Top 10 Things to Know About Promise Rings

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A promise ring symbolizes an unofficial love and commitment between two people. It’s a personal and tangible symbol that’s increasing in popularity among young people. They’re often confused with engagement rings, but there are many differences between these two. Here are 10 things to know about promise rings.  

What is a promise ring?

Promise rings serve as reminders between two people of their love and commitment to each other. They’re a way to say, ‘I love you and I promise to be committed to you’.

Many people think that promise rings are only given between couples, but this is not the case. Promise rings can be exchanged between children and parents as a symbol of familial love, or between close friends as a symbol of eternal friendship. You can even give a promise ring to yourself as a symbol of a commitment important to you.

Promise rings can also represent a pledge of abstinence. For someone who is religious, a promise ring can be worn to reiterate their faith in God. As you can see, there are no rigid rules about this.

What does a promise ring mean?

A promise ring can mean something different to every giver and receiver. Unlike engagement and wedding rings which have a fixed meaning and a universally understood purpose, promise rings offer more flexibility. What is important is the significance of the ring to the people involved.

Generally, promise rings are a symbol of commitment but what that commitment is will depend on how you define that promise and commitment.

What is the difference between a promise ring and an engagement ring?

Promise ring
Love Knot Promise Ring by Jewelry Girls Place. See it here.
Trellis engagement ring closeup
Diamond Engagement Ring by James Allen. See it here.

An engagement ring is more formal. It signifies a commitment to getting married and settling down with the other person. In a way, an engagement ring is also a promise ring – except that it promises marriage.

A promise ring is ideal for a couple who aren’t quite at that stage. You could think of it like a pre-engagement ring. It is for a couple who want to make a commitment to each other but aren’t yet thinking about marriage.

Another main difference is in the design of the rings. Engagement rings are typically larger and more impressive in their design. They tend to feature a large center stone (generally a diamond) and are made of precious metals.

Promise rings are typically more subtle in design. They sometimes have gemstones but they can also feature meaningful symbols like eternity knots or hearts.

What’s the difference between a promise ring and a purity ring?

dainty heart purity ring
Dainty Heart Purity Ring by Ringcrush. See it here.

Purity rings, like engagement rings, also signify a commitment. In this respect, they’re a type of promise ring. However, they have a very specific purpose.

A purity ring is worn to symbolize a commitment to remaining celibate until marriage. Many popular young celebrities such as Miley Cyrus, Jordin Sparks, the Jonas Brothers, Britney Spears, and Selena Gomez all wore purity rings at a stage in their life, making this a trendy and ‘in’ thing to do.

Worn this way, the ring is a reminder of a promise to yourself, to God, or to your parents (depending on who is involved in the decision) to remain chaste or pure until you meet the right one.

Who gives the promise ring?

There aren’t any rules regarding who gives the promise ring. It can be a decision that you make together as a couple or it can be given by one person to the other. There aren’t any rules about this, because as we’ve already mentioned, promise rings tend to be more flexible and informal.

What is the symbolism of a promise ring?

The main idea of the exchange of promise rings is to make a commitment of some sort. This commitment varies from couple to couple. It can symbolize love, fidelity, loyalty, monogamy, chastity, abstinence, friendship, and pre-engagement. You could think of it as a custom-purpose ring with the meaning of each ring unique to the giver and the receiver.

What finger do you wear a promise ring on?

minimalist dainty promise ring
Minimalist Dainty Promise by Trium Jewelry. See it here.

There are no hard and fast rules about which finger to wear the promise ring on. Some choose to wear the ring on their ring finger until they get engaged and then transfer the promise ring to another finger afterward.

Sometimes people confuse a promise ring with an engagement ring if you wear it on the left ring finger. To avoid this confusion and need for explanation, you can wear it on the ring finger of the right hand from the start.

In general, however, any finger you feel comfortable about will be perfectly fine. You make the rules with this one.

What are some other ways to wear a promise ring?

If you don’t like wearing rings on your fingers or don’t want to draw attention to your promise ring, you can choose to wear the ring looped through a necklace chain. This also works well for people who have busy hands at work and aren’t able to wear jewelry on their hands. If the ring is small, you could also opt to weave it as a charm onto a bracelet.

Can a man wear a promise ring?

simple twist promise rings
Simple Twist Promise Rings by Meissa Handmade. See it here.

Definitely! Sometimes, a woman may want to take the initiative and make a promise to her partner. In this case, she would give the man the promise ring in much the same way that a man would give an engagement ring to his partner. 

A man can wear a promise ring for the same reasons that a woman wears one – as a symbol of friendship, as a sign of celibacy, and as a promise to themselves or to their parents. The only significant difference would be in the appearance of the ring itself.

A promise ring for a woman would typically be small, delicate, and charming, with or without sparkly stones while a man’s would generally be a thicker band with a manly design.

What are the rules for a promise ring?

The one rule about promise rings is that they should signify a commitment of some sort. This makes sense if it’s to be called a promise ring at all. What’s more, both parties (the giver and the receiver) should be on the same page regarding the meaning of the ring.

Apart from that, there are no rules.

Wrapping Up

Promise rings are an ideal way to show commitment whether it is to a relationship, to a diet, a way of life, to God, or a goal of some sort. It’s a simple and beautiful reminder of what’s important to you. To learn more about promise rings, check out our in-depth article here.


Dani Rhys

Dani Rhys has worked as a writer and editor for over 15 years in the jewelry niche. She holds a Masters degree in Linguistics and Education. She has always been interested in expression through fashion and accessories, and her extensive experience in the field has made her a respected voice in jewelry trends and education. As the chief editor of Jewelry Shopping Guide, she not only leads the content strategy but also shares her insights through engaging articles. Her passion for storytelling is reflected in every piece she curates, exploring the intricate relationship between jewelry and personal identity.

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