Anniversary celebrations that include gift-giving are a longstanding tradition amongst married couples. But did you know that there is a set of gifting “rules” that some couples abide by? Similar to an anniversary gift list - paper for the first year, silver for the 25th, and gold for the 50th anniversary - there’s a special memento for every lap around the sun.

In this blog, we’ll explore the history of this tradition and fill you in on the top wedding anniversary gifts by year.

Where Did Anniversary Gifts by Year Originate?

While it’s hard to say for certain, many historians believe that this tradition was first practiced by people in Ancient Rome and Germany in the middle ages. However, in English-language regions, the trend was first seen in the 1800s.

Image of an anniversary gift wrapped with a bow

Director of Research and Public Education for the Council on Contemporary Families, Stephanie Coontz, said the following, “(This idea) originated in the late 19th century, during the Victorian era, it makes total sense. This was a period when it became an exchange of gifts or gifts from other people because this was the period when the love match was triumphing. 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 if love is the main reason? And so there began to be this emphasis on building love and commitment.” 

Why Do We Still Practice Traditional Gifting? 

Despite the less than romantic origin, the concept of a yearly gift theme caught on and people still practice it to this day. Not married yet? Try looking for meaningful necklaces for your girlfriend instead. That’s not to say that the gift ideas haven’t evolved over the years, the list will change here and there to accommodate our more modern ways of life. Each year is broken down into two categories - traditional anniversary gifts and modern anniversary gifts - to indicate which gifts are more old-fashioned and which are more current.

Today, couples who give these gifts see them as a symbol of their relationship’s resilience and strength.

Wedding Anniversary Gifts By Year

So what exactly are the wedding anniversary gifts by year? Whether you’re starting fresh with first wedding anniversary gift ideas for him and her or are looking to implement this long-standing tradition into your relationship, here’s what you need to know about yearly anniversary gifting etiquette.

Year 1

Traditional Gift: Paper - Paper serves as a reminder that your life together is a blank slate. Together, newlyweds will write their unique story, page by page. The first wedding anniversary represents the completion of the first “chapter” in a marriage.

Modern Gift: Clocks - A clock represents the passage of time. Isn’t it funny how quickly that first year together flew by? With time comes good times and bad times, but most importantly, time together is time well spent.  

Gemstone: Kick off your first year together with the luxurious gift of gold. Popular trinkets for this anniversary include cufflinks for him and a gold bracelet or necklace for her. 

Clocks are the modern first year anniversary gift

Year 2

Traditional Gift: Cotton - As year two rolls around cotton is given as a symbol of how interconnected you and your partner have become. As time goes on and your relationship grows you will learn to become more flexible.

Modern Gift: China - Beautiful yet delicate, the gift of china represents the weaknesses and strengths of a relationship. 

Gemstone: Garnet - Garnet is available in a variety of colors, however, red is the hue most closely associated with the second anniversary. Gift your spouse a piece of jewelry featuring red garnet for your second year together. 

Cotton is the traditional second year anniversary gift

Year 3

Traditional Gift: Leather - Leather is said to symbolize the shelter and security that marriage offers. 

Modern Gift: Crystal or Glass - Undeniably gorgeous, both crystal and glass signify beauty and light.  

Gemstone: Pearl - Pearls are recognized for their wisdom and beauty. Popular gift ideas for year three include pearl earrings, bracelets, white pearl cufflinks and pearl-colored pocket squares. 

Image of a woman with a leather purse

Year 4

Traditional Gift:  Fruit or Flowers - As a couple enters their fourth year together their relationship is reaching full bloom. Traditionally this is symbolized using flowers or ripe fruit.  

Modern Gift: Appliances - For the practical gift giver, appliances represent the comfort that is felt by the fourth year. You’ve established a life together and feel settled in your relationship.   

Gemstone: Blue Topaz - Blue topaz is associated with romance and affection. This stone looks great set in most any piece of jewelry. 

Closeup image of a bouquet of flowers

Year 5

Traditional Gift: Wood - Similar to the beginnings of a mighty tree as your fifth anniversary draws near you have sprouted roots. You’re ready to endure anything and the gift of wood represents your resilience.  

Modern Gift: Silverware - Think of the good times that you’ve enjoyed together, do many of them involve food? The gift of silverware is a nod to these memories and the continued fun that awaits.

Gemstone: Sapphire - Available in blue, yellow, purple, orange and green hues, sapphire brings some variety to the gemstone gifting game. This stone is said to represent a relationship’s strength and makes the perfect gift for year five.

A bright sapphire stone

Year 6

Traditional Gift: Iron - The traditional gift of iron is all about strength. After six years of marriage, your bond is stronger than ever. 

Modern Gift: Wood Objects - Similar to iron, the gift of wood is also intended to represent the strength of a relationship. 

Gemstone: Amethyst - A purple variety of quartz, amethyst looks great in the form of necklaces, bracelets and even rings. After six years of gifts your jewelry collection might feel like it’s rapidly growing. Give your partner a sizable chunk of raw amethyst for an eye-catching stone that you can use as decor around the home. 

year 7

Traditional Gift: Copper or Wool - The gift of copper or wool is all about those warm fuzzy feelings that are associated with love. Metal creates heat and wool is amongst the coziest of textiles. 

Modern Gift: Desk Sets - Ok, this one’s not as cutesy as the traditional gift idea, however, it is extremely practical. Work is a big part of living life together and a desk set will remind them of you each day while they grind away at their 9-5.

A desk setup in someone's home office

Gemstone: Onyx - Written about in Ancient Greek mythology, onyx is said to have appeared after Cupid clipped Venus’ toenails and turned them into rocks. Strangely enough, this was an act of love as the newfound stone would mean that Venus would never perish. 

Thanks to its dark hue, onyx looks absolutely striking in any jewelry setting.

year 8

Traditional Gift: Bronze or Pottery - As you’ll see with many of the metals, the gift of bronze is a representation of strength. Alternatively, you can choose to give your sweetie the gift of pottery, an item that began as a lump of clay but was formed into something beautiful over time.

Modern Gift:  Linen or Lace - Often admired for their beauty, linen and lace are delicate and sophisticated.

 

Gemstone: Tourmaline - Tourmaline is said to re-energize a marriage as the stone is long-lasting and resilient to damage. Give them a set of tourmaline cocktail glasses for a gift that everyone can enjoy. Or, if your SO enjoys styling their hair, you can even purchase hair straighteners crafted using tourmaline.  

year 9

Traditional Gift: Willow or Pottery - Another variety of wood, willow is known for its flexibility. This gift lets your loved one know that you’ll be there for them, whatever way the wind may blow.

Pottery is the theme for year number nine

Modern Gift: Leather - Leather is admired for its endurance, a trait shared by your marriage as you enter the ninth year.

 

Gemstone: Lapis Lazuli - A gem with origins in feng shui, lapis lazuli is used to balance positive and negative energies. If your spouse is into skincare, give them a face roller made from this precious stone. However, you really can’t go wrong giving the gift of Lapis Lazuli in jewelry form as the stone features a striking blue tone that looks nothing short of majestic.

year 10

Traditional Gift: Aluminum or Tin - Aluminum and tin are resistant to rust. These alloys won’t wear down making them the perfect symbol of preservation. 

Modern Gift: Diamond Jewelry - A milestone as big as 10 years together is worthy of celebration. And what better way to celebrate than with diamond jewelry?

Gemstone: Diamond - Again, the big 1-0 is a pretty big deal. Don’t be afraid to go all out. The tenth anniversary is a great opportunity to surprise your loved one with a set of lab grown diamond stackable bands, a dazzling pair of earrings or a fresh new diamond necklace. Another popular gift idea is a diamond-encrusted watch to ensure that they’re keeping track of time with style.

Year 11

Traditional Gift: Steel - Your bond is unbreakable by year 11. Steel is the traditional gift for this anniversary thanks to its unmatched strength and durability. 

Modern Gift: Fashion Jewelry - A piece to pair with your diamonds from year 10, fashion jewelry is a wearable reminder of the love that you share.  

Gemstone: Turquoise - Turquoise is worn to bring good health, fortune and peace. If they’re fashion forward, gift your spouse something a little more flashy this year like a turquoise belt buckle or a chunky gemstone ring. 

Image of an elegant pendant necklace

Year 12

Traditional Gift: Silk or Linen - Two staples of the home, silk and linen represent the life that you’ve built together. 

Modern Gift: Pearl - Hidden away in the mouth of a clam, pearls are an unexpected surprise. This gift serves as a reminder of how lucky you are to have found love in each other.

Gemstone: Jade - Said to attract protection, love and prosperity, Jade is the perfect gem to celebrate 12 years of marriage. A gorgeous green stone, jewelry set with jade is sure to please. 

Image of linen pillows

Year 13

Traditional Gift: Lace - Associated with elegance and beauty, lace is strong and represents your unbreakable bond. 

Modern Gift: Textiles or (Faux) Furs - Similar to a thick coat of fur, 13 years of marriage brings a special comfort and warmth. 

Gemstone: Citrine - Yellow in appearance, citrine is used to bring joy and love into one’s life. This stone is also known to attract wealth and abundance. Gift your partner a piece of raw citrine that they can use to decorate their workstation to help them manifest their professional goals and ambitions. Hey, it’s worth a shot, right?

Lace is the traditional gift for the 13th anniversary

Year 14

Traditional Gift: Ivory - Believed to signify luck and protection, elephant-themed gifts and off-white materials are given for year 14.  

Modern Gift: Gold Jewelry - Gold jewelry is given as a representation of eternal unification, no matter if you choose yellow gold, white gold,  or rose gold.

Gemstone: Opal - Opals are a captivating stone. Multicolored beauties, opals symbolize love, passion and desire. The gift of an opal ring, earrings or bracelet is sure to wow your partner on year 14. 

Image of an accented gold engagement ring

Year 15

Traditional Gift: Crystal - The gift of crystal brings attention to the required clarity and transparency to make a relationship work. Especially for 15 years.

Modern Gift: Watches - A memento for the time that you’ve spent together and the time that’s yet to come.

Gemstone: Ruby - Burning hot like the fire of your love, rubies represent the flame in your relationship. Try a ruby tie clip or ring for him and a pair of bright ruby red earrings for her. 

A delicate crystal glass

Year 16

Traditional Gift: Wax - Melded by the flames of your love, wax represents the warmth in your relationship. 

Modern Gift: Silver Holloware - Take date night at home to a whole new level with the gift of silver holloware. Silver holloware represents any dinner table item that isn’t silverware - think bowls, serving trays, and home decor. 

Gemstone: Peridot - A gorgeous green stone, peridot represents undying love and devotion. 

year 17

Traditional and Modern Gift: Furniture - After 17 years together the least you deserve is some fresh furniture. Meant to represent the comfort and familiarity of a long-lasting marriage, furniture is a practical gift.  

Furniture is the theme for the 17th anniversary

Gemstone: Carnelian - Carnelian is used to summon joy and warmth, it’s even said to bring good humor to a relationship. 

year 18

Traditional and Modern Gift: Porcelain - 18 years of marriage requires a lot of hard work. Elegant yet oh-so fragile, porcelain reminds couples to continue to handle their relationship with care.

Gemstone: Cat’s Eye - Similar to a cat’s eye in appearance, this gem is touted for its ability to combat melancholy and bring happiness into one’s life. Look for a vintage ring in this style for a truly unique 18th anniversary gift. 

 

year 19

Traditional and Modern Gift: Bronze - 11 years later and it’s back to bronze. Just like the eight-year of marriage, bronze reminds you that your relationship is growing ever stronger. Alternatively, some believe that bronze has healing properties and represents a relationship’s health. 

Gemstone: Aquamarine - Aquamarine is a protection stone. Wear this gem to keep bad mojo far away from you and your relationship. 

 

Gemstone: Lapis Lazuli - A gem with origins in feng shui, lapis lazuli is used to balance positive and negative energies. If your spouse is into skincare, give them a face roller made from this precious stone. However, you really can’t go wrong giving the gift of Lapis Lazuli in jewelry form as the stone features a striking blue tone that looks nothing short of majestic.

Year 20

Traditional Gift: China - Love is fragile. The gift of china reminds you to nurture your relationship, it must be handled carefully so that it will not break.

Modern Gift: Platinum - One of the toughest metals around, stackable platinum bands will not break or bend even through the most difficult of times. 

Image of a round cut engagement ring

Gemstone: Emerald - With ties to the goddess Venus, emerald is the stone of love. For year 20 give gifts in dark green hues including glassware, jewelry and even clothing. 

Year 25

Traditional and Modern Gift: Sterling Silver - The 25th anniversary is known as the “silver anniversary”. What better way to celebrate than with a trinket made of this precious metal

Gemstone: Silver - While not technically a gemstone, it’s only fitting that silver remains the gift of choice for year 25. Give her a bracelet made of sterling silver. Give him a silver letter opener or a flask to store his favorite beverage. 

Image of a dainty accented silver bracelet

Year 30

Traditional Gift: Pearl - Beautiful pearls can take anywhere from months to even years to form. Gifting a pearl to your love on your 30th wedding anniversary is a reminder of your long-lasting admiration that gets better with time.

Modern Gift: Diamond - Diamonds are so tough that they can cut through glass. This strength is admired in year 30’s modern gift and a man made diamond represents the endurance of your relationship.  

An emerald cut engagement ring with a twisted band

Year 35

Traditional Gift: Coral  - Found at the bottom of the sea, coral is said to have magical healing powers. 

Modern Gift: Jade - Give the gift of jade to attract good fortune, wealth, wisdom, and passionate love. 

Gemstone: Emerald - No, your eyes don’t deceive you, emerald is making another appearance as the featured gemstone for year 35. Symbolizing long-lasting love and perseverance, emeralds ooze romance. 

Several round cut emerald stones

Year 40

Traditional and Modern Gift: Ruby - The fieriest of all the gemstones, rubies are believed to possess a flame that can never be extinguished. 

Gemstone: Ruby - For something off the gifting beaten path, give them a ruby cactus for year 40. Or, celebrate this milestone year with the gift of jewelry as rubies make for a beautiful centerpiece in nearly every fine jewelry setting.  

Rubies are the official gemstone of the 40th anniversary

Year 45

Traditional and Modern Gift: Sapphire - If you make it to 45 years you deserve to be treated like royalty. Luckily, the gift of sapphire is just the ticket as it has been worn by royals around the globe for centuries. 

Gemstone: Sapphire - The colors for year 45 are blue and red, two colors that can also be found in sapphires. Tell them that you still love them as much today as you did the day that you said, “I do,” with a bright blue sapphire ring or a fiery red sapphire pendant.

Year 50

Traditional and Modern Gift: Gold - There’s a reason that gold jewelry is always in style, it’s a classic. Besides, the only thing luxurious enough to celebrate 50 years together is the gift of gold. Go ahead, celebrate your 50th anniversary in style.

Gemstone: Gold - Everything is golden by year 50 and there are tons of gifting options to fit the theme. Stick with tradition and give them a piece of gold jewelry or a golden watch. Or try something a little different like gold clothing and accessories, gold home decor or even, golden-tinted beers and alcohols.

Gold is the official gemstone for the 50th anniversary

Year 55

Traditional and Modern Gift: Emerald - Emeralds represent true love and devotion making them the absolute best choice for celebrating 55 years together.

Gemstone: Alexandrite  - Known to ward off bad vibes, Alexandrite will bring some fresh positivity into your relationship. This gemstone is super unique in coloring with hues that go from purple to blue to green depending upon the light. 

Year 60

Traditional Gift and Modern: Diamond - If you’ve made it this far you deserve nothing but the best. Shower your spouse with lab created diamonds, a stone that represents everlasting love. 

A closeup image of a lab grown diamond

Gemstone: Diamond - Nothing says, “I love you,” like diamonds. After all these years, one of the best gifts remains diamond trinkets and fine jewelry. 

sources

Anniversary Gifts by Year: Traditional and Modern Present Ideas

Now You Know: Why Are There Special Gifts for Each Anniversary Year?

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