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A jewelry box is a container for beautiful and precious gems. Most women have jewelry boxes filled with an array of colorful, stylish jewelry. A casket is a container for dear departed loved ones to be viewed in, and buried or cremated in. How are a jewelry box and a casket related? I heard a Pastor during a eulogy describe the person that had passed away, as a “precious jewel.” He went further to say that the casket was “a jewelry box”, made for the beautiful jewel that lie in it. I looked up the word and lo and behold, the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a casket as, 1) a small chest or box-as for jewels, and 2) a usually fancy coffin. When you think of your loved one as someone precious and valuable, the casket they lie in, is truly a jewelry box.
Caskets of old were better known as “coffins.” They were usually rectangular and made out of wood. In America, the casket industry originated in the 1800’s, and most funeral directors, known as “undertakers” then, built their own. In the 1950’s metal caskets became more popular and casket manufacturers began springing up.
There are three different types of caskets available today:
1) Cloth covered, which are wood or particle board based
2) Metal-made of steel, copper or bronze and
Cloth covered caskets come in different colors: pink, white, gray, blue and others. Their lining is usually made of crepe material. Cloth caskets are generally the least expensive type of casket. The exception would be the pine box. Each of us has heard someone say, “just put me in a pine box.” They are available, and they cost less than cloth caskets.
Metal caskets come in a full array of colors, blue, gray, white, pink, green, brown, black and others. Some are air brushed and two tone. The interiors are either crepe, velvet or linen. Metal caskets come in varying thicknesses called gauges: 16 gauge (the thickest), 18 gauge or 20 gauge. Certain features dress up or decorate a casket: embroidered flowers, birds, flags or other designs in the panel. Sayings such as “May the Work I’ve Done Speak for Me”, “Going Home” or “Mother” are also available in the panel of some caskets. The hardware (handles, corners) can be very decorative and made in the shape of angels, flowers, eagles etc… Some have sealing devices and others do not. These devices guard against outside elements entering the casket for long periods of time. However, there is no evidence that any casket with a sealing device preserves human remains. The more durable a casket is and the more ornamented a casket is, the more costly it generally is. Copper and bronze caskets are the most expensive because they are thicker, non-rusting (permanent burial containers), fancier and have velvet interiors.
Wood caskets are made out of cherry, maple, pine, walnut, mahogany wood, etc., and have a natural beauty. They are finely crafted, like furniture. They two are made with crepe or velvet interiors and come with a variety of hardware styles. These caskets are porous and thus corrode and return to dust faster than metal caskets.
Rental caskets are available also, and are primarily used for services that culminate in cremation. A cardboard container with crepe bedding is inserted in the rental casket. After viewing and services, the decedent in the cardboard container is lifted out of the rental casket, a cardboard top is placed and the person is cremated in that container.
Occasionally a family cannot find one casket with all of the features they prefer. Custom caskets can be made upon request. Since they are special made, there can be a three-four day delay before the casket can be delivered. There is an additional cost for a casket to be custom made. Most people can fit into a standard sized casket, but those that are larger, require what is referred to as an “oversized casket.” These are usually more expensive, also.
Casket costs range from several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.
People choose a casket based on appearance and cost. Some have favorite colors, or want one that matches the special clothing the family will dress their loved one in. No matter what type, style, color or cost, the casket chosen is indeed a “jewelry box” for a precious and valuable jewel.