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What Is A Promise Ring?

When it comes to love, there are few gifts quite as sentimental or as rich in symbolism as the exchanging of rings.

Engagement and wedding rings are nothing new. For hundreds of years, couples have used engagement rings to symbolise their commitment to one another and their intentions to share the rest of their lives together.

However, whilst the sentiment behind engagement rings has remained the same throughout history, relationships and proposals have certainly changed. The dating – or ‘courting’ – stages of relationships were once commonly much shorter, with couples often becoming married or at least engaged within just a few years.

In today’s dating landscape, this is somewhat rare. Modern couples are more likely to spend several years together, often sharing homes, pets and children before making the decision to get married.

Whilst such meaningful commitments are certainly clear in communicating a couple’s love for one another, it’s undeniable that there’s something uniquely romantic about showing your affection for a loved one with the giving of unique rings.

Perhaps this is why the popularity of promise rings has soared in recent years…

What is a promise ring?

Promise rings are given as a sign of commitment between couples who share a deep love for one another but aren’t quite ready to become engaged or married just yet.

It’s thought that promise rings were first exchanged between couples as early as 1576, though they weren’t widely used until the 20th century.

Since then, they’ve become a popular way to show your partner that you want to build a life with them. In the same way that getting engaged is a precursor to marriage, the gifting of promise rings symbolises a couple’s intentions to get engaged in the future.

While engagement rings are generally given to only one half of a couple, promise rings are often worn by both parties.

Promise rings differ from engagement rings and wedding bands in many ways, including appearance.

Whilst engagement rings and wedding bands are often associated with a number of aesthetic characteristics – engagement rings set with diamonds, simple wedding bands with only subtle design details – there are really no established expectations for the way a promise ring should look.

They can be crafted using any metal, feature any motifs and may be set with multiple gemstones or none at all. There are also no expectations that both partners’ rings should look the same, rather they are chosen based on personal preference.

So, what should you look for in a promise ring if you’re choosing one for your own partner?

History of promise rings

In the Middle Ages, a promise ring was given as a betrothal ring. It was a formal contract between two people who were planning to marry. These rings were often made of simple materials like leather or cloth, and were used as a way to symbolize a promise made between two people.

The woman would wear the ring on her left ring finger, which was considered the “ring finger” because it was thought to have a direct connection to the heart. The giving of a promise ring symbolized the man’s intention to marry the woman and also represented his commitment to her.

During the Renaissance, promise rings became more ornate and were often made of gold or silver. They were still used as betrothal rings, but they were also given as friendship rings and tokens of love. Promise rings could be inscribed with words or symbols that conveyed the wearer’s message of love or friendship.

In the 21st century, promise rings are still given as a symbol of love and commitment, but they can be worn on any finger.

What does a promise ring look like?

When it comes to promise rings, there is no one-size-fits-all. The style of the ring will depend on the person who is wearing it and what the promise represents. However, there are some common features that can be found on most promise rings.

Typically, promise rings are usually made of simple metals like silver or gold. They can also be adorned with gemstones or other symbols that hold meaning for the wearer. Diamonds are the most popular choice for promise rings, but other stones like sapphires and rubies can also be beautiful options.

Promise ring ideas

There is no shortage of gemstones and designs that are seen to represent love and romance, making them perfect for use in promise rings.

While diamonds are, of course, a popular choice when selecting a ring for a partner, they are a less common feature of promise rings due to their significance and popularity in engagement rings. However, this is a matter of personal preference – a cut diamond is a stunning addition to any promise ring.

Promise rings more commonly feature an alternative gemstone. Moonstone, rose quartz and lapis lazuli are all famous symbols of love, making them a great choice for use in promise rings. There are plenty of other gemstones with similar connotations, so be sure to take a look through our own round-up of gemstones associated with love for further inspiration.

Other popular design features within promise rings include motifs and patterns associated with love, such as hearts and doves.

The shape of the ring may be selected due to its romantic connotations, too. Crossover rings are a popular choice, as the shape of the two gemstones meeting at the centre of the piece often resembles the common symbol for infinity, a popular symbol for everlasting love.

However, there really are no rules – the only important factors to consider in the design of promise rings are the features that you or your partner likes the most.

Finally, antique rings make fantastic promise rings. Every vintage ring comes with its own story and rich history – why not write yourself and your partner into this history by selecting an antique promise ring

Promise rings at Gatsby Jewellery

With so many design possibilities to consider, the Gatsby Jewellery collection contains an abundance of beautiful pieces that are perfect for giving your loved one as a promise ring.

The design of this stunning Art Nouveau pearl & diamond crossover ring makes it a beautiful symbol of everlasting love, with its ornate design incorporating several stunning stones and a lustrous pearl at its centre.

If you’d like to select a ring based on the significance of its gemstone, this moonstone and diamond trilogy ring is a stunning choice. One of the gemstones most famously associated with love, the central moonstone is complemented beautifully by two diamonds and a slender gold band.

Finally, there are few symbols of romance quite as iconic as a heart, making the motifs featured within this mid-century old cut diamond engagement ring particularly appropriate. While an engagement ring and promise ring are, of course, different in their meaning, there’s no reason why this piece couldn’t be beautifully utilised as a promise ring.

How do you give a promise ring?

A promise ring is a ring that is given to someone as a symbol of a promise made between the giver and the receiver. The promise can be anything from friendship, to love, to marriage. Promise rings are often given during special occasions such as anniversaries or birthdays.

To give someone a promise ring, first decide what the promise will be. This can be something as simple as a promise to always be there for each other or something more specific between you and the receiver. Once you have decided on the promise, find or make a ring that symbolizes this commitment. It is important to choose a ring that has meaning for both you and the recipient, as it will serve as a reminder of your promises to each other.

How long after you give a promise ring should you get engaged?

A promise ring is a symbol of commitment and love. It is often given as a pre-engagement ring and is worn on the left ring finger. The average time frame for an engagement is 12 months, but this can vary depending on the couple’s individual circumstances.

Promise rings can be given for many reasons, but the most common reason is to symbolize that the couple is committed to each other and will one day get married.

What do you do with a promise ring after you get engaged?

After you get engaged, you may wonder what to do with your promise ring. There are a few options for what you can do with your promise ring after you get engaged. You may want to keep it as a sentimental piece of jewellery. You could also pass it down to someone special in your life, like a daughter or niece. Or, you may want to sell it and put the money towards your wedding costs.

Whatever you decide to do with your promise ring, it is a reminder of the love and commitment you have for each other.

Discover our collection

Each and every ring available with Gatsby Jewellery has been crafted and collected with love.

If you find yourself searching for a promise ring, we feel that our extensive collection of antique rings contains something perfect for everybody, whatever the stone, metal or design that you desire.

For more information or to arrange a viewing appointment for any piece on the site, get in touch today.