Like any other industry, the funeral trade experiences trends. Burial practices evolve over time, in part because of evolving cultural influences:
- Cremation has become increasingly popular in the past few decades because it’s cheaper for traditional funerals.
- People continue to look for more eco-friendly burial alternatives.
- You can customize a cremation experience. It used to be that finding unique urns for ashes was about the most you could do, but now there is no shortage of ways you can display or even repurpose cremated ashes.
Here, we explore beautiful and unusual cremation keepsake pieces.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Cremation Jewelry and Accessory Keepsake Ideas
- Glass Cremation Keepsake Ideas
- Other Cremation Keepsake Ideas
Tip: If you're looking for something very unique (think a game, a classic car, or instrument of choice), you can custom order an urn from a store like Foreverence. You submit a design idea or sketch, then the company designs and 3D prints your urn, so you get a 100% unique container.
Cremation Jewelry and Accessory Keepsake Ideas
Some of the most popular cremation keepsakes are pieces of cremation jewelry. You can find or design a unique piece of jewelry to hold a small portion of cremation ashes, and that way, you can carry a part of your loved one with you.
Here are some examples of cremation jewelry and accessories.
1. Cremation necklace
Cremation necklaces are probably the most common style of cremation jewelry. They let you keep your loved one (literally) close to your heart. There are several different types of cremation necklaces. Here are just a few:
- Urn necklace: These necklaces feature a tiny vessel made to hold ashes that dangles from a chain. The vessel might be shaped like a traditional urn. Or it might have a more sleek, cylindrical shape. These necklaces are designed so you can scoop the ashes in yourself before fastening the vessel closed. Read more about urn necklaces.
- Ash-infused pendant: Many artisans can craft pendants out of materials like glass or resin. They can incorporate the ash directly into the materials. For these necklaces, you would send away a small portion of ashes for the artist to work with directly. Read more about cremation art.
- Cremation locket: Lockets have long been used as a sentimental piece of keepsake jewelry. You can get cremation lockets in multiple styles. Read more about cremation lockets.
2. Cremation bracelet
Like cremation necklaces, cremation bracelets are available in a wide range of styles. Here are a few examples:
- Braided leather wristlet: Many companies and artisans can infuse ashes into leather. Then, they braid the leather into a sturdy, durable bracelet. It serves as a daily piece of tribute jewelry.
- Birthstone urn charm bracelet: Charm bracelets are a great way to pay tribute to important people and moments in your life. If you have a charm bracelet, you can get a small urn dotted with the birthstone of your late loved one. You can add ashes to it and then attach it to your bracelet.
3. Cremation ring
If you lose a spouse to death, you will eventually get to the point where you have to decide whether to keep wearing your wedding jewelry.
Many people have a hard time with the thought of taking off a ring meant to signify forever. However, a cremation ring—a ring infused with the ashes of your deceased loved one—can be a great transitional piece.
When you’re ready, you can switch out your wedding band for your cremation ring. It is a way to pay tribute to a late spouse while allowing yourself to begin moving on.
4. Memorial diamond
Many of the pieces of jewelry we’ve discussed have a compartment where you can place a small portion of ashes. But if you really want to make a statement, you can actually have your loved one’s ashes turned into a piece of jewelry.
About 20 years ago, companies figured out how to extract carbon from cremated remains, then used machines to turn that carbon into a lab-grown diamond.
They replicated and sped up the natural process, which forms carbon into diamonds. It just takes a matter of months instead of billions of years. These memorial diamonds are created from the carbon found in cremated remains. This isn’t an inexpensive process.
Costs start at around $1,400 for a 0.25-carat diamond, but it creates an eternal tribute to a lost loved one. Some companies, like Eterneva, create lab-grown diamonds and allow you to pick from several cuts and colors for your gemstone.
Glass Cremation Keepsake Ideas
Glassmaking is a fascinating art form. It combines science and art to create pieces that can seem impossible. It’s hard to believe that something as delicate as glass results from intense effort forged in high heat.
Artisans can infuse ash directly into glass. The ash adds an interesting visual element, and incorporating a loved one’s ashes into a glass keepsake is a beautiful way to memorialize a person. Here are some ways you can have ash added into a piece of unique and lovely glass cremation art.
5. Cremation stained glass window
Many artisans can infuse ashes into a stained glass window pane. A colorful decorative sheet of glass makes for an unusual and lovely cremation keepsake.
6. Cremation gazing ball
Gazing balls are large spheres designed to serve as outdoor lawn decoration. They can sit directly on the grass or in a wrought iron stand. They can come in several sizes and colors.
They’re often made of iridescent glass but can also be covered in mirrored chrome. They were originally thought to bring good luck and scare away evil. Cremated ash can be incorporated into a gazing ball for a lovely piece of meditative decor.
7. Cremation heart-shaped paperweight
Sometimes the hardest thing about losing someone is no longer having that person’s quiet presence in your life.
Getting a useful piece of cremation glass can help you feel like your loved one is still present in your day-to-day life. A heart-shaped cremation glass paperweight is a lovely tribute to a steadfast partner.
8. Cremation glass sculpture
More and more, glassblowers and artisans incorporate cremation ash into their work. You can go online and look up cremation glass artists to find someone whose style you like.
Speak to the artist about creating a piece of art, maybe based on something that had significance to you and the deceased. Then display this custom piece of cremation glass sculpture. It will carry great personal meaning, and it’s a keepsake you can treasure for years.
Other Cremation Keepsake Ideas
Cremation jewelry and glass cremation art are two of the best-known ways to display a loved one’s ashes. But there are other creative cremation keepsake items available.
Here are some of the more memorable ones.
9. Ash-infused vinyl
Was your loved one a huge music fan or just a general audiophile? At least one company offers the opportunity to turn your ashes into vinyl. You can get ashes pressed into a custom album that features a recording of your voice or some of your favorite songs.
The ashes in the record can cause unique sounds when the record plays, making this a highly custom and one-of-a-kind item. The cost is fairly high, at $3,700, but it’s fairly reasonable for such a unique keepsake.
10. Personalized ash-filled hourglass
Several companies offer an engraved memorial hourglass that you can fill with ashes instead of sand. The glass bulb might be etched with the deceased's name, birth and death dates, and possibly a memorial quote.
You can typically add the ashes yourself. These aren’t precise enough to be used as a timepiece. But they can serve as a somber visual reminder of how fleeting life is.
11. Ash-infused painting
Some artists infuse their paints with the ashes of a person or pet to craft a painting.
This painting might be a portrait of the deceased. Or it might be a landscape of a place that meant a lot. Regardless of the subject matter, this makes for a unique memorial keepsake.
12. Cremation tattoos
Just like paint, tattoo ink can be infused with ashes. A few third-party companies infuse cremated ash into a vial of tattoo ink. Unfortunately, the cost for this runs close to $200 for a single vial of ink.
In other words, it’s most cost-effective if your tattoo doesn’t use a lot of different colors. But it’s a creative and unusual way to carry a permanent tribute to someone on your skin.
13. Cremation stones
Finally, you can transform your loved one's ashes into solidified-ash stones with Parting Stone. This allows you to hold the ashes in your hands to connect with the person you've lost, or place the stones in nature as an alternative to ash scattering.
Turn a Loved One’s Cremains into a Meaningful Keepsake
As cultures evolve, so do burial practices. Cremation continues to grow as an alternative burial option. So it makes sense that we would develop new ideas about what to do with ashes. Just a generation or two ago, people might have balked at the idea of wearing a loved one’s ashes in a piece of jewelry.
But as our attitudes toward death evolve, acts that once seemed strange might now bring us comfort. Preserving a loved one’s ashes in the form of a keepsake can be a lovely and healing gesture. It can help remind you that even something as sad as death can also bring great beauty.