Choosing a headstone

If you’re building a monument for the first time, chances are you won’t know too much about the whole buying process. While an experienced monumental mason will be able to help you through the process, it’s useful to do some of your own research first. This section will go through everything you need to know about choosing a memorial.

There’s some confusion over the difference between a headstone, gravestone, tombstone, or monument in Australia. The simple answer is that there is no strict definition. So for reasons of simplicity, we will use all the terms interchangeably.

Materials used for a headstone

Gravestones can be built in marble, sandstone or limestone, but by far the best material is granite. Granite comes in a variety of colours, designs, and is extremely durable compared to other materials. The only downside is that it can be a little more expensive option.

However, it requires much less maintenance and lasts decades longer compared to sandstone & marble. So when you consider the costs of repairing (possibly replacing) a monument that’s made of sandstone or marble, granite is definitely the cheaper long term option.

Granite quality: be cautious of cheap options!

Like most things, you get what you pay for and granite is no exception. In fact, the quality of granite varies quite a lot.
But for the same reasons listed above, a cheaper type of granite can be a more expensive option down the line when you factor in renovation and replacement costs.

Granite quality
  • Cheaper granite can result in:
  • – Cracking and possible breakage
  • – Structural damage of the monument
  • – Erosion of the granite
  • – Possible fading of the colour

Choosing a gravestone design

Cemeteries in Sydney have a diverse mix of different religious and cultural backgrounds. Sections can have their own unique feel of different monument styles, symbols, and tradition. A monumental mason should be knowledgeable about these traditions, and work with the family to create a memorial.

3 best options for helping you decide on a monument

Granite design

Read through our guides including our headstones gallery to see a range of memorial styles and designs.

Make an appointment with one of our monumental masons to visit our factory. Here you can see a range of headstones and be given expert advice.

Meet one of our masons at the cemetery to see some grave examples first hand.

Headstone Designs & Styles

Below are some of the most typical memorials that you will find at your local Sydney cemetery. It’s important to note that all designs you see for a particular monument can be customised to your liking.

Cemetery Rules

Each cemetery and their sections within will have a particular set of rules about what monuments can be built there. Some sections will allow for a full monument while others will only permit a headstone and base. If you know your section, it’s a good idea to initially ask the cemetery staff or a monumental mason what can be built.

Upright Headstones

Upright Headstones

The most familiar monument at a cemetery, an upright headstone (Usually made of granite) stands vertically. Depending on the cemetery section, it can be a stand alone memorial or can be part of a full monument.

Full monuments

Consisting of a headstone, base, kerbing, and a slab, a full monument is the largest and most elegant tombstone design. Depending on your needs and cemetery rules it can be:

Single monument

Single monument

A memorial for one person, this type of gravestone is a very common fixture in Sydney cemeteries. More complex than a simple headstone and base, this monument allows for a range of designs.

Double monument

Double monument

Ideal for couples who want to be next to each other, this type of gravestone is usually constructed when the first partner passes away. When the second partner passes, their additional inscription is later etched on.

Triple monument

Triple monument

This type of gravestone is only allowed in certain sections so be sure to check first. The process for building this memorial follows the same rules as a double monument- with inscriptions being put on as each person passes.

Lawn Monuments

Lawn Monuments

A lawn grave is both a simple and economical option for a memorial. Most cemeteries in Sydney will have at least one section (Usually more) dedicated for lawn burials. Depending on the rules for the cemetery section, it can be a uniform desk tablet monument or a headstone with a base.

Slab or flat marker

As the name suggests, a slab is a monument that usually lies horizontally, either as a complete monument or part of a full monument.

Tributes or desk tablet

These small desk like memorials usually lie on the slab of a full monument, however can also be a memorial on it’s own.

Baby headstones

Most cemeteries have specific sections for children’s memorials. This could be a small headstone, a lawn memorial, or even a garden memorial.

To see more monument designs see our headstone gallery section.


The finish of a headstone refers to the style or design of it’s edges. There are three different types of finishes to choose from:



This is the most popular and simple option.



Edges are left unpolished.



Neither polished or sawn, natural rock.

Types of granite

To give you an idea of what’s available, below are some types of granite we commonly use.

  • Granite types
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Religious & Cultural Cemetery Sections

Religious & Cultural Cemetery Sections

If the deceased is buried within a religious or cultural section, there may be specific cemetery rules and customs. These rules and cultural norms have given each denomination a unique look to their monuments. Below are some examples of particular denominations that are prominent in Sydney cemeteries:

Catholic monuments

With burial still the preferred option, Catholic memorials can vary from simple lawn headstones to elegant custom monuments. To find out more, view our Catholic memorials section.

Jewish monuments

There is a rich history and tradition for Jewish memorials in Sydney. To find out more, see our Jewish memorials page.

Chinese monuments

Incorporating unique symbols and intricate designs, Chinese memorials have a distinct structure and style.

Polish monuments

The Polish community have a few special traditions and customs unique to them.

Headstone Inscriptions

If you need further information advice for wording, please view our headstone inscriptions section.

Headstone Inscriptions

Arguably one of the more important features, the words that you write on a headstone need careful consideration. When it comes to inscribing a message, there are a number of things that need to be considered.


Deciding a particular etching style for the monument.


Choosing a particular font that is both aesthetic and clear.


What words and symbols should be put on the monument.

Headstone Costs

With so much variety available, the cost of a memorial varies quite a lot – usually falling between $2,000- $20,000. On top of this, the tombstone you choose will be customised to suit your preferences, budget, and cemetery regulations.

Therefore in order to get an exact price for a monument, it’s best to:

  • – Decide on a particular headstone design
  • – Speak to one of our monumental masons
  • – Get an exact itemised quote

If you’re interested in getting a rough idea, our headstone prices section provides a detailed guide on what you can expect to pay.

FAQ’s about memorials

1. How do I choose the right headstone?

Take your time to go through some of the sections on our website, including the memorial gallery. This should give you an idea about what is available and the designs that appeal to you. Alternatively, you can arrange to meet with one of our monumental masons either at our factory or in the cemetery.

2. How long does it take to complete a monument?

Depending on the type of gravestone you’ve chosen, it usually takes around 12 weeks to complete.

3. What are the cemetery fees and rules?

This varies greatly depending on the cemetery, the particular section of the cemetery, and the type of memorial you require. If you’re not sure and wish to find out, contact either the cemetery administration or a monumental mason.

4. What is the price of a headstone?

As explained before, the price of a gravestone depends on quite a few things. To get a rough idea about costs, take a look at the headstone costs section. Otherwise, you can speak with one of our monumental masons, who will be able to provide you with an exact quote.

5. Which monumental mason should I choose?

Dealing with someone at an emotional time, a monumental mason should have a professional background but also be sympathetic and respectful. Choosing the right monument can be difficult, so don’t let any mason pressure you into ordering something quickly.