Meaning of a Promise Ring

The ring before the engagement ring, what does it all mean? Is it only to signify the step just before the big leap? Let us take a closer look at the historical beginnings of a promise ring for couples.

A promise ring or a pre-engagement ring is a simple piece of jewellery (necklace or bracelet) but more commonly a ring that is given as a symbol of a commitment. In some cases, the promise ring symbolises purity and a decision to remain celibate until marriage. The style of the ring is often less elaborate than an engagement ring and you may find colour stones, unique shapes and more simple designs in a typical promise ring.

The History of Promise Rings

In ancient times, a promise ring was used to seal a promise, much in the same way rings of different types are used to symbolise promises today. Bishops would wear rings to symbolise their spiritual “marriage” or union with the church. In Venice, Italy, dignitaries renewed the “marriage promise” between the city and the Adriatic Sea by tossing a ring into the water once each year, on Ascension morning.

Although there is a long history of rings being used to symbolise a promise, the term “promise ring” is relatively new. It can only be traced back several decades to the 1970s, when it was first used in a dictionary of jewellery terms.

The Meaning of a Promise Ring

Each promise ring is given as an expression of a certain promise two people have made with one another. Some of the most common promise ring meanings include:

Friendship: Good friends sometimes exchange promise rings that symbolise the commitment to always be there for one another.

Monogamy: Promise rings are often exchanged as symbols of a mutual commitment to remain monogamous while in a romantic relationship.

Abstinence: When given by a parent to a child, promise rings are also called “purity rings” and symbolise the commitment to remain celibate until marriage, as well as to remain substance-free.

Pre-engagement: Probably the most common meaning of a promise ring for couples is the commitment to a relationship that is headed toward engagement. When you feel that your partner is the right one for you but you aren’t quite ready for marriage, a promise ring is also known as a pre-engagement ring.

Promises to Yourself: In some cases, a person may buy a promise ring for themselves to serve as a reminder of something important.

How To Present a Promise Ring to your Special Someone

It’s important to consider how to give a promise ring. When giving a promise ring, it’s important to be very clear on its meaning and what the promise symbolises, particularly if the ring contains a diamond or elaborate stone. Of course you do not want to run the risk of it being mistaken for an engagement ring!

It is really up to you how and where you would like to present your promise ring. Some find romantic ways to give their partner promise rings like planning a romantic dinner or going back to the place of your first date to present the ring. This event can be as simple or as elaborate as you like; just don’t make it hard to outdo yourself if you are planning to propose!

If it is a joint decision and a mutual commitment you can always make an outing of it to shop for these together.

How to Wear a Promise Ring

Promise rings are typically worn on the ring finger of the right hand so it is not confused with an engagement or wedding ring. If the ring was given to the recipient as a pre-engagement promise ring, you may choose to wear it on your ring finger to symbolise that an engagement is close. Sometimes, promise rings are placed on a necklace or bracelet.

Want to find out more on which finger to wear what ring? Click here

Image: Darrell Fraser Photography



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