When you’re not quite ready, willing or able to go all-out with the loved-up engagement of your dreams, a promise ring could be the next best thing.

Jewellery is a tried and true gift choice when it comes to showing your loved ones just how much you care for them. A promise ring simply takes this classic gift option one step further, representing commitment between two individuals and service as a tangible symbol of this love. 

What are promise rings and what do they mean?

Any ring can be given the term ‘promise ring’ – it doesn’t have to feature any specific metal, stone or design. Typically, these rings serve as a precursor to an engagement ring, hence the ‘promise’. Many young couples exchange promise rings to signal their love and commitment to each other, representing their relationship and indicating an engagement may be on the cards in the future. 

Promise rings may come before or in place of engagement rings due to a number of reasons. The couple may not be in the financial position to have a wedding, or they may not be the right age for marriage. That’s not to say that only romantic love can be celebrated with promise rings – any type of connection can be commemorated with one of these jewellery items. Promise rings can be exchanged between friends and couples to show affection and commitment, whether to a relationship or simply the friendship.

When rings are exchanged, generally so too are promises. The most common is telling your partner that you’ll be engaged one day, while other couples can wear the rings to show they’ll remain faithful to each other. Some other people wear this jewellery to indicate abstinence until marriage.

Promise ring variations

Friendships are often cemented with promise rings, with two or more people wearing matching rings to show their strong bond and remind themselves and others of their friendship. These can be exchanged before friends physically move away from each other, signalling a desire to remain close despite being physically separated.

Purity rings indicate a promise by the wearer to remain free from undesirable influences, such as smoking, drugs and drinking, and can also be used as part of a pledge to remain abstinent until marriage.

Giving a promise ring

If you’ve decided to take the plunge and present a loved one with this special piece of jewellery, make sure you’re doing it for a right reason. You will want your partner, friend or family member to be reminded of your promise to them every time they look at the ring, and you should be prepared to remain committed to that promise.

It’s also a good idea to make it clear that the ring is not an engagement ring, particularly if you are presenting it to a romantic partner. Consider purchasing a ring with a coloured gemstone (not diamond!) or other details to set it apart from a wedding band. Look for a design that is consistent with your loved one’s personal style and will blend in seamlessly with their existing jewellery. This includes the type of precious metal used in the ring – someone who wears predominantly rose gold jewellery may not wish to wear a sterling silver ring every day and vice versa. Any stones used in the ring should also be carefully considered. Why not choose one that features the birthstone of your beloved for an extra personal twist?