By JEN WIECZNER
For those who prefer the finer things in life -- and, perhaps, in the afterlife -- why not a golden coffin? People hoping to pimp their funeral might consider Batesville Casket's $24,000 Promethean, a bronze number with gold plating you may remember from the burial of the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. There's also the $34,500 version from Golden Casket, which the firm says is gilded with 24-karat gold and requires "hundreds of hours of handcraftsmanship."
The Grave Truth:
In an age when mourners can buy caskets at Costco, the idea of an elaborate send-off into the beyond -- a la Egyptian pyramid tombs -- is antiquated, say mortuary-science scholars. Indeed, the average coffin costs only $2,300, and funeral directors say most customers request affordable models. Coffin makers counter that the gold can be functional as well as flashy, noting that the full-gilded versions will hold a loved one's remains longer than wood or other common materials. "If it's something you're going to spend eternity in, it seems like you might want a real luxury option," says Edward Balfour, president of Golden Casket. But while experts say grave robbing is extremely rare these days, we can't help wondering: Could these precious coffins turn gold diggers into grave diggers?