The Jewelry Box Blog

What Is A Promise Ring?

on Jun 21, 2023 10:00 AM
Promise ring on a hand

What is a promise ring? Is it the same as an engagement ring? You may be wondering about these questions if you’ve recently received a promise ring as a gift from a romantic partner or friend. Or you might be thinking about purchasing a promise ring as the next step in your relationship but want to make sure you understand precisely what message a promise ring conveys before you take further action.

Whatever brought you here, here’s the deal: A promise ring is typically exchanged between two individuals who eventually—but not immediately—plan on marrying each other. The ring symbolizes a commitment or a promise made between two people. With a promise ring, you and your partner are essentially claiming that you will eventually marry, just not yet. Although some equate a promise ring with teenage puppy love, this symbol of devotion is suitable for couples of any age.

The practice of exchanging promise rings dates back to the ancient Roman era. Couples were required to wait a certain amount of time before marrying and would exchange rings as a sign of fidelity during that period of waiting. Today, promise rings have become more popular thanks to social media and celebrities who have exchanged or received them, like Liam Hemsworth and Miley Cyrus, Kristen Stewart, and Selena Gomez (way back when she was with Justin Bieber).


What Does a Promise Ring Mean?

Promise rings most commonly tend to signify a forthcoming future engagement. They can also more generally symbolize love, fidelity, life-long friendship, or committing to a fresh start after a rough patch. If you’re involved in a long-distance relationship, a promise ring can serve as a continuous reminder of your and your partner’s dedication to one another, despite the physical distance. It may also signify two people’s commitment to supporting each other's dreams and working to build a future together.


What Does a Promise Ring Look Like?

While there is no typical promise ring design, it’s generally not meant to be an extravagant purchase since it is often used as a placeholder for a future (and presumably more costly) engagement ring.

Popular promise ring designs include heart motifs, birthstones, or styles that have diamond engagement ring vibes but are very low-profile and petite. Honestly, a gumball machine prize ring would suffice, as would something humble and crafty picked out at a flea market or art fair. The whole point of the ring is the promise it keeps so the design is secondary in many cases, though there are plenty of stylish options out there.

The promise ring can be plain but having it engraved with a special message or other symbolic elements would be a nice touch. A birthstone eternity band could be a perfect promise ring and can be worn in a stack with an engagement ring and wedding band at a later time. 

Just don’t get too spendy with the promise ring—after all, you’d be setting a precedent for when it’s time to get a ring for the actual proposal! 


Who Wears a Promise Ring?

While the meaning and significance of a promise ring can vary with different types of relationships, some couples exchange a set of promise rings for each to wear and other times, just one person in the relationship is the recipient.


Can a Promise Ring be Given to Someone Who is Not Your Romantic Partner?

Yes, the beauty of a promise ring is that you can ascribe whatever meaning or intention you want it to hold when you give it to someone. Promise rings can be exchanged between friends and family members as well as significant others.


Is a Promise Ring the Same as an Engagement Ring?

No. An engagement ring signifies eventual marriage between two people but a promise ring can have a variety of meanings. In the context of a long-term relationship, it would be construed as a precursor to an engagement so even though the two rings are not the same, you shouldn’t give someone a promise ring if you don’t eventually want to get married. Further to the point, if you plan on giving your significant other a promise ring that has a diamond, make sure you clarify that you’re not, in fact, proposing marriage, otherwise your partner may be confused (or feel misled).


On What Finger Do You Wear a Promise Ring?

There are no hard and fast rules on how to wear a promise ring so show it off on any finger you like. If you wear it on the ring finger of your left hand, just be aware that some may confuse it for an engagement ring (especially if it has a diamond in it).


What Happens After You Get Engaged?

Let the engagement ring take its traditional place (on the fourth finger of your left hand)—but you don’t have to discard the promise ring or never wear it again. Consider wearing it as a pendant on a chain, as a charm on a bracelet, or safely storing it away for the purpose of gifting it to future children or relatives. 

You might also consider repurposing your promise ring into a new piece of jewelry that you wear on a regular basis. For example, your jeweler might be able to add stones from the promise ring to the wedding band. Another option is to use the promise ring to set a new goal or intention and wear it accordingly. Some couples have even used their promise rings in vow renewal ceremonies.

Once you find the perfect ring, regardless of what it symbolizes, make sure you get it insured by a reputable company like Jewelers Mutual. Obtaining personal jewelry insurance through Jewelers Mutual is an affordable option and covers loss, damage, and mysterious disappearances. You can receive a jewelry insurance quote in just 30 seconds by clicking the button below. 


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