As I’ve said before on these pages — I retired from full-time funeral directing about four years ago and continue as a part-time minority owner of the firm I was affiliated with for over 33 years. A lot of things have changed over that time but – as many of you will agree – probably nothing as much as the means of disposition from earth burial to cremation. And with that — there has become an opportunity to market to the new consumer a different set of products — including cremation jewelry.
I came across an article the other day from the Portland, Maine Press Herald. The title of “Cremation Jewelry – holding remains of people, pets – becoming more popular” pulled me in. The personal interest and product story told the story of Ms. Amy Richardson and the unique way she choose to handle her grief – which has now turned into a full-time business for her.
Ms. Richardson had been making jewelry for more than a decade and was knowledgeable about the technique of glass fusing. When her stepfather died in 2014 she memorialized him in a personal fashion by infusing a small amount of his ashes into a jewelry item. She could wear the necklace when she wanted to and feel a little bit closer to him by doing so.
According to Ms. Richardson, the idea of wearing the necklace helped with the grief process so much that she wanted to duplicate the effort for others. That lead her to form her own business, 919 Cremation Jewelry (www.919cremationjewelry.com) She now makes this jewelry for both humans and pets. Special items have been ordered by brides to have a close affinity with a deceased parent on their wedding day and some elderly people have put pre-orders in to the company prior to them passing away as a gift to their loved ones at the time of death.
Funeral Director Daily take: When I operated our mortuary I did so with the idea that the only merchandise that we offered was what was needed to go along with the services that we provided — caskets, burial vaults, urns, and printed products. I was just not imaginative enough to think the consumers would want something that I didn’t think to offer. As time marches on, it is very apparent how wrong I was.
Today our arrangement room is filled with jewelry type items – such as what we are talking about here. It is filled with items you know about called “Thumbies”, and it is filled with small, “keepsake” cremation urns. Our arrangement room is so filled with these items on the wall that one of our hostesses now refers to the arrangement room as the “Gift Shop”.
However, it is not so funny as it has became apparent that the sales of these items are becoming a major revenue source in the business. It is just becoming a fact that the children of those who are dying at this time are just more personally moving on their instrumental grief in different ways than their predecessors did. Not so long ago many survivors purchased a “good” casket because it was “the last thing they could do for the deceased”. Today, many of these survivors really understand that they cannot do anything for the deceased and instead are doing things for themselves to help them in the grief process. In this instance, that means purchasing jewelry and the like in the hopes that it helps them in their grief experience.
I was a conservative funeral director who took my time in putting new things into operation. After doing so, I many times realized I should have made the decision sooner. My suggestion is that if you haven’t put that “Gift Shop” into your funeral home yet, do so. Look at what is available in the market and make a decision to put some items in — I will guarantee you that your client families will be looking for them.