The Promise Ring Tradition: What It Represents

As the name suggests, promise rings are rings that people exchange between themselves as a sign of commitment. Couples commonly use promise rings as a step up from dating when they aren’t ready to get engaged yet, but it’s used for more than that.

Nowadays, wedding and engagement rings are the two most popular types of rings that people share and exchange; however, today you’ll learn about the lesser-known promise ring.

The History Of Promise Rings

Humans have been exchanging various types of rings between themselves for thousands of years. The rings that people share have been worn on various parts of the body and have been used to symbolize different things.

Promise rings were first used in the Roman era by couples that wanted to get married because they had to observe a waiting period; the rings were to be a sign of commitment while they waited.

Uses Of A Promise Ring

Promise Ring on Woman's Finger
Promise Ring

1. Commitment Between Lovers

The oldest and most popular use of promise rings is as a sign of commitment between lovers. Lovers use them as a sign that they want to remain committed to the relationship even though they are not ready to get engaged or married yet. 

The use of promise rings in relationships is most common among younger couples who think they are not ready for the lifetime commitment of marriage. Also, there is increasing use of promise rings by older couples who do not believe in marriage but are committed to building their lives together.

2. Used By Friends And Loved Ones

Friends and family members also use promise rings as a show of love or commitment to a friendship. Sometimes a group of friends can share a promise ring between themselves as a way of remembering the bond that they share. Also, soldiers going to war can receive a promise ring from their loved ones to remember them as they go away. 

3. A Commitment To Do Something

Another use of promise rings is as a sign of commitment to do something. An individual might use a promise ring on their own to remind themselves of their commitment to abstain from or partake in something. Also, a group of people can get promise rings together so that they can all commit to do something.

A good example of promise rings used as a sign of commitment is what is known as “purity rings”. These are promise rings that teenagers in some Christian denominations use to pledge that they would maintain sexual abstinence/purity until they get married.

Ways To Wear A Promise Ring

Promise rings aren’t like engagement or wedding rings that have more established rules guiding how people use them. The way people wear them is not as rigid, and some of them are explained below.

1. On The Fingers

The most common way people wear promise rings is on their fingers as with a regular wedding or engagement ring. The finger that people wear them on varies; many people do not wear them on their left ring finger so that they aren’t mistaken for engagement rings. The common finger that lovers wear their promise rings is the right ring finger.

However, some wear them there as a “placeholder” for the engagement and wedding rings that would come in the future. Sometimes, when the rings are being exchanged, both (or all) parties might agree on wearing them on a particular finger.

2. As A Necklace Pendant

Some people do not wear promise rings on their fingers but use them as pendants on a necklace. The use of promise rings as pendants gives both recipients the advantage of not having to know the ring size of each other when buying them. Also, wearing them around the neck makes it easy to protect the rings from getting worn out.

In some cases, people alternate the rings between wearing the ring on their fingers and using them as pendants on their necklace.

Things To Consider When Buying A Promise Ring

1. How Long You Want To Wear It

One important factor that you should consider before you buy a promise ring is how long you want to wear it. In some instances, people renew their promise rings annually at an anniversary or similar event. In such cases, it’s not advisable to get a very expensive ring; any type of metal ring that your skin doesn’t react to should be okay.

Others plan to use one promise ring forever; some couples still wear their promise rings after marriage because of the sentimental value they attach to them. In such cases, it’s best to buy a ring that would last long without looking bad.

2. Price

In most cases, the exchange of a promise ring would not match the expectation and value that a wedding or engagement ring would. It is not common that people spend large amounts of cash on a promise as they would on wedding or engagement rings. 

If you’re going to buy a promise ring, consider your pocket before making the choice; if you plan to get engaged or married soon, consider spending less on the promise ring and save for those instead.

3. Style Preference

The style that each person likes is an important choice in choosing a promise ring. If the rings are going to be worn by both partners, do you both want the same type of ring or you’ll go with your individual preferences? There are no hard and fast rules to how promise rings look; some might be plain rings, others might have a stud, while others might have precious stones engraved in them.

4. How You Want To Wear Them

There are different ways people can wear promise rings and this would determine the type of ring you buy. For instance, if you want to wear the ring on a particular finger, then getting the size of that finger right is important. However, if you want to wear it as a necklace pendant, you can be less bothered about getting the right size.


While promise rings might not be so popular for many people, it’s a nice gesture of commitment to share with a lover, friend, or family member. 

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