A promise ring, aka a promissory ring is easily confused with analogous rings like purity ring or the commitment ring. In some cultures, a promise ring is believed to be a pre-engagement ring, although technically, a pre-engagement and a promise ring are not one and the same. Due to their near- similar connotations, the confusion surrounding a promise ring is very predictable.
What could help untangle that and set a promise ring apart from its other cousins is addressing a bunch of questions that fraught this subject. What is the precise purpose for which promise rings are exchanged between two people? What finger are you supposed to wear it on? Are promise rings just for women or can men wear them too? Where can you buy a promise ring? How can you get a promise ring from someone? Read ahead to find the answers to all these questions and more on promise rings.
Let's start by understanding what a promise ring really is. It is a ring that is exchanged between two people romantically involved. The rings are meant to declare commitment and loyalty to one another. However, the definition of a promise ring is not confined to just this one ritual. A promise ring can also be given by a friend to another to pledge his or devotion to their friendship. While giving the ring stands for declaration of commitment, receiving it too means the same.
The meaning of a promise ring is eponymous. It is a ring that stands for a promise made between two individuals. However, the definite purpose or the special significance of the ring remain strictly discrete. The general appeal of a promise ring is a derivative of the many meanings the ring has across cultures. Some couples give or sport promise rings to announce an up and coming engagement. Some people wear it to declare their devotion for a close someone. Like this, the interpretation of a promise ring changes from person to person.
However, generally speaking, a promise ring is seen as a way of promising oneself to another person. This future fiancés can do to make it known that an engagement might not be too far out in their relationship. However, traditionally, the meaning of a promise ring is far removed from this. In the mid last century, promise rings were exchanged between high school sweethearts. Back then it was supposed to mean that the person wearing it is in a relationship which is past the point of fun and casual dating and the ring stood as a physical representation for that.
The tradition of exchanging promise rings started several hundred years from now. There is no specific date that could be attributed to the beginning of this custom, but it started many centuries back. First when it started in the 2nd Century BC, the ring was a part of the tradition, still new at the time, of wearing a ring to show one’s loyalty to a certain someone. Historical evidence establishes the promise ring to have been a trend among Roman brides, who in lack of engagement rings wore promise bands to demonstrate their status.
Cut to the 16th century, a type of posy rings rose to popularity. These rings, inscribed with romantic poems, were first seen in England. Close enough to those were the Acrostic rings which featured short messages written in rubies, emeralds and other expensive gemstones. The Acrostic rings were a huge trend through all of Georgian and Victorian eras.
In modern times however, these rings go by the name promise rings. Seen as a trend revived from back in time, these rings have been a mainstream fashion for over a decade now. The popularity of these rings owe to celebs, to the likes of Miley Cyrus and Jonas Brothers who endorsed them and spoted them in their personal lives, making them a hot thing in fashion.
There are about as many different styles of promise rings as engagement rings. Hit the right store and you will be received with an abundance of choices. Today, these rings come in an assortment of styles and designs. There are sterling silver promise rings, plain yellow gold ones, delicate rose gold ones and the classy white gold ones. Aside from coming in all metal types, these rings also feature an exquisite amount of gemstones. Like engagement rings, they come in multi-stone styles as well as in solitaires. There are also engravable pieces that are needless to say a treasure of the rarest kind.
There is no particular way a promise ring should look like. It could be a plain band, or a stunning stone-studded affair, depending on what the receiver likes. Popular themes of promise rings include intertwined hearts representing a romantic union, Claddagh theme representing an ancient and unbreakable promise and a plain eternity style representing a no-frill nature of bonding between two people.
You can obviously get a ring that is dotted with shimmering stones or one that is decorated with a composite of psychedelic gemstones. It’s entirely on the taste and intention of the people concerned. So if you are getting a promise ring customized, feel free to do it the way you like.
Who Ideally Should Wear Promise Rings
The name promise ring brings to mind the image of a man presenting to a woman. While there is nothing wrong with a man giving a promise ring to a woman, it’s not the only way promise rings can be exchanged. It can happen in reverse too. Oftentimes, it’s a woman who gives it to her male partner. That answers the question posed in the header above.
A promise ring is not a jewelry specific to a particular gender. Members of both the sex can wear a promise ring. Remember Liam Hemsworth and Miley Cyrus flaunting promise rings before their wedding? The Jonas Brothers did the same, but for different reasons. The brothers wore it to show their dedication and commitment to each other. So while in couples, it is gifted and received to mark the same commitment for others, it is exchanged to make the relationship official. That said, anybody, a man, a woman, straight, LGBTQ+, anybody can present and flaunt a promise ring.
Which Finger Should You Wear It On?
That is debatable because some say that the right finger for a promise ring is the fourth finger while others argue that it’s the pinky finger. Regardless, there is no set rule to follow when wearing your promise ring. You can wear it in any finger you like. If your fourth finger is already taken, wear it on your index, pinky, or any finger you are comfortable wearing it on. If wearing rings is not your thing, put it in a chain and wear it around your neck.
Commonly married people wear their promise rings on the ring finger of their right hand whereas unmarried people wear them on the same finger of their left hand. The ring finger has a special significance in this context. The ring finger of the left hand is anatomically the right finger to wear engagement and promise rings because a vein that comes from the heart runs straight to this finger. So, it has an organic connection with the heart, and by extension human emotions. That makes wearing a promise ring on this finger a matter of special significance.
Occasions to Gift a Promise Ring
Due to lack of clarity, it may be hard to judge for some people when to give the person that you love and care for a promise ring. Here are some occasions to give someone a beautiful promise ring.
- First off, you want to give it to another person when you are in a relationship with them. A promise ring is a great way to make the relationship official. So, it can be given when the relationship is still very new.
- Alternately, you can give it to the special someone in your life when you have met their family and they have met yours but it’s still too soon to be engaged.
- It’s perfect for when you know that you are ready to commit fully to this person and that that is not going to change in any circumstance.
- A great time to exchange promise rings is when you are young and in love, but you know that now is not the most financially viable time to get married. You give a promise ring to let them know that you wish to spend the rest of your life together with them.
- A promise ring is also gifted by a partner when they are going away to another place for work or study and they do not want to spend so much time apart without giving each other the assurance that the relationship means as much to you as to them. In such a case, it stands for the strength and pull of love and loyalty.
- A promise ring is often a substitute, a place holder for an engagement ring until you have enough money to afford a real engagement ring. For those times, a promise ring signifies serious commitment that will eventually mature into a lifelong relationship of love and loyalty.
The drill of buying a promise ring is pretty much the same as buying any other ring. You start by choosing the ring metal. Then from a spread of designs, you choose one that catches your eye. If you want to make the ring extra special, get it engraved with a little personal message or something of that sort. The engraving could be a word, a short line or even just a symbol or numerals the meaning of which the wearer will know. Choosing a fitting engraving is important as it is what makes the ring sentimentally significant. When all that is over with, find the ring in the right size and you are good to go.
That said, giving the closest person in your life a promise ring is a pretty big deal. When you decide to do it, you want to be sure that you are ready for that kind of a commitment. A promise ring unites two people in love and commitment lifelong. So, the person who gives and the person who receives a promise ring have to be fully aware of what they are getting into. If you are sure of the steadfastness of your love and that of the other person, then a promise ring is the best way to make your relationship official. So if engagement seems like too big of a leap right now, keep that for later. For now, strengthen your relationship with a lovely and delightful promise ring.