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Something New Every Year: Wedding Anniversary Symbols
by Michael Kabel

    A happy and successful marriage is full of traditions. A tradition could be the little moments you share with one another; a tradition might involve a trip to a very special place at a special time, or a remembrance of something the two of you did together.
    Celebrating the wedding anniversary has really only become popular in our day and age. As our ideas of marriage have evolved over the centuries, couples have begun commemorating their wedding day with special gifts and tokens of affection. Specific wedding anniversaries have picked up their own "themes" which reflect the anniversary's stature and importance.
    You're probably already aware that a couple's fiftieth anniversary is known as the "gold anniversary," and that gifts of gold should be exchanged in commemoration. But did you know there’s an entire calendar of wedding anniversary symbols, or that almost every year in a couple's initial years together are considered cause for a special gift?

The Origin of the Symbols
    Wedding anniversary symbols, though probably practiced informally even before, truly began in 1897. In that year, Queen Victoria of England celebrated her sixtieth year on the throne. The event was called the "diamond jubilee," and well-wishers celebrated by giving diamonds as gifts, effectively creating the modern diamond market.
    Modern anniversary symbols are skewed more for contemporary standards of wealth. As such, a completely new table has been established which is just as valid as the traditional one.

Giving A Symbolic Gift
    If you're planning to give an anniversary gift based on the proper symbol, remember the gifts don't have to be extravagant or expensive, especially in the first few years. The gifts can also be an accent to something else you have in mind, or a clever way of presenting your main present. (For example, two plane tickets to the Bahamas would be printed on paper, the symbol for the first anniversary!)
    If you're looking to save money for other purposes (like buying a house), don't worry too much about getting the ultimately symbolic gift. The intent of these symbols is to give significance to the event and to help couples anticipate the future. That's more important than money, anyway.
    The following list of symbols is the table most agreed upon by American jewelers and gift experts. The United Kingdom follows a slightly different schedule.

Years 1 - 10

Traditional                      Modern
1st     Paper                       Clocks
2nd    Cotton                      China
3rd     Leather                    Crystal & glass
4th     Fruit & flowers         Electrical appliances
5th    Wood                        Silverware
6th     Candy or iron           Wood
7th     Wool & copper        Desk sets
8th     Bronze & pottery      Linens & lace
9th     Pottery & willow       Leather
10th   Tin or aluminum       Diamond jewelry

Years 11 – 20
11th     Steel                       Fashion jewelry
12th     Silk & linen             Pearls or colored gems
13th     Lace                       Textiles or furs
14th     Ivory                        Gold jewelry
15th     Crystal                    Watches
20th     China                      Platinum

Later Years

25th     Silver                       Silver
30th     Pearl                        Diamond
35th     Coral                        Jade
40th     Ruby                        Ruby
45th     Sapphire                 Sapphire
50th     Gold                         Gold
55th     Emerald                   Emerald
60th     Diamond                  Diamond
75th     Diamond                  Diamond
90th      Granite                    Granite