According to tradition, the gift for a 10th wedding anniversary is supposed to be made of aluminum. This somewhat odd tradition of commemorating anniversary milestones with different materials – paper, wood, aluminum, etc. – began in Europe in the mid-1800s, and became a much bigger deal in the U.S. in the 1920s. What's truly surprising to us is, even though this tradition has a 100-year track record, our internet searches for 'aluminum gifts' came back with results that were horrible junk! To fix this sorry state of affairs, we took it upon ourselves to put together a list of our own. Here’s our picks for modern 10th wedding anniversary gifts from some of the most clever product designers out there. We hope you enjoy it.
A logical place to begin our search is jewelry. Aluminum, understandably, does not have the cache of precious metals like gold or silver. But it does have a few very appealing qualities. First off, for women who do not like heavy jewelry, aluminum is incredibly lightweight. You can almost forget that you’re wearing earrings. An aluminum necklace won’t make your neck feel heavy all day long. It’s also low maintenance – it doesn’t tarnish like silver, won't stain your skin, and it stays bright with a subdued silver luster. Also, for those who care about sustainability, it’s largely made from recycled content.
Our favorite pick for jewelry made of aluminum is from the modernist Italian jewelry designer, Ilaria Zelli and her line called ININEDESIN. The pieces have a minimalist aesthetic and a strong architectural look that comes from the choice of materials. Crafted from recycled aluminum and unusual materials such as black slate or light concrete, it’s fitting that the designer refers to her jewelry as ‘wearable constructions’. The products are hand crafted in Italy, and ship internationally from the ININEDESIGN Etsy shop.
At first glance, the purse looks like metal chain-mail armor. Look more closely and you’ll realize that it’s woven from hundreds of shiny aluminum soda tabs. As a 10-year anniversary gift, a pop tab purse from Escama Studio is something that will get rave reviews. Handmade in Brazil by talented artisans that combine traditional crochet techniques with up-cycled materials, the metallic purses have an uncanny ability to draw attention and compliments. They're durable enough to use as a practical every-day bag and are dressy enough to wear for going-out. Available in various shoulder bags, cross-bodies and clutches, each purse is nicely finished with fabric liner, internal pockets for phone, and metal zipper closure. Even though the bags look like heavy chain-mail armor, they’re surprisingly lightweight – just like everything else made of aluminum. Escama pop tab purses are available widely in museum gift shops, also online on the Escama website
A whimsical option for a 10-year anniversary gift, is the mid-century modern aluminum sculptures from the Canadian sand cast metal works of Gordon Hoselton and Alan Butters. Hoselton sculptures have been popular in Canada since the 1960s and are best known for their simple stylized fluid shapes of birds, mammals, fish and other wildlife themes. The Hoselton metal works operated for many years as a ‘family’ of artisans creating sand cast sculptures. Working from the original raw aluminum ingots, and melting them 1200 degrees F, the molten aluminum was poured into sand cast molds. The sculptures were then polished with multiple stages to create a soft, no-tarnish finish. Hoselton's fluid, abstract sculptures fit nicely with mid-century décor and look incredible. What’s even more incredible is that vintage Hoselton sculptures can be found online for as little as $30.00. A good place to search is on Etsy.com or eBay.com
There’s an inside joke among guitar enthusiasts, ‘whoever dies with the most guitars, wins!’ Needless to say, there’s probably no better 10-year anniversary gift for a guitar player than an aluminum guitar. If you’re in the mood to splurge, (and if the house isn’t already filled with guitars), then here's some ideas. There are manufacturers who specialize in aluminum guitars, Aluminati Guitars in North Carolina and Baguley Guitars in Germany, and also large retailer chains like Guitar Center. Our go-to source for all information related to aluminum guitars is the California-based guitar craftsman, Matthew Stamos. A professed guitar nut and music enthusiast focused on aluminum guitars, Stamos finds that the qualities that make aluminum guitars so special are, “Clarity, clear smooth sustain and sharper or faster feeling attack". Stamos modifies an ever-changing assortment of aluminum guitars that are one-offs, built with a selection of components that complement each other aesthetically and functionally. Some of the guitars are modified from stock instruments from the manufacturer, other are built from reclaimed wood guitars and aluminum necks. To see available guitars, check MJ Stamos’ shop on Reverb or you can view a gallery of his guitars on Instagram.
ALUMINUM TRAIN MAKEUP CASE
Organizing junk is important, isn’t it? This boxy aluminum trunk is the type of case used by professional makeup artists when they’re preparing photo shoots. But it’s also a super gift for anyone who wants to organize their cosmetics, jewelry or even craft supplies. Called ‘train cases’, these boxes were originally designed as a small luggage box for women in the early 1900s when transportation by train was the way to go. The small box made it easy to carry necessities in one convenient container so that it wasn’t mixed with the rest of the luggage. These days, it’s still a handy item for travel – with or without the train – but it’s an even better organizer at home. The square trunk splits open from the top and folds out with twin two step storage platforms. There are divider trays for cosmetics and brushes, and a compartment at the bottom for larger items. It's a practical gift but also kind of fun. We were surprised at just how many companies make train makeup cases, the prices are very affordable. Our pick is the slightly more expensive, Kryolan Make Up Case (shown) (Product code 07808/00).
Aluminum cookware, in some ways, out performs pots & pans made from other metals. But just as it’s tough to compare aluminum jewelry to gold and silver – it’s also hard to compare aluminum cookware with designer brands of stainless steel, copper, ceramic and even cast iron. In the case of cast aluminum cookware vs. cast iron, aluminum is not nearly as durable. It’s common to find hundred-year-old cast iron skillets in antique shops but it’s harder to find old cast aluminum pots. Cast aluminum pots are susceptible to scratches from utensils and they get beaten up over time. It seems that cast aluminum is not worth the effort. Not so, aluminum pots and pans with stainless steel coating, ceramic coating or anodized surfaces. These hardened aluminum pots are durable and non-reactive, (meaning that the metal won’t interact with acids in food like cast iron or cast aluminum). Cooking with hardened aluminum cookware has the benefit of more even heat distribution than other metals, it takes less time to get hot, and it cools down faster.
If you’re outdoorsy and enjoy car camping or back packing, then anodized aluminum pots may be the only type of cookware that you’ll ever want. The pot that gets best reviews for camping is the Primus PrimeTech 2.3L Pot Set. It has a non-stick anodized treatment, requires the least amount of fuel for cooking, comes with wind guard, lid with integrated strainer, heat exchanging rings, and an insulated cozy/carry bag. For everyone else who likes the idea of camping (but might never get around to it), then there are other well rated sets of aluminum cookware: Tramontina 8 Qt Hard Anodized Aluminum Covered Stock Pot, Calphalon 1932450 Classic Nonstick Dutch Oven with Cover, Martha Stewart Collection 10-Piece Hard-Enameled Aluminum Nonstick Cookware Set.
If you’ve been looking around for good earbuds with great sound, fit snuggly and can handle sweat at the gym, the Oddict Twig seems to be an attractive option. Oddict brand is new to the US market but they’re made by Cresyn, a Korean OEM that has been making headphones since the 1980s. The Twig and Twig Pro carry the Snapdragon Sound badge, this new generation chip that blends Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Winner of the iF Design Award, the ‘Gold Statement’ reads: ‘Oddict Twig stands out among countless true wireless headsets, having achieved the ultimate in minimalist design. The architectural approach and the contrast created by the combination of aluminum cylinder and black earpiece creates a timeless masterpiece. The solid appearance of the charge case further enhances the concept of the product. Simply beautiful!’
Lately, aluminum furniture is having a bit of a moment in the world of design. The design magazine, Wallpaper* has even created a distinct design category, ‘best metal morphosis’ where designers push the boundaries of aluminum for sustainable, renewable furniture design. The winner of the most recent competition is the ‘Za’ stool from designer, Naoto Fukasawa for the U.S. furniture brand Emeco. Named after the Japanese meaning ‘place to sit’, the stools are handcrafted from recycled aluminum and come in different heights and in a range of subdued colors. They can be used anywhere, indoors or outdoors. Available on the Enemco.com website.
And finally, who looks better in vintage-style sunglasses? Women or men? The fact is, both look fantastic. If you are too cool for any of these other gifts, then a 10th anniversary gift of sunglasses is a perfect gift for women or men. Many brands offer cool aluminum frames in various styles. Our favorite is the ever-popular vintage style, Ray-Ban Clubmaster, now reintroduced as style number RB3507. The iconic Clubmaster now has a new color palette for the brushed aluminum frames and crystal lenses.
For more 10 year anniversary gift ideas, check out our other blog post for High Design Aluminum!