12 Myths And Stereotypes About Promise Rings: Big, Bold, Expensive, And Other Stories

Promise rings enjoy the renewed popularity today, so you’ve probably heard this name somewhere. But what are they about? Are they something important? Should you buy them and wear them? Are those rumors about these rings circulating among friends true? In order to help you understand the idea behind them and to tell the truth from the gossip, we have gathered all important and interesting promise rings information you need to know about this decorative piece. Read on and find answers to all your questions.

A Promise Ring: is it a real thing?

A promise ring is a ring you give to your sweetheart or that you two exchange as a symbol of future marriage. You promise in advance to marry each other, so to say. One ring may be given by one person to another, or two rings may be swapped, like wedding rings. A promise ring is neither an engagement nor purity ring (of that later), it is what it is: a visible promise of marriage, of joining lives when the circumstances finally work in your favor. Take it as a promise ring definition.

The Meaning of a Promise Ring, Explained

Why may it be even necessary, you may wonder? Sometimes life is unpredictable and you cannot marry your loved one straight away. The reasons may be that you are financially insecure, or still receiving your education, or one of you needs to depart for some time, and this some time is rather long. Teens may also exchange promise rings when they are sure that when coming of age, they will marry immediately.

To keep the love protected from doubts and to nurture the hope, this ring is given as a reminder that sooner or later the reunion will happen. It’s not a proposal as such – this is not the promise ring meaning; it is a promise that a few years forward, the sequence ‘engagement – wedding - family life’ will take its place.

From Romans to Romanticism: The Historical Evolution of Promise Rings

The history of promise rings is as long and thrilling as of any other jewelry piece with meaning. Here we will just mention a few key points in time.

Promise rings first appeared in the antique Rome, when marriage was a serious familial undertaking and included transfer of big chunks of wealth and property. The legal settling and disputes could last rather long, and to confirm that after all the ado the marriage will finally happen, a ring was solemnly presented by a groom to a bride-to-be. It was not an engagement in the modern sense, it was a legal promise to seal the big interfamilial contract with a marriage. Nothing romantic about what are promise rings for the old Romans, alas.

In the Middle Ages such rings were secretly given to fair ladies whose love a knight or a genteel man tried to win. If the ring was accepted, it meant that efforts were successful. Such rings could have a specific combination of stones, or a tender inscription on the inner side of the band.

In the 19th century, the promise ring tradition became close to its modern meaning, since more and more young and not so young bachelors first had to establish themselves financially and departed overseas to try their luck. To assure the sweetheart of the future groom’s devotion and fidelity and to help her live through the separation, such rings were given before departure as a memento.

Wealthier folks simply exchanged such rings as a matter of fashion, and the rings could get quite fancy and inventive, as it was the time of high interest in charades and encrypted messages.

What’s The Principle Or Belief Behind This Ring?

Today the ring works similarly to a promise that you express in your words, but it is present on your hand often and it reminds you of that promise regularly. That’s its point – to show and remind of someone’s commitment and promise to marry. It is a solid confirmation of voiced oaths or promises. You wear the ring and know that no matter what, even with a delay, you’ll get married and have a family with a person you love.

Should I Do A Promise Ring?

Let’s reframe the question: why you should or should not do it (exchange promise rings, we mean)? Well, you should not do it if you are not going to marry this person, that’s the first basic reason (because that what is a promise ring meaning). If you plan to marry, but are really short of money, you can also skip this stage and save a few bucks for the engagement ring. You may not bother with them at all, after all.

But on the other hand, if your situation is really that tricky and you love each other but cannot tie the knot now or anywhere soon, why not have a small object that will remind you and your beau that this delay is only a matter of time and you’ll have that frothy or minimalist wedding and a honeymoon, sooner or later? Sometimes, such a sweet reminder can lift your spirits, console and encourage you to push through and move towards that ultimate goal. For your sweetheart, this ring will be a sign that you are dead serious about the family, marriage and all that. So, yes, a promise ring is a good idea if you can afford it, so go ahead.

What Promise Rings Are Suitable For Her

Here, the field of exploration is immense. Current fashion allows you to wear literally anything and feel pretty fine, without worrying about being outdated. So everything depends on the taste of a lady you plan to give a ring to and your financial situation. Just remember to pick a ring that is slightly understated and dainty (but still pretty). Then she will proudly wear the promise ring for her meaning that she’s totally serious about it.

What Promise Rings Are Suitable For Him

Male rings tend to be more restrained and minimalist, sometimes even brutalist. However, if you like something more sophisticated and elegant, you can do it safely. Today the rigid restrains on what to wear have mainly dissolved, so anything goes (as long as you can pull it off). If you are not that fashion savvy, choose something simple and neutral, and it will go well with your every outfit.

Are There Promise Rings Made For A Couple?

These rings may be identical and differ just in size. In this case, the shared promise rings meaning for couples will be the affection and readiness to connect for life. If you decide to go for different rings, pick the jewelry that shares something in common – materials and a stone, some interesting shape, or maybe features your initials engraved inside.

Is There Any Universal Standard For A Promise Ring Look?

No one can tell you the exact appearance of a promise ring because there isn’t a single uniform shape or style of it. They are as diverse as their future owners, and the modern jewelry-making industry and craftsmen offer unlimited creativity and elegance in their precious stock.

Yet, since promise rings are to be worn together with other rings, and with an engagement ring in particular, there are some friendly tips on the most appropriate style and size of such rings.

The general rule is that such rings better be understated and slim, versatile in stacking and not too gaudy as to outshine the engagement or wedding rings. The rest is up to your liking. If you wonder: what finger does a promise ring go on? - there are some basic answers as well.

Rings with smaller diamonds

If an engagement ring be big, like, one big solitaire diamond or other big stone in the halo of dainty stones (think the famous Duchess of Cambridge sapphire ring), then a complementing promise ring can have one small diamond. A sleek band with a starry drop of a diamond is stylish on its own and goes well with other rings, the big engagement ring included.

Simple bands

These are the most versatile styles, they are often unisex and completely identical in a set, and thus they visibly signify you connection to another person. You can get a silver or gold band ring, or even a bimetallic ring, where the outer edges are of yellow gold and the middle section is white gold. The one downside is that these rings can be confused with wedding bands, so the promise ring finger should be different from the ring finger to avoid misinterpretation.

Birthstone-set rings

That’s a fashionable and meaningful approach to choosing a promise ring. If your loved one is into this spiritual area and knows his or her birthstone (or the zodiac stone, or the lucky stone, for that matter), you can safely buy a ring with this stone. Such stones are regular gems, like pearls, opals, moonstones, topaz, citrine, amethyst, etc., and you can easily find a pretty ring that includes a small sample of this stone. Thus, the ring will be of double significance to the owner and she will be able to explain to people what does a promise ring symbolize on her hand without getting into personal details.

Cluster rings

A cluster of shiny stones looks as good as a one big diamond. Yet, this delicacy is more subtle than a single stone, and it is more suitable for pairing with bigger and bolder rings. You can opt for a cluster of the same stones that will look like a single gem until looked at from a closer distance, or choose an interesting combination of dark and light stones that will resemble a mosaic.

Small signet rings

Signet rings were all the rage for the last couple of years and they still hold their positions. Choose a ring with a smaller signet face and you won’t regret it.

Rings with heart-shaped elements

Heart is a symbol of love, so why not include it into your promise ring? It can be a heart-shaped stone, a heart-shaped front plate, a tiny pendant, or even the band that is heart-shaped at the front. In any case, it will be an original and stylish piece.

Engraved/chiseled rings

If you can afford to buy a ring and get it engraved, why not do it? It can be some pattern that has a special meaning for you both, a love phrase, a line from a song – anything that is worth being immortalized and worn on the finger.

Rings with textured surface

Alongside the chiseled rings, the textured rings also look interesting when light falls on them at various angles. It can be hammered metal, roughly brushed metal, patterned hatching on metal, faceted rings, rings imitating some natural texture – the choice today is endless, and that’s amazing. Such rings are unusual and catch the eye immediately. So choose a narrow band that won’t make a very bold statement the moment you or your loved one enters the room.

12 Common Myths And Stereotypes About Promise Rings Reviewed And Dispelled

Promise rings are an object of almost as many biases and myths as wedding rings. To help you overcome the unease, we’ve gathered and dispelled the most widespread of them.

Promise rings are senseless, they don’t stand for anything serious.

That’s not true. From this viewpoint, all symbols and gifts we give each other are pointless, since it’s not the wedding ring that signifies the marriage but a ceremony and an entry in the registry book. A promise ring is a palpable form of a promise of marriage. The promise ring on your finger means that you did not misunderstand your other half and they do want to spend the rest of life with you.

Promise rings are, well, childish, they are not serious.

There is nothing childish about them. Teens can fall in love, too, especially when they are older and close to the legal age. They can also give promise rings to each other, and these rings stand for a very clear intent: to get married when the age permits. It’s not a kiddy joke, it’s a totally viable alternative to engagement when engagement itself is not an option (yet).

Promise rings can bring bad luck or harm the couple.

Nope. It is the same as to say that engagement rings are bad luck, and no one has tried to put forward such a suggestion yet. Rings are tokens of love and pledges – the preliminary pledges. No more, no less. If you are still cautious for some reason, don’t show the ring and don’t tell about it to the people you don’t want to know about your marital plans. Let’s pretend you learned this magic trick from an old wise fortune teller at the city fair.

Promise rings are stupid, like, really uncool.

Says who? Why? No, seriously, why? Who has started this belief? What’s stupid about the sincere promise to marry? Then the engagement stuff with all those carefully staged photo shoots and family parties is also stupid, in this line of thinking. So just forget this harmful myth for good.

Promise rings are an evil curse.

Technically speaking: a curse on whom made by whom? A curse on you? Made by a person who gives you the ring and wants to marry you? Their ex? Their parents? Elves? A next-door neighbor who is a witch (or at least people say so)? Or if you plan to give a promise ring, do you actually want to harm your close person through it? It does not make sense from any viewpoint. A promise ring is just that: a ring that confirms a promise to marry. No secret meanings or wicked spells attached (but you’d better be polite to that neighbor anyway).

Promise rings are a mere joke.

Anything can be a joke if a person behind it is dishonest or not very smart, to put it mildly. We believe that your loved one is not like that, so everything they say or do is for real. A promise ring is absolutely serious in the sense that it confirms the spoken words. So you don’t wake up the next morning and wonder if that promise you heard was just a dream. Look at your hand and realize that it was – and is – true. That’s what is a promise ring.

Promise rings are out of fashion.

Well, no. On the contrary, they are coming back into fashion and enjoying growing popularity. The fashion trends that are diverse and eclectic mean that you can pick any design and it will be OK for daily wear. That’s the best thing about picking a promise ring today – you can choose anything you like, and the choice is practically endless.

Promise rings are religious and only people who go to church regularly can wear them.

No, they are not. These rings are not connected to any specific Christianity confession, or any other world religion, or any other spiritual practice, for that matter. They are a secular concept, so you don’t imply any religious subtext when you give or receive them. Be faithful to the promise you give and to the person you love, that’s the only commandment.

A promise ring is another name for a purity ring.

No, it’s not true. These two tokens have different functions. A purity ring is a pledge of abstinence till marriage, like, a person promises to God or to themselves not to have sex till marriage for some religious or moral reasons. A person does not have to be in love or have a sweetheart to give the pledge and start wearing a purity ring. A promise ring stands for a promise to marry shared between two people in love. They may have sex now and then happily and plan the marriage in future. So, the purpose and outcomes are totally different for these two pieces of jewelry.

Promise rings are for adults only.

Not obligatorily. If you wonder when to give a promise ring by age, then teens can also exchange promise rings and wait till they come of age to marry each other (if they still want to).

Promise rings cannot be small and cheap, they must be expensive.

Not at all. There are no lower or higher price brackets for this kind of rings. You may want to splurge a bit, but you’d better save some money to spend on the engagement ring that should really be a bling. So a promise ring can be simple and inexpensive, especially if you consider that it will be later stacked with the engagement ring, wedding band or other rings for daily wear.

Promise rings are merely a hype whipped up by celebs and will fade out soon.

Celebrities may pick up the trends and make them huge, but they don’t start them out of nothing, usually. Promise rings have always been there, with higher or lower visibility to wide circles of people, and now they live through their renaissance. Celebrities just ride the wave of interest, but this wave will exist long after the gossip about the new ring of some pop star faded away.

The Basic Promise Ring Etiquette: Do’s and Don’ts

Giving the promise ring requires some preparation, but it is far from the complications of staging the engagement ring presentation according to the latest Instagram fashion.

How to Give a Promise Ring Properly

The promise ring should be given after careful consideration and in full understanding of the step taken. As said, it’s not a joke, it’s a commitment. So make sure your plans of a couple are aligned and you both are ready to wait (or ready to get married). After this preliminary consultation, so to say, you can actually choose the rings and exchange them officially between the two of you.

Exact Stages Of Promise Ring Etiquette: Step By Step

Let’s run through the stages of promise ring giving to draft the sequence of actions to take.

What To Do Before Choosing And Giving A Ring

Before you actually voice the promise you should have this Important Conversation with your significant other. You should agree upon your decision to get married, upon the point why you will delay the marriage, upon the approximate timeline, and only then it is reasonable to give any pledges that seal your tender commitment officially, so to say. When you have had this conversation and all things are settled smoothly, you both can do the ring shopping.

How To Choose A Ring

Choosing a ring is a challenge itself, taking into consideration the abundance of popular styles and custom pieces. The optimal way is to shop together or ask about style preferences and then do the shopping. You may enquire about the birth stone, about the gemstones your sweetheart loves, or just best on a popular style and hope for the better. When you buy from a reputable jewelry company, any ring will be perfection and won’t disappoint an addressee of the gift. Besides, a promise ring is usually blended into a set of other rings, so it will be enhanced by their styles and will look different with every change of stack rings’ combination.

Presentation: should it be a loud event?

Presentation is informal; it does not look like an engagement. You can give it when sitting in a café, or meeting at home for dinner, or in any other way that will be comfortable to both of you. It’s better to do it when you two are alone, without the cheering crowd or the critical eye of your future in-laws.

Do not get on your knee when giving the ring. This is not engagement and this is not the ultimate proposal yet. Don’t mix them up and don’t make your loved one think it is a proposal. It is not (that’s a reminder what does a promise ring mean, just in case). So make it informal, easy, and clearly separated from the engagement.

Wearing A Promise Ring: Are There Strict Rules?

The ring is worn in combination with other rings or alone, on the finger of one’s preference. It’s the simplest answer to the questions what hand does a promise ring go on or where does a promise ring go. It’s not obligatory to inform everyone about the meaning of the ring. It can be kept as a sweet secret. The engagement and following marriage will eventually cross the t’s and dot the i’s for the friends and relatives of yours.

The Key Stage: Fulfilling The Promise

The most important part about the promise ring is keeping the promise. If you gave the ring, you should get engaged with this person and then marry them according to the timeline you set in your couple goals. Definitely, no one will bring you to court for not doing it, but what is the sense of giving the promise ring in the first place? So take it as a measured and serious step, and be blessed with a happy and fulfilling marriage.

Technically, when you two marry, the promise rings become a sweet reminder, a jewelry piece to be worn just like others.

Is There A Perfect Moment Or An Official Time To Give A Promise Ring?

The moment to swap these rings is when you two are ready. It may be the time when someone has to depart for a long business trip or military service and you want to acknowledge that special connection and plans. Or it may be the time when you realize that you will marry sooner or later and thus want to mark this fleeting moment with the eternal diamond. It’s up to you.

Just remember how are promise rings presented: it is an intimate moment, so don’t make it a spectacle for a crowd. The rest completely depends on your circumstances and preferences.

Many Ways To Wear A Promise Ring

You can wear it alone or stacked with other rings. It should blend naturally with other rings and jewels you own if you plan to wear it every day. It should also match the engagement ring in the future, so plan for this stylistic compatibility ahead.

Where to wear promise ring except on your hand? Some people wear rings as pendants strung on a thin chain. You can wear your promise ring as a pendant, too, if you want. Just take care to match the weight of the ring with that of the chain, so that the fine wire links of the chain are not destroyed by extra tension.

Practical Tips On How Choose A Perfect Promise Ring

The tips related to choosing a piece of jewelry, especially a symbolic one, are very relative and should be taken with a pinch of salt. First and foremost, it is your promise and your taste that guide your hand and wallet, and tips from stylists and jewelers are a secondary consideration.

  • Choose a ring that is pretty but simple, since it will be stacked with other rings or with the engagement ring later.
  • Don’t choose by the price alone, instead consider what you and your beau love, what meaning you give to materials and shapes and what role they will play in the rings.
  • You can look up the latest trends in the jewelry world, but it’s only a prompt. Sometimes the classic simple shapes with gemstones or without inserts are the safest bet. Fancy rings of weird shapes, enamel, ceramics, resins, or plastic may be all the rage one moment and get denigrated as dated the next one. Gold, silver and real stones are timeless, like diamonds.
  • If you buy two rings, you can purchase the set of identical rings or try to match two different rings by some shared feature, like color of stone, shape, texture, etc.


How Much Money Should You Spend on a Promise ring?

It depends on your financial capacity and personal tastes. Technically, there is no the lowest acceptable or highest acceptable price for a promise ring. But the most reasonable approach is to fit the purchase between a couple of hundred dollars and a couple of thousand dollars. For two or three hundred you can buy a sleek silver or gold ring with a small gemstone, or a sculptured ring of precious metal without a stone, which is also fine. For two thousand you can buy a substantial piece that will be a ‘demo version’ of the engagement ring, or a band of small diamonds that will accentuate the big one that will be shining in the engagement ring. In between, there is a wide choice of styles and pieces to choose while keeping it within the budget you have.

Are Promise Rings Really Worth It, Aren’t They A Fad?

Everything that reminds you of your loved one and your commitment to each other is worth it. Besides, a ring is one of the few tokens of love that is regularly touched and looked at.

On Which Finger Is It OK To Wear A Promise Ring?

You can wear it on different fingers. Usually it is worn on the middle finger of either hand, or on the ring finger of the right hand. If you put it on the ring finger of the left hand, it can be confused with an engagement rings and cause unwanted questions.

Is It Acceptable To Wear A Promise Ring After Engagement?

Surely. You can wear it stacked together with an engagement ring, or just put it on a different finger and stack with other rings you own.

Is There A Specific Age When You Can Do A Promise Ring?

When you are old enough to realize what you want in life, how you see your relations with another person, and what plans you build, and when you can afford to buy the simplest ring without resorting to assistance of your parents. That’s basically it.

Is a Promise Ring the Same as a Purity Ring?

No, they are not. A promise ring is a promise to marriage in the future, and a purity ring is a pledge to abstain from sex till marriage (no matter if a pledging person currently has a sweetheart or plans to marry soon or not).

Is A Promise Ring Equal To An Engagement Ring?

No, they are not. A promise ring ‘declares’ the intention to marry without setting strict deadlines and it’s not a proposal yet, while an engagement ring seals the official marriage proposal and launches the preparation phase. In a year (or two) the marriage is expected to take place.

How Long Can a Delay Between Giving a Promise Ring and an Engagement Ring be?

There are no set timelines for these steps. You may give the promise ring and you both agree that in three or five years you will get married (when one of you, say, finishes education or returns after a long absence). Then, when you are actually ready to marry, you give an engagement ring and pick the wedding date. The date between an engagement and a wedding cannot be very long, though.

You Break Up, Sadly: What To Do With The Promise Ring?

You can either give it back or keep it. The person who has given the ring may ask you to return it as a sign of ‘liberating the giver from that promise.’ It all depends on your relationships as a couple. If you keep the ring, it becomes a regular accessory to be worn without any particular meaning attached to it.


That’s basically it, the crash course in selecting and presenting the promise ring to your other half. We hope we’ve dispelled the myths and stereotypes that may stand in your way and provided the useful promise ring info, so go ahead and shop safely for this romantic and meaningful accessory – for you and for your future spouse.

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