Skip to content
What is the Difference Between an Urn and a Keepsake?

What is the Difference Between an Urn and a Keepsake?

If you’ve recently lost someone or are perhaps helping out someone close to you who lost someone, you’ve likely come across many references to both “urns” and “keepsakes.” These terms might be used together or somewhat interchangeably, so it may be confusing as to what’s what. Please keep reading as we discuss the differences between urns and keepsakes

What is an Urn?


An urn is any container used to hold a person’s cremated remains. Traditionally though, urns are vase-shaped containers with lids and were made from ceramic, glass, metal, and wood. There are almost as many kinds of urns as there are styles of urns. Urns range in size, material, and style. Here are some of the kinds of urns and their uses.

Scattering Urn

These urns are designed to securely hold ashes while also allowing for easy scattering. Some scattering urns, like this one, can also be used as a display urn.

Water Urn

Water urns are probably the most unique urn type since they’re meant to dissolve (completely biodegrade) in water. This allows them to disperse your loved one’s ashes gently and safely into the water without any risk of dropping the urn or of ash blowing in the wind. 

Display or memorial urn

This is the classic idea of an urn, which holds a person’s ashes and is on display in a home. These urns are often engraved with the deceased’s name, birth and death dates, and a favorite saying or sentiment. 

Burial Urn

Many people want to be buried after they’re cremated. A burial urn securely holds a person’s ashes while being buried.

Tree Urn

A tree urn plants a beloved’s remains in the soil along with a young tree. This allows their ashes to be turned into material for the growing tree to use, as it becomes a living urn. This process requires a special growing medium to make sure the ashes can be in the growing environment without harming the tree. If you’re considering a living urn memorial for a passed loved one, be sure to choose a tree that grows well in your area. 

Planter Urns

Planter urns are special planters with enclosed spaces to hold a loved one’s ashes. These are especially meaningful if the deceased was a plant person. Additionally, they bring beauty and warmth into a home.

What is a Keepsake?


A keepsake is a small memento or token meant to symbolize a memory of a significant person, place, or event. A memorial keepsake is a small item that represents, often quite literally, a person who has passed. They’re meant to be kept in a special place or on display so you can remember your lost loved one. There are innumerable memorial keepsakes, and some popular ones include:

Keepsake Jewelry

Keepsake Urns

  • Customizable keepsake urns are small and can be written or drawn on. Keepsake urns create the opportunity for many people to keep a portion of the cremation ashes. 

Keepsake Glass

Other Keepsakes

  • The company, Parting Stone, bakes cremation ash into beautiful, multi-hued “stones” in a process similar to ceramics. They are weather safe and can be kept outside. 
  • Gemstones can be made from cremation ashes. This is likely the most expensive of all the memorial keepsakes. 

Differences between Urns and Keepsakes

 difference between urns and keepsakes

Here are some of the differences between urns and keepsakes.

  1. The main difference between urns and keepsakes has to do with purpose. Urns are always meant to hold ashes. Keepsakes have to do with a token of remembrance for a passed loved one. As you can see, sometimes they overlap, like with keepsake urns or even keepsake urn pendants. 
  2. Full size or portion urns are much larger than a keepsake, even a keepsake urn.
  3. Keepsakes can be anything small that reminds a person of someone they lost. They include everything from photographs to trinkets and jewelry.
Keepsakes are an excellent way to always keep a part of your loved one close to you. While urns and keepsakes don’t always overlap, they are both about remembering someone you love. Shop keepsakes at the Living Urn today.
Previous article Biodegradable Urns - 2024 Comprehensive Guide