If you’re searching for something different from a traditional granite headstone, you might be considering a glass headstone.
Glass headstones are a relatively new innovation, especially compared to their stone counterparts. But since they arrived on the scene, glass headstones have made a lasting impression with their beauty, durability, and customizability.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What’s a Glass Headstone?
- How Much Do Glass Headstones Cost?
- Types of Glass Headstones
- Where Can You Buy a Glass Headstone?
Glass headstones can be simplistic in design, taking the shape of a traditional headstone. Or they can be customized to feature intricate designs and colors to reflect a person’s unique personality and individuality.
More and more, people are choosing glass headstones because they stand out amongst a crowd of granite headstones and grave markers. With their ability to reflect light, rain or shine, they also give the impression of everlasting light and life.
Below, we’ll walk you through the world of glass headstones, including the types available, where you can find them, and how much they usually cost.
What’s a Glass Headstone?
A glass headstone is a memorial marker made of layered and cast glass. Glass offers a wide range of customizability and design potential that you just can’t get with granite or stone.
With glass, you can truly customize your headstone to match your unique personality. If your favorite color is pink, you can commission a translucent, glowing pink headstone. And you can have it shaped into a circle, a square, or nearly any shape you can imagine, and even etched with your portrait.
You mix and match colors and add in other materials, like metals and stone, to create a truly unique headstone.
How is a glass headstone made?
Glass headstones are made of layered, cast glass. A glass artist places glass sheets or shards (depending on the design’s intricacy) into a mold, which is in the shape of the desired headstone. They then put the mold into a kiln (basically a giant oven) and heat it up to 1,500 degrees. This fuses the glass together to take on the shape of the mold.
Large, sculptural pieces of cast glass, like headstones, only became popular relatively recently. That’s because large glass pieces need 24-hour attention while they slowly cool (a process which takes weeks) to ensure proper temperature control.
In the past, a technician had to physically monitor the kiln for all of those hours, which made casting large glass pieces restrictively expensive. Now, computer-controlled kilns do the monitoring, which opens up a whole new realm of glass casting possibilities.
Doesn’t glass break easily?
You might be wary of a headstone made of glass. After all, glass is well known in our every day lives for breaking and shattering easily. But those objects that tend to break easily (like wine glasses and fragile figurines) are usually made of thin, delicate glass.
Thick, treated glass, the type used to create glass headstones, is actually highly durable. It can withstand drops and impacts, as well as extreme temperatures. It’s more similar to the windowpane glass on a skyscraper than a set of glass champagne flutes.
How Much Do Glass Headstones Cost?
Glass headstones aren’t the most budget-friendly headstone option out there. If you want a unique and colorful glass headstone, you should be prepared to pay for the labor and skill involved in creating such a piece. And of course, the more colorful and elaborate the headstone design is, the more it will cost to create. The price also depends on whether you choose a ready-made glass headstone or have one custom-made.
Glass headstones range in price from $2,000 to over $20,000, with an average cost of around $11,000.
Types of Glass Headstones
There are endless headstone design options when you’re using glass, but those options fall into just a handful of different types. Below, we’ll outline the various types of glass headstones, as well as their average costs and considerations.
1. Ready-made glass headstones
If you want a classic or simple design, your best choice would be a ready-made glass headstone. Some (but not all) glass headstone studios have a selection already cast and ready to go. You can easily choose one from a catalog and purchase it. You can then have the studio customize the headstone with engraving.
Ready-made glass headstones cost less than bespoke (custom) headstones because they’re less time-intensive. The studio doesn’t have to create drawings and 3D models according to your requests, and the piece is already waiting to be sold.
A ready-made glass headstone typically costs between $2,100 and $5,800, excluding engraving and customization costs, as well as shipping.
2. Bespoke glass headstones
Some glass headstone creators don’t offer ready-made options and only offer custom or “bespoke” headstones. This helps them ensure that each headstone they create is unique and representative of the person’s personality.
A bespoke glass headstone can be any color, shape, and design you can think of. We’ll cover more of those color and design options below.
Because bespoke headstones include more labor and time to create, they cost much more than a ready-made glass headstone. The average cost of a fully-customized, one-of-a-kind glass headstone is $15,000.
3. Classic glass headstones
A popular choice for glass headstones is to follow traditional headstone design. That usually means the headstone is square or rectangular, and it might feature a rounded top. Some glass headstones are also shaped like crosses and other religious symbols.
Because of their simplistic design, you may find a ready-made glass headstone in a traditional style for as little as $2,100. Or you could create your own simple design for around $5,000 to $10,000, depending on the studio and the quality of the glass.
4. Colorful glass headstones
One of the most unique qualities of glass headstones is the wide range of color options. You can choose just one beautiful color or a combination of complementing tones. Different colors can be used to create one-of-a-kind designs, either on the surface or embedded deep within the glass.
Most ready-made glass headstones come in simple tones, like sea glass green or transparent crystal. So if you want a unique color like bright pink, pastel purple, deep blue, or any combination of hues, you’ll have to pay a higher price for a custom glass headstone.
Because colorful headstones fall under the category of “bespoke” and require additional time to create and test the glass colors, they cost an average of $10,000 to $15,000.
5. Etched glass headstones
Another customizability option with glass is etching. Etching is similar to the engraving on granite headstones, but it’s typically more shallow and on the surface. This creates a unique appearance that the etching is just part of the glass itself, rather than carved into it.
Glass headstone creators charge differently for etching. Some charge a per-square-foot fee, while others calculate the amount of time an etching will require. The price for etching varies because you could request something as simple as a name and date, or something as complex as a laser-etched portrait.
When you’re creating a design for a glass headstone, be sure to discuss the cost of custom etching with the studio.
6. Glass and stone
You can combine glass and granite, or glass and fieldstone, for an even more unique design. The glass piece can be placed on top of or next to the granite piece, or it can be embedded within the stone.
The cost of custom glass and stone headstone is sometimes slightly less than one that’s the same size and entirely glass. Usually, though, it will cost about the same.
7. Illuminated glass headstones
You might be wondering if you could install a light in a glass headstone so that it truly glows. The answer is yes, you can. But most headstone creators and glass studios don’t recommend it.
A glass headstone is durable and long-lasting on its own. Once you start adding technological elements, like LED lights, you start running into some serious maintenance issues. And adding an LED light to your glass headstone is an added cost, too.
8. Glass family memorial headstones
Instead of purchasing individual glass headstones for each member of the family, you could invest in one glass memorial for the whole family. Glass family memorials can make a lasting statement in a cemetery and represent your family’s unique identity.
Of course, a large family memorial marker will cost more than an individual headstone. On average, a large glass installment like this costs around $20,000.
9. Glass grave markers
If you don’t want an elaborate, upright glass headstone, or you’d like to find a less expensive alternative, you might be interested in a glass grave marker. These are simple, square gravestones made of glass and etched with the person’s name, birth date, and death date.
Glass gravestones cost an average of about $300, but they can also cost much more depending on the color, shape, size, and personalization.
Where Can You Buy a Glass Headstone?
Because they’re still new to the scene, and because they’re so labor-intensive, glass headstones are harder to find than other types of grave markers.
And some cemeteries are still hesitant to let customers use glass headstones at all, out of a desire for consistency and uniformity.
If you’re interested in a glass headstone, check with the cemetery ahead of time to make sure they permit the kind of design you have in mind.
The main place you’ll find glass headstones is independent studios and artists. Creating a large glass piece like a headstone correctly takes a great deal of time, skill, and experience. So there aren’t a large number of people in the world offering the service.
But there are several reliable studios who work with clients all over the world and create glass headstones in all shapes and sizes. And best of all, they can ship almost anywhere.
You might find ready-made glass headstones offered by larger online retailers. But it’s important to keep in mind that quality is key.
If you order from a seller who doesn’t have the proper equipment and know-how to actually create a glass headstone, you might end up with a piece of delicate display glass instead. And while those can act as a lovely memorial inside a home, you can’t use them as a headstone in a cemetery.
Some cemeteries and funeral homes
Not many cemeteries or funeral homes offer glass headstones—yet. The technology to create glass headstones is still new, and the industry hasn’t quite caught up. But you can still ask your funeral home or cemetery if they have any glass options available.
Decorating Your Final Home with Glass
A glass headstone is a radiant and unique way to mark your final resting place or honor a loved one who’s passed away.
Many people who choose glass headstones purchase their own grave marker, ahead of time. This gives you the opportunity to enjoy the artistry of the headstone that will mark your grave and make sure it’s what you envisioned. It also takes one more difficult decision off of your family’s itinerary after you’re gone.
If you're looking for more headstone-buying advice, read our guides on headstone shapes and how to buy headstones online.
- “Memorials.” Lundgren Monuments. https://www.lundgrenmonuments.com/cast-glass/318y14rxub6g2gpn3l5h43kumerbne
- “Headstones and plaques.” Escape Glass. https://escapeglass.co.nz/pages/headstones
- “Glass headstones.” Glasstone. https://glasstone.eu/en/kapu-pieminekli/