If you’re interested in learning more about promise rings, this guide is for you. Below, we’re going over everything you need to know about these lovely symbols of commitment. Read on to learn the meaning of promise rings, the history of promise rings, how you should present a promise ring, and more. 

What Is a Promise Ring? 

A promise ring is a ring that symbolizes a promise of commitment in a romantic relationship. While the exact meaning of a promise ring can vary from couple to couple, promise rings are generally a sign of strong romantic connection and serious commitment between two people. 

rose gold and diamond ring

The Meaning of a Promise Ring 

A promise ring symbolizes a promise made by two people in a romantic relationship. What that promise is can vary quite a bit. In some cases, only the giver and the wearer of a promise ring will know it’s true meaning. 

Often, a promise ring acts as a type of pre-engagement ring. For example, say a couple wants to get engaged, but can’t do so at the moment due to certain circumstances, like having to stay long distance or still being in school. One half of the couple may choose to give their significant other a promise ring in order to show that they’re committed to a future engagement. 

A promise ring may also have no association with engagement or marriage. It could simply act as a symbol of commitment, love, or monogamy between a couple that may or may not be considering getting married in the future. It could also symbolize something incredibly personal that only the people in the couple would know. 

two hands intertwined

The History of Promise Rings 

The history of promise rings can be traced back to ancient times. In ancient Rome, the law dictated that couples had to wait for a certain period of time before they could get married. During this waiting period, brides would wear rings that showed they were promised to be married. 

In the Middle Ages, rings that symbolized romantic affection and commitment were very popular. Couples would give each other rings called posy rings in order to show their affection. Posy rings were engraved with romantic poems or sayings meant to convey the giver’s feelings. 

In the Victorian and Georgian eras, posy rings fell out of favor, while acrostic rings became the romantic ring of choice. Acrostic rings spell out words using gemstones. For example, a common message was “dearest,” which would be represented by diamond, emerald, amethyst, ruby, emerald, sapphire, and tourmaline gemstones set in order upon the ring’s band. 

Promise rings and pre-engagement rings had become fairly uncommon in the modern era until recently. Over the last couple of decades, promise rings have had a resurgence in popularity. Promise rings have become more popular due to both longer courting periods before marriage and celebrity influence. A number of celebrities have shared that they wear promise rings in recent years, including Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth, the Jonas Brothers, and Kylie Jenner. 

What Does a Promise Ring Look Like? 

There’s no blueprint for what a promise ring should look like, so a promise ring can feature any ring design. In general, promise rings tend to be less extravagant when compared to engagement rings. Often, this is because the people giving promise rings don’t have the financial means to buy a more expensive ring that’s set with high carat gemstones. 

While there’s no single most popular style for promise rings, there are trends that you can look to if you want to get an idea of what promise rings look like. Below, we’ll go over five ring designs that have been very popular for promise rings in recent years. 

Petite Diamond Rings 

Petite diamond rings are a top promise ring option, especially when the ring is meant to symbolize a promise of a future engagement. A solitaire ring with a center diamond that weighs 0.25 carats or less is a beautiful, understated, and affordable option that works perfectly as a precursor to a diamond engagement ring

petite diamond ring

Rings With Romantic Symbols 

Many popular promise ring styles are adorned with romantic motifs. Some enduringly popular options for promise rings are rings accented with hearts or infinity symbols. Another very popular style is a Claddagh ring, a traditional Irish ring that has hands representing friendship, a heart that represents love, and a crown that represents loyalty. 

heart shaped ring

Simple Bands 

Simple band rings are a classic, easy-to-wear promise ring option. Plain bands made of white gold, rose gold, yellow gold, or budget-friendly sterling silver are popular options for promise rings, as are engraved styles. Diamond or gemstone set precious metal bands, including eternity rings, are also top choices. 

Birthstone Rings 

Birthstone rings are an on-trend type of promise ring that will stand the test of time. Birthstone rings can feature the wearer’s birthstone, the giver’s birthstone, or both. 

Gemstone Cluster Rings 

Cluster rings feature several diamonds or gemstones grouped together to create a pattern or the illusion of one larger gemstone. Cluster rings are a wonderful option for people who are shopping for a promise ring on a budget, but still want something glamorous and eye-catching. 

three blue gemstone and diamond rings

How To Present a Promise Ring 

There are no rules on how you should give a promise ring, but there are some best practices you should keep in mind. 

First and foremost, you don’t want your partner to think you are proposing when you present them with a promise ring. If your loved one mistakenly thinks you’re proposing, they could be confused or upset when you tell them you’re giving them a promise ring instead. So, avoid any proposal tropes. You probably don’t want to surprise them with a grand gesture and you definitely don’t want to get down on one knee. 

rose gold promise ring strung on ribbon

A good way to present a promise ring would be to simply bring the idea up in conversation. You could talk about your commitment to your partner, then give them a ring later and explain that it is a representation of that commitment. You could also explain what a promise ring means right before you give it. Alternatively, you could directly bring up that you want to get a promise ring or a set of promise rings. 

If you’re wondering when you should present a promise ring, know that you can do so at any time. It’s popular to give a promise ring on special occasions, like on Valentine’s Day or a birthday, but you don’t have to wait for a special day to present a promise ring. 

How To Wear a Promise Ring 

A promise ring can be worn on any finger. Some of the more popular finger options for promise rings include the middle finger of the left hand, the middle finger of the right hand, and the ring finger of the right hand. Generally, people don’t wear promise rings on the ring finger of the left hand, since that’s the finger people usually wear engagement rings and wedding rings on. But, ultimately, how you want to wear your promise ring is entirely up to you. 

Most often, people wear promise rings on their fingers, but you could also choose to string it on a chain and wear it around your neck. This option can be more comfortable for people who work with their hands or otherwise have very active lifestyles. 

left hand with ring on middle finger

Promise Ring FAQ 

Q: What’s the difference between promise rings and purity rings? 

A: Promise rings and purity rings have different meanings and are usually given by different people. A promise ring symbolizes a commitment between two people in a romantic relationship and is given by someone in the relationship. A purity ring symbolizes a commitment to abstain from sex until after marriage, often for religious reasons. Purity rings are usually given by the wearer’s parents or purchased by the wearer. In some cases, a promise ring could symbolize that both individuals in a romantic relationship are committed to abstaining from sex until marriage. In those cases, the rings in question could accurately be called either promise rings or purity rings. 

Q: What’s the difference between promise rings and engagement rings? 

A: Engagement rings have a more defined meaning compared to promise rings. Engagement rings are given during a proposal of marriage and act as a symbol of engagement once the proposal is accepted. Promise rings, on the other hand, can have a wide range of meanings. Promise rings can represent any promise between a couple, including a promise that has nothing to do with engagement or marriage. 

Q: What’s the difference between promise rings and commitment rings?

A:  Promise rings and commitment rings are two terms for the same thing. Both promise rings and commitment rings symbolize a commitment within a romantic relationship. 

Q: Can both I and my significant other wear promise rings? 

A: Yes, absolutely. It’s not at all uncommon for a couple to exchange promise rings or for a couple to go shopping for a pair of promise rings together. 

two diamond promise rings

Q: Can men wear promise rings? 

A: Yes, definitely. In the past, promise rings were given by men to women, but modern traditions are much more relaxed. Many men wear promise rings today. You can wear a promise ring in whatever way feels right for your relationship. 

Q: How much should you spend on a promise ring?

A: There’s no hard and fast rule on how much you should spend on a promise ring. You should simply spend whatever amount you like. Usually, people will spend anywhere from $200 to $2,000 on their promise rings. Note that this range sits much lower than the average amount people spend on engagement rings ($6,000). People generally spend less on promise rings compared to engagement rings because a promise ring is considered somewhat of a precursor to an engagement ring. 

Final Thoughts 

We hope this guide to promise rings has been helpful to anyone who’s thinking of presenting their love with this meaningful piece of jewelry. If you still have questions about promise rings or if you need assistance picking out the right promise ring, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Barkevs. Our expert jewelers would be happy to answer your questions and help you find the perfect promise ring for your aesthetic goals and budget.