30th Wedding Anniversary-Traditional and Modern Gift Ideas

Congratulations on approaching your 30th wedding anniversary! Being married for three decades is an amazing accomplishment to be celebrated. The love and memories you share with your husband or wife are priceless. Now it’s time to figure out what you should get your special someone as an anniversary gift.

Pearls are the gemstone representing the 30th wedding anniversary and are thus the traditional gift. If you’re looking for something more modern, diamonds can used as an alternative. Lilies are the flower representing this anniversary. A lily bouquet can be used to accent your husband or wife’s gift.

In this article, we’ll look at the meaning behind the 30th wedding anniversary. You’ll find a list of gift ideas that may provide you with some needed inspiration. This way, you can be sure you’ll celebrate this most prestigious wedding anniversary in the best way possible.

A Brief History of Wedding Anniversary Gifts

Medieval Times

The tradition of giving anniversary gifts dates back to the middle ages. Materials thought to be good luck were linked with a specific number of years married. The symbols in modern gift lists are meant to reflect the growing strength of marriage over time.

Historians believe that “milestone” anniversary gifts began in medieval central Europe. A husband would give his wife a wreath made of silver on the couple’s 25th wedding anniversary. Upon celebrating their 50th anniversary, the wife would receive a wreath made of gold.

It’s believed these traditions were honored only by the wealthy. This was due to the expense of the precious metals involved.

Victorian Era

Other anniversaries began to receive special designations in the late 1800’s. Wood was selected as the fifth-anniversary gift around 1875. It was at about the same time that diamonds were designated as the 75th-anniversary gift.

20th Century

Emily Post’s Blue Book of Social Usage listed eight traditional anniversaries. The book designated the first, fifth, 10th, 15th, 20th, 25th, 50th, and 75th anniversaries as the ones in which major gifts were exchanged. Post also wrote about a symbolic anniversary gift every year for the first fifteen years. Gifts were then spaced out in five-year increments.

Anniversary gift lists were expanded in 1937. The American National Retail Jewelers Association published their own comprehensive list that year. Each of the first 20 years would be assigned a symbolic material. Every fifth year after that up to the 75th anniversary received similar treatment. Each gift was of increasing value and meant to convey growing love and stability in the marriage.

Traditional and Modern Wedding Anniversary Gift Lists

Pearl for the 30th anniversary

The traditional wedding anniversary gift list is as follows:

  • Paper for the first anniversary
  • Cotton for the second anniversary
  • Leather for the third anniversary
  • Flowers or fruit for the fourth anniversary
  • Wood for the fifth anniversary
  • Iron or candy for the sixth anniversary
  • Copper or wood for the seventh anniversary
  • Pottery or bronze for the eighth anniversary
  • Willow or pottery for the ninth anniversary
  • Aluminum or tin for the 10th anniversary
  • Steel for the 11th anniversary
  • Linen or silk for the 12th anniversary
  • Lace for the 13th anniversary
  • Ivory for the 14th anniversary
  • Crystal for the 15th anniversary
  • China for the 20th anniversary
  • Silver for the 25th anniversary
  • Pearl for the 30th anniversary
  • Coral for the 35th anniversary
  • Ruby for the 40th anniversary
  • Sapphire for the 45th anniversary
  • Gold for the 50th anniversary
  • Emerald for the 55th anniversary
  • Yellow diamonds for the 60th anniversary
  • Other diamonds for the 75th anniversary

The modern wedding anniversary gift list is as follows:

  • Clocks for the first anniversary
  • China for the second anniversary
  • Crystal for the third anniversary
  • Appliances for the fourth anniversary
  • Silverware for the fifth anniversary
  • Wood for the sixth anniversary
  • Desk sets for the seventh anniversary
  • Lace or linen for the eighth anniversary
  • Leather for the ninth anniversary
  • Diamond jewelry for the 10th anniversary
  • Fashion jewelry for the 11th anniversary
  • Pearls for the 12th anniversary
  • Furs or textiles for the 13th anniversary
  • Gold jewelry for the 14th anniversary
  • Watches for the 15th anniversary
  • Platinum for the 20th anniversary
  • Silver for the 25th anniversary
  • Diamonds for the 30th anniversary
  • Jade for the 35th anniversary
  • Ruby for the 40th anniversary
  • Sapphire for the 45th anniversary
  • Gold for the 50th anniversary
  • Emerald for the 55th anniversary
  • Diamonds for the 60th and 75th anniversaries

There are also s flowers and colors associated with different anniversaries. These can help you better choose a gift for the occasion as well as decorations for your celebration.

The 30th Anniversary or “Pearl” Anniversary

The 30th wedding anniversary has long been referred to as the “pearl” anniversary. Pearls grow by creating individual layers year over year that build naturally. A successful marriage is something that builds up over the years as well. Each year, your love, understanding, beauty, and strength together grows as well.

Pearls come in a variety of colors and each have unique beauty and quality that can’t be replicated from one to another. The same thing can be said for marriage. Thirty years have come and gone, but your love shines brighter than ever. You have shared many priceless memories together. Now it’s time to show that special someone just how much you care with a symbolic gift.

30th Wedding Anniversary Gift Ideas

The gemstone representing the 30th wedding anniversary is also pearl. Pearls are unique because they are created inside clams, mussels, and oysters. The process begins when an irritant such as a small parasite gets inside one of these creatures. As a natural defense mechanism, they will begin to secrete a fluid or “mother of pearl” to coat the irritant. Layer after layer is added until the final product is achieved.

Pearls are classified into two different types, which are natural and cultured. Cultured pearls are commonly found in jewelry. These are formed when humans deliberately place irritants into a clam or oyster. Natural pearls are the rarest kinds. They occur in a completely natural setting with absolutely no interference from humans.

The flower historically associated with the 30th wedding anniversary is the lily. Lilies are used to represent beauty, devotion, and pride. They are also meant to symbolize the magnificence and majesty of 30 years of marriage. Green is considered the color representative of the 30th wedding anniversary.

You can go the extra mile in your gift-giving by combining these elements together. A treasured heirloom pearl necklace couldn’t be a better gift for the woman who’s stuck with you for three decades. Wrap a strand of pearls around a bouquet of lilies for an unforgettable anniversary gift.

Traditional 30th Anniversary Gift Ideas

Pearl Earrings

Pearl is also the traditional gift given for the 30th wedding anniversary. Earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and other jewelry are all great pearl gift ideas. You could even give your partner a religious rosary if that suits your lifestyle. Here are some examples.

A set of From the Sea Magic Cultured Pearl Earrings might make for the perfect gift. These are fine jewelry earrings with 6.5 to seven-millimeter freshwater cultured pearls. The pearls are set in 14-karat white gold and the earrings have friction backs. If your wife is the type to wear earrings frequently, she’s sure to love these. They won’t break your bank, either.

If a necklace is more what you’re looking for, a Vera Wang Love Collection Freshwater Pearl Necklace could be just the thing. This is an 18-inch necklace with beautifully strung and knotted 6.5 to seven-millimeter freshwater cultured pearls. It features a 1/15 karat diamond accented sterling silver flower swirl clasp. The closure also features a hidden blue sapphire as a symbol of long lasting love and faithfulness. This necklace is a perfect way to remind your wife she is treasured.

An Aquamarine and Cultured Pearl Bracelet can also make for a great anniversary gift. This bracelet has two rows of cultured pearls in different colors. Featuring 16 total pearls, five are seven-millimeter and dyed gray while the other 11 are five millimeters and a natural white. The bracelet’s second row features five 6x8-millimeter aquamarine stones set in sterling silver. This is a wonderful choice for something more casual.

If you’re looking for an anniversary gift idea for your husband, a set of Ribbed Mother of Pearl Cuff Links will really impress him. This set of sterling silver cuff links is approximately ¾ inches by ¾ inches with a contemporary ribbed trim and chain-link backs. The centerpiece of the set is the mother of pearl inlay on each link, giving the illusion of real pearls. Your husband will truly appreciate the thought behind this gift.

Caring for Your Pearls

It’s important to remember that pearls are very sensitive gemstones. They can become irritated by makeup, perfume, and other common products. Quality pearls are durable, but they still need to be taken care of properly. Here are some tips to help care for your pearls:

  • Pearls need to be worn at least semi-often. Since they’re created in water, pearls benefit most by absorbing the natural oils on your skin.
  • Before putting your pearls away, gently rub them down with a soft cloth. This will remove any excess dirt, makeup, or perfume from their surface.
  • Make sure to store your pearls away from objects that can scratch their delicate outer shell. You can wrap them in linen or keep them in a soft jewelry pouch as well.
  • Never store pearls in airtight packaging. Pearls need at least some moisture to retain their structure. If the environment is too dry, your pearls may end up cracking.
  • Keep your pearls away from hairspray, bleach, ammonia, vinegar, and hydrogen peroxide. Put your pearls on only after you’ve finished applying makeup or spraying hairspray. If too much of these chemicals gets on the surface of your pearls it can eat holes in them.
  • Restring your pearls every two to three years, or yearly if you wear them often. Each pearl should be knotted separately with silk. This will aid keeping surfaces from rubbing together and wearing away. If you can’t restring them yourself, go to a local jeweler and have them do it for you.

Modern 30th Anniversary Gift Ideas

Modern 30th Anniversary Gift Ideas

Diamonds are a more modern gift for the 30th wedding anniversary. It goes without saying that diamonds are the most sought-after and well-known gem. They are commonly associated with cuff links, earrings, and necklaces. You could also give your wife what could be her second diamond ring after her engagement ring.

A set of Men's Diamond Accent Cuff Links could be a perfect gift if you’re a wife looking for something for your husband. These diamond-accented cuff links are made of stainless steel. For added visual interest, each link has an 18-karat gold textured inlay. These cuff links would be a great finish to a dapper look.

Your wife may love a set of 1/4 Carat Princess-Cut Diamond Earrings as an anniversary gift. Each of these earrings features four princess-cut diamonds in 10-karat white gold settings. The total diamond carat weight is ¼ carats. These earrings are easy to dress down or up, and your wife is sure to love them.

This Diamond Heart Pendant in Sterling Silver might make for another great gift for your wife. The pendant itself is 20x20 millimeters in a sterling silver base. It features 30 round single-cut diamonds weighing roughly 1/5 carats as well as 31 baguette-cut diamonds weighing roughly 1/7 carats. The diamonds align quite beautifully, and the two hearts in the pendant can be representative of both your hearts as a long-time married couple.

If your wife is open to the idea of having another diamond ring, this 1/6 Carat Diamond Sideways Heart-Shaped Ring could be just what you’re looking for. This ring has a diamond-lined looping infinity symbol which creates a pair of open hearts in 10-karat white gold. The diamonds are outlined with intricate detailing for added inspiration. As with the pendant, the hearts can represent your love and devotion to one another.

Caring for Your Diamonds

Diamonds are the hardest natural substance on Earth. They do not need the same meticulous care that pearls do. We do have some tips for you to help maintain your diamonds’ sparkling look nonetheless:

  • Handle your diamonds sparingly. Diamonds are grease magnets and not the easiest to keep clean. If handled too much, the oils from your fingers will adhere to the surface of your diamonds. These oils will then dull their brilliance.
  • Clean your diamonds regularly. This can be done via a simple method of soaking the stone in a gentle degreasing solution for a few minutes. You can also use a cup of water mixed with a few drops of dish detergent once or twice each week. After removing the diamond, brush off any remaining dirt from hard-to-reach spots with a soft toothbrush.
  • Be gentle with your diamonds. Settings can be fragile and shouldn’t be scrubbed too vigorously with a toothbrush. Rinse with water and dry with a soft cloth that is lint-free. Make sure to close up the drain if you’re working over the sink.
  • Stay away from harmful solutions like bleach, toothpaste, or household cleaners. These can damage or scratch the metal settings and surfaces.
  • Use ultrasonic cleaners with caution. Ultrasonic cleaners are used to remove encrusted dirt that other methods can’t. Low-frequency soundwaves are sent through a cleaning solution. These cause the solution to vibrate and remove the dirt and grime that has accumulated. It’s possible these cleaners can shake stones loose from their settings, so be careful.

30th Wedding Anniversary Gifts for Parents from Children

If you’re reading this as the child of parents who are approaching their 30th wedding anniversary, we have gift ideas for you as well. You know your parents deserve a gift that is very sentimental and heartfelt.

After all, being married for even five or 10 years takes patience and hard work. Making a marriage work for 30 years is an incredible accomplishment. This deserves to be celebrated in a special way.

Your parents’ 30th anniversary is a celebration of marriage longevity. It’s also about raising a family successfully and instilling everlasting values. This is the perfect time to give back to your parents all you can.

Here are some great gift ideas to help make your parents’ anniversary unforgettable.

Have a Custom Portrait Painting Done

One great gift you can get for your parents could be a custom portrait painting. The right artist can capture the love and happiness of your parents together. A one-of-a-kind painting can have special meaning much more than a simple framed photograph would.

The portrait should be of your parents as they are now with an extra sparkle to their advancing ages. They will be proud to hang the portrait in a prominent place to show off to family and friends.

Make a Commemorative DVD Slideshow

Over the course of 30 years, your parents have probably taken thousands of pictures. You can easily put these treasured memories together into a video slideshow. Add in some of their favorite songs as background music. Surprise your parents with a DVD copy of the slideshow on their anniversary.

Watching it will bring back wonderful memories and feelings. Your parents can look back that the timeline of their lives together and love each other even more.

Create a Wedding Song Soundwave Canvas

Your parents undoubtedly chose a wedding song that has a great deal of personal meaning to them. It could be one of their all-time favorite songs. Maybe they heard the lyrics to a song for the first time and felt an instant emotional connection to it. A canvas print of their wedding song in soundwave would be a unique reminder of the vows they made to each other.

Book Them a Romantic Date Night

Romantic Date Night

It may have been quite some time since your parents have had a romantic night out together. A personalized date night can help them relive the early romantic days of their marriage. You can book them a dinner at an upscale restaurant they once frequented. You could even send them on an adventure that would retrace the steps of their first date.

Incorporate Pearl Jewelry or Adornments

You know your parents aren’t going the traditional route with their gifts for each other. This is a good opportunity to get them pearl jewelry or adornments.

This gift is perfect for showing your appreciation for all your parents have done over the years. You don’t even have to get real pearls. Any gift that you give your parents can be accented with a set of imitation pearls. This will help to underscore all their happy years together.

Book Them a Vacation or Party

a Party

If your parents are the more lowkey type who don’t celebrate big, then do it for them. You can schedule a nice tropical vacation for two. If you want to get the whole family involved in the celebration, then a huge party at a nice venue will warm their hearts for months after the festivities.

Making Sure Your Gift Has Value

Whatever you get your parents for their anniversary needs to have symbolic value. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when deciding on a gift.

  • Display some creativity with your gift. The more creative you can be, the more your parents will cherish and love your gift for all time.
  • You parents’ anniversary gift must have emotional value behind it. Romance and love are emotional things, and marriage requires both to be meaningful. Gifts with emotional value will fuel a deeper love and greater commitments.
  • Marriage is something that is supposed to last forever. Anniversary gifts are meant to reinforce this notion. Make sure your gift has a sense of timelessness to it that your parents will appreciate.
  • Your parents would love a gift that is personalized because of the effort and thought that goes into it. Customized gifts have a sentimental value that sets them apart from others. This will allow your parents to cherish your gift and keep it as a lifelong memento.
  • A wedding anniversary is meant to celebrate the togetherness of the married couple. Your gift to your parents should enhance the feeling of togetherness. It should also encourage them to become even closer with each other than they already are.

Related Questions

How much should you spend on a 30th wedding anniversary gift? There’s no real right or wrong answer to how much money you should spend on a wedding anniversary gift. Anniversary gifts don’t follow the same set of guidelines as an engagement ring would. In this case there’s no need to add up three to six months’ salary to determine your budget.

The best thing to do as your anniversary approaches is to sit down and talk with your spouse about gifts. Set a budget that both of you can agree on. Look at your income against your expenses to see how much you have left over. From there you both should be able to come to an agreement that doesn’t put too much financial burden on either of you.

Your anniversary gift’s sentimental value is much more important than its price tag. Think about your husband or wife and how much they’ve supported you and been by your side all through the years. Choose a gift that best conveys the appreciation and love you feel for everything about them.

What are the best ideas for a 30th wedding anniversary party? Not every couple makes it through 30 years of marriage. Three decades together is a huge accomplishment and definitely something worth celebrating. Throwing a party with family and friends will help to make this momentous time even more special.

The 30th wedding anniversary is also considered the pearl anniversary, as we mentioned. Since pearls come from the ocean, you could have an ocean-themed anniversary party.

You could hold your party outdoors with oyster shells and bottles full of sand as decorations. Serve up a variety of different seafood dishes for your guests. If seafood isn’t something that you or your guests would enjoy, an ocean boardwalk theme may be for you.

You can expand on the boardwalk theme with different carnival games. Set up some activities that adults and children in attendance can enjoy. You can use a bean bag toss or knock-down cans. You can even rent a dunk tank for the day! The possibilities are practically endless.

Nicole Malczan

Nicole Malczan

Nicole Malczan is a content marketing writer and freelancer. She's applied her knowledge of marketing and SEO to many clients over the years, ranging from food service to facilities management and currency exchange. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, baking, and music.

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