The tradition of giving a gift for your wedding anniversary is an age old custom. This custom was formalised by Emily Post in her famous book on etiquette called Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics, and at Home. In it, Emily suggested giving your loved one a gift for the first, fifth, tenth, fifteenth, twentieth, twenty fifth and fiftieth year of marriage. Jewellery is, as ever, a very popular choice for wedding anniversary gifts.
Written in 1922, Etiquette, as it was known, made Emily’s name as an author, although her writing career had actually begun in 1904. It seems that she had quite a sense of humour. She created short stories to illustrate her points on how to behave. She developed characters with names such as Richan Vulgars, the Toploftys and the Kindharts.
Emily’s book on etiquette struck a chord in America, with it’s eclectic mix of cultures. People, especially immigrants, were keen to fit in to their new country. And of course it provided great instruction to those who were aspiring to become a part of America’s high society.
Emily Post’s original list recommends wedding anniversary gifts of jewellery be given after 25 years of marriage. This was a gift of silver. At 30 years: pearls. At 40 years: ruby. Forty five years: sapphire. At 50 years: gold. At 55 years: emerald. And of course, diamond at 60 years.
Wedding Anniversary Gifts are Popular Now For Every Year of Marriage
As you can imagine, the timing and list of suggested gifts has evolved over time. In 1937, the American National Retail Jeweler Association extended Emily’s original list. The revised list included every year for the first fifteen years of marriage, and suggestions for every five years thereafter. Since this time, a new list known as the Anniversary Stones Gift List has been compiled and endorsed by various trade organisations. This includes the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). The Gift List details yearly wedding anniversary gifts up until 25 years of marriage. After twenty five years, gifts are given in five year intervals. The list culminates in the gift of diamonds at both 60 and 75 years.
Modern lists vary, but not surprisingly, the list endorsed by the GIA and jewellery organisations all include jewellery as wedding anniversary gifts. Each year features a different gemstone.
Of course whether or not you give an anniversary gift is up to you: sadly much of what was important when Emily was writing her seminal book is by the by these days. However, as jewellers, we are very happy for the tradition of giving jewellery as an anniversary gift at least to continue!