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A Guide to Anniversary Gemstones and Jewelry

Each anniversary can be represented by a gift of gemstones or a metal used in jewelry. When you’re shopping for your special anniversary, this guide will send you in the right direction.

You’ve probably heard of the silver anniversary or the gold anniversary marking the big ones of 25 and 50, but every year has a specific metal or gemstone attached to it. This makes anniversary shopping not only pretty easy, but fun too.

After all, almost every marriage starts out with an engagement ring and wedding rings — jewelry is just a natural anniversary gift.

1st anniversary: gold

The first year anniversary is the sweetest — a couple’s probably still in the honeymoon phase and all is right with their world. But starting a life together may not leave a whole lot of disposable income. A simple gold necklace or bracelet for her, maybe starting a tradition with a charm bracelet you can add to with the signature gem for subsequent anniversaries or other significant events in your life together. For him, a gold necklace or ring or cuff links.

2nd anniversary: garnet

Though garnet comes in several colors, including yellow, green (called tsavorite) and pink, the color most often thought of is red. Red garnet — sometimes called rhodolite garnet — is the classic garnet choice for use in jewelry. It’s a relatively hard stone, and can be used in any jewelry piece or design, including rings, earrings and pendants. Red garnet really pops when set in a white metal, like white gold or platinum.

3rd anniversary: pearls

Pearls can be natural or cultured. Natural pearls are much more expensive than cultured, but that’s about the only difference — even a cultured pearl is a beautiful, luminescent product of nature, growing in the same way as natural pearls. Both are brought into being by an intruder like sand or tiny pebble (for natural) or a bead or seed pearl (for cultured) implanting itself in a mollusk, such as an oyster or mussel. In natural pearls, it’s just luck if it turns into a pearl. With cultured, the pearl farmer inserts the irritant, and the pearl grows around it. All pearls are available in many colors other than the classic white — pink, blue, green, golden, gray and black are all available. Pearl jewelry can be a matched string, a pendant on a necklace, earrings or a ring. Just be careful — pearls are more fragile than other materials, so a ring should be worn for sedate occasions where there’s not much chance of banging it in to anything by mistake. For men, anything inlaid with mother-of-pearl is also a great gift for this anniversary.

4th anniversary: blue topaz

Topaz is found in many colors and shades, and blue topaz was originally the most rare. However, today a permanent treatment, diffusion — which is heating with a coating of an element such as beryllium — turns colorless topaz a light blue. The treatment is permanent. Deeper blues, known as “London blue” and “Swiss blue,” are caused by irradiation and heating, and the treatment is considered permanent. Blue topaz is a hardy stone, and the many shades look gorgeous in a variety of jewelry styles, from earrings and pendants to bracelets and rings. Blue topaz has historically been associated with love and affection — pretty perfect reasons to give it as an anniversary gift.

5th anniversary: sapphire

Sapphire is also found in many colors, though the classic choice is blue. If blue’s not your color, you can also commonly find white, shades of pink and violet. Padparadscha sapphire is orange with pink tones. To get the perfect colors, a sapphire is heat treated or diffusion treated, and both are considered permanent. Sapphire is a hard and durable gemstone, so it’s great for any piece of jewelry.

6th anniversary: amethyst

Usually thought of as purple, with varying shades looking a bit more red or blue, you can also find this type of quartz in other colors, like green. Some stones may be heat treated to enhance their colors, which is a permanent treatment. Amethyst is widely available in all styles of jewelry.

7th anniversary: onyx

Onyx is hard, durable, used for carving and is popular in men’s jewelry. So this anniversary is a great opportunity for men to get jewelry as a gift! A bold onyx ring (maybe with diamond accents) is a great way to mark the occasion. For her, black onyx paired with white metal creates a stylish color-blocking neutral, and simple onyx stud earrings are a stylish twist.

8th anniversary: tourmaline

Whatever your favorite color, you can probably find it in tourmaline. Even if you or your beloved have different favorites, you may be able to find them both in one gem — gemologists call them parti-colored. The watermelon tourmaline is a parti-colored gem, and gets its name from its mix of green and red, just like the outside and inside of a watermelon. Tourmaline is often heated or irradiated to create the colors, and the treatments are considered permanent.

9th anniversary: lapis lazuli

It’s not the most popular blue stone used in jewelry, but you can still find some things using the cobalt-blue gem — PANDORA® makes some charms and jewelry using it. It can also be found in craft jewelry, and it’s used in the Chinese practice of feng shui — a method of working with the natural and supernatural to balance positive and negative energies.

10th anniversary: diamond jewelry

Ten years of marriage qualifies as a milestone, so diamond jewelry is a great idea! For her, this is a perfect opportunity to add a diamond anniversary band to her engagement ring and wedding ring. For him, consider a diamond ring or, if he wears an earring, a beautiful diamond stud.

11th anniversary: turquoise

Turquoise can be green, greenish-blue to light to deeper blue. It’s been used in jewelry and as adornment throughout recorded history, though today it’s mostly thought of as emblematic of the southwestern U.S. It looks great in sterling silver, and is available as the primary focus of a piece of jewelry or as accents. Turquoise looks especially modern when paired with leather, in bracelets and necklaces, and is a great choice for men or women.

12th anniversary: jade

Jade has been popular around the world for centuries — though China and Japan are most noted for jade carvings and ornamentation. Though it can be found in many colors, the signature color of jade is green. In jewelry, it’s usually carved into beads for necklaces and earrings. In rings, jade is at its most gorgeous shaped into the round domed shape called cabochon. You can also find cabochon pendants and carved pendants.

13th anniversary: citrine

Citrine is like seeing a burst of sunshine on a cloudy day — a beautiful yellow to yellow-orange gem. It’s popular and affordable and lends itself well to any design, with any color of metal. Citrine with yellow gold is a warm tone-on-tone look, and can be shot with drama by the addition of diamonds. A white gold or sterling silver setting accentuates its bright and sunny disposition.

14th anniversary: opal

There’s a lot of variety in opal — it can be almost transparent to opaque. It can come in many colors, but the most common you’ll find in jewelry is a creamy white with a rainbow play of color within the stone. This makes it especially fabulous when used as the focal point of a piece of jewelry with accent stones picking up or contrasting with the play of colors within the opal. There’s a bright flame-orange variety known as fire opal.

15th anniversary: ruby

Rubies are emblems of love and passion, an equation brought about by their amazing saturated reds. Most rubies you’ll find today have been heat treated to improve their color and clarity. You can find rubies in every sort of jewelry.

16th anniversary: peridot

Peridot comes in various shades of green, but tends toward lighter, grassy greens. It pairs well with white metals, while yellow gold plays up the spring-like yellow undertones. Peridot is fairly soft and can scratch, so take care with rings.

17th anniversary: watches

This is another perfect time for a man to receive a great anniversary gift he’s sure to love. Because it’s a special occasion, look to see what gap in his watch wardrobe can be filled. If he has a dressier watch with a leather band, go with a stainless steel band and case or vice versa. Of course, a woman will appreciate a new watch too!

18th anniversary: cat’s eye

When cut in the rounded cabochon cut, several gemstones can bear the straight line caused by tiny inclusions that catch the light just right that creates the look of a cat’s eye — it’s like half of the star in a star sapphire. The rarest gemstone that has this phenomenon is the chrysoberyl, but it can also occur in quartz, sapphire and ruby.

19th anniversary: aquamarine

As that name suggests, the best examples of aquamarine look like the shifting colors of the Caribbean — from a clear pale blue to darker blues to shades with green. As you pass the 19th year of marriage, it might be good to know that aquamarine has historically been a symbol of fidelity and hope.

20th anniversary: emerald

Emerald’s beautiful green lends itself to any type of jewelry, though it is fragile due to layers and fissures within the gemstone. A ring should be worn with care — but this is such a classic, elegant stone that saving it for special occasions is easy! Emeralds are often treated with oils, paraffin or resins to fill fissures and improve clarity, and hardeners may be added to increase its toughness.

21st anniversary: iolite

Iolite is a blue to violet-blue gemstone that’s often overshadowed by more popular blue stones. Because of this, it’s not as easy to find in contemporary jewelry.

22nd anniversary: spinel

Another gemstone that doesn’t get enough love, spinel comes in a variety of colors and is durable and affordable. You’ll often see it in red, purple, blue and pink, though black spinel is a dramatic look, either as a center stone or as accents.

23rd anniversary: imperial topaz

The name “imperial topaz” simply refers to topaz that can range from yellow to a deep golden color often likened to cognac. So while women can have their jewelry, perhaps men can be given a fine bottle of cognac to toast the 23rd anniversary.

24th anniversary: tanzanite

First found in the late 1960s, tanzanite is the new kid on the block, when you consider how many gemstones have been prized throughout recorded history. It’s a blue gem, often with a purplish/violet tone. It pairs best with white metals like white gold, platinum or sterling silver and is available in a wide range of styles and settings. Stones are often heat-treated to improve the color, and the treatment is considered permanent.

25th anniversary: silver jubilee

The 25th is known as the silver jubilee, so go nuts! There’s so much available in sterling silver for both him and her, from jewelry to home accents, that you could — and should — splurge. You don’t need to limit yourself to only silver, either. Embrace the color, and you can include metal watches or white gold or platinum jewelry for both.

30th anniversary: pearl jubilee

Both cultured and natural pearls are created by layers — a nice metaphor for the years and love that have grown over time. The layers are called nacre, and the nacre is what gives pearls their luminescence. Since it’s also the gem for the third anniversary, now’s a perfect time to upgrade. If it was a simple pendant then, maybe a full matched string is called for. If it was a matched string then, maybe it’s time for the long opera length necklace. Play with color too — there are so many color options beyond white.

35th anniversary: emerald

Emerald is such a classic gemstone, it comes up twice on the anniversary list (it was the selection for 20 years too). Maybe this time get a set of earrings to complement the necklace she got 15 years ago.

40th anniversary: ruby

Another repeat here, ruby is also the gem for the fifteenth. But its draw remains — that gorgeous red that expresses the essence of love.

45th anniversary: sapphire

If sapphire slipped your mind 40 years ago (it’s the gem for the fifth anniversary), it’s time to make up for that! Or if you did get the classic blue sapphire then, consider a piece in one of the other colors of sapphire.

50th anniversary: golden jubilee

What more could you ask for? An excuse to give your love something in gold. For him, perhaps a gold watch. For her, the sky’s the limit — plain gold in yellow, white or rose, perhaps set with diamonds and/or gemstones.

55th anniversary: alexandrite

This gem is named for a Russian czar, and after 55 years, you should be treating each other like royalty. Alexandrite’s most striking feature is its ability to change color — it’s purplish red in incandescent light, but under fluorescent light or outside light it’s teal or greenish blue.

60th anniversary: diamond

You’ve been together a long time; your love and commitment to each other can never be doubted. It might be time for someone else — perhaps your kids or grandkids — to show their love and pride with a gift of diamond jewelry. Celebrate with style, you’ve earned it.

70th anniversary: platinum jubilee

The 70th anniversary is the platinum jubilee. Platinum is a hard and rare white metal that was largely unavailable at the time anyone celebrating a 70th anniversary got married. Maybe a bracelet or necklace would be the perfect way to commemorate the occasion.

75th anniversary: sapphire

The 75th anniversary is the sapphire jubilee, so celebrate with a sapphire bracelet or ring in many colors, representing the variety of adventures you have experienced together in life.

80th anniversary: ruby

The 80th anniversary is the ruby jubilee.  If she doesn’t have a ruby ring or pin by now, this is the perfect time to give her one!

Ready to shop? Jared The Galleria Of Jewelry and Kay Jewelers have a great selection of gemstone jewelry.

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