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Anniversary jewellery: Tradition and love through the ages

Whether you’re a sentimental couple or not, wedding anniversaries are an important milestone in your relationship and a great opportunity to show your other half that you care. The tradition of giving gifts to celebrate wedding anniversaries is said to date back to the Roman Empire, and is just as popular today. “Anniversaries have as much meaning as the couple puts on them. For some, the ritual is extremely important. The main thing is that if celebrating an anniversary is important for one of the couple, that person can voice it and that they agree to do something together, no matter how small,” says couples counsellor Hilda Burke. In Roman times, it was common for wives to be given a silver garland on their 25th wedding anniversary and a gold wreath for their 50th year of marriage (which was less common than it is today). The trend experienced resurgence in medieval Germany – for them, silver represented harmony, which they said was a key ingredient for a long and happy marriage. It wasn’t until the Victorian era that couples began celebrating their 60th wedding anniversaries with diamonds – inspired, it is said, by Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897. Since then, the list of anniversaries and their associated gifts has grown substantially, so however long you’ve been together, you won’t be short of ideas. Anniversary jewellery by year Back in 1937, the American National Retail Jewellers Association created a comprehensive list of materials for key anniversary years that is still widely used today. While you might not be able to mark every year with a big purchase, there are a few key ones that it’s worth saving up for… 1st anniversary – gold Your first year is traditionally considered a paper anniversary but, since you can’t wear paper, jewellery experts recommend white gold. Gold has traditionally been associated with prosperity, making it an auspicious material to begin your married life with. White gold in particular is known a symbol of purity and love. 5th anniversary – sapphire Your fifth year is your wooden anniversary, but in jewellery terms it's become widely known as a silver or sapphire year. Sapphire in particular has long been associated with peace and happiness, and believed to help with communication, insight, intuition and inspiration. [caption id="attachment_486" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Sapphire and Diamond Pendant Sapphire and Diamond pendant[/caption] 10th anniversary – diamond It’s been said that diamonds are a girl’s best friend, and this is certainly true if you’re in your tenth year of marriage. The anniversary itself is known as a tin anniversary, but the jewellery that accompanies it usually includes diamonds. Ancient cultures believed diamonds to be a detoxifier, protecting the wearer from danger. 20th anniversary – emerald, platinum Once you’ve reached the 20-year mark, your anniversary is known as the china year, although in jewellery terms it’s a time for platinum. Platinum is highly resistant to tarnish and wear and as such has earned a cultural significance as a symbol of endurance, overcoming challenges, determination and grit. After 20 years together, no doubt you’ll have been through a few challenges of your own, which is all the more reason to celebrate! [caption id="attachment_488" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Emerald and Diamond Drop Earrings Emerald and Diamond Drop Earrings[/caption]   25th anniversary – sterling silver Silver is traditionally thought to represent feminine power and graceful aging – something you’re doing together as you celebrate your 25th anniversary. 30th anniversary – pearl, diamond Pearls have a rich cultural significance and have historically been given as gifts of love, particularly on your 30th or pearl anniversary. Pearls are unique among gemstones because they don’t arise from the depths of the earth but from the sea, and in ancient Chinese culture they symbolised protection. Read our guide to choosing the perfect pearl here. [caption id="attachment_463" align="aligncenter" width="300"]yellow-gold-cultured-pearl-diamond-swirl-drop-pendant-p492-467_zoom Diamond and Pearl Pendant Stone Set Pendant[/caption] [caption id="attachment_464" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Diamond and Pearl Drop Earrings Diamond and Pearl Drop Earrings[/caption] 40th anniversary – ruby, garnet Rubies are traditionally known as the gems of love, and some ancient cultures believed that rubies grew on trees, just like fruit. The rubies would begin budding as small white gems, slowing ripening into rich red stones in the sun. While we now know that this isn’t quite the case, they are still an enduring symbol of a love that has blossomed and grown over time - the perfect symbol for a 40-year wedding anniversary. 50th anniversary – gold Gold does not corrode, so over the years it has become known as a symbol of immortality, which is highly appropriate for a relationship that has stood the test of time and lasted 50 years! These traditional materials and stones continue to be popular when people are buying anniversary gifts for one another, which is why we’ve created guides to buying anniversary jewellery for her and anniversary jewellery for him. If you need help choosing an anniversary gift then call one of our experts on 0800 802 1772. Also, let us know how you’ve marked your wedding anniversaries and if you’ve acquired any traditions of your own over the years!