Promise rings these days are getting a ton of attention in the media, and also prompting many to wonder what they are exactly. They may seem new to a lot of people, but rest assured they have been around since ancient times, and if you have not heard of them until now, then you are in no way alone in that. Following is a look at the history and meaning of these rings, as well as how to give and wear one.
What Does a Promise Ring Mean?
This type of ring is often a pre-engagement ring, which is a simple piece of jewelry given to someone as a symbol of commitment to them. Some of the most popular rings of this type stand for purity as well as a decision to “stay pure” until after one is married. There are various styles under this, including yellow gold bands, studded alternate gems, heart designs, etc.
Promise rings being handed out these days have a long-standing history behind them. In olden days, a promise ring meant a sealed promise of sorts. Bishops wore theirs to show everyone their union with the church. In Venice, personages took to tossing a ring in the waters of the Adriatic each year on Ascension morning, in order to renew a “marriage promise” between the sea and the city.
By the 17th century, the world saw the forerunners of today’s promise rings being exchanged between pairs and even trios of people, symbolizing love and friendship. Then came the “poesy ring”, which was engraved with some promise or sentiment intended for a friend or lover. The “scribbling ring” was popular among lovers who would use theirs to scratch romantic messages and vows on glass windowpanes. Even so, the phrase “promise ring” only came into common use as recently as the ’70s, when it was first included in the lexicon of jewelry terms, and brought into usage when speaking of popular diamond rings.
The meaning alluded to promise rings these days can be described in more than one way. Each ring signifies a certain promise one person has made with another, which can fall in the list of those mentioned below.
- Friendship: Good friends commonly exchange promise rings with each other. This is to solidify the promise that each will be there for the other in times of need.
- Monogamy: Promise rings often work as symbols of commitment between couples. The promise here is that the couple will remain monogamous, as well as loyal toward one another. Some couples even choose to keep wearing their promise rings after getting engaged.
- Chastity or Abstinence: “Purity rings” are given by parents to children, and symbolize the latter’s commitment to remaining celibate until they are married, and sometimes also to keeping away from substance intake.
- Pre-Engagement: A pre-engagement promise ring is for couples who are headed toward engagement, but not quite there yet in their lives. This is to show that they each think that the other is the right person for them to get hitched to and to wait for.
- Promise to Self: A person may buy themselves a promise ring to serve as a reminder that they need to stay committed to a specific cause, including overcoming substance use, getting rid of negative influences, and holding true to the pursuit of chosen goals.
Giving and Wearing a Promise Ring
The matter of giving is a very vital one when it concerns a promise ring. Specifically, it is very important to clarify the meaning of the ring and what promise it symbolizes, especially if it has a gem studded on it. Failing this, the recipient could confuse the thing for an engagement ring. Just a simple note describing the article’s meaning would suffice, but it bears making sure this is the first thing the recipient sees, whether or not it is before they open the box.
Promise rings can also be given as gifts for birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, Valentine’s Day, or even Christmas. As long as it is for a special occasion, it is best given wrapped the same way as you would another present. You could, for example, set up a romantic dinner and then present it, or set it up as the prize of a scavenger hunt. Extravagance is beside the point, which is to make sure the way of giving is heartfelt.
It is plausible to wear a promise ring on any finger on either hand, but people usually pick the ring finger of the right hand so as not to confuse it with the other major rings in their lives. A pre-engagement promise ring can be worn on the ring finger of the left hand to show a woman’s awareness and anticipation of—and commitment to—an engagement in the future. Promise rings can even be worn threaded on a chain as well, in the form of a necklace. In other words, there are no hard-and-fast rules to follow here.