There is an old section in the cemetery where my parents and grandparents are buried that has the white stones with simple engravings of names, dates and epitaphs. I think that the earliest stones are from the 1700s. In the newer section the stones are mostly granite that has been engraved and polished. Some of the designs are incredible. You can spot the latest generation of monuments that have been engraved using machines and lasers. There is a company that does Jewish monuments in NJ that does some incredible black monuments with a photo of the deceased etched into the surface of the stone.
I wonder what the old stone carvers from a couple hundred years ago would think of modern memorial stones. We have went from having something, such as “Here Lies John Doe Born May 1730 Died May 1800 RIP” to elaborate designs of tombstones that include pictures and 3D sculptural shapes. I have noticed that in sections of cemeteries where the transition from one era of design to the next occurs that is is a bit visually jarring for such peaceful spaces. The old white stones mixed with stones from the 1970 or so kind of clash, and the newest memorials really stand out from the gray granite stones of the 1970s era.
You can really make a memorial stone for a loved one that offers a whole lot more than just their name and birth and death dates. Etched images of the deceased are a great way to let anyone who sees the stone realize that the tiny plot of land is where a person who was once loved and valued is buried. The stone means more than just a name and dates. Pretty much whatever you want to put on granite can now be written or drawn.