Traditional Anniversary Gift Ideas

How Did Anniversary Traditions Get Started?

While nobody knows for sure how or when traditional anniversary gifts first started, most people attribute the tradition to the Medieval times, when wives were given a silver and gold wreath to celebrate their 25th and 50th wedding anniversaries. Other traditions came later. Many experts believe that the tradition of gifting diamonds for the 60th anniversary can be attributed to Queen Victoria, who celebrated her “Diamond Jubilee” as her 60th anniversary on the British throne. 

Who Came Up With This List of Anniversary Gift Traditions?

While anniversary gifts have been a common tradition since Medieval times, author Emily Post was the first person to publish a list of anniversary ideas in her book, Etiquette, published in 1922. Post initially suggested gift ideas for the first, fifth, tenth, fifteenth, twentieth, twenty-fifth and fiftieth years of marriage. This list was expanded to include gifts for each of the first fifteen years of marriage when Post’s book was reprinted in 1957. Overtime, this list has been modified to include gift ideas that encompass many more years of marriage. The Modern Gift Suggestions list was created by the librarians at the Chicago Public Library to offer substitutions for gift ideas that seem out-of-date (or that your significant other wouldn’t like). We are unsure about who came up with the Anniversary Flowers List, but we like the idea, so we decided to include it.  

Anniversary Gemstone Traditions

It is unclear who established the Traditional Anniversary Gemstone List, but this list has gained general acceptance in the jewelry community, being endorsed by Jewelers of America (JA), the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA), The American Gem Society (AGS) and the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). The alternate list has been compiled by us, from our own research and has not been accepted or endorsed by any major jewelry association or publication. 

List of Anniversary Gemstones

Year Anniversary Tradition Traditional Alternative
1 Gold Pearl/Mother-of-Pearl
2 Garnet Rose Quartz
3 Pearl Crystal
4 Blue Topaz Amethyst
5 Sapphire Ruby
6 Amethyst Garnet
7 Onyx Agate, Jade
8 Tourmaline Bronze
9 Lapis Lazuli Aquamarine
10 Diamond Tourmaline, Crystal
11 Turquoise Topaz
12 Jade Agate, Pearl
13 Citrine Malachite, Moonstone
14 Opal Gold, Ivory
15 Ruby Crystal, Watch
16 Peridot Aquamarine
17 Watch Amethyst, Citrine
18 Cat’s Eye Chrysoberyl Opal
19 Aquamarine Topaz
20 Emerald Platinum
21 Iolite Tanzanite
22 Spinel Garnet
23 Imperial Topaz Sapphire
24 Tanzanite Opal
25 Sterling Silver  
30 Pearl Diamond, Jade
35 Emerald Coral, Jade
40 Ruby  
45 Sapphire Alexandrite
50 Gold  
55 Alexandrite Emerald
60 Diamond  
65 Star Sapphire Star Ruby
75 Diamond  

Traditional Anniversary Gifts

Year Anniversary Gift Tradition Modern Gift Suggestions
1 Paper Clock
2 Cotton China
3 Leather Crystal, Glass
4 Linen, Silk Electrical Appliances
5 Wood Silverware
6 Iron, Sweets Wood Objects
7 Wool, Copper Desk Set, Pen and Pencil Set
8 Bronze Linens, Lace
9 Pottery, Copper Leather Goods
10 Tin, Aluminum Diamond Jewelry
11 Steel Fashion Accessories
12 Silk Pearls or colored gemstones
13 Lace Textiles, Fur
14 Ivory Gold Jewelry
15 Crystal Watch
16   Silver Holloware
17   Furniture
18   Porcelain
19   Bronze
20 China Platinum
21   Brass, Nickel
22   Copper
23   Silver Plate
24 Opal Musical Instruments
25 Sterling Silver Sterling Silver
30 Pearl Diamond
35 Coral, Jade Jade
40 Ruby Ruby
45 Sapphire Sapphire
50 Gold Gold
55 Emerald Emerald
60 Diamond Diamond
65 Blue Sapphire  
70 Platinum  
75 Diamond, Gold Diamond, Gold
80 Oak Diamond, Pearl
85 Moonstone, Wine Wife’s Birthstone
90 Stone Engraved Marble, Granite

Anniversary Gift Traditions – Flowers

Year Flower
1 Carnation
2 Lily of the Valley
3 Sunflower
4 Hydrangea
5 Daisy
6 Calla
7 Freesia
8 Lilac
9 Bird of paradise
10 Daffodil
11 Tulip
12 Peony
13 Chrysanthemum
14 Dahlia
15 Rose
19 Sweetpea
20 Aster
25 Iris
28 Orchid
30 Lily
40 Gladiolus
50 Yellow rose, violet