ground burials.
10. Urn boxes with religious symbols
Religious beliefs are the foundation of many peoples’ lives. It is part of their world from the time they are born through significant life events. People cling to these doctrines in times of great joy and even greater sorrow.
For these reasons and more, the use of symbols carved in or adhered to a box urn serves as a fitting reminder of them.
11. Monastic box urns
Some trends are more evident than others. Aside from the rising sustainability trend, there's also increasing interest in urns that are hand-crafted by monks.
Many choose this craft because they seek a connection with people and places that are already spiritual. The urn also arrives fully blessed by monk artisans, which brings greater peace to family members.
12. Engraved pet footprint box urns
For many people, their four and two-legged pets are their children. Dogs, cats, birds, and gerbils all have a special place in our home and hearts. For those reasons, pet owners will sometimes choose to have a pet footprint as the engraved symbol on a box urn.
The symbol to them isn't just a reminder of the sounds those little feet made, but a recognition of the impression they left in their lives.
13. Marble box urn
If you can think of the color, a marble box urn probably comes in that shade, or very close. It's one of the reasons people gravitate to them. Adorn these naturally beautiful urns with religious symbols, nameplates, and etchings.
Many choose these durable urns for burial or placement in a columbarium, while others keep them at home in a place of honor.
14. Other engraved stones
Granite, slate, and soapstone are popular stones for box urns. Many will have options for carvings, quotes, name placements, and more. You can choose from the addition of statues, like angels and dogs as well.
Pro-tip: Custom designs are final. So, when working with your funeral director, take note that there are generally three times to get the proof right before the artwork is applied.
15. Mother of pearl
Mother of pearl makes for a distinctive, beautiful urn for any loved one. Tones for these urns range from whites and ivories to blacks and greens. Although they are not engravable, you may be able to add a nameplate with a special kind of adhesive if you desire.
Note: Pearl is a bit more fragile than most materials as it comes from shells, so understand that before making any adjustments to its design.
16. Ceramic box uns
Unlike marble, ceramic box urns give you the cleanest color options available. The benefit to ceramic urns over the others is that they can also be painted and molded into various shapes and sizes.
Pet lovers will appreciate the ability to have photo transfers of their pets made directly on the urn, too. Choose from one or ten of your favorite looks and create a deserving homage to the little one.
17. Keepsake boxes
Rather than choose a single urn for a parent or loved one, sometimes families will opt for several small urns to hold a portion of the cremains. If this is an option, family members can opt for different materials and shapes to remember mom or dad to be suitable for their relationship.
18. Other metals
Choose from gold, silver, brass, copper, pewter, stainless steel, and aluminum. While some metals are more traditional and popular than others, there’s no right or wrong decision you can make.
Metals are easy to engrave and are suitable for burial or left on prominent display in your home.
Urns for Loved Ones
Options for urns are increasing. Ask your funeral director for some guidance if you’re stuck in the decision-making. Otherwise, go online to look for something custom made.
Choosing the right urn to represent your loved one is an important decision. Be sure to take your time and pick something that will honor them.