What you need to know about keepsake urns

Funeral Planning
A younger person has their hand on the arm of an older person, who has a small ball in their hand. We cannot see their faces.

If your loved on chose to be cremated, choosing an urn is part of the process. But what about choosing a keepsake urn?

What are keepsake urns?

So, what are keepsake urns and how are they different from traditional urns? Actually, the only difference between a standard urn and a "keepsake" urn is their sizes. A traditional or standard urn is considered full-sized. The keepsake urn, meanwhile, typically holds only a few cubic inches of cremains (yes, that's the term for cremated remains).

A small keepsake urn is mostly used in addition to a full-sized urn. For instance, a traditional full-sized urn might be buried, interred in a family mausoleum, or settled into a special place in your home where it can be stored safely. The keepsake urn, which contains only a small portion of the cremains, can then be displayed in a more public area of your residence, like the living room or on a shelving unit.

Why use one?

So, why should you have two urns? Well, you may want to keep a reminder of your loved one's presence and memory in your home, but at the same time don't want to risk spillage of the cremains or damage to the urn. You can keep the full-sized urn in a safe and secure place, like a locked cabinet, and have the keepsake urn closer to you — indeed some are even wearable.

Typically, the traditional urn is interred in a mausoleum or buried in a small grave plot, or the ashes are spread in a special place. And usually, if cremation takes place, the funeral home or cremation service will provide a free urn for your loved one's cremains, or you can purchase one from them. These are typically stainless steel, aluminum, bronze or copper urns that have a standard shape and size. But since these urns aren't used in a decorative sense, they're not usually designed to be mementos.

However, if you plan to spread the ashes but want to keep some cremains to memorialize your loved one's memory and spirit, a keepsake cremation urn might be useful.

Types of keepsake urns

As noted earlier, there are many different materials and designs for small keepsake urns. Here are some of the types to choose from, so that you can get a good idea of which one is right for you and your living situation.


Ceramics are the most common type of keepsake urns, although they are more fragile than metallic urns. The great thing about ceramics is that they can be painted on easily, which allows for greater customization.

Ceramics Keepsake Urns


Porcelain is another great option that can easily be personalized. Unlike ceramic keepsake urns, porcelain ones have a smooth, glossy surface. However, just like ceramic urns, they can be quite fragile, so it's best to keep them where they cannot be knocked over.


Stainless steel

Stainless steel keepsake urns have become very popular, and many funeral homes and cremation services use stainless steel urns as a part of their package deals. They are unbreakable and easy to clean. You can also have them laser-engrave the name of your loved one, or etch a loving message, quote or poem.

Stainless Steel Keepsake urn


Wood keepsake urns are another popular option for your loved one's cremains. It's all-natural and can be easily personalized. They are also solid and sturdy.

Wood Keepsake urns


Like stainless steel keepsake urns, a bronze version is very sturdy and is easily customizable. You have the option of laser-engraving the name of your loved on, or a beautiful quote.

Bronze Keepsake urn


The marble keepsake urn is probably one of the most intriguing options your can choose. Marble represents immortality and, like ceramic keepsake urns, you can customize a marble urn through laser-engraving.

Marble Keepsake urns

Glass or crystal

Glass or crystal keepsake urns are some of the most stunning-looking urns you could use to celebrate your loved one. Glass urns are creative and eye-catching. However, if you choose a glass or crystal keepsake urn, be sure to keep it in a place that cannot be touched by children or pets, because they are fragile even if the glass is thick.

Glass or Crystal Keepsake urns


Biodegradable keepsake urns are the perfect choice if your loved one was environmentally conscious. A biodegradable urn is also an eco-friendly choice if, later on, you decide to bury it outdoors.

Biodegradable Keepsake urns

Personalizing a keepsake urn

Personalizing your keepsake urn is a great way to celebrate your loved one. Many of the materials used to create urns are customizable, whether they're ceramic urns or wood types. You can engrave the name of your loved one, a poem or prayer, or perhaps the lyrics to a song they loved.

One of the advantages of personalizing your keepsake urn is that you can create one for different family members. For instance, you can create a keepsake urn for dad and one for your mother, or other family member like a grandparent.

Personalized Keepsake urn

Many of the sellers of keepsake urns allow you to personalize your loved one's urn, so that you don't have to pay another service to do it for you. Likewise, if you receive an urn from a funeral home, you can ask them to customize it for you. Personalizing keepsake urns is a way to help you celebrate your loved one, so that their spirit — and your memories with them — will live on forever.