A Guide to Urns for Ashes: Types, Cost & Where to Buy


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An urn isn’t one of those things you buy every day, whether it’s for yourself or a loved one. For that reason, we’ve put together some advice about purchasing an urn that best fits your needs.

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Regardless of the reason for your research, keep reading to learn all there is to know about urns. 

What’s an Urn for Ashes?

There are two definitions of the word “urn” in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. The first is “a vessel that is typically an ornamental vase on a pedestal and that is used for various purposes (such as preserving the ashes of the dead after cremation).” The second is “a closed vessel usually with a spigot for serving a hot beverage.”

So why did we title our blog “A Guide to Urns for ASHES?” Our title is meant to alleviate confusion, as this article is not about a coffee urn or an ornamental urn that you would buy at a home decor store. 

An urn for ashes is made to hold the average amount of cremated remains that result after a typical person’s cremation. They are also made to be sealed to prevent the contents from spilling. And in some cases, an urn for ashes is meant to be buried without collapsing under the weight of the soil.

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What’s the Purpose of an Urn for Ashes?

An urn is a receptacle for keeping the cremated remains (cremains) of a person who died. 

An urn may be a permanent container for the cremains. Perhaps you intend to keep the urn with your loved one’s cremains in your family home or place it for eternity in a columbarium niche.

It may also be a temporary container. Perhaps you want an urn to display at your loved one’s services, or maybe you plan to scatter the remains in a private ceremony at a later date. You might be planning to create a cremation diamond with a service like Eterneva or cremation stones with Parting Stone

Regardless of whether the cremains will stay in the urn for a week, three years, or eternity, an urn’s primary purpose is to hold the remains of someone who was cremated. 

How Much Does an Urn Typically Cost?

Our research reveals that urns typically cost between $50 and $150, but you can spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on highly decorative urns.  

Don’t feel pressured into spending a lot of money on an urn if you aren’t comfortable with the price point. And, remember that urns don’t need to be expensive to honor the deceased. 

Different Types of Urns

You may assume that there’s only one type of urn, but they actually come in several sizes. Make sure you purchase the right-sized urn for your needs.

  • Standard urn: According to the Cremation Association of North America, an industry-standard urn should hold 200 cubic inches of material. This size should be large enough to hold the cremains of an adult.
  • Keepsake urn: Other urns have a smaller capacity. Keepsake urns are used for children or pets. They can also be used when family members divide ashes after cremation.
  • Companion urns: Companion urns come in two types. The first is a single urn large enough to hold the cremains of two adults. The second is two separate urns designed to sit together on the same base.
  • Jewelry urns: Some people want to carry a piece of their loved ones wherever they go. You can also have your loved one’s cremains turned into art or a gem or diamond that can be used as a piece of jewelry or as a treasured keepsake. Eterneva specializes in diamond urns that transform a loved one's ashes or hair into a gorgeous, wearable diamond. 

Different Sizes of Urns for Ashes

A lot goes into buying an urn, but probably the most important feature is its size. After all, you want to make sure all of the cremated remains can be housed in one container. 

Imagine this scenario: You are transferring the cremated remains from the temporary container you receive from the crematory to the urn you personalized with your loved one’s name. The urn is full, but there are more ashes in the temporary box. Keep in mind that these are the physical remains of a person you love and need to be treated respectfully. What do you do?

Further, consider this scenario: You are a member of the Catholic Church, and you wish to follow the guidelines that advise you not to separate your loved one’s remains.

So, as you select an urn for ashes, pay close attention to the size.

The general industry guideline is one pound of body weight needs one cubic inch of urn space. Please keep in mind that most sources advise you to use the healthy weight of your loved one when making this calculation.

Of course, this is an approximation, and several factors determine the actual amount of cremated remains that are produced. For example, taller and larger people have larger bones and produce more remains. The bone density of the deceased also plays a role in how much ash is produced. Additionally, the deceased’s age is a factor, as younger people have greater bone density than the elderly. 

When purchasing an urn, another element to think about is it needs to fit in its permanent resting place. For example, if you plan to inter the urn in a columbarium niche, the urn you purchase needs to fit the niche. 

If you plan to bury the urn in a cemetery plot and rules require you to purchase a vault for the urn, you may need to select a receptacle that will fit inside the vault. For example, look at the description of this product for further illustration of this point. 

Key Features of Urns

If you have never purchased an urn, you probably don’t know what features to consider. Here are different ways you can narrow down your search in online marketplaces.

Type of material

Urns can be made from a wide variety of materials, including aluminum, brass, ceramic, copper, marble, glass, wood, bronze, gold, or silver, to name a few. 

Most of the time, the type of material you choose is based on personal preference. If you plan to bury the urn in a cemetery plot, check with the staff to see if you are required to purchase a concrete vault for the urn. You may be able to avoid this expense by buying an urn made of a specific material. 


Online retailers that sell urns usually list how many cubic meters of material fits inside the receptacle. Sometimes, these retailers go one step farther and tell you that the cremains of a specific-weighted person will fit in the urn. 

You may also purchase larger urns or companion urns if you intend to mix the cremains of two or more people in the container. 


Traditional urns are shaped like rounded large vases. They are usually narrow at the base and top. 

Even though most people would think of the aforementioned shape when describing an urn for ashes, other shapes are available online. Some people choose beautifully made wooden boxes to store the remains of their loved ones. 

Even though most companies only sell traditional urns and wooden box urns, you can find urns of various shapes and sizes from online marketplaces. Many of these urns can be customized to reflect the personality or interests of the deceased. 

Did your loved one enjoy the beach? You can buy an urn shaped like a seashell. Was she an avid Yankees fan? You can buy an urn that is shaped like a baseball with the Yankees logo. 

If you can’t find a suitably shaped urn that reflects your loved one’s interests, you can work with Foreverence to create a customized urn. 


Urns vary significantly in price. A biodegradable piece may cost $40, and some artisan-designed urns can cost several thousands of dollars. 

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How Do You Choose and Purchase the Best Urn for Ashes?

There are many factors to consider when you choose an urn. Your primary consideration should be what you intend to do with the cremains. Here are the steps for selecting the best urn for your loved one’s ashes. 

Step 1: Consider the urn’s purpose

If your plan to scatter the cremains of your loved one, the ashes will temporarily be housed in the urn. You may not consider purchasing an urn at all and instead use the heavy-duty cardboard receptacle that you pay for in the cost of the cremation. 

Others feel the need to pick a unique urn for the cremains regardless of whether it will be seen by others or not. 

Step 2: Consider whether the urn will be present at the funeral

If you are going to have your loved one’s remains present at the funeral, you may consider using a more decorative urn than the one that the cremation facilities provide. 

Even if you plan to scatter the cremains later, use a decorative receptacle to hold your loved one at the visitation and memorial service.

Step 3: Consider the final resting place of the urn

You may choose to keep the cremains at home. If this is true, spend time choosing an urn that best represents your loved one. You can select an urn based on your loved one’s favorite color, or you can have it personalized to depict a favorite team, occupation, organization, or country. 

If you plan to keep the urn at home, you may consider having the urn sealed to keep the contents from spilling out on accident. 

Some people choose to bury urns in a cemetery. There could be a variety of reasons for this choice — including having a family plot. 

A columbarium niche or wall will hold your loved one’s urn for eternity. Some columbarium niches have clear glass doors that allow you to see the urn inside. Others are sealed, often with a plaque adorning the front of the niche.

You may have decided to bury the cremains, but are still concerned about the ecological ramifications of burying them in an urn. If that’s the case, you can purchase biodegradable urns that will naturally break down in the soil over time.

Step 4: Check local and online retailers

Most funeral homes have urns for sale. While you can simply choose one from their stock, you may consider looking at the online stores, like some listed in this article.

 You may be able to save money by purchasing the item online, and some stores offer free one-day shipping. 

Where Can You Buy Urns? The Best Online Stores for Ashes

Your local funeral home or cremation center probably has urns available for purchase, but you may also want to check the online marketplace. Here are some retailers to consider.

Where to buy traditional urns

Several of these online marketplaces specialize in the sale of urns. Even if they are listed in this section as a purveyor of traditional urns, they may sell biodegradable and eco-friendly urns as well. 


Foreverence urns

  • Types of urns offered: Hand-crafted, custom urns
  • Pre-purchase available? Yes
  • Warranty included with purchase? No
  • Shipping costs: Contact customer service
  • Return policy: Contact customer service
  • Customer service: Phone and email

Foreverence works a bit differently than the rest of the online urns marketplaces. Instead of offering a lineup of traditional urns, they allow customers to personalize a completely unique urn—think classic cars, motorcycles, space ships, computers, guitars, or a favorite toy. 

The process starts with submitting your design idea (this can be a sketch, picture, or a few sentences) and a story. Then, Foreverence's design team follows up and creates a 3D model, which you're able to review and request changes to. Once you confirm your design, Foreverence ships your completed urn in around two to three weeks, and you can transfer your loved one's ashes.

Customized urn prices vary, depending on the design's intricacy and size, but the average price sits around $2,500.

View Urns on Foreverence.com

Perfect Memorials

  • Types of urns offered: Biodegradable, cast composite, fabric, metal, stone/rock, wood, and pet urns
  • Pre-purchase available? Yes
  • Warranty included with purchase? No
  • Shipping costs: Free shipping for orders over $125
  • Return policy: Orders over 90 days old and filled or damaged urns cannot be returned
  • Customer service: Live chat and phone

Perfect Memorials offers a full range of cremation urns and other unique memorial products. Customers are able to search for an urn based on the material, which includes biodegradable, cast composite, metal, stone/rock, and wood. They also offer cremation urns that look like teddy bears to hold the cremains of infants and children.

The urns you purchase through Perfect Memorials can be highly customizable. For an additional cost, you can choose to have the urn personalized with your loved one’s name, birth and death dates, and a quote. A wide variety of styles and themes are available to reflect different professions, interests, and hobbies. 

Perfect Memorials offers free shipping for any purchase over $125, and they also offer a price match guarantee. Customers can also return any items purchased within 90 days as long as the urn has not been personalized, filled, or damaged. 

Perfect Memorial’s website offers a live chat option. Questions can also be directed to their customer service number (800-979-8767).

View Urns on PerfectMemorials.com


Amazon's urn selection

  • Types of urns offered: All types
  • Pre-purchase available? Yes
  • Warranty included with purchase? Depends on the online store
  • Shipping costs: Depends on the online store
  • Return policy: Depends on the online store
  • Customer service: Live chat and phone

Most people wouldn’t be too surprised to discover that you can purchase an urn for ashes from Amazon. After all, if you can buy a casket through Amazon, it seems only logical that urns would be available as well. 

Amazon’s website allows you to search for the most appropriate urn based on brand, gender, and home decor theme. Like all other Amazon searches, you can also narrow down your selection based on customer reviews. 

All styles and types of urns are available. You can also find retailers that will personalize your urn for you as well. Some of the retailers offer free, one-day shipping if you have Amazon Prime. 

View Urns on Amazon.com


Etsy's urn offerings

  • Types of urns offered: All types
  • Pre-purchase available? Yes
  • Warranty included with purchase? Depends on online store
  • Shipping costs: Depends on online store
  • Return policy: Depends on online store
  • Customer service: Live chat, phone, and email

Consider looking for an urn on Etsy, especially if you are looking for a unique piece to hold your loved one’s cremains. 

Like Amazon, Etsy is a gathering place for independent online retailers. Each shop can choose to offer free shipping, and they all have differing return policies. 

Etsy’s website allows you to narrow down your search for an urn by enabling customers to search for retailers that offer free shipping. You can also narrow your search by price, color, and whether the item is “handmade” or “vintage.”

View Urns on Etsy.com


Urns.com's offerings

  • Types of urns offered: Full range of urns, including luxury urns 
  • Pre-purchase available? Yes
  • Warranty included with purchase? No
  • Shipping costs: Free ground shipping
  • Return policy: Returns and exchanges must be made 14 days after purchase to qualify for a full refund
  • Customer service: Phone and email 

If you are looking for luxury urn products, consider looking at Urns.com. While you can purchase an urn in several different price points, this website also sells specialized receptacles that sell for over $1,000. 

Besides selling high-end urns, the website also offers more economically priced options made from a wide range of materials. Urns.com sells biodegradable urns too. Personalization is available for an extra cost.

Urns.com offers free shipping and free returns if the urn is returned within 14 days of purchase. Personalized or used products cannot be returned. You can chat with a customer service representative on their website or call 877-219-4966. 

View Urns on Urns.com

Stardust Memorials

Stardust Memorials offerings

  • Types of urns offered: All urn types offered, including biodegradable urns
  • Pre-purchase available? Yes
  • Warranty included with purchase? No
  • Shipping costs: Free shipping
  • Return policy: 90 days to return products, but you cannot return filled or personalized products
  • Customer service: Phone and email

Stardust Memorials offers a full range of moderately-priced urns for adults, children, and pets. They offer biodegradable options and cremation jewelry as well. Personalize your loved one’s urn with an engraved image or text for an extra fee. 

Stardust Memorials always offers free shipping, and they have a somewhat liberal 90-day return policy for unused, non-personalized urns. 

View Urns on StardustMemorials.com

Where to buy alternative urns

All of the previous online marketplaces also sold eco-friendly or biodegradable urns as well as those made of marble, metal, and other materials. Here are some other websites to consider if you are looking for urn alternatives. 


Eterneva's offering

  • Types of urns offered: Cremation jewelry
  • Pre-purchase available? No
  • Warranty included with purchase? Yes, Eterneva will grow another diamond if jewelry doesn't meet your standards
  • Shipping costs: Yes
  • Return policy: Unknown
  • Customer service: Phone and email

If you are looking for a unique way to remember a loved one, visit Eterneva's website and learn how to turn less than one-half cup of their cremains into a diamond. 

This unique process takes time and money. If you have a range of $3,000 and $50,000 and can be patient for seven to ten months, you can have a customized piece of jewelry that features a diamond made from the cremains of your loved one. The price of the piece depends upon the color and carat of the diamond you have created.

Even if your loved one was not cremated, you could still have a diamond made from his or her body’s carbon. Simply provide Eterneva with hair clippings, and a custom-made piece of jewelry will be returned to you in less than a year. 

View Products on Eterneva.com

Spirit Pieces

Spirit Pieces' offerings

  • Types of urns offered: Cremation figurines, suncatchers, diamonds, earrings, pendants, and paperweights 
  • Pre-purchase available? No
  • Warranty included with purchase? Yes, 30-day money-back warranty
  • Shipping costs: Yes, but you have to pay to ship cremains to Spirit Pieces
  • Return policy: Returns and refunds available for quality issues only
  • Customer service: Phone and email

You can also have your loved one’s cremains turned into a diamond by Spirit Pieces, but diamond making isn’t the only product that this company offers. In fact, the list of items that can be made from cremains is rather lengthy. Choose from paperweights, figurines, orbs, suncatchers, pendants, earrings, and other pieces of memorial art. 

The price of the item depends upon the complexity of the project. Those interested in having a diamond made from Spirit Pieces must consult with a customer service representative to learn more about the true cost.

Spirit Pieces offers a discount for a family order, and each family member does not have to order the same piece to receive the discount. 

View Cremation Art on SpiritPieces.com

Everlasting Memories

Everlasting Memories' offerings

  • Types of urns offered: Cremation jewelry, urns, and memorial gifts
  • Pre-purchase available? No
  • Warranty included with purchase? No
  • Shipping costs: $7,99 for 5-7 day shipping
  • Return policy: Accepts returns within 30 days of purchase, but personalized or engraved orders cannot be returned
  • Customer service: Phone and email

Besides offering moderately-priced and high-end cremation urns, Everlasting Memories also sells jewelry that stores cremains, jewelry made from cremains, fingerprint jewelry, and other memorial products. 

Even though other websites offer memorial gems, few offer fingerprint jewelry. The pendants come in a variety of metal colors and can be used as a necklace or keyring. 

Make sure you read the product descriptions. The diamond pieces that you can purchase on Everlasting Memories are not made from your loved one. Instead, they hold a bit of the cremains. 

View Urns on EvrMemories.com


AndVinyly's offerings

  • Types of urns offered: Vinyl records made with cremains
  • Pre-purchase available? Yes
  • Warranty included with purchase? No
  • Shipping costs: Free shipping
  • Return policy: Follow up with customer support if you're unhappy with your product
  • Customer service: Phone and email

AndVinyly, a beautifully-named British company, will press your loved one’s cremains into a vinyl record. The process begins at $1,000 and goes up from there, depending upon whether your record is one or two-sided. Each side holds between 18 and 22 minutes of sound.

Besides providing the cremains, you also need to provide the sounds for the record. It could be as simple as your mother’s voice telling a family story or the sound of your father playing his favorite piece on the piano. When your loved one’s cremains are pressed into the vinyl, they will add crackles and other interesting sounds to your recording.

While most of the time, it is the surviving loved ones who choose what to do with the cremains. AndVinyly’s website encourages you to begin this process while you are still living by choosing what you want to put on your own eventual record. 

View Products on AndVinyly.com

Urns for Ashes: Frequently Asked Questions

We have attempted to answer all the questions you would have about purchasing an urn, but here are some topics we may not have covered. 

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Q: How do you know what size urn you’ll need?

A standard urn holds approximately 200 cubic inches of material. This is typically the right size to hold the cremains of an average adult. Most of the websites listed say how much material will fit inside. They may even say “for an adult who weighed up to 450 pounds.”

If your loved one was cremated by aquamation or was a larger person, consider searching for extra large urns or companion urns. 

Q: Can you combine the ashes of two or more people in an urn?

Yes, you can combine the ashes of two or more people in a single urn. These are called companion urns. Some companion urns are one larger receptacle, while others are two smaller urns attached at the base. 

Q: How long do ashes last in an urn?

Ashes, or cremains, are pieces of bone, and they do not biodegrade. In fact, cremains placed in seal urns should last for centuries. 

Q: What types of stores sell urns for ashes locally or online?

Purchasing an urn online is as easy as visiting the website of your favorite online retailer. There are also plenty of sites that specifically sell end-of-life products. If you need to have the urn before the funeral service, check the anticipated delivery date.

You can also purchase urns from most funeral homes. Keep in mind that when you buy products at a funeral home, you may be more likely to make an emotional decision. You may decide to spend more money on an item, just to “get it over with,” while in fact, you may be able to get the same product for a lower price elsewhere. 

Finally, you can also purchase urns from online or local artisans. Customized urns will take longer than ones you buy off the shelf. Your loved one’s cremains can be stored in a temporary container until your customized urn is complete.

Q: How do you transfer ashes to an urn?

Before you consider transferring your loved one’s ashes from a temporary container to an urn, decide whether you’re emotionally prepared to complete the job. If you aren’t, return the cremains to the funeral home and ask a professional to do the task for you.

If you think you are able to do the job yourself, consider waiting until a clear, still day. Spread newspaper or butcher paper on an outdoor surface. Gather the tools you will need, including a pair of scissors, plastic gloves, and a funnel.

While wearing plastic gloves, use the scissors to cut a small hole in the plastic bag’s corner. Place the funnel in the urn and pour the contents into the funnel. Tap the funnel to dislodge any of the cremains stuck inside. Seal the urn, and the process is complete.

Q: How does the funeral home or crematory give you your loved one’s ashes?

Every funeral home and crematory has different policies. However, typically the cremated remains of an individual are first placed in a clear plastic bag. The bag may then be placed inside a sturdy cardboard box. If you purchased an urn, the remains can be first placed in the receptacle before being given to you. 

Families who live near the crematorium may choose to pick up the cremated remains when the process is completed. Be prepared to show identification when you pick up your loved one’s ashes. Some crematoriums offer free, in-person delivery of remains if you live in the same area as the facility.

Families who live far away from the cremation center may request that their loved one’s cremated remains are mailed to them. This is a perfectly legal process and can be done safely and securely. Some cremation centers offer a “scattering service,” which means that the staff will release the remains to nature on your behalf.

Q: Besides putting ashes in an urn, what else can you do with ashes after cremation?

You are not required to have an urn to hold your loved one’s cremated remains. Some people keep their loved one’s ashes in the plastic bag and cardboard box that they came in from the funeral home. Besides storing the ashes in a closet or displaying an urn, there are many other things you can do with your loved one’s ashes. 

The Catholic Church recommends that believers bury the cremated remains in a Catholic cemetery plot or entomb them in a mausoleum or columbarium niche. 

Tiny bits of remains can be stored in cremation jewelry or used to create a decorative item. 

Some families choose to scatter the remains on land or sea. You might want to complete a more “controlled scattering” and place your loved one’s remains at the site of a new tree or bush. If you are interested in “extreme” scattering, you can have the ashes scattered from an airplane or made into a firework.

Companies have developed ways to use the carbon in cremated remains to create commemorative pieces. Ashes can be made into decorative glass pieces, gemstones, or even diamonds. You can have the cremated remains made into smooth stones, which you may keep for yourself or distribute among family members and friends. 

If having a physical item is important to you, but you aren’t into decorative glassware or jewelry, consider having your loved one’s remains pressed into a vinyl record. This would be especially meaningful if your loved one was musical or poetic. 

Cremation remains can also be mixed into tattoo ink. You can literally have a small portion of your loved one’s ashes injected into you when you get a memorial tattoo. 

Some families divide the remains among many different people while other families choose to keep the remains all together. If your family can’t agree about what to do with your loved one’s remains, consider dividing the ashes and having each family member do as they wish. 

Find the Best Urn for Your or a Loved One

The reality is that when you make this purchase after losing someone you love, you may make a choice based on the emotion of the moment. Learn more about the cremation process, eco-burials, and other topics related to the industry to make the best decision for your family.

Post-planning tip: If you are the executor for a deceased loved one, you have more than just the type of urn to think about. Handling their unfinished business can be overwhelming without a way to organize your process. We have a post-loss checklist that will help you ensure that your loved one's family, estate, and other affairs are taken care of.

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