Birthday Guide

Coming of Age Gifts

Coming Of Age Gifts Guide

Marking the passage from childhood to adulthood is a timeless tradition. Various religious and cultural rituals celebrate coming of age for both girls and boys and with these traditions, comes gift giving. Considering the recipient's age and cultural, religious or other significance you're sure to find a gift that is long lasting.

Jewellery is perfect for these occasions, because it can last for many years, it carries meaning and symbolism, and can be a relatively affordable way to present something precious. For some teens, it may be the first piece of fine jewellery they've ever owned, which is special in itself.

The following list of specific ceremonies and celebrations isn't comprehensive, but it covers many well-known rituals celebrated all over the world.

Sweet 16

The most common coming-of-age celebration for many teenagers is their "Sweet 16." In many cultures, turning sixteen is a turning point from childhood to adulthood. This occasion holds no particular ceremony or deep history as other religious and cultural rituals do, but each sweet 16 invokes the idea of celebration and gifts.

Age 16 and proud!

Keeping it Sweet and simple:

You can choose from a variety of:

Quinceañera

Quinceañera (often shortened to "Quince") literally means "one who is 15." It refers to the traditional 15th birthday celebration for girls in much of Latin America and in Latin American communities around the world.

A quinceañera is a big event and is often equivalent to that of a wedding. Along with its religious element, called a Mass of Thanksgiving (Misa de Acción de Gracias) a reception follows, complete with plenty of food, music and a first dance (traditionally a waltz) for the birthday girl and her father.

A ceremonial presentation of symbolic gifts, are given during the mass by those closest to the celebrant. Some wonderful gift ideas include:

  • A gold or silver ring or bracelet, symbolising the circle of life
  • Earrings, sometimes said to remind her to listen to God
  • A gold or silver cross or medal
  • A tiara and sceptre, representing responsibility

As with any birthday celebration, guests at a quinceañera typically bring gifts. Gold, silver or pearl stud earrings (either simple balls or fun or meaningful shapes) or a simple charm, pendant or ring – possibly with the number "15" – are appropriate for a 15-year-old, yet also mark the symbolic depth of the occasion.

Bat bitzvah and bar mitzvah

A bat mitzvah (daughter of the commandment) is the Jewish coming-of-age ritual for girls at age 12. Boys have an equivalent ritual, the bar mitzvah, at age 13.

For these events, the child must do a fair amount of preparation by going through intense Hebrew study and attending a number of Shabbat services, before the ritual occurs. After this, the child becomes a full member of the Jewish community and takes moral responsibility for his or her own actions.

Guests bring gifts to the following the ceremony, often with hundreds of guests; equivalent to a wedding reception. Many give a practical gift of money in multiples of 18, signifying life and good luck, but a jewellery gift can be cherished for longer.

Lasting and symbolic gifts are appropriate for a young teen on these occasions; have a think about:

Confirmation

In the Catholic Church, confirmation is both an initiation ceremony and a rite of passage. It's the final act – after baptism and the first communion – in becoming a full member of the church. It is performed in early adolescence, when a child reaches what's seen as the age of reason.

When choosing a confirmation gift, keep in mind the religious significance and deep meaning of the event. Jewellery is a perfect choice that the celebrant will cherish for years to come, some ideas include:

Debutante ball and Philippine debut

Debutante balls – sometimes called cotillions – are a grand social tradition with origins in Victorian England. The historical purpose was to present newly marriageable women to eligible bachelors. Today their focus isn't so much on matchmaking, but rather on upholding an elegant tradition, promoting civic mindedness, raising money for charity, and of course, marking the rite of passage into womanhood.

Because the original purpose was to introduce young women of marriageable age to society, debutantes are typically 17 or 18 years old rather than early adolescents. Unless you're immediate family, it's not common to give a gift at a traditional American debutante ball. Instead, you typically donate money to the charity being funded by the ball.

If you do choose to give a gift, engraved jewellery is common. Consider an engraved pendant or charm bracelet. A simple ring, earrings or an engraved picture frame are also lasting gifts to match the elegance of the occasion.

The Philippine Debut has many similarities to the American debutante ball, and is celebrated on a girl's 18th birthday. Gifts are more common at this event, and are similar to what you'd give at a Sweet 16 or quinceañera – though keep in mind the celebrant's age will be a few years older.

Regardless of how the young teen chooses to mark their passages into adulthood, they'll appreciate the lasting gift of jewellery for years to come.