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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.

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?

Silver & Gold

Specific wedding anniversaries have picked up their own "themes" which reflect the anniversary's stature and importance. Whether you're giving an anniversary gift or planning a celebration for the anniversary of a special couple, we have an assortment of products that keep tradition alive.

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.

Crystal/Glass (Couple)
Cotton (Couple)
Pearl (For Her)
Leather (For Him)

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.

  Traditional Modern
Years 1 - 10
1st Paper Clocks
2nd Cotton China
3rd Leather Crystal/Glass
4th Fruit/Flowers Appliances
5th Wood Silverware
6th Candy/Iron Wood
7th Wool/Copper Desk Sets
8th Pottery/Bronze Linens/Lace
9th Willow/Pottery Leather
10th Tin/Aluminum Diamond Jewelry
Years 11 - 20
11th Steel Fashion Jewelry
12th Silk/Linen Pearls
13th Lace Textile Furs
14th Animals* 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
60th Diamond Diamond