Promise rings are rings given out of love and like engagement, wedding and eternity rings, they have a symbolic meaning in a relationship. However they have been used for a much shorter amount of time and are only just becoming as widely known as those other types of rings.
The history of promise rings
People have been exchanging and giving rings to each other out of love for thousands of years. There are records of rings worn by Roman brides which date back to the 2nd century BC but it’s difficult to distinguish whether these ancient rings were the predecessors of engagement rings or promise rings.
However the modern history of promise rings as we know them today didn't begin until after the year 2000 and it was inspired by some American celebrities. It’s therefore a very modern concept which reflects our current times, where customs and practises are constantly changing, expanding and being added to.
What is the meaning behind promise rings?
The meaning is actually quite simple. A promise ring is a ring that’s seen as a symbol of love and faithfulness in romantic relationships, both for the person who gives the ring as well as the person who receives it. Giving a promise ring symbolises the next step in a relationship. Sometimes it’s even a precursor to an engagement ring, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it can also serve as an alternative for couples who don’t want to get married and for whom an engagement ring with all the traditions attached to it would therefore be meaningless. But despite this, such couples might feel that they would like to give their own meaning to the commitment they have made to each other.
What a promise ring should look like
There are no set rules when it comes to the designs of promise rings however it is customary for promise rings to be somewhat smaller or less grand compared to engagement rings. They often have a heart, intertwining patterns or infinity symbols on them.
As far as the choice of metal is concerned, it’s probably no surprise that gold is most popular. Apart from traditional yellow gold, a ring made of classic white gold also looks very pure. Rose gold is on the other hand very feminine and romantic.
Diamond rings are one of the most popular choices for promise rings. As a symbol of love, permanence and eternity, a diamond is an excellent fit on a ring which you express a deep commitment with. People often choose a ring with several smaller stones rather than one prominent gemstone to differentiate it from a classic solitaire engagement ring. And because in addition to the classics, stylish and novel designs are also popular, a ring with a diamond in a marquise cut for instance could be an original choice.
We also recommend colour diamonds, especially the feminine champagne coloured ones, as well as other colour gemstones such as sapphires, emeralds and rubies. A pink morganite or a tourmaline will add a very soft touch to a promise ring. Rings with a pearl, which symbolises feminine beauty and the purity of a relationship, have also become very popular.
Which finger is a promise ring worn on?
It’s most often worn on the ring finger of the left hand. If it’s meant to function as a pre-engagement ring, it then usually moves to the right hand after the wedding. But there is no hard and fast rule on this either.
When to give a promise ring
Depending on the relationship and the meaning you want to convey with the ring, when and how you give it may vary. In the context of a relationship, an anniversary or Valentine's Day might be appropriate. Sometimes however, a completely ordinary date best suits the unique meaning we give to promise rings. Such a day then becomes a symbolic milestone in the relationship and makes the day special for the couple.
Perhaps the only rule, or rather recommendation worth mentioning is that when giving a promise ring, the woman receiving it should be clear about what the ring means. This is because there could be misunderstanding or disappointment in terms of expectations. You should both be on the same wavelength in the relationship. If the couple has been together for several years and the woman is anxiously waiting for a marriage proposal, but on the anniversary of the relationship she receives a promise ring instead, with the understanding that her partner doesn’t believe in marriage and that this is all he wants, it probably won't be a very happy anniversary for her moving forward.