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What is a Promise Ring? Promise Ring Meaning, Definition and Symbolism

What Finger Does a Promise Ring Go OnA promise ring represents commitment. The giver makes a promise to the wearer in regard to something important to the two of them, while using a commitment ring as a tangible token of that promise. While many people give promise rings as a romantic gesture to indicate strong feelings or a romantic future, promise rings can also symbolize a lasting friendship, a renewed love, or a pledge to faith.

Where do Promise Rings Come From?

Promise rings are quite common in the world of traditional or simulated diamond jewelry and have been around for a long time. Think centuries and you’re getting warmer. Some believe promise rings first became a thing in the 17th century, in jolly old England. However, promise rings in England were often called posy rings. These rings came replete with a romantic poem engraved upon them and were given as a representation of love and devotion between two people.

Promise rings didn’t stop there though. During the Victorian and Georgian eras people gave something called acrostic rings as a form of a promise ring. Acrostic rings spelled out a word with gemstones, using the type of gemstone to represent a letter. So, a diamond might represent the letter D, a ruby the letter R, and so on. These rings were like secret, encoded messages, and gave birth to the whole “secret language of gems” concept.

Meanwhile, some believe the earliest examples of promise rings date all the way to Roman times in the second century B.C. when women would wear a promise ring during a courting phase, until a marriage could be announced. It was a mandatory wait period. What’s the difference between a promise ring and an engagement ring? Like an engagement ring, a promise ring was given as a symbol of the intention to get married, even though the marriage itself might not happen for several years! Even so, the wedding ring is set to replace the promise ring when the time comes.

Betrothals, or a legally binding ceremony to be married were common too, and rings were often exchanged as a symbol of the betrothal commitment. These could be called an early version of the promise ring as well. Regardless of when or where the idea of a promise ring first originated, the general promise ring meaning has remained relatively consistent throughout the centuries.

Promise ring on hand
Promise Ring

What is a Promise Ring’s Meaning?

Even though the reasons behind exchanging or giving a promise ring can vary, the intention is the same for most people – a promise ring signifies a commitment between the giver and the wearer. Ultimately it’s between the giver and the wearer to decide what a promise ring means to each of them. Whether it’s a romantic relationship or a friendship ring, the promise ring meaning boils down to a token and symbol of commitment, nothing more, nothing less.

What Are Some Reasons to Give a Promise Ring?

Common reasons to give a promise ring include:

  • To promise lasting friendship to someone
  • To promise your commitment to marry someday
  • To promise your renewed love and renewed bond
  • To promise your care and devotion to your child
  • To promise the strength of a long-distance romantic relationship
  • To promise a faith pledge, such as committing to abstinence
  • To promise to give up a bad habit, like smoking or drinking
  • To promise or renew your commitment to remain faithful to someone
  • To promise commitment in lieu of an expensive engagement ring
what does a promise ring look likeThere are no rules on reasons why you might give someone a promise ring. That promise is between you and the wearer only and it could represent a promise for just about anything. Once the recipient accepts the ring, it’s a symbolic gesture indicating they are accepting your promise to them and agreeing with that promise. If the promise is related to how you feel about that person, then their acceptance of a promise ring signifies their feelings are mutual. Just make sure to refer to a ring size guide to help determine which ring size is best depending on the finger you intend on wearing the ring. Keep in mind that the ring size chart for women and men differ, so if you are planning on surprising your partner, friend, or family member, double check the size conversions before making a purchase!

What is the Difference Between a Promise Ring and an Engagement Ring?

There’s no denying that the most common reason to give someone a promise ring is related to romance and relationships. This makes it very easy to confuse promise rings with engagement rings. However, even though the promise ring itself could look just like an engagement ring, the reality is the intention behind giving the ring to a romantic partner is not the same. When an engagement ring is given, the commitment to be married is solidified. It’s only a matter of time before the wedding is planned and the ceremony takes place.

However, when a promise ring is given, it may not even be a promise of marriage. It could just be a symbol of commitment between a couple indicating they love each other and want to be together, solidifying a commitment that goes beyond dating casually or cohabitating. However, they don’t necessarily require a marriage ceremony as evidence of that commitment. If the couple does intend to marry someday, sometimes a promise ring might be considered a pre engagement ring.

It’s a way for a couple to show their love for each other without breaking the bank, until such a time as they are ready to purchase an actual engagement ring. Wondering how to know the ring size for engagement purposes? Giving a promise ring before a proper engagement ring can help you narrow down ring size! Or it could symbolize some other kind of promise entirely and have nothing to do with romance or marriage at all!

promise ring examples

Are Promise Rings Only for Women?

No – promise rings are not exclusively for women. Many couples decide to both wear an eternity ring together, sometimes even buying a matching set of rings for just that purpose. In fact, matching sets are becoming increasingly popular in today’s culture. Since promise rings are often much less of an investment than engagement rings, buying a ring for each partner to wear is more common than one might think, whatever the promise being made.

Parents also sometimes buy matching promise rings for their children and friends sometimes buy promise rings to exchange with another friend as a token of lasting friendship. There’s no rule that says men can’t receive and wear a promise ring too, although men usually prefer wearing more of a simple band rather than a dainty and intricate design. Just as there are engagement rings for small hands and very large hands, promise rings come in a large array of sizes to accommodate any wearer.

Should You Wear Your Promise Ring Daily?

It depends. This is a decision best left between you and the person you’ve given a promise ring to wear. Some couples wear their matching promise rings all the time, while others choose to only wear their promise rings on special occasions. It’s a personal, individual choice that’s between you and the recipient. Additionally, if you have a diamond promise ring or one with a precious gemstone, you may want to keep it safe and wear it on occasion.

Is a Purity Ring the Same Thing as a Promise Ring?

While sometimes a promise ring and a purity ring are viewed as the same thing, that’s not always the case. Purity rings are usually given specifically to indicate a promise of purity or abstinence until marriage, while a promise ring can actually symbolize many different types of commitments. Though they are sometimes worn and viewed interchangeably, in reality, they are two different types of rings.

How is a Promise Ring Worn?

There is no specific hand or finger a promise ring is traditionally worn on, although a promise ring should not be worn on the ring finger, lest it be confused with an engagement ring. Unless of course, you’re giving it in lieu of an engagement ring. Then some couples choose to wear it like one on their left ring finger. Others choose to wear the promise ring on the right hand’s ring finger, while others choose to wear their promise ring on a different finger, left hand, or even on a chain around their neck. You could even wear a promise ring on your toe if you really wanted to! It’s more about the significance of the promise than where or how the ring is worn.

promise ring examples

What Does a Promise Ring Look Like?

Every piece of jewelry is different. There are so many popular ring designs, it’s really just a matter of choosing what promise ring style you like best. Eternity rings and Claddagh rings are common, and so are single hearts and designs that intertwine, like infinity rings and trilogy rings. Mosaic and stone composites are also popular, and most promise rings are made with different types of precious metal than say, wedding bands or engagement rings. Metals such as sterling silver are used instead of platinum as a way to help to keep them more affordable.

Promise rings are also often smaller in design than an engagement ring, with subtle features that focus on the ring design itself. There is much less emphasis on a single diamond or another colored gemstone. You won’t typically find a promise ring that sports a large rock like an engagement ring might. That would likely entail a day spent at a diamond shop. The detailing is daintier and less in your face and may not even include gemstones or diamonds at all.

If a diamond promise ring is in the plans, it can get costly. Unless you’re intentionally going for a very fancy promise ring, the price of promise rings tends to be much less than what you might spend on a wedding band or engagement ring. This is one of the reasons why they are so popular as a pre engagement ring for couples in tight financial situations. They symbolize future engagement without breaking the bank.

At the end of the day, it’s the couple’s choice whether they want a fancy diamond ring, a specific diamond shape, precious metal color, or just a simple ring.

So, What Does a Promise Ring Mean?

It’s really up to you. Promise rings can mean whatever you want them to mean. You could be promising love and devotion, or you could be promising to make a positive change in your life. Just remember, a promise is a promise. Don’t take them lightly. If you’re looking for a beautiful promise ring for yourself or your special someone, check out Diamond Nexus to find the perfect one for you!

*Here at Diamond Nexus, we strive to provide valuable information while being clear and honest about our products. The Nexus Diamond™ alternative is a patented lab created diamond simulate that, among all simulants, most closely imitates the look, weight and wear of a diamond, with two exceptions – it is absolutely perfect in every way, and it costs significantly less. Price points and environmental facts expressed in this blog were taken from popular online retailers and may vary. Learn more about the environmental impact of mining by visiting our blog.

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