What to ask when buying cremation jewellery or glass art memorials
Choosing a piece of cremation jewellery or a piece of memorial glass is a really important decision to make. Not only do you want it to be everything you wish for, you will also want the quality to be fitting for such a special piece. This can sometimes make what should be a very positive experience seem a little daunting and stressful. Our guide on what to ask should help you choose the company that is right for you.
Whilst websites offer all sorts of information about the products they sell, and the making processes they use, it can be difficult to make the decision that is right for you today and for the future. This is made more difficult because most people do not have a background in jewellery, glass or memorials and therefore don't know the differences between a well made piece of cremation jewellery and a badly made piece. We believe that the best way to understand the differences between each company and to decide which one is right for you is to speak to them and ask as many questions as you can. You will find that good companies will be very open and honest about their processes and happy to answer as many questions as you wish. Unfortunately some companies just want to make a quick buck and will say anything to get the sale. Asking lots of questions will allow you to decide whether the company feels right for you. You will want to try and understand the company values and ensure that the people making your piece understand the importance of what you are choosing. To help with this, we have created a list of questions that you should ask when choosing your glass art memorial or piece of cremation jewellery.
General questions to ask no matter what type of piece you are choosing:
- Can I visit your studio? All reputable companies will allow you to visit and happily show you what they do. Even if you can't visit due to distance, we highly recommend avoiding companies where you can't visit.
- Do you have samples there for me to see and try on? Similar to above, all reputable companies will have a showroom where you can see and touch samples.
- Do you make custom pieces or only what is on your website? Whilst it may not seem important, many companies do not actually make their pieces but buy them in ready made. If a company will make a custom piece then you can be assured that they are actually making their pieces.
- Am I able to watch you place the ashes into the piece? Of all the questions, this is one of the most important. Trustworthy companies will allow you to watch the ashes being placed into the piece. Avoid any company that doesn't offer this.
- Am I able to add the ashes to the piece myself? Similar to the question above, some companies may even allow you to get involved in the process. Whilst you may not wish to do this, it shows that the company offering this is trustworthy.
- How long does it take to make a piece? It's good to know how long your piece will take and we recommend asking why it takes this amount of time to make it.
- Can I have more than one person's ashes in a piece? There should be no additional charge for this.
- How do I know that my ashes are going to be in my piece? You want to ensure that your piece does have the ashes of your loved one in it. Whilst a certificate of authenticity is important, if a company doesn't offer the ability to see the ashes being placed into the piece, you should be wary. If you were to ask a crematorium this question, they would let you know that you can watch 'The Charge' which is when the coffin is placed into the cremator.
- Is the piece you make for me handmade? With something so precious, we believe that it is important to ensure that it is made properly. When something is made properly using traditional making methods, not only will the quality be better than something that isn't but you can ensure that it will be able to be adjusted or repaired in the future ensuring life long longevity.
- Will my ashes leave the building at any stage through the making process? There should be no reason for a company to have the ashes leave the building except to be returned to you.
- Are there any hidden costs such as delivery charges, engraving costs, extra charges for larger sizes etc? When comparing companies, it's important to understand the finished price with all options added that you may want. Hidden costs can turn a positive experience sour and also trick you into choosing the wrong company.
- How long have you been working with cremation ashes for? Working with ashes is extremely specialist and we recommend choosing a company with a long history of doing this to ensure that you are going to get the best service possible with the right results.
- Are you registered with companies house and VAT registered? It goes without saying that when choosing something so precious you want to ensure that you are buying from a real company and not from someone making on a their kitchen table.
Questions when choosing Cremation Jewellery
- How many jewellers do you have? You will be amazed that some of the biggest companies don't actually have jewellers as they buy ready made pieces of jewellery in and then glue their stones in. If you can't see jewellery being made in their videos and can't see jewellery benches when you visit then avoid choosing them.
- Do you make your gemstones with glass or resin? Resin is an Epoxy which is a glue that turns into a plastic. Importantly, Resin is not waterproof and must not get wet. Not only will resin this shrink which risks the stone falling out, but the colours will fade and the surface will yellow. Resin is also extremely soft and can be damaged very easily.
- How do you set your stones and do you use glue to do this? quite simply, stones that are glued in can fall out. Whilst glues have their place in the world, you wouldn't expect a diamond to be glued in and you should avoid all companies that glue their cremation ash gemstones in. Professionally setting a stone is a time honoured skill that is learnt through years of practice. Setting your stone this way means that it won't fall out even if the setting becomes loose. With a professionally set stone you can also remove the stone at any point if you wish to do something else with it.
- Are their claims of gemstone hardness real? Some companies claim that they have a patented process that makes their glass gemstones as hard as diamonds. As a company that has been making glass for nearly 25 years, we can guarantee that this claim is 100% false. To prove this we recommend reading the relevant patent which as you will see, states nothing about hardness. Glass when annealed properly and looked after will stand the test of time. Please don't be tricked by false claims of glass being as hard as a diamond.
- What Precious Metals can I have my jewellery made in? If your piece is handmade then you should be able to have it made in any alloy you wish. If your choice is restricted to silvers or 9ct alloys then it is highly likely that their capability to make jewellery is not up to scratch.
- Will my cremation jewellery be properly hallmarked with your hallmark? A hallmark is a quality guarantee placed onto the piece by the British Assay Offices. A quality jewellery studio will have invested in their own hallmark and ensure that every piece, including the silver pieces have the makers hallmark on it. You will want to ensure that a proper hallmark is used on all pieces, not just a 925 stamp on silver and also that the hallmark is registered to the company making your piece. For instance, our hallmark is registered at the Birmingham Assay office and is 'AIA'. Every piece we make has our hallmark on it and has been tested by the Assay Office. You can check us out by calling the Birmingham Assay office to check.
- Do you do half sizes? If it's made in house, it can be made to any size. In fact, even if it isn't made in house, a good business should be abel to produce all sizes including half sizes.
- Do you do everything in house? A specialist in this area will make their glass and jewellery in house. If they don't they should be using respected specialists and should be happy to share the detail of this with you.
- In the future can my ring be resized if I need it to be? As time goes by you may wish the ring to be resized due to personal changes in size or because you wish someone else to benefit from wearing the piece of jewellery. It is always worth checking that the company selling your piece is able to do this for you at a later date.
- Are you able to use my old gold when making my piece? Whilst there may be additional charges for reusing old gold or silver, if a company makes the piece themselves they will be able to do this for you.
- What precious metal should I choose? The simple answer is to choose the metal that is right for you. Don't allow a company to try and up-sell a more expensive metal to you or tell you that specific metals are better which is why they don't make with 18ct alloys for instance. All precious metals will last a lifetime if looked after properly so choose the one that is right for you.
Questions when choosing Glass Art Memorials
- Does the artwork come with everything needed to display it? When buying a piece of artwork you will want to ensure it is professionally finished and ready to hang or display with relevant brackets, stands, instructions and tools.
- Can it go in the garden? Properly made glass pieces will be annealed properly and therefore frost resistant. Annealing is the stabilising process that stops glass breaking when exposed to small changes in heat. Whilst you may not wish to have the piece outside, its a good way to check whether it is made properly.
- Does it fade in the sunlight? Specialist glass will not fade and the colour and vibrance will last forever. Avoid resins and added colours that will fade with time and go yellow.
- Is it made of glass? It's always worth asking this as Resin is a plastic and something you should look to avoid.
- Is there any resin in the piece? It's really worth knowing this. Unfortunately due to the low of cost of using resin, some companies will cut corners by using resin and results in a substandard product that in art work will go yellow over time.
- Are you able to make custom pieces? If the company you are choosing really make by hand then they will be able to make custom pieces.
- Will I be able to see the ashes in the piece? It's important to understand whether the ashes can be seen or are mixed with glitter or something similar. When ashes are worked the right way they are truly beautiful and will compliment a piece. Additions such as glitter or Mica are just not needed and should be avoided.
Feel free to visit us here at Ashes With Art or call us to discuss these questions or ones that aren't covered here. We love giving people tours of our workshop and showing off what we do. Come and have a good look around with a tea or coffee and always choose the company that is right for you!