Anniversary gems give couples the opportunity to celebrate relationship milestones with uniquely crafted jewelry.
By Michelle Franzen Martin
The tradition of giving one’s significant other a gift to commemorate an anniversary dates back to medieval Germany, when husbands would present their wives with a silver wreath after 25 years of marriage, and a gold wreath on the couple’s 50th anniversary.
Over time, that practice began to change, with gemstones being used to honor the occasion. The tradition still holds true today, with anniversary stones serving as a popular way for couples to recognize each milestone of their relationship.
“When it comes to the celebration of marriage, what [is] better than gemstones and jewelry to symbolize and commemorate the strength of the bond, fullness of the marriage and the value of being in love?” says Kristen Baird, a jewelry designer based in Savannah, Georgia. “One will notice, as the years [increase], the value of the gemstone used for that year becomes greater. Special emphasis and value of stones used on the ‘big years’ like 10, 15, 20 … [and] 50 is apparent as well.”
According to tradition, the first year is celebrated with gold jewelry. The anniversary years following include garnet (second), pearls (third), blue topaz (fourth) and sapphire (fifth), and all the way to the diamond jubilee (60th). This year, Sea Island celebrates its 90th anniversary, which is traditionally associated with emeralds or diamonds.
While anniversary stones are rooted in tradition, the approach to gifting them continues to evolve. For example, these days, couples often purchase jewelry in honor of the major milestones, rather than seeking a new piece every year.
And instead of relying solely on conventional settings, some are seeking pieces that more closely reflect their partner’s unique personality. Sapphires, for instance, which are used to mark both the fifth and 45th anniversaries, offer a lot of variety
“I think of anniversary gifts as time machines,” says Terry Betteridge, CEO of Betteridge, a Greenwich, Connecticut-based jeweler. “When you give these jewels, they are imbued with something magical. They bring you back to that special moment when you gave them, to all those special memories.”
First and 50th Anniversaries: Gold
While it isn’t a stone, the tradition of gifting gold to celebrate shines just as brightly as any gem. With a satin finish and independently hinged diamond-crusted leaves, this necklace drapes beautifully around the neck.
15th and 40th Anniversaries: Ruby
In hues of pink to deep red, rubies are reminiscent of love—perfect for celebrating a big milestone anniversary like the 15th, and especially the 40th. This ring, crafted in 14-karat yellow gold, features 11 round rubies surrounded by 74 smaller round diamonds for extra sparkle.
10th and 60th Anniversaries: Diamond
Diamonds look gorgeous both in a solitaire setting and when accompanied by other anniversary gemstones. These diamond-encrusted hoop earrings in rose gold get a pop of color from ruby red stones.
20th and 35th Anniversaries: Emerald
Some believe that emeralds bring good luck, and anyone receiving this yellow-gold emerald necklace from Anne Sisteron would most certainly agree. The unique geometric shape and the tiny glittering diamonds that encircle the bold green emerald make it a great choice for a loved one.
25th Anniversary: Silver
This colorful brooch, circa 1900, showcases a variety of gems in a diamond-set scroll with silver and gold.
30th Anniversary: Pearls
With all the classic style of a traditional set of freshwater pearls and the contemporary appeal of the unique sterling silver setting, these earrings will serve as a symbol of both your past and your present, together.
Fifth and 45th Anniversaries: Sapphire
Sapphires come in many colors, making it easy to customize your gift with your spouse’s favorite shade, but these traditional deep-blue hues are truly classic. This handmade ring is set with 6.8 carats of sapphires. The platinum setting pairs perfectly with other rings, but the piece is also a standout on its own.