The world of rings is vast. A fact you will quickly come to realize if you ever go jewelry shopping for a significant other. There are so many designs, metals, stones, and styles to choose from. In addition, different types of rings may be designed specifically for different purposes.
It can be hard to decipher which ring is meant for what occasion. This is especially true when it comes to promise rings and engagement rings. Though an engagement ring signifies a promise, it is not the same as a promise ring.
You will likely end up with a disappointed partner if you present them with a promise ring in place of an engagement ring. If you purchase an engagement ring instead of a promise ring you will likely exceed your budget. Thankfully, we have created this handy guide so you can make a wise and informed choice.
What is a Promise Ring?
A promise ring is not an engagement ring, but it signifies a commitment just the same. Though the actual “promise” can be different for each couple.
Some couples may treat it as a pre-engagement ring with a promise of marriage. Others might give a promise ring when their relationship becomes exclusive, even if marriage is not yet on the table.
Ultimately, this special piece of jewelry shows some type of devotion to one another. The giver and the wearer of the promise ring both agree to this commitment.
The History of Promise Rings
Some individuals believe that promise rings can be dated back all the way to early Rome. Second century BC Rome to be exact.
As was common in many cultures, and still is today, a period of courtship occurred before engagement. While a couple was in courtship the lady may wear a ring to show that she was committed to her partner and her relationship.
Courtship carried on through the ages, and because of this 15th century had “Posie Rings”, the ring most similar to our modern version of a promise ring. Posy Rings were given as “lovers gifts”.
They were commonly engraved with either a romantic saying or a religious phrase. In some cases, a gemstone signifying the giver's birthstone could be added. Though Posie Rings's popularity dwindled around the 17th century the sentiment behind them carried on.
The Purpose of a Promise Ring
Whether you are giving a promise ring in expectation of marriage, or just to signify your exclusive relationship, the purpose is the same: commitment, devotion, and love.
The purpose of a promise ring is to show your significant other, and the world, that you are committed to the relationship and, in modern words, “taken”.
Therefore, it's important to note that promise rings aren’t just for ladies anymore. Couples' promise rings are gaining in popularity as a way for both individuals to show their love for one another.
Men can certainly wear promise rings, as did Liam Hemsworth when he and Miley Cyrus were first involved. Promise rings for guys are out there and can be quite fashionable and trendy.
Some people may wear their promise ring for religious reasons. Though this is more typical of a purity ring. However, a few individuals may wear the ring as a promise to abstain and stay “pure” until marriage.
Treating the ring as a promise to their faith instead of another person. This use of a promise ring was popularized by the Jonas Brothers in the early 2000s.
Additionally, on occasion friends may exchange promise rings. Much like the best-friends-forever necklaces or bracelets. These promise rings signify devotion to a platonic friendship.
It is much more common for couples in a romantic relationship to give and wear promise rings. Treating them as a pre-engagement ring or symbol of their exclusive coupling. For the purposes of this article, we will be looking at these types of promise rings.
The Design and Make-up of a Promise Ring
Remember Posie Rings? These early versions were simply engraved bands. And, this is definitely still a promise ring option today! A promise ring can be as simple or as ornate as you would like.
The meaning behind your ring can help dictate how expensive and intricate the design is. For example, a promise ring preceding an engagement ring is likely to be a bit more costly and ornate than one given to signify a highschool couples exclusivity.
There are a variety of metals, stones, and designs to choose from. White gold, yellow gold, rose gold, titanium, palladium, and sterling silver are all possible choices. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.
When it comes to stones, some individuals prefer to choose a diamond. This may be because the diamond is the most popular stone for engagement rings and wedding bands. However, a diamond is often the most expensive.
Birthstones are another common choice. A romantic option is using both members of the couple’s birthstones. A sweet reminder of your commitment to one another.
Looking For Insight On Birthstones?
January’s birthstone is garnet, most commonly seen with a beautiful deep red color. However, garnets can also be found in colors including yellow, orange, and green.
Derived from the Latin word “Garanatus” which literally means “seedlike”, garnets are thought to resemble pomegranate seeds.
These stones symbolize peace, prosperity, and good health and would make a stunning addition to any ring.
A sparkling variation of quartz, amethyst belongs to February. Available in a pale lavender to deep eggplant, there is a range of purple hues to choose from. The best part is that it is not rare and quite affordable.
Amethyst is most associated with a clear and sound mind, and intelligence. Once a cherished gemstone, coveted as much as diamonds, amethysts are now frequently used in jewelry.
March has two birthstones, aquamarine, and bloodstone. Aquamarine is a stunning turquoise while Bloodstone is a dark green stone with red-colored inclusions.
Aquamarine can be somewhat hard to find but comes in a variety of sizes and cuts. Its hue can range from bluish-green to pale-blue. Its gorgeous sea-like color is associated with tranquility, never-ending unity, and level-headedness.
Bloodstone is a rich green with red flecks. It is found in other rocks or found as pebbles in rivers and streams. This earthy and ancient stone is still chosen as a lucky charm today.
April's birthstone is the diamond. Diamonds are commonly used for engagement rings and wedding bands. Fittingly so because eternal love has long been associated with this stone.
Lush green emerald stones are the birthstone of May. These stones are quite costly, and the price rises depending on the color. The darker the green, especially those with a blue hue, the rarer the stone.
A perfect promise ring addition the emerald represents loyalty.
June has three birthstones, pearl, alexandrite, and moonstone. Pearls are actually the only gemstone produced by living creatures. Natural pearls are creamy white while cultured pearls can be purple, yellow, brown, blue, green, or black.
Alexandrite is a relatively recent discovery. It changes color in the light, appearing as blue-green in one light and reddish-purple in another.
Moonstone comes in many colors, giving you options. But each one has a moon-like opalescence. Any one of these gorgeous stones would look nice in a promise ring.
July’s birthstone is the ruby, ranging from pale pink to deep maroon. Perfect for a promise ring, rubies are also symbolic of love and passion.
Natural rubies are quite rare and very expensive, so you may want to opt for man-made synthetic stones.
Peridot is the birthstone most commonly associated with August, though sardonyx is the traditional birthstone. Sardonyx is a layered stone of orangish-red and whites, though hues can range from a yellowish-red to a brownish-red.
In contrast, Peridot is a fresh, light green in color. Peridot used to only be mined in one location worldwide, but when Kashmir Peridot was discovered the stone became much more affordable.
Blazing sapphires, the stone of September, occurs in nearly every color, except red, though the royal blue hue is most popular. There are many famous sapphires such as the Star of Adam and the Star of Bombay. Celebrities also favor them, such as for Princess Diana’s engagement ring in the early 1980s.
Naturally occurring sapphires are highly sought after and pricey, but synthetic ones are affordable and available.
October is yet another month with two birthstones, opal, and tourmaline. Opals can be either black or white, but both colors have a rainbow-like effect thanks to their silica inclusions.
Tourmaline can be found in nearly every shade of the rainbow, even black. Both tourmaline and opal are dazzling, colorful, and look gorgeous on a ring.
Citrine and topaz are the birthstones of November. Citrine can be as dark as brownish-orange or as light as a pale yellow. Topaz has very similar hues. It can be yellow in color, but this is not its pure form. Pure topaz is colorless, precious topaz is a brownish-amber.
Pure topaz may also be synthetically altered to appear blue. Because of this inexpensive process, blue-tinted topaz is one of the least pricey gems on the market.
Finally, Tanzanite, Zircon, and Turquoise, three blue stones, are the birthstones of December.
Tanzanite is blueish-purple but can have a naturally occurring brown tint. Zircon is most common in a reddish-brown hue, but blue is the most prized. Smoky Zircon, a dusky grey, used to be the most used form of the stone.
Turquoise can vary in color from a greenish-blue to a bright cerulean. It can have many dark-colored streaks or be a nearly solid blue. Any one of these stones can look very appealing on a promise ring.
How To Choose A Promise Ring
When looking for a promise ring, you will probably first want to determine your budget. Are you looking for a pre-engagement ring with rare metals and costly diamonds? Or perhaps something a little more reserved? Knowing how much you want to spend will go a long way in helping the jeweler know which materials and settings to offer.
Once you have your budget nailed down, find a reputable jeweler (or two). You may want to shop around, so it is best to locate a few places for browsing in your area.
Next, choose the materials. First, you will want to decide on the metal used for the band and the setting. Remember, there are lots of different metals out there. They vary in appearance, durability, and most importantly cost.
Then, it is time to decide if you would like to incorporate gemstones. Diamonds are always popular, but birthstones make great additions as well!
If you do want to incorporate stones into your design, you will need to figure out their placement and the settings. Traditionally, promise rings had some sort of heart feature to symbolize love.
Nowadays, promise rings can have almost any design you choose. Solitaires are classic and elegant. Engraved bands are thoughtful and romantic. Multi-stone rings can be alluring and meaningful. Such is the case with a three-stone diamond ring, signifying your love and devotion past, present, and future.
Finally, make sure your significant other is happy with the ring. While you may not want to disclose all of the details, there are a few things you should run by your partner.
First, is that the ring is not an engagement ring. It would be very disheartening for the other person to believe they are being proposed to when that is not the case.
Second, you want to make sure that it matches their taste and style. A promise ring is a ring that should be worn daily and rarely taken off. For these reasons you want to be sure the ring is something that they will enjoy wearing 24/7.
Once you have all of the details in place you can select the perfect ring!
Promise Ring Etiquette
Now that you have the ring, there are a few guidelines you should follow.
When Should I Give a Promise Ring?
Each couple is different and therefore it is up to them as to when they want to exchange promise rings. You shouldn’t expect a promise ring at a specific stage of your relationship. After all, some couples never use them at all.
When you are considering a promise ring, you should discuss it as a couple. It is important to clarify your reasons behind giving the ring and what exactly the “promise” signifies. This can also help clear up any confusion regarding an engagement.
Which takes us to the next point of etiquette,
How To Give a Promise Ring
Once you have talked about your intentions, your partner should expect a promise ring to be given. It is important to keep the presentation special, but not as elaborate as a true marriage proposal.
There is no need to get down on one knee, arrange for an audience, or plan a big event. Instead, keep it simple, sweet, and heartfelt.
On What Finger Should You Wear Your Ring?
A promise ring given in friendship should not be worn on either of the ring fingers.
A promise ring worn for chastity should be worn on the left-hand ring finger with the idea that it will only be removed in order to be replaced by a wedding ring.
If you are giving a promise ring for romantic purposes, you have a few options. Generally, if you are planning on getting engaged in two years or less it is acceptable to wear the ring on your left-hand ring finger.
If you do not plan to get engaged in the near future, you may want to wear the ring on your right-hand ring finger. Some individuals choose to wear the ring on either of the middle fingers so as not to cause confusion about whether or not it is an actual engagement ring.
When To Take a Promise Ring Off
When a promise is either fulfilled or broken, you can stop wearing your promise ring. If you do become engaged the promise ring is commonly replaced by the engagement ring.
If the relationship changes or ends, then you can discontinue wearing the ring. In some cases, it may be appropriate to return the ring to the “giver”.
Even if your promise ring is traded for an engagement ring or wedding ring, some people still enjoy wearing it. This is perfectly acceptable as it is likely a beautiful and meaningful piece of jewelry!
Promise ring etiquette is certainly more relaxed than engagement ring etiquette. However, just because it is casual does not mean you don’t need to clarify your intentions. Having an open and honest conversation about all of the aspects of a promise ring is generally the best way to go.
A Sign Of Your Commitment
Promise rings are a beautiful way to show commitment. Whether that be to a romantic relationship, a friendship, or even a religious view. Today, promise rings aren’t just for young couples, and they aren’t for women only either!
These rings say I am devoted, and they can be worn by nearly anyone of any age.
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