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promise ring meaning

What is a Promise Ring?

Did the person in your life recently give you a promise ring? If you’re wondering “What is a promise ring, anyway?” you’re not alone.

Maybe you don’t know what a promise ring is, but you are looking for a way to take your serious relationship a step further. There are many, many kinds of commitment rings: pre-engagement rings, engagement rings, promise rings, purity rings, and more.

Many of our readers write to us asking the meaning of a promise ring, and we decided we’d cover it all today. This pure and romantic gesture of commitment is perfect for couples who want to take their relationship a step further but don’t know where to start.

So that leaves the question, what is a promise ring? Is it the same as an engagement ring? What does a promise ring mean?

Promise Ring 101

gold promise rings

The most important question we get about promise rings is, “what does a promise ring mean?” Well, the name is your first hint. The promise ring is exactly that, a promise.

Its specific meaning will differ from couple to couple, but promise rings signify a future engagement for many people. They don’t always have to represent a life-long future, though.

Elizabeth Woolf-Willis, marketing coordinator at Simon G. Jewelry, inc. likens the tradition of promise rings to the 1950s tradition of high school sweethearts “getting pinned.” Anybody who’s seen Bye Bye Birdie can sing the refrain now — Did they really get pinned? Did she kiss him and sigh?

The point is, promise rings can mean all sorts of different things. If you were given one and it’s not obvious what it’s supposed to mean, you might ask your partner. A good conversation can go a long way, especially in long term relationships.

Promise Ring Meaning

This is another common question: what does a promise ring symbolize. Well, once again, it differs from couple to couple, but it generally represents a serious commitment to the relationship. It can mean the promise of a lifelong bond, the promise of a future engagement, or the promise of a serious long-term relationship without being too specific.

At its most basic, the promise of the promise ring is the giver. He or she says, “I promise that I am yours.”

Who Can Wear A Promise Ring?

couple promise rings

This question comes up a lot. Most of our readers are under the impression that a girl more commonly wears it, but this is simply not true. Men and women, straight and LGBTQ+ all wear promise rings, and jewelers like Kay Jewellers and others make rings for every person under the sun.

Many people often think commitment rings are just for high schoolers. While high schoolers are the most likely to give a promise ring to their young partner, people of all ages give and receive these special gifts.

Traditionally, promise rings are given by one person to another person in a relationship, but sometimes couples give promise rings to each other. This is common when a relationship goes long distance, like when high school seniors separate for college.

How Much To Pay For A Promise Ring

Usually, promise rings are less expensive than engagement rings. This is because the clientele are usually high school students with limited means. Usually, promise rings are in the ballpark of 200 – 500 dollars, but some jewelers sell them for a lot more.

Consider your means, and don’t go beyond them. A small diamond stud signifies your commitment just as well as a big production. What matters most is your heart.

When Should You Give a Promise Ring?

When you give this special gift is entirely up to you. It may also depend on the specific promise that you plan to make to your significant other.

Some experts recommend waiting until you’ve been with someone for at least 6 months to one year before offering them a promise ring. Any sooner may seem too quick and possibly disingenuous.

Don’t give your partner a promise ring if you plan on proposing within the year. Some people believe it’s bad luck to get both a promise ring and an engagement ring in the same year!

What Finger To Wear A Promise Ring On

rings on necklace

Maybe you received a promise ring from your love and want to honor the commitment. The only question is, what finger do you put it on? Actually, the most common finger is the ring finger of the left hand.

Some will also put it on the ring finger of the right hand. Still, others wear their promise rings on any one of their fingers or keep it on a chain around their neck.

Most people wear the promise ring on the ring finger of the left hand, leading us to another interesting promise ring question: what is the difference between an engagement vs. promise ring?


Engagement Ring vs. Promise Ring

engagement ring in box

An engagement ring and a promise ring are very similar. They might look similar, and both promise a future commitment. But what’s the difference between the two rings?

Well, the engagement ring is a lot more specific. It specifically tells you, “I want to marry you, and I want to do it sooner rather than later.” Most couples who get engagement rings begin planning the wedding right away.

A promise ring is a little hazier. It doesn’t necessarily specify a future furthering of the relationship, like with engagement or marriage, nor does it indicate a lifelong commitment to someone.

As we said, the promise involved differs from couple to couple, but most of the time it just promises general commitment for the relative long-term. It is not the same as a wedding ring either.


Promise Ring vs. Purity Ring

purity ring

Giving a promise ring is not exactly the same as giving someone a purity ring. A purity ring is a sign of chastity, which usually means that the wearer will save their virginity for the person they marry.

Purity rings are not necessarily given within a couple – sometimes parents will give their kids purity rings as a part of their faith.


History Of Promise Rings

The promise ring has recently become popular in just the last decade or so. While some believe that the idea is outdated, celebrity and pop culture has made the use of a commitment ring more relevant again. More and more young couples and exchanging rings with special meaning before engagement rings.

Though they may seem recent, these rings are far from modern. Some suggest that the history of promise rings may date as far back as Roman times!

A more realistic thought may be the so-called “posy rings” dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries in England. These romantic rings were engraved with loving poems from one true heart to another.

The following centuries saw the rise of acrostic rings, all in a row, that would spell a message.


Promise Ring Styles

Couples usually don’t want their promise rings to look like an engagement ring or wedding bands to avoid confusion. Instead of diamonds, consider a colored gemstone. Promise rings are often made in infinity symbols, hearts, or another symbol of commitment and love.

silver heart promise ring

You can choose any ring look and style to function as your promise ring. Popular bands are gold, rose gold, or sterling silver. From there, you can add any touches that you like or go pick one with your partner.

infinity ring


What If You Break Up?

What if you break up? What happens to the promise ring? Well, that is another thing that depends on the couple and the specific ring. Promise rings can be resold and given away, but some former lovers hold onto their promise rings as a memory of what was.

Hopefully, you don’t have to face this. Though this commitment is vaguer than an engagement ring, those that give promise rings are usually quite serious about ensuring the relationship’s longevity.


The Promise Ring Promise

In this article, you learned essentially all you need to know about promise rings: what they are, who can wear them, wear they come from, and what they mean. If you’re thinking of buying a promise ring for a loved one, remember that it is a solemn promise. Give commitment only with deep consideration.

If you’ve received a promise ring from a loved one, congratulations! This is a big step in the relationship, and you should feel cared for and excited. If you’re unclear about the meaning of the ring or uneasy about this next step, the best advice I can give you is to talk about it with your loved one. We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again, communication is key.

If you’re ready to move on to the next step, try reading about when to move towards engagement. Love well, and love deeply!

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