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Promise Rings: What They Symbolize & 20 Things to Know Before Giving One

What is a promise ring? Is it an engagement ring or a symbol of commitment? Here’s what you need to know about promise rings and the meaning behind them.

what is a promise ring?

Wondering what the fuss about promise rings is all about? Why do lovers even give them? Many people may not know what a promise ring is, even if they’ve seen them around. However, it’s important to know exactly what they signify before you start giving them away at random.

So is it like an engagement ring, but not really an engagement ring? Or is it like a proposal to propose later? Well, we’ll tell you everything you need to know. [Read: Different ways to say ‘I love you’ without saying a word]

History of promise rings

The idea of promise rings dates back to ancient times. As far back as the 2nd century BC, Roman brides were given promise rings as a sign of commitment during the required time that they had to wait before being allowed to marry.

Meanwhile, in 16th-century England, posy rings were usually engraved with romantic poems by jewelers. In the Victorian and Georgian eras, precious metals with emerald, sapphire, ruby, amethyst, diamonds, and other gemstones were used to spell out words on Acrostic rings.

Today, promise rings became a trend once again with celebrity wearers like Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth, and the Jonas Brothers making them popular. They are usually made from gold, sterling silver, or titanium with a birthstone or other fine gem *depending on your price point*.

Meaning of a promise ring

What is the meaning of a promise ring, anyway?

A promise ring is just that; it’s a ring that signifies a promise of some kind. Promise rings are also a step up from dating. You’re telling the world that your heart belongs to someone else, and you’re committed to safeguarding and maintaining that connection.

The most popular example of a promise ring is an engagement ring, but that’s not all they can stand for. Promise rings are often exchanged between young lovers to pledge their love for each other.

When you give a promise ring to your lover, it must signify some kind of a promise, like telling your lover that you’ll propose someday, or you’ll give up smoking the day you get married, or that you’ll never cheat for as long as both of you are in a relationship. [Read: How to prove you love someone the right way]

There are many reasons to give a promise ring to a loved one. But it all starts and ends with a promise.

If you still haven’t found the answer to “what is a promise ring,” we suggest you continue reading.

The difference between promise rings, eternity rings, and purity rings

It’s common for people to confuse promise rings, eternity rings, and purity rings, but they are not the same thing. Eternity rings are customarily presented to married couples on their tenth wedding anniversary.

Eternity rings are a symbol of everlasting devotion. On the other hand, a promise ring symbolizes a long-term commitment, although its meaning differs from that of an eternity ring.

Meanwhile, when the ring is given by a parent to a child, and it pledges abstinence, it is a purity ring.

The time I gave a promise ring

When I was still a student in my college years, close to a decade ago, I was madly in love with a girl. We had been dating for a couple of years, and even though we spent a lot of time with each other, it was never enough. I was crazy about her. I even knew I wanted to marry her someday.

All the words in the world couldn’t express my love for her. But I did want her to know that she meant a lot to me, a lot more than my words could ever express.

I wasn’t the first one who wanted to express the passionate romance that burned within me. For almost as long as humans could think, lovers have always looked for daring or memorable ways to express their love to their sweethearts.

After all, when you’re in love with someone, you can’t help but constantly look for ways to make your lover smile. Throughout history, some passionate lovers wrote poems, others built sculptures, and many even went to war. [Read: The complete guide to writing a romantic love letter to your partner]

Now I couldn’t do any of those. But I still wanted to express the endless love I had for my girlfriend. I decided to buy her a beautiful ring, the best one I could afford to buy without losing an arm or a leg. I saved a month’s allowance and picked out a platinum ring with a tiny diamond.

On our second anniversary of dating each other, I planned a romantic dinner with candles at my place. To make it more special, I spent a good hour or so jumping high and sticking glow-in-the-dark stars all over my bedroom ceiling. And after that, I filled my room with hundreds of heart-shaped balloons.

I wanted to do more, but beyond the flowers and a few gifts, I couldn’t think of anything else. After dinner, I walked her into my room with my hands over her eyes and showed her the balloons which signified “the hearts it would take to fill all the love I have for her.”

Then, I turned the lights off and showed her the glowing stars on the ceiling. It did look rather eerily romantic. And just as she turned the light back on, I went down on one knee, took out the ring, and gave it to her. She looked really happy and was quite shocked, to be honest.

But before she worried about it, I told her it wasn’t a diamond engagement ring, that it was just a ring as my promise of love to her, and let her know that I’ll always love her. Everything about that night was just perfect. [Read: How to plan a complete marriage proposal in a unique and romantic way]

My girlfriend and I are married today, and we share a wonderful relationship. Most importantly, that ring still has a special spot in both of our hearts. I pledged my love for her with that ring, and I’ve still kept that promise.

Understanding the promise ring better

When I gave my girlfriend the ring over a decade ago, I didn’t know what it was called. I had no idea back then that it was called a promise ring. But I still gave it to her because I wanted her to know how special she was and how much I loved her.

Lovers are always looking for ways to profess their love for each other. And at times, a ring can seem perfect. After all, you can feel it around your finger all the time. And each time you see or feel it, you can feel your lover’s promise in that ring. Isn’t that just beautiful? [Read: An unconditional love story and a promise ring]

You don’t always have to give a promise ring to your lover. But if you feel like your heart’s about to burst with all your love for this person, you’ll look for ways to express it. If a promise ring can express your love for you, then so be it.

Should you give a promise ring?

It’s entirely your decision. Your lover won’t expect it, so it’s a gesture you could indulge in only if you feel the urge to give a ring. You don’t even need a promise ring to express your love for your sweetheart.

You could use anything you like, as long as it’s something your partner will appreciate and keep safe. After all, that gift has a promise in it too. [Read: How to get your guy to propose to you sooner by reading his mind]

When should you buy a promise ring for someone?

Giving a promise ring is a common sign that you’ve found the one you’ve been looking for and are ready to commit to that person. As a result, when you want to tell someone your intentions, whether that be marriage or simply staying together forever, you should offer them a promise ring.

Are you confused about whether you should give a promise ring or not? Here are a few good reasons to give a promise ring and prove your love. [Read: What is unconditional love really?]

1. You feel so much love for this special someone, and you just want to express it through this ring

When we fall in love, we want to give our lovers everything they deserve. Some even get to the point where they have no idea what a promise ring is or what it actually means, yet they still buy one and give it to their lover because it feels right for them. [Read: 50 really cute things to say to your girlfriend]

2. You can’t afford a fancy ring now, but when you can, you will

Affording the most costly item is not something everyone can do on impulse. What is a promise ring to you? Is your current relationship serious? Consider asking yourself these questions first before purchasing a promise ring.

3. You know you’re just not ready to be engaged because both of you are too young or still not financially prepared for marriage

Yes, this is the intended purpose of a promise ring. Couples give each other promise rings not because they are nearing marriage but rather because they are still preparing for it. [Read: 20 questions to ask each other before getting married]

4. You think you’re ready for a commitment, and you want to make a promise

It’s pretty common for some couples to give each other promise rings before they are ready to get married. Promise rings are also available for those couples who wish to take their love to the next level.

How about you? Are you nearing the stage of getting engaged or married to your significant other?

5. You’re really serious about the relationship, and you want your partner to know that

All couples aren’t the same. Some of them would like to keep their relationship as intimate and private as possible.

On the other hand, some couples will go to great lengths, such as giving a promise ring to their partner, just to publicly express their love. How would you feel about receiving a promise ring? [Read: Relationship stages that all couples go through]

6. You believe that promise rings are a token of love

Aside from a token of love, what is a promise ring to you? Like the old-fashioned ‘going steady’ bands, a promise ring can be worn to show off and prove your commitment to a partner. New couples who want to commemorate the fact that they’ve found each other can’t go wrong with the gift of a ring.

7. You are ready for a big responsibility and commitment

Getting down on one knee may be a lengthy, drawn-out process for some couples. You may always use the promise ring as a placeholder for the real thing in the meantime if you don’t feel emotionally or financially ready for a full-blown engagement yet.

Promise rings show your commitment to one another, but it doesn’t imply that you’ve chosen a date for the big day yet.

8. Don’t want marriage just yet

Some people use promise rings instead of wedding bands for various reasons. If you don’t want to go through the legalities of engagement rings and wedding rings, promise rings may be a lovely way to display your commitment and fidelity without the formality.

9. You have faith in your partner

Wearing a promise ring might signal to your partner that you believe they are the one for you, and that you will be together for a long time – if not forever.

You might intend to replace it with a wedding ring someday, but a promise ring suffices for now. Talk to your partner and ask their opinion about wearing promise rings, and observe their reaction. [Read: How to build trust in a relationship and make it last]

10. You want to promise yourself to a particular person for a lifetime

As the name implies, promise rings are exchanged to maintain a promise! When you make a promise or wait for someone else, it’s a good idea to keep it. Before you purchase a promise ring for your lover, you should spend some time soul-searching to ensure that exchanging a promise ring is the right decision for you.

Things to know while giving a promise ring

Remember to ask yourself first, “what is a promise ring to me and my lover?” and, “will this be worth it when I give it to him/her?” before buying and giving your lover a promise ring.

If you’re sure about wanting to give a promise ring, keep these thoughts in mind when you pick one out or give it to your lover. [Read: 25 ways to make your boyfriend happy every day]

1. Don’t buy a wedding ring or band

It’ll confuse your lover, your friends, and your family. A promise ring can be any kind of ring in the world, as long as it looks good on your lover’s finger. It doesn’t have to be the most expensive ring; the real value should still be found within you as a couple.

2. It’s not typically worn on the ring finger

Many lovers may be alright with the idea of putting their promise ring on the ring finger – *I know I slipped it on my girlfriend’s ring finger*. In fact, promise rings typically are worn on the ring finger of the left hand, although that’s not always the case. It could be worn on a different finger depending on the couple’s personal preference on which finger to wear it on.

If you want to wait and save the ring finger for a wedding ring, slip the ring onto any other finger or on the ring finger of the right hand. [Read: How to be a happy couple that’s envied by all other couples]

3. State your promise clearly

Every time your lover looks at the ring, it has to remind them of a special promise. If you just slip it on without any promise, it’ll lead to confusion later, or the ring may just have no significance other than a bling thing.

4. Consider the ring seriously, as serious as you would an actual engagement ring

Before buying a promise ring for your lover, consider it as a pre-engagement ring. A promise ring means a possible engagement in the future. Don’t treat this kind of ring like a toy or “plain accessory,” or you’ll confuse or hurt your partner.

5. Be certain about your decision to give it

Don’t treat a promise ring carelessly or buy one just to show off to your friends. It signifies one of the promises your relationship stands on. [Read: 50 relationship questions to test your compatibility]

6. You don’t need to spend two to six months of your salary on the ring

But don’t be cheap either. It has to last a lifetime, even if it won’t always stay on your lover’s finger. Promise rings with gemstone solitaires are a popular choice. Remember that the real value of promise rings is still found within you and your partners’ love for each other.

7. Speak from the heart

Even if you prepare and rehearse your speech, the most important thing is to be yourself. Your words may seem insincere to the gift recipient if they don’t sound like what you’d usually say. [Read: A guide on effective communication in a relationship]

8. Consider a poem together with the promise ring

Including a moving poem in the presentation of your gift is an easy way to find the right words.

There are a lot of love poems that are easy to memorize and have a lot of romantic meaning, to make this moment truly magical. You can also sing a particular song as part of the moment.

9. Make it a special moment

Traditionally, a promise ring is worn to signify the wearer’s desire to be married in the future. This is an incredible moment to show your significant other how much you care about them.

You may make a big impression by concealing the ring box in a bunch of flowers, or turning it into a romantic treasure hunt can also be a good idea. It’s essential to do something special for your partner that only you two can do. [Read: 30 really romantic ideas to make your lover melt!]

10. Don’t feel pressured to do a big speech

There is a public aspect to making marital vows, but you can opt to present a promise ring privately. If you’re afraid of public speaking, don’t hesitate to reduce your speech to a minimum. When exchanging a present like this, a few words might do for a quick thank you speech.

Relationships grow stronger after learning the value of a promise ring

You should not give a promise ring carelessly, as this is one of the most significant events in a relationship. It is a genuine expression of long-term love and commitment, even if it isn’t a marriage proposal.

If you wish to guarantee that your loved one will be able to wear and treasure the ring for a long time, choose it with love and care. [Read: What is the right age to get married?]

If you’re still asking “what is a promise ring?”, here’s the answer: it represents the love you both share. It’s a simple yet romantic way of saying you’re serious about somebody. 

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Chester-Bloom
Chester Bloom
A practical thinker, Chester Bloom is a writer who loves a good conversation, a long walk in the park and great company....
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