Wedding Anniversary Gifts by Year
Whether you’ve just tied the knot or have logged several decades’ worth of marriage, you might be wondering, “What are the big wedding milestones?”
Before we get into it, some historical context: the tradition of giving gifts to commemorate certain wedding anniversary years might date to medieval Germany or as far back as ancient Rome. According to Stephanie Coontz, Director of Research and Public Education for the Council on Contemporary Families and author of Marriage, a History, anniversary gifts became popular during the Victorian era. “This was the period when the love match was triumphing,” she told Time magazine. “When the love match was first invented it was very destabilizing and traditional conservatives were horrified by the idea…What in the world will we do to get people married and keep them married if love is the main reason? And so there began to be this emphasis on building love and commitment.”
Today, most married couples will agree that every year of marriage is worthy of celebration, whether it’s a dinner out or acknowledging the occasion with a bouquet of flowers. However, the emphasis tends to be on the early wedding anniversaries and the “big ones” that come later in life. Traditionally speaking, the big wedding milestone anniversaries are each of the first 10 years of marriage; from that point on, it’s the anniversaries that occur every five years.
Jewelry Makes the Perfect Anniversary Gift
Fine jewelry is always an appropriate category to hone in on as you search for anniversary gift options, especially since it aligns with many traditional anniversary-gift gemstones, metals, and materials. Plus, fine jewelry is inherently precious, romantic, and designed to last a lifetime so that future generations can treasure its significance (and hopefully enjoy wearing it, too).
Read on for the definitive guide to anniversary gifts by year. Did you know that there is a jewel to commemorate every wedding anniversary (hat tip to the Gemological Institute of America for establishing these guidelines)? So if you’re thinking about giving jewelry as an anniversary gift, it’s pretty easy to find a great one!
1-Year Anniversary Gift
Paper is the traditional first-anniversary gift. If you’re the DIY type there is no shortage of how-tos on creating paper jewelry (check YouTube and other online channels). Or for a ready-made option, you might consider the work of a paper jewelry artist.
Meanwhile, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) cites gold as the go-to year-one anniversary gift. A simple gold chain in yellow, white, or rose gold is the perfect foundational piece for a jewelry collection that you add to throughout your married life. More ideas: gold jewelry that incorporates romantic symbols such as hearts, locks, and love knots or gold jewelry that can be engraved with a personal message or monogram.
2-Year Anniversary Gift
While the traditional second-year gift is cotton—and you’ll find jewelry made with all manner of textiles on Etsy—the gemstone suggestion for this milestone is garnet. You can combine both ideas by packaging the garnet jewel in a cotton pouch or wrapping it in a vintage cotton handkerchief, maybe one embroidered with the recipient’s first initial.
Garnet represents passion, love, commitment, and friendship and can be found in a wide range of exquisite jewelry pieces. It is also the birthstone for January. Garnets come in every color of the rainbow, from raspberry-pink rhodolites to juicy orange spessartites. A thoughtful gift would be a piece of jewelry that incorporates a garnet in your partner's favorite color like a pair of Victorian floral cluster earrings in deep-red garnet, a heart-shaped malaia garnet pendant in a purplish-pink shade, or a pinky ring set with a rare demantoid garnet (the prettiest green you can imagine).
3-Year Anniversary Gift
Leather is the traditional gift for the third year of marriage, and there are lots of necklaces and bracelets made with leather cord. Another idea: a luxury watch with a leather wristband.
The modern third-anniversary alternative is pearls. If there are no other pearls in your partner’s collection, consider gifting a classic 16-18 inch pearl necklace, a pair of pearl-and-diamond studs, or a delicate pearl bracelet. Today, pearls come in a gazillion gender-fluid styles—often the designs are combined with leather and sleek hardware—making them a universally-appropriate anniversary gift that will always be in fashion.
4-Year Anniversary Gift
You’ve made it to four years and the occasion calls for…fruit and flowers. Watermelon tourmaline, anyone? How about a charm in the shape of a flower or type of fruit? Or carved gemstones that take the shape of the same in a pair of earrings?
You can also go with the GIA’s pick of blue topaz. As the birthstone for November, topaz is believed to bring good fortune, love, and success to those who wear it—a fitting anniversary gift, whether you choose a ring, a pendant, or a pair of stud earrings.
5-Year Anniversary Gift
Wood is the traditional fifth-anniversary gift. Good news for jewelry lovers: Wood is an element commonly used in fine jewelry, whether it’s a carved ebony bangle, rosewood hoop earrings accented with diamonds, or earrings that dangle colorful petrified opal wood (as intriguing as it sounds).
Or if you want something fancier, sapphire is the traditional fifth-anniversary gemstone. It comes in every color of the rainbow and symbolizes a pledge of loyalty, trust, and fidelity—an apt metaphor for a marriage that’s destined to stand the test of time.
6-Year Anniversary Gift
For the sixth anniversary, tradition says to celebrate with candy! How cute would a candy necklace be as a gift for your jewelry-loving spouse? But perhaps you pair it with something more substantial— amethyst is the stone for sixth anniversaries. As February’s birthstone, it is also widely believed that St. Valentine wore an amethyst ring carved with the image of Cupid. This beautiful purple stone also stands for wisdom and security, another symbol that connects to the idea of a long-lasting marriage.
7-Year Anniversary Gift
Copper is the traditional gift for the seventh year of marriage. There is no shortage of copper jewelry out there, especially artisan-crafted styles (check out the colorful ones made in Turkey).
Alternatively, onyx is the official seventh-anniversary gemstone. It comes in different colors but black is the most famous. You’ll find an abundance of onyx jewelry options at every price point, especially when it comes to men’s and genderless jewelry. A bracelet of onyx beads or a medallion detailed with onyx inlay would be classic choices. Black isn’t your bag? Green onyx is vibrant, affordable, and said to have healing properties.
8-Year Anniversary Gift
Bronze is the traditional anniversary gift for couples celebrating eight years of marriage. Surprise your partner with a piece of bronze jewelry (commonly used in costume jewelry designs). If you’d prefer a gemstone option for your anniversary gift, you can choose jewelry made with tourmaline. This beautiful stone is found in an array of colors including pink, green, blue, red, and yellow.
9-Year Anniversary Gift
Pottery is traditionally associated with the ninth anniversary, symbolizing the enduring stability and strength of a marriage. For jewelry gift options, consider ceramic earrings, necklaces, or bracelets, including those made of porcelain.
Meanwhile, vibrant blue lapis lazuli is the GIA’s pick for the ninth-anniversary gift. It symbolizes courage, intelligence, truth, and wisdom, key ingredients for a long-lasting relationship. It can take many different forms in jewelry, from bohemian and low-key to wildly deluxe.
10-Year Anniversary Gift
Congrats on making it to double digits! The traditional gifts for the 10th anniversary are tin and aluminum. We prefer the latter, as many jewelry designers, both emerging and established, create fine jewelry with the material, often anodizing it to take on the most beguiling colors. Gift your spouse an aluminum statement necklace or a sculptural pair of earrings.
Or to commemorate a decade of marriage, maybe you do the GIA’s suggestion of diamonds. You can’t go wrong with a diamond eternity band or tennis bracelet but imagine the impact of receiving a diamonds-by-the-yard-style necklace set with ten diamonds, one for each year of marriage. Breathtaking.
15-Year Anniversary Gift
Crystal is the traditional 15-year anniversary gift. Jewelry made with rock crystal quartz would be another great choice and if you wanted to give a timepiece, many watch faces are encased in sapphire quartz crystal.
For a more romantic option, ruby jewelry is your 15-year-anniversary alternative. Ruby is the traditional birthstone for July but is also universally known as the stone of love and passion, making it a jewelry box essential for anyone who is loved deeply and gives love in return. After 15 years, you two lovebirds probably qualify!
20-Year Anniversary Gift
This milestone is often referred to as the “China Anniversary.” But is it possible to have jewelry made from china? There are myriad Etsy sellers making lovely jewelry made from vintage china.
But when emeralds are the 20-year-anniversary gemstone, how can you resist? Symbolizing springtime, renewal, and rejuvenation, an emerald jewel might be the perfect symbol for a couple looking to make a fresh start. Since emerald also signifies longevity, it’s likewise perfect for solidifying a bond that has lasted for 20 years and counting. From its rich history to its captivating allure, emerald jewelry is a timeless classic—just right for commemorating two decades of married life.
25-Year Anniversary Gift
The 25th anniversary is also known as the Silver Jubilee. Silver jewelry is an elegant choice and can make quite an extravagant statement, from the deluxe classic styles to more sculptural, avant-garde designs. Silver chains are genderless—maybe you each get the same one for this important anniversary!
30-Year Anniversary Gift
Pearls again (see also: third-anniversary jewelry gift ideas). If you gave your partner a classic pearl jewel for year three (like an 18-inch necklace of Akoya pearls) you can go bigger and bolder for the 30th anniversary. Think jumbo-sized baroque pearls interspersed with chunky gemstones, a luminous strand of black Tahitian pearls, or the quiet luxury of a golden South Sea pearl cocktail ring.
35-Year Anniversary Gift
Coral jewelry for the 35th year of marriage will definitely make a splash (get it?), but stick to vintage, as certain types of coral are endangered and protected. You can think of your coral jewelry gift as a testament to a bond that has weathered the tides of time; it also more generally symbolizes wisdom, happiness, and immortality. Coral beads, a coral figa pendant, or a ring featuring a delicately carved coral flower would be excellent 35th-anniversary gifts.
40-Year Anniversary Gift
Rubies again (see also: 15th-anniversary jewelry gifts). You can never have too many of this romantic gem with its vibrant red hue, a symbol of the fiery passion that has sustained a couple throughout four decades of marriage. Add some diamonds for an extra-special gift (it’s been 40 years!). How about a heart-shaped pendant adorned in pavé diamonds and rubies, a ruby-and-diamond eternity ring, or a ruby tennis necklace interspersed with diamonds?
45-Year Anniversary Gift
Time for some sapphires, baby (see also: five-year anniversary jewelry gift ideas). If you gave your partner blue sapphires for year five, you can add to their collection with complementary pieces—or introduce an entirely different sapphire jewel in a different color. An ombré pink sapphire eternity ring could be very romantic; the progression of pastel pink to bright fuchsia sapphires can beautifully symbolize how the love between you has deepened over time.
50-Year Anniversary Gift
It’s the Golden Jubilee! For this milestone celebration, a substantial gift of gold jewelry is perfect, proof that the love between you hasn’t lost its luster and will endure for many years to come. Consider engraving the jewel with a message commemorating the anniversary, perhaps somehow incorporating the number "50" into the design. A gold watch—one for each of you, even—might be an especially sumptuous option destined to become a treasured family heirloom.
55-Year Anniversary Gift
The 55th anniversary is sometimes dubbed the "Emerald Extravaganza” (see also: 20th-anniversary jewelry gift ideas). Very big emeralds might be in order for this big milestone anniversary; for this, your best inspiration is the red carpet during awards season.
60-Year Anniversary Gift
Here’s to 60 years of matrimony! You deserve a heartfelt salute and all the diamonds (see also: 10th-anniversary gift ideas). Whatever you did for year 10, make the 60th anniversary—also known as the Diamond Jubilee—version bigger and better. A watch entirely encrusted in diamonds feels like the right idea here; ditto a magnificent diamond Riviere necklace. Anniversary gifts that come in the form of diamonds are always welcome, but there’s something about the stone’s timeless beauty and incredible durability that perfectly expresses a relationship that has lasted for six decades and counting.
Once you land on the perfect anniversary gift, make sure you get the jewel insured by a reputable company like Jewelers Mutual. Obtaining personal jewelry insurance through Jewelers Mutual is an affordable option and covers loss, damage, and mysterious disappearances. You can receive a jewelry insurance quote in just 30 seconds by clicking the button below.