Jewelry has been around for millennia, and aesthetic adornment is just as quintessential as other forms of human expression, such as music, painting, writing, or any of the arts. For every occasion and every commitment, there is a piece of jewelry to match. Promise rings are one such example.
What Is a Promise Ring?
Promise rings are known by a variety of names: commitment rings, pre-engagement rings, and many more. The meaning behind all the names, however, reveal the same intent. While the exact definition of a promise ring may vary between couples, these rings are widely used as a symbol of joint commitment to exclusivity. At its symbolic core, a promise ring implies a partner's love and dedication to the relationship.
Although promise rings don’t necessarily precede marriage in all instances, partners who gift promise rings to each other do typically marry or happily cohabit to enjoy a healthy and long-lasting relationship. Promise rings may certainly represent a promise of marriage and are typically given before a formal proposal is made. Modern couples are continuing to find smart and innovative ways to celebrate their love while being fiscally responsible and saving up for the weddings of their dreams.
Many promise rings are given and used as a sign of commitment with no strings attached. In the same vein as waiting for the right time to get married, modern couples treat relationships with the same level of respect and responsibility as they would an officially certified marriage. These bands can serve as palpable symbols of the relationship you share and, perhaps, characterize your relationship as more than just “dating.” In short, promise rings express many meanings. The beauty in deciding to gift a promise ring to your loved one is that it can mean whatever you want it to mean.
Historical Context of Promise Rings
Rings have always carried a rich history in human culture. In fact, in Ancient Greece, the very purpose of a finger ring tied into the idea of a promise and keeping your commitment at the forefront of your mind. Being a very apparent and accessible part of your body, the finger became one of the most popular body parts for adornment.
Promise rings, as we know them today, originated centuries ago. The dance of courtship was a significantly more laborious and complex process than it is today. In Ancient Rome, betrothal rings often featured decorative engravings with the names of the betrothed couple. Also known as posey, or poesy rings, promise rings were popular in 16h century England, when they were engraved with romantic poems and given as a declaration of love in light of the Renaissance period. Acrostic rings were another popular form of the promise ring during the Georgian and Victorian eras, in which lovers utilized gemstone settings to spell out special messages or terms of endearment.
Promise Ring Etiquette
A promise ring does not carry the same symbolic weight as an engagement ring or wedding ring. However, the pledge or promise you make should not be taken lightly. Promise rings should only be gifted to dedicated partners, especially after a significant period of time in which both members of a couple are happy and faithful.
Before deciding whether a promise ring is right for you and your relationship, remember that these tokens are meant to show how serious you are about the relationship. A promise ring’s power is only as strong as your intent and it should never be given on a whim without thoughtful consideration.
Promise Rings vs. Purity Rings
Promise rings are distinct from purity rings. While both represent loyalty and fidelity to a concept, there are a few key differences that may affect your decision to buy.
Promise Rings: These tokens of commitment often represent a promise within the context of a romantic relationship. They are meant to serve as a symbol between two people in love who may not be ready to celebrate their nuptials just yet. Promise rings can also serve as a symbol of joint commitment outside of a purely romantic context, such as fidelity, giving up unhealthy habits, or making a promise to a friend. Best of all, promise rings can be worn on any finger.
Purity Rings: Also known as abstinence rings or chastity rings, purity rings are typically attended by a spiritual vow to exercise abstinence until marriage. The practice of wearing purity rings began in the United States toward the end of the 20th century as an accompaniment to abstinence-only sex education. They are either purchased for oneself or given to a child or teenager by a parent. Chastity rings are typically worn on the third finger of the left hand. Although they are particularly popular among religious communities, promise rings can be worn by anyone, regardless of the cause.
Styles of Promise Rings
Promise ring implications vary from couple to couple, but they also differ widely by style, material, and design. Where promise rings are concerned, anything goes. You can choose or design a custom promise ring according to your individual sense of style by incorporating subtle themes, intertwined designs, or intricate details. There are promise rings to suit every taste. For couples who intend on eventually marrying or, at least, becoming engaged, you would be well advised against choosing a promise ring style that is too similar to the type of engagement ring you plan to purchase. Both promise rings and engagement rings serve specific purposes, so you don’t want your rings to look the same.
Many young couples wonder what materials are primarily used for promise rings. Promise rings are often made of precious metals, such as platinum, gold, silver, or palladium. However, alternative metals are growing in popularity, and the list has grown to include tungsten carbide, cobalt chrome, titanium, stainless steel, and many more. JustMensRings.com advises that your decision be made entirely on preference, comfort, and the quality of material.
Lastly, remember that a promise ring shouldn't break your budget. Romantic commitments, such as engagements and weddings, can often be costly, and it’s important to save for other aspects of what may be the happiest and most important day of your lives. While there are high-quality promise rings available at reasonable price points, there is no need to spend lavish amounts on a simple ring. Prepare to make a symbolic commitment rather than a financial one right off the bat.