What Is a Promise Ring?
A promise ring is a heartfelt gift that can signify a number of romantic meanings. While wedding bands and engagement rings are a bold declaration of commitment, promise rings are more of a soft-spoken expression of love.
On the scale of dating to married, this piece of jewelry lands between the two. The promise ring represents a deeper bond than that of a casual relationship, but without the level of commitment that comes with an engagement ring or a wedding band.
As such, promise ring etiquette is typically more casual than that of traditional marital jewelry. It can come in a variety of different forms, from a simple band to a ring with diamonds.
Whether you're thinking about getting a promise ring for your significant other, or you're just interested in learning more about this popular jewelry trend, you've come to the right place.
The History of the Promise Ring
Promise rings may seem like a modern trend, but this tradition dates back to the 16th century -- only back then, they were called posy rings. These romantic jewelry gifts were inscribed with a reference to a special poem and bestowed from one lover to another.
The concept morphed into the Acrostic ring, a token of love that became popular in the Victorian era. Instead of words, acrostic rings were studded with jewels in an order that spelled out one meaningful word using the first initial of each gemstone.
From there, the generations to follow adopted the idea and made it their own, thus giving us the widely varied promise ring. Today, these tokens of commitment range from engraved bands to sparkling rings, sometimes even taking a different form in necklaces or wristwear.
What Does a Promise Ring Represent?
What is the meaning of a promise ring vs an engagement ring? In truth, it can mean whatever you want it to mean.
The most common representation is that of a deeper commitment. For many, the promise ring expresses a desire and willingness to pursue the relationship through thick and thin. For couples who aren't quite ready to get engaged and then officially tie the knot (due to age, limiting circumstances, or personal preference), a promise ring is given to affirm that they are fully committed to the relationship.
This is becoming an increasingly popular trend in today's society, where marriage isn't as heavily prioritized as it used to be. In the prior era, the customary cycle of romance involved a brief courting period with marriage at its heels.
Today, however, millions of Americans are choosing to cohabitate before marriage, according to data provided by the Pew Research Center. It is in these situations, and the lives of young couples, where promise rings are most prevalent.
But a promise ring doesn't always have to hint at a future wedding. These rings have been known to represent a myriad of different meanings. For some, a promise ring blends with a purity ring, vowing to one another that they will remain abstinent until marriage. A promise ring can signify a vow to never lie, cheat, or harm the other. It can represent a promise to pursue a mutual goal, whether it be religious, emotional, or something else entirely.
Do Guys Wear Promise Rings?
In the past, the gift of romantic jewelry was traditionally on the man's shoulders, but times have changed. We live in a progressive era in which heartfelt jewelry is a common gift for both men and women.
Unlike engagement rings, it's not uncommon for a man to be on the receiving end of this gift. They may choose to wear it on a chain around their necks, or they can keep it around their fingers. Either way, the message remains the same. If you're shopping for a promise ring for him, we suggest a wide, masculine band with a personalized engraving. If your man isn't the ring-wearing type, you may want to consider a metal cuff on which you can have a special message engraved.
Matching promise rings are also quite popular. When you and your sweetheart both wear a promise ring, the two of you are graced with a constant reminder of your two-way promise. This exchange also gives you the perfect opportunity to make sure you're both on the same page and seal your aspirations with a set of matching rings.
How Much Should You Spend?
One of the great things about a promise ring is that the price can suit the budget of the buyer. Unlike more formal pieces of jewelry, there are no predetermined expectations or dated salary calculations. The promise ring you buy for your boyfriend or girlfriend can cost as much as you'd like it to, whether your heart is set on a simple band or a ring with diamonds.
In the end, the meaning behind the jewelry matters a great deal more than how much you spend on it.
What Does a Promise Ring Look Like?
The type of ring you choose should be dependent on the preference and style of the wearer. Would your sweetheart prefer a ring with sparkling diamonds on it? Or would they find greater pleasure in a band with a heart shape?
To give you some ideas, we've listed a few popular promise ring designs: