Like many Jews I have the minhag of placing small stones on Jewish graves I visit. (The precise roots and meaning of this custom have many explanations, but it is widespread and I am not questioning it here. I saw my grandparents do it. I saw my parents do it. I do it. See for example Placing stones on a grave )

My sister was well-known for her habit of putting one color of nail polish on nine nails and gold or silver on one pinky nail; she kept her nails painted that way even as she was dying. When we unveiled her tombstone I placed a rock (small, perhaps 3 cm long) that I had painted half pink and and half gold with some of her own nail polish that I had saved.

I have never seen or heard of decorated rocks being used in this way before; it was just an idea that came to me. Are there any halachic (or later) sources that talk about requirements for these stones?

(See also Where should the stone left on a grave come from? asking about the source of the stones, but my question feels rather different.)

I realize that parts of this question are going to attract opinion-based suggestions, please keep your opinions to comments. For answers I'm looking for sources to Jewish authorities of any flavor who have written something that might bear on this issue.

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    Baruch dayan ha'emet; I'm sorry to hear about your loss.
    – ezra
    Feb 19, 2018 at 1:56
  • The way I usually think about minhagim is that if I dont know otherwise it's allowed. After all we create/continue by passing them down so if you don't know of a rule it isn't a rule unless everyone else does it. A kind of we made it so we make the rules.
    – Orion
    Feb 20, 2018 at 2:26
  • Similar to previous comment, that there's nothing specific prohibiting it. However, generally, Jews don't decorate graves in any way. This is the reason why Jews don't leave flowers at the grave. I'm inclined to think that no adornment or decoration of any kind should be made which would include colored stones. It's not as much that the grave should be a "boring" place, but this is some state of solemnness and plainness that should always be present there. The gravesite should remain as plain as the earth that surrounds it. My own opinion on this.
    – DanF
    Feb 20, 2018 at 19:15


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