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What is a Promise Ring? The Meaning and Significance of Promise Rings

Are promise rings back in fashion? Promise rings have long served as a symbol of love and commitment between two people. These beautiful pieces of jewellery hold a special meaning, representing a promise made between two people to remain faithful and devoted to each other.

I’ve looked the origins and history of promise rings, the etiquette and traditions associated with these rings, and written this guide on how to choose the perfect promise ring for your loved one.

The meaning and significance of promise rings

Promise rings are a tangible expression of the love and dedication shared between a couple. They symbolize a promise to maintain a committed relationship and often serve as a prelude to an engagement or marriage. Unlike engagement rings, promise rings do not necessarily signify an upcoming proposal, but rather a vow to stay faithful and loyal to one another. They can be given at any stage of a relationship, whether it is a young couple starting their journey together or a couple reaffirming their commitment after years of being together.

The significance of a promise ring lies in the emotional connection it represents. It serves as a constant reminder of the promises made and the love shared between the two individuals. It is a symbol of trust, faith, and loyalty. Promise rings are often exchanged as a gesture of commitment during times of separation or when a couple is not yet ready for marriage but wants to express their dedication to each other.

History and origins of promise rings

The history of promise rings can be traced back to ancient times, where they were known by various names and endowed with different meanings. In ancient Rome, promise rings known as “betrothal rings” were exchanged as a promise of future marriage. Similarly, in ancient Egypt, rings were given as a symbol of commitment and were often exchanged between couples before their wedding ceremony.

During the 16th and 17th centuries in Europe, “posy rings” became popular. These rings were engraved with romantic poetry or phrases and were gifted as a token of love and fidelity. They served as a precursor to the modern promise rings we know today.

The concept of promise rings gained significant popularity in the United States during the 20th century. They became a symbol of young love and commitment, often exchanged between high school sweethearts as a promise to remain faithful until they were ready for marriage. Over time, promise rings evolved to encompass various types and designs, allowing individuals to express their unique promises and commitments.

Different styles of promise rings

Promise rings come in a variety of styles and designs, allowing individuals to choose a ring that perfectly reflects their relationship and the promises made. Here are some of the different types of promise rings available:

  1. Heart-shaped promise rings: Heart-shaped promise rings symbolize love and affection. They are a popular choice for couples who want to express their deep emotional connection and commitment to each other.
  2. Infinity promise rings: Infinity symbolizes eternity, making it a meaningful choice for a promise ring. These rings represent a promise to love and care for each other indefinitely.
  3. Claddagh promise rings: The Claddagh ring, with its distinctive heart, hands, and crown design, originated in Ireland and represents love, loyalty, and friendship. It is a powerful symbol of commitment and is often exchanged as a promise of future marriage.
  4. Gemstone promise rings: Gemstone promise rings add a touch of color and personalization. Birthstones or gemstones with special meanings can be incorporated into the design, making the ring even more unique and significant.
  5. Engraved promise rings: Engraved promise rings allow for a personal touch. Couples can choose to engrave a special message, initials, or a significant date on the inside or outside of the ring, further enhancing its sentimental value.

How to wear one: Which finger does a promise ring go on?

The finger on which a promise ring is worn can vary depending on personal preference and cultural traditions. While there is no strict rule, the most common finger for wearing a promise ring is the ring finger of the left hand. This finger is often associated with love and commitment, making it a symbolic choice.

However, some individuals prefer to wear their promise ring on a different finger or even on a chain around their neck. Ultimately, the decision of which finger to wear a promise ring on should be based on what feels most comfortable and meaningful to the individual wearing it.

Choosing the perfect promise ring

Choosing a promise ring is a deeply personal process. It is essential to consider the recipient’s style, preferences, and the promises being made. Here are some factors to keep in mind when selecting the perfect promise ring:

  1. Meaningful design: Look for a design that resonates with the promises being made. Consider symbols, colours, and gemstones that hold significance for the recipient.
  2. Quality and durability: Ensure that the ring is made of high-quality materials that will withstand everyday wear. Opt for durable metals such as gold, sterling silver, or platinum.
  3. Comfort and fit: Find a ring that is comfortable to wear and fits well on the recipient’s finger. Consider factors such as band width and ring size to ensure a perfect fit.
  4. Budget: Set a budget for the promise ring and explore options within that range. Remember that the value of the promise ring lies in its sentiment rather than its price tag.
  5. Consult a jeweller: If you are unsure about the design or need guidance, consult a reputable jeweler who can provide expert advice and help you find the perfect promise ring.

Promise ring etiquette and traditions

While there are no strict rules when it comes to promise ring etiquette, there are some traditions and guidelines that can be followed:

  1. Exchanging promise rings: The exchange of promise rings can be a significant and memorable moment. It is customary for the person giving the ring to say a few words expressing their love and commitment before presenting the ring to their partner.
  2. Wearing the promise ring: The promise ring is typically worn on a daily basis to symbolize the ongoing commitment between two individuals. It is a visible reminder of the promises made and the love shared.
  3. Transitioning to an engagement ring: In some cases, a promise ring may eventually be replaced by an engagement ring. This transition often occurs when the couple is ready for marriage. The promise ring can then be worn on a different finger or incorporated into a necklace or bracelet.
  4. Sharing the news: While not obligatory, some couples choose to share the news of their promise ring with close friends and family. This can be done through a simple announcement or a celebratory gathering.

A ring for different relationships and occasions

Promise rings are not limited to romantic relationships alone. They can be exchanged between friends, family members, or even as a personal commitment to oneself. Here are some different relationships and occasions where promise rings hold significance:

  1. Romantic relationships: Promise rings are commonly exchanged between couples as a symbol of love and commitment. They can mark the beginning of a relationship, a milestone anniversary, or a promise to remain faithful during times of separation.
  2. Friendship: Promise rings can also be exchanged between close friends as a symbol of their enduring bond and loyalty. These rings serve as a reminder of the love and support shared between friends.
  3. Family: Promise rings can be given within a family to symbolize the unbreakable bond and commitment to one another. They can be exchanged between parents and children, siblings, or generations as a token of love and devotion.
  4. Personal promises: Individuals can also choose to wear a promise ring as a personal commitment to themselves. This can represent a promise to prioritize self-care, personal growth, or to achieve a specific goal.


Promise rings have a long-standing history and hold deep meaning as a symbol of love and commitment. They represent promises made between two individuals to remain faithful and devoted to each other. Whether it is a romantic relationship, a friendship, or a personal commitment, promise rings serve as a tangible reminder of the love and dedication shared.

When choosing a promise ring, it is important to consider the recipient’s style, preferences, and the promises being made. With a wide variety of designs and styles available, there is a promise ring to suit every taste and budget. The enduring symbol of a promise ring serves as a constant reminder of the promises made and the love shared, making it a cherished piece of jewellery for years to come.