The tradition of giving specific anniversary gifts based on the number of years a couple has been married dates back to the Middle Ages. The custom of associating silver with the 25th wedding anniversary and gold with the 50th wedding anniversary appear to have originated in the region of Middle Europe that is currently Germany.
On the 25th wedding anniversary, according to custom, the husband or friends of a woman would place on her head a silver wreath, which represented the harmony that was necessary to make so many years of matrimony possible. Similarly, on the 50th wedding anniversary, a wreath of gold was placed on the woman’s head in honour of the exceptional achievement of remaining in harmony with her husband for this lengthy period of time.
Hence, the “silver” and “gold” anniversaries came into being. In medieval times only the “silver” and “gold” anniversaries were celebrated. In modern times, however, this practice has been significantly expanded upon, and now there are traditional and symbolic gifts that are associated with every wedding anniversary. Despite this, anniversary gifts are most often given on the round anniversary years, such as the 5th, 10th, 20th, and 35th. The “silver” and “gold” anniversary years are still considered the most symbolic, and the 60th “diamond” anniversary has joined this list as well.
Gifting a diamond eternity ring to a woman by her husband is also a popular and exceptional choice to commemorate any wedding anniversary or other special occasion.
Below, please see a description of the appropriate anniversary gifts for the most common gift-giving years.
Eternity Band Significance
Like wedding rings, eternity rings are a symbol of everlasting love. Although eternity rings are frequently given to celebrate an anniversary or other special event, such as the birth of a child, there is no precise occasion for which to give this exceptional gift. Eternity rings can either be “full” with stones set all the way around the shank of the ring, or “half” meaning that the stones are set only on the face of the band. Eternity rings are typically set with diamonds, although other precious stones are also commonly used. Because diamonds symbolize love and eternity, a diamond-set eternity ring is the most popular choice.
The history of the eternity ring closely follows that of the wedding band. Eternity rings have served as symbols of everlasting love since as far back as 2000 BC. It is an exceptional gift, showing love, caring and devotion to a spouse or partner. Women traditionally wear an eternity ring on the same finger as their engagement ring and wedding band. Some choose to replace their wedding band with the eternity ring.
In addition to symbolizing eternal love, eternity rings are also symbolic of an unbreakable love. A “full” eternity ring is set with stones all around the band, and can therefore never be broken in order to be resized. It must be bough to fit. In this way, more than a traditional wedding band, an eternity ring symbolizes an unbroken, continuous and precious love between spouses.
Although there is no specific occasion on which to gift an eternity ring, it is a wonderful present for the first anniversary, the birth of a child, or any other special and meaningful event in the married life of spouses. Whatever the occasion, the eternity ring carries a special meaning and will serve as a reminder of the love that is shared between the spouses.
Traditional Gifts for Major Wedding Anniversaries
First Wedding Anniversary: Traditionally, the first wedding anniversary is commemorated with a gift of paper. However, if you wish to give a special loved one a more precious gift, then gold jewellery or that containing the gemstone peridot is also appropriate.
A diamond eternity band is another, especially exceptional, gift that may be given by husband to wife on the first wedding anniversary, or on the birth of the couple’s first child. An eternity ring is a symbol of everlasting love, a love that can never be broken. This type of ring is especially significant because a “full” eternity ring must be bought to fit and can never be resized. This is because a “full” eternity ring is set with stones (typically diamonds) all around the shank of the ring, making it so the ring cannot be cut in order to alter its size. The obvious symbolism of this gift is as a gift of eternal, unbroken and undisturbed love.
Fifth Wedding Anniversary: Traditionally, the theme of the fifth wedding anniversary is wood, which symbolizes a strong and long lasting marriage. However, if you wish to give a more precious gift to a loved one, a piece of jewellery containing sapphires of any colour is appropriate.
Tenth Wedding Anniversary: Traditionally, to commemorate the tenth wedding anniversary a gift of tin or aluminium is given, symbolizing the flexibility and malleability of a good relationship. In modern times, a husband also gives a gift of diamond jewellery, most often a diamond eternity ring, to a wife. A piece of jewellery containing a blue sapphire is also appropriate and symbolic on this special occasion.
Fifteenth Wedding Anniversary: Traditionally a gift of crystal is given to commemorate the fifteenth wedding anniversary. Alternatively, a modern choice is a watch or a ruby bracelet or eternity ring.
Twentieth Wedding Anniversary: Traditionally, the twentieth wedding anniversary is commemorated with fine china. However, in the modern day, the appropriate gift may also be platinum or a piece of emerald jewellery.
Twenty-Fifth Wedding Anniversary: This very special wedding anniversary is commemorated with silver, representing the harmony that is undoubtedly necessary in order to maintain a strong marriage for 25 years. The “silver” anniversary is one that has been celebrated since the middle ages in Germanic Europe, when a man placed a wreath of silver on his wife’s head on this special day. In the modern day, the tradition of gifting silver has gone unchanged. The twenty-fifth wedding anniversary is referred to as a “silver jubilee.”
Thirtieth Wedding Anniversary: A gift of pearls is traditionally given for the thirtieth wedding anniversary, which is referred to as a “pearl jubilee.”
Thirty-Fifth Wedding Anniversary: To commemorate the thirty-fifth wedding anniversary, a gift of emeralds is a modern alternative to the traditional gifts of coral and jade. All three gemstones are appropriate for this special occasion, but emeralds are most popular.
Fortieth Wedding Anniversary: Traditionally, a gift of rubies has been given for the fortieth wedding anniversary. This has gone unchanged in the modern times, with ruby remaining the only gemstone or material that is appropriate on this special occasion, which is referred to as the “ruby jubilee.”
Forty-Fifth Wedding Anniversary: A gift of sapphires is traditionally given for the forty-fifth wedding anniversary. This has gone unchanged in the modern times, with sapphires of any colour remaining the appropriate choice.
Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary: This very special “gold” wedding anniversary has been celebrated since the middle ages by making a gift of gold to the wife. In the medieval times, a man would place on his wife’s head a wreath of gold on this special day.
Fifty-Fifth Wedding Anniversary: Traditionally, a gift of emeralds is given to commemorate the fifty-fifth wedding anniversary. In the modern times, an alternative gift of alexandrite jewellery has also become appropriate on this special occasion.
Sixtieth Wedding Anniversary: This is the “diamond” anniversary! A gift of diamonds has become appropriate for this very very special occasion after Queen Victoria celebrated her Diamond Jubilee on her 60th anniversary of accession to the throne in 1897. Diamonds are also given on the seventy-fifth wedding anniversary.