Promise Rings: Here’s What You Need to Know

Promise rings have been in existence for a surprisingly long time, but there’s still a huge amount of uncertainty surrounding their real purpose. Over the centuries, society has introduced different ring types to the world. Today, we have a myriad of them: purity rings, engagement rings, commitment rings, amulet rings, etc. People often mistake promise rings for one of these rings, and it’s totally understandable considering that they have overlapping purposes.

Promise Rings: What You Need to Know

In this article, we’ll be discussing everything there is to know about promise rings. We’ll tell you how they work, explain their meaning, provide you with tips on how to give them to your special someone, and more. This guide will answer the most common questions you have about this symbolic piece of jewelry.

History of Promise Rings

Although they weren’t called “promise rings” back then, the idea of giving someone a ring that represents love and dedication dates back thousands of years. In ancient Rome, specific laws in place stated that a bride and groom must hold off the announcement of their marriage during the courtship period. As the couple waits, the woman wears a ring to signify her vow to marry her future partner.

During the Late Middle Ages (13th to 16th centuries), men presented their romantic interests with poesy rings as a token of love. The name poesy comes from the French word poésie, which means poetry or poem. These rings often had engravings of romantic phrases.

Poesy rings were used during the Late Middle Ages as a token of love.

Another type of ring used in olden times is the acrostic ring, which became widespread during the Georgian (1714-1837) and Victorian (1837-1901) eras. These rings spell out a secret message through the gemstones in them. For example, a ring with lapis lazuli, opal, verdelite, and emerald spelled out the word “love.”

How Does A Promise Ring Work?

Promise rings for couples are items of jewelry that symbolize love and commitment between two people. The most common reason they’re given or exchanged is to serve as a pledge of loyalty in an exclusive relationship. Contrary to popular belief, promise rings aren’t the same as engagement rings. However, they can serve as placeholder rings–a promise to someday become engaged in the future.

There are several reasons why couples choose to defer marriage. One is that they might be in a long-distance relationship and have no choice but to wait for the other to come home. Others might be waiting to graduate from college, while some could be experiencing financial constraints that prevent them from affording an expensive engagement ring, so they use a promise ring as a substitute until they have the means to buy the real thing.

Promise Ring Meaning

What a promise ring means is unique for every couple, and it is up to you to decide what it should represent. Talk it over with your partner and think about the things you want to secure in your relationship. That will help you decide on the ultimate meaning of your promise rings.

What is a promise ring mean from a boyfriend? Here are some of the most common meanings attached to a promise ring given by your man.

  • You’re in a new relationship and want to keep a physical reminder that you deeply care for each other, despite the short amount of time you’ve been together.
  • You want to show your commitment but feel that it’s too early (or you’re too young) to become formally engaged.
The meanings attached to promise rings differ for every couple.
  • You’re in a long-distance relationship and want to show your full commitment despite the distance that’s keeping you physically apart.
  • You can’t afford a costly engagement ring now, but know that someday you will. The promise ring meaning for her symbolizes your serious commitment to settle down in the future.

If your promise rings have a unique purpose, you can have their meanings engraved on the inside of the band, so you’re always reminded of their significance.

Which Finger Do You Wear A Promise Ring?

There’s no formal rule in place about which finger you should wear a promise ring; you can put it on any finger. The best practice, however, is to wear it on the ring finger of the right hand so it won’t be confused with an engagement or wedding ring.

But if you intend for it to be a pre-engagement ring, then the recipient may choose to wear it on the ring finger of the left hand to signal an impending engagement. Usually, people move the promise ring to the right hand once they’re married. Some even wear it as a necklace by placing it on a chain. The bottom line is, how you wear a promise ring is a highly personal choice. Wear it the way you see fit and the in the manner you’re most comfortable with.

How to Give a Promise Ring

The moment you give a promise ring to your special someone is something you’d want to remember forever, so you should know how to do it right. But most importantly, you have to make sure that you’re serious about sticking to the promise you’ll be making. Giving someone a ring like this is a gesture not to be taken lightly. Before you present the ring, especially if it contains a diamond, it’s essential to be direct about what you intend it to be. If you don’t clarify at the onset, the recipient might jump to conclusions and think it’s an engagement ring. You don’t want that kind of confusion as it will certainly ruin a supposedly sweet moment. And remember, don’t get down on one knee while you’re giving it.

Be clear about the meaning of your promise ring to avoid any confusion.

It will be helpful to compose a short letter explaining what the promise ring symbolizes from your viewpoint. Have the recipient read the note before you hand over the box containing the ring. This way, you’ll get your message across right away, and there will be no room for confusion.

You don’t have to plan anything extravagant like you might if you were to give an engagement ring, but you’re free to do so if you want to. Many couples tend to give promise rings as gifts during special occasions such as birthdays, dating anniversaries, and Valentine’s Days. You can take your partner on a romantic dinner before you give the ring or incorporate some fun into it by organizing a treasure hunt. Leave out clues that will lead your partner to the secret location where he/she will find the ring.

But, if you’re shopping for promise rings together, then choosing the designs you want would be a lot easier. Plus, you’ll never get the ring size wrong! Scouring the stores for the perfect rings will also serve as a great bonding time between you and your partner.

What Do You Say When You Give A Promise Ring?

Again, it’s important to establish what the promise ring signifies and tell the recipient about it to avoid confusion. That’s the first thing you have to say. After the ring is given, most couples engage in a conversation about what it means to them individually and within the relationship. Pouring your heart out to each other adds significance to the moment and strengthens your bond as partners. Some people also like to recite their partner’s favorite song lyrics or poems they wrote for them.

Ultimately, what you want to say is up to you. You know your partner best, which makes you the best judge on this matter. The rule of thumb is don’t overthink it and just speak from the heart. If you do, your partner will surely appreciate it; nothing beats authenticity and honesty!

How Much Should A Promise Ring Cost?

As with any other fine jewelry, there aren’t rules explaining how much you should spend on promise rings. Generally, however, they cost less than engagement rings since they’re often purchased by young people who aren’t financially ready for a formal engagement. They range in price from just a few hundred dollars for a simple ring made of gold or sterling silver to several thousand dollars for one that features diamonds and/or gemstones.

Promise rings generally cost less than engagement rings.

The higher the amount of gold and the larger or higher the quality of the diamonds/gemstones in them, the more expensive it will be. Make sure to buy only from reputable jewelry stores so you can be sure that the ring will stand the test of time. Your partner will probably wear it every day, so it should be durable enough to survive regular use. Try to find something with the best quality that won’t break the bank. Remember: take into consideration the wearer’s personality and style when picking out any piece of jewelry.

If you’re interested in purchasing a promise ring, decide on a ceiling amount–the highest you can spend on a ring based on your financial capability. Once you’ve done so, start saving up for it or set aside a budget, so when the time comes, you’ll be ready to buy it.

Types of Promise Rings

Shopping for promise rings may be a daunting task, so we’ve listed the most common types of promise rings below, along with brand recommendations for each.

Diamond promise rings

They say “diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” but can men wear them too? Of course! Diamond rings are a classic, and they would surely look good on anyone regardless of gender. The crystals in promise rings and other couple rings tend to be smaller and less noticeable than those in engagement rings, so they’re definitely more affordable than others.

For her: Check out this Diamond Accent Promise Ring in 10K Rose Gold from Zales.

For him: Take a look at this breathtaking HONOLULU Mother of Pearl Inlay Tungsten Carbide Ring with Beveled Edges and White Diamond – 8mm from Larson Jewelers.

Gemstone promise rings

If you want to veer away from the traditional diamond, then you could opt for gemstone rings. These colorful stones make beautiful alternatives to diamonds and can come at a lower price. Since most people tend to wear promise rings daily, avoid “soft” gemstones such as opal. Although attractive, this stone is prone to scratches and breakage. Pearls aren’t suitable for daily use as well, as water can easily damage them. 

Choose tough gemstones, such as blue sapphire, amethyst, ruby, or blue topaz. Emerald, quartz, and aquamarine are stones with medium-hard toughness, which are also durable but would require the wearer to be extra careful.

For her: This Petite Emerald Stacking Diamond Ring from Blue Nile is a sure stunner.

For him: This Round Cut Emerald ring from Gemvara screams of sophistication.

Any woman would love this gorgeous Emerald ring from Blue Nile.

Promise rings without diamonds/gemstones

There’s no shame in giving or exchanging promise rings without any stones on them. In fact, many couples prefer to wear promise rings without stones–only engravings of their names, romantic phrases, or unique patterns and designs. If you’re the type of couple who likes to keep it simple, then this type of promise ring is perfect for you. Aside from the possibility of it being cheaper, the good thing about plain rings is that they’re more low maintenance than those decorated with stones.

This Memorial Day of Love 925 Sterling Silver and 18K Gold Cubic Zirconia Lovers Couple Rings from Jewinston is perfect for laidback couples.


There you have it! We hope this guide answered the most common questions you have about promise rings. Remember, before giving or exchanging these pieces of jewelry, make sure that you’re serious about what you’re committing to. Be clear about its purpose and tell your partner what it represents before giving it to them. This will avoid any chance of confusion. What to say during the moment is up to you; just be genuine and say what’s in your heart. The act of giving/receiving a promise ring is a moment to be cherished, and the best way to do it is to stay true to yourself and your intentions.

Ready to take your relationship to the next level? Check out this guide we created on how to buy an engagement ring.