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Choosing the Right Size Urn

Quite possibly the most important decision one will make in the purchase of a funerary urn is the size of the urn which one will be using to contain the ashes of the departed. Selecting the right size urn is, in turn, influenced by two main factors; the physical size and weight of the deceased and the place where the urn will be displayed.

A useful guide for selecting an urn based on the size of the deceased is to remember that 1 pound of body weight in the deceased corresponds to 1 cubic inch of volume in the urn. Therefore, to store the ashes of a single adult human individual, one would usually use a single cremation urn, which has a storage capacity of 200 to 300 cubic inches; large enough to contain an adult human rendered down to ash. For a larger individual, or for couples, one might do well to consider the use of companion urns. These have a capacity of 400 to 500 cubic inches, and can easily store the remains of two adult individuals or a single, heavier person.

The next most important factor in choosing the right size urn for your needs is to determine where exactly the urn will be located, and plan accordingly. Urns intended for placement in a niche in a columbarium need not be heavily decorated and can generally be as large as desired, since there will be enough space for even the largest urn in a columbarium. However, if the urn is meant to be displayed in a more public place, such as on a shelf in the home, or even if you wish to display it on one’s desk at work or on the dashboard, it is usually best to choose keepsake urns for such purposes. Keepsake urns have a maximum capacity of 50 cubic inches, and they are generally small enough to fit on an average office desk. Some are even small enough to be worn as jewelry, earning them the name of “keepsake jewelry.”

In addition, since the smaller urns are usually meant for public display more than the larger urns, they tend to be more carefully decorated and resemble conventional urns much less than the standard cremation urns, which tend to retain a more traditional shape. The exact choice of design is a decision best left to one’s personal preference, but it is better to pick one that preserves the solemnity and dignity of the deceased, just to be on the safe side.

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