The time of year is upon us when students all over the world are frantically testing and writing to obtain that long-awaited degree. Whether they’re planning for their high school graduation, getting their bachelor’s or post-graduate degree, or celebrating another accomplishment, we love to recognize the success of our loved ones and all the hard work they put into receiving their diplomas with graduation gifts. Along with this celebration comes a variety of traditions that range from silly to serious.
Pomp and circumstance
You may not know its name, but you’ve certainly heard this recognizable tune play at pretty much every high school and college graduation you’ve been to. The familiar “Graduation March,” however, actually has its roots in the monarchy. It was written by British composer Edward Elger to memorialize the coronation of King Edward VII. Later on, when Elger received an honorary doctorate at Yale, the song was played again and quickly gained popularity as the music of choice for graduations everywhere.
Cap and gown
The traditional graduation gown consists of a long robe and a square-topped cap — something you’ve probably seen in movies even if you haven’t donned one yourself. Many believe this design is related to clerical outfits of the 12th and 13th centuries, as most scholars were a part of the church at this time. Historians also believe that since academic buildings were generally unheated, the long robes and hoods were worn to keep scholars warm in the chilly halls. Oxford and Cambridge were the first recorded schools to standardize gowns for graduation, and the tradition lives on today.
The turning of the tassel
This tradition is one of the newer ones, having only emerged within the last 40 to 50 years. Originally a simple design element, the movement of the tassel is meant to symbolize a student’s movement from candidate to graduate. If you’re afraid of messing it up, remember that it’s traditional to move the tassel from right to left upon instruction.
Throwing the graduation cap
The tossing of the graduation cap is believed to have started in 1912 at the U.S. Naval Academy. Upon graduation, the Navy gave newly commissioned graduates their officers’ hats for the first time, leaving the midshipmen’s caps they were previously wearing useless. The new officers then tossed their old hats into the air to celebrate, and many graduates have since followed suit.
This Hawaiian tradition involves graduates being presented with leis by their friends and family members throughout the ceremony. They can sometimes receive so many leis that they end up looking buried in flowers, although “alternative” leis like candy necklaces are sometimes given out, too.
The word “diploma,” meaning “double-folded paper,” originated in the mid-17th century. Unlike the cap and gown, diplomas are an American tradition, presented to graduates as a certification of the completion of their studies. The first diplomas were given out at Harvard University in 1813. They are sometimes referred to as “sheepskins” because they were originally written on parchment, which was formed from sheep or goat’s skin. This durable material was perfect for the long-lasting diploma.
While we can’t say when the idea of celebrating our loved one’s achievements originated, we can say that it’s a time-honored tradition we’re happy to be a part of. Most people choose to celebrate by hosting a graduation party, dinner, or another event that puts a spotlight on all the hard work the graduate has done to get to this point. Giving graduation gifts is also a common practice encouraged to celebrate the graduate’s success.
Picking out the perfect graduation gift
There are a lot of reasons why jewelry makes a great graduation gift for every man or woman. The enduring nature of jewelry means your gift won’t go out of style like the newest trendy pair of shoes, and they won’t outgrow it like they might a piece of clothing. It’s much more personal than money, allowing the graduate to place special significance in your gift. It will also help kick-start their “adult” wardrobe, giving them something they can wear to future job interviews, special events, and all the other things that come along with post-graduation life. Here are a few tips on how to pick out graduation jewelry they’ll truly love.
Shop for versatility
Choose a piece they can easily mix and match with others, or one they’re able to dress up or dress down depending on how they’re wearing it. This ensures they’ll get a lot of use out of your gift.
Know their style
Does your graduate follow the trends, or do they favor more classic styles? Are they in love with vintage jewelry or obsessed with geometric designs? Think about how they dress and what they’ve liked in the past to find something that’s right for them.
There are a million and one ways to make a piece of jewelry extra special. You can choose their birthstone or school colors, specific shapes that match up with their interests, or even engrave their gift with a personal message. Customizing their gift to make it more meaningful will help to make it one they’ll love to wear.
This tip is especially important if you don’t see your graduate wearing jewelry that often. Purchasing a gift with more of a purpose, like cuff links or a money clip, can transform it into something they appreciate all the more.
Benefits of shopping Shane Co. for graduation
With the largest selection of exclusive styles, customization options and high-quality craftsmanship, Shane Co. is the place to shop for graduation gifts. We offer signature styles that highlight your graduate’s unique personality, and all of our jewelry is made with hand-picked stones directly sourced and priced for every budget. With our 60-Day Money-Back Guarantee and Free Lifetime Warranty, your purchase is risk-free. Shop at a store near you or explore endless options online to take advantage of our free 2-day shipping, anywhere in the U.S.
Still not sure what to get your grad? Take our gift finder quiz or explore some of our most popular gifting options below.
Our traditional studs come in a range of sizes, handcrafted with individually matched stones. With a range of prices, they look great with timeless diamonds or a unique colored gem.
This beautiful customizable ring looks great with every skin tone in our signature shade of 14k rose gold. Make it special with a message, the date of their graduation or their initials for something they’ll treasure forever.
A tennis bracelet is the perfect gift for the stylish graduate. It’s simple and easy to accessorize with any outfit — a wardrobe staple for the sophisticated woman. It’s a great way to introduce an “adult” piece to your loved one’s jewelry collection.
These cuff links represent timeless style with a contemporary twist. Made from 14k yellow gold, they’ll look great when it’s time for your graduate to suit up and are a valuable investment he’ll love to wear.
Is there a better way to transition your wardrobe into adulthood than cultured pearls? She can pair this enduring style with a T-shirt and jeans or a little black dress for a versatile piece. Each strand is hand-knotted between each pearl and built to last.