Jewelry Trends

What is a Promise Ring?

Rachel Akmakjian


Rachel Akmakjian

Promise Ring Meaning and Definition

You likely have some idea of what a promise ring is. You might think of promise rings as something exchanged between high school or college couples who are still too young to move up to engagement rings. You might even think of promise rings as a cop-out for those who don’t want to commit truly, or you could think of promise rings from a religious standpoint.

Here’s everything you need to know to help you better answer what is a promise ring, and when it’s the best choice for a couple (or not).

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What You Will Learn

Types of Promise Rings

Types of Promise Rings

There are a few different types of promise rings, which are more differentiated by the promise ring’s meaning and purpose than style.

  • The Promise Ring as a Pre Engagement Ring

For some, the promise ring is a pre engagement ring. The promise ring represents the promise of a future engagement. The reason that the promise ring is given (versus an actual engagement ring) can differ. Sometimes, one member of the relationship isn’t ready to commit to an engagement yet. In other instances, life circumstances prevent the couple from committing to an engagement.

Whatever the case, the promise ring is a commitment on a smaller level that one day, there will be that proposal.

  • The Promise Ring as a Purity Ring

Purity rings and promise rings can be the same. In these instances, it’s typically a young woman who will wear a promise ring, which will be given to her by her parents. The ring is a symbol that the daughter promises not to have premarital sex before she is given away in marriage by her parents. Some find this notion to be outdated and even distasteful. However, some modern wearers have adopted the purity ring concept on their own, left the parents out of the equation, purchased their purity rings, and used the ring as a symbol of their own choice of abstinence.

  • Acrostic Rings

Promise rings are old, and versions of promise rings stretch back centuries. One variation of the promise ring that held historic significance? The acrostic ring. At first glance, acrostic rings look like any birthstone rings but are far more unique.

Historically, an acrostic ring featured several gemstones that spelled out a secret message shared between the giver and the recipient. To read the message, the wearer could look at the gemstones and their order and then take the first letter of each gemstone to spell out a specific word.

For example, a ring featuring lapis lazuli, opal, vermeil, and emerald would spell out “love.”

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  • Posy Rings

Posy rings (sometimes also called Poise rings) were another historically significant form of promise rings, and, much like acrostic rings, posy rings spelled out a message. These engraved rings featured short passages from scripture or poems. They were used both in a romantic sense and as religious tokens.

What Do Promise Rings Look Like? (And How Do You Wear One?)

Other than posy rings and acrostic rings, which have specific styles and appearances, promise rings can come in any style. However, often, promise rings are on the simpler side. You probably wouldn’t mistake one for an engagement ring or a wedding ring, even though promise rings are typically on the ring finger of the left hand, just like a wedding band.

After a proposal takes place, the promise ring is typically retired. If the promise ring is a purity ring, the wearer will pair it with the engagement ring until the wedding day. Then, it’s removed when the couple exchanges wedding rings.

Often, promise rings are more subtle and less flashy, and large gemstones aren’t common.

Suggested Read: Wedding Rings: Should I Get Insurance?

Promise Rings Meaning: Who Gives It?

Traditionally, the boyfriend would give the promise ring if it indicated an upcoming proposal. Meanwhile, the parents would give the promise ring if it were a purity ring. Whoever gives the promise ring will influence the promise ring meaning.

What does a promise ring mean from a boyfriend?

If a boyfriend gives a promise ring, it likely means that he’s planning to propose in the future but that the timing isn’t right. Still, he wants to provide his partner with a commitment and show his dedication to the relationship.

What does a promise ring mean from a girlfriend?

If a girlfriend gives a promise ring, it may mean that she’s promising a boyfriend that she intends to remain in the relationship for the long haul or that she wants to remind him of her commitment, perhaps in an instance where the relationship is facing challenges, such as going long-distance.

What is the meaning of a promise ring from a parent?

Suppose a promise ring is given to a wearer by the parents. In that case, it means the parents hold their child’s sexual behavior to specific standards.

Don’t Get Bogged Down in Tradition

All of the above traditions regarding who does or doesn’t give a promise ring and what promise rings mean are outdated at best and, in some cases, even offensive.

If you want to use a promise ring as a sign of your commitment to a relationship but are not ready for an engagement or marriage yet, feel free to do so as you wish. Don’t feel like there’s a hard and fast rule for promise rings.

Anyone can give or wear one (a couple might exchange rings as part of a broader, joint commitment) at any time in a relationship.

How Much Should a Promise Ring Cost? What is Promise Ring Cost?

Some promise rings can be quite affordable, while other promise rings can be more on the expensive side. It depends on the design, precious metals (sterling silver, white gold, rose gold, and so on), and any gemstones or other special features.

You don’t have to spend a certain amount on a promise ring for it to be special.

Promise Ring FAQs

What are promise rings mean?

Promise rings represent a promise of some kind, whether a promise of a future engagement, a commitment to the relationship, or a commitment to abstinence.

What is a promise ring for a couple?

Couples can exchange promise rings to show their commitment to the relationship.

However Much You Spend on Your Promise Ring, Protect It

If you decide a promise ring is right for your relationship, protect it with comprehensive jewelry insurance.

Did you know that your renters’ or homeowners’ insurance won’t protect most jewelry, in most instances, especially in cases of accidental damage or loss? That’s where BriteCo’s coverage comes in to help fill the gaps and allow you to wear your favorite pieces without worry.

Learn about our coverage options and get a quote today.

Also Check:

What is a Statement Ring | BriteCo Jewelry Insurance
What is an Eternity Ring | BriteCo Jewelry Insurance

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Rachel's expertise is further enhanced by her distinction as a Graduate Gemologist from the prestigious Gemological Institute of America (GIA), equipping her with exceptional knowledge in gem identification and grading. Her education and experiences have given her an in-depth understanding of the demands and expectations facing jewelers and customers in today’s evolving retail marketplace.