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Promise Rings

With so many bands doing the rounds (from pre-engagement to wedding), it is natural to confuse the idea of promise and engagement rings. Are you mixed up about them as well? We’re here to give you a complete lowdown.

For starters, how did the concept of promise rings first originate? In the second century BC, Roman brides had to wait after announcing their intention to get hitched. To informally announce that she is taken, they were given promise rings during that waiting period by their fiancees. “Make no mistake, she’s mine!” was the message it sent out to other men.

Then in the 16th century in England, they were rechristened as ‘posy rings’. Why? Posy comes from the French word ‘poesie’, which means poetry – since they were engraved with romantic verses or phrases.

The tradition of promise rings continues today across countries and cultures. In fact, Meghan Markle sported a gold promise ring on her right finger with the letter ‘H’ on it for eight months before she announced her impending nuptials to Prince Harry. We aren’t sure whether her smitten prince bought this monogrammed piece for her or if she purchased it for herself. The couple remained quite tight-lipped and private about it! Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers have also patronized the idea of promise rings.

What are Promise Rings?

The clue is very obviously in the name. Also called commitment rings, promise rings are exchanged to seal a promise between the wearer and the giver. They’re as unique as each individual relationship and mean different things to different couples. Only the two of them can decide and agree upon the exact nature of the promise.

While promise rings have been associated much with adolescent love, the intent behind them runs deeper. Earlier, only men would gift promise rings to their women to mark their turf. In the 21st century, things have changed, and now both partners are gifting each other promise rings. Women get to mark their turf as well!


Nothing spells romance like a pretzel love knot! And this gorgeous heart-shaped leitmotif – studded with diamonds no less – finds its way into a 14k white gold diamond ring. The whimsical 0.14ct pavé diamonds sparkle at us, twisted into a seamless fairy tale that is integrated into the band. Ideal for the couple who knows they’re just a step or two away from getting engaged and sharing their lives together.


Want a sleeker and more contemporary version of the pretzel? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a simple band in 14k gold that twists itself into an endearing heart-shaped knot. Ideal for the high-flying career woman, who doesn’t want something fussy to clutter her corporate look.

What Is the Difference Between Promise Rings and Engagement Rings?

An engagement ring is very clearly just that –it states that you’re engaged and getting married soon, once the ring is on your finger. On the other hand, a promise ring means you take your relationship very seriously but aren’t quite ready to tie the knot yet. Perhaps it isn’t financially feasible or geographically appropriate at the current moment. But you still want to commit more deeply to one another than just dating. A promise ring is perfect in this situation. Don’t go down on one knee with your promise ring, though! Or create a lot of fanfare while presenting it to your loved one. You would want to save this for the engagement proposal.

An engagement marks one of the most special occasions in a couple’s life. An engagement ring is a one-of-its-kind luxurious purchase that never comes off a bride’s finger. That isn’t to say that promise rings are to be treated frivolously. Much care and thought should be invested into choosing a suitable one. In fact, many pragmatic couples are known to pick up a promise ring that can double up later as a wedding band.

What Is the Difference Between Promise Rings and Purity Rings?

A lot of the time, promise and purity rings are used interchangeably, but they’re actually not the same. A purity ring is meant to denote abstinence until marriage and is usually a plain metal band without gemstones or any ornate embellishment. Promise rings, however, don’t necessarily have anything to do with abstinence unless it’s part of the deal. They are a promise of love within a romantic relationship. They are a little dressier than purity rings. However, keep your purity rings much subtler than an engagement ring. You would want to go all grand, fancy, and elaborate for that one!

Are their Promise Rings for Men and Women, Both?

Yes, there are promise rings for men and women both. Again, just the way each couple equation is distinct, the rules are also not the same. In some couples, only one partner makes the promise and pledges to adhere to it. And in some others, both make a promise to each other and exchange rings as a testimony to that. In the latter case, we suggest choosing simple, identical bands for both that remind you of your bond (and the promise!) always. Possibility says one of you might not be in the same frame of mind as the other to make a promise. The ritual of giving a promise ring is gender-neutral but not necessarily time specific. Rather than doing it half-heartedly or at a whim, wait for the supposedly right time and then make a meaningful and well-intended promise.

When and How to Give a Promise Ring?

Giving a promise ring is not a proposal, so it does not need to be accompanied by some grand gesture or out-of-the-box planning. The emotion and the promise behind is more significant. Proposing with an engagement ring, on the other hand, is a celebration; it is a confession of love and graduating the relationship to marriage. A promise ring is best exchanged in a quiet, fine dining setting, where the two of you are in a comfortable setting and have enough time to express yourself. Talk your heart out and lay down the sentiment behind it before putting over the promise ring. Choose your words and be clear with what you intend to promise. Nothing less, nothing more! Keep the occasion loaded with good intent, faith, and grace, more than anything else. A promise made on the beach, over a lunch date, or with a night sky-gazing view also sounds like thoughtful ideas.

Which Finger Do You Wear a Promise Ring On?

Promise rings are worn on any finger, unlike the engagement ring, which goes on the left hand’s ring finger. However, couples who intend to get engaged at some point wear the promise rings on the same finger as they would wear an engagement ring. The ring is then moved to another finger once the engagement happens. Some other options to wear a promise ring are the middle finger of the left or right hand. It can also be worn around the neck, dangling from an elegant, slim chain.

Is a Promise Ring a Promise to Marry?

It does sound eternally romantic if every promise turns into a “happily ever after” marriage, but that is ideally not the case. It is essentially a step up from going steady and a step down from getting engaged. While most promise rings have a romantic connotation, there are platonic promise rings as well. These could be a commitment of a lifelong friendship or an exchange of promises between siblings to stay bonded to one another. There are also religious promise rings, usually worn to demonstrate one’s commitment to the church.

As far as romantic promise rings go, they could be a pre-engagement promise to stay committed to one another. Monogamy is yet another promise partners can make to their loved one – the idea that they are exclusive to each other from now on.

The Rise in Popularity of Promise Rings

Industry experts have noticed a rise in the popularity and demand for promise rings in the last few years. Couples who wish to live together but not be bound by any marital ties, or the ones who wish to make their relationship public, choose to offer each other promise rings. In such scenarios, promise rings are a bond of commitment between the two that holds the union together. It is a promise to be together and have each other’s back beyond the wedding vows. With lifestyle changes and unconventional preferences, marriage is not the only route or happy ending a couple foresees for their relationship.


Do you want your promise ring to have a touch of new-age spunk with Victorian aesthetics? This 14k white gold ring is apt for you. With a minimalist floral design, this stackable ring twinkles with 0.10ct diamonds. Ideal for the feisty woman who’s playing hard-to-get, or for a fun playful younger sister that you’ve promised to look after.


Two hearts are better than one, and this 14k yellow gold ring has certainly nailed the design aesthetic to prove it. A bypass ring flanked with double puffed hearts wraps itself around your finger. Ideal for friends who want to make a commitment to one another, or a couple who has decided to embark on a more serious relationship.

What Are Promise Rings Made Of?

There are no hard and fast rules to this. Promise rings are made from various precious (or not-so-precious) metals and gemstones. They should ideally be lesser opulent than engagement rings. Consciously tweak your choices a bit, keeping this in mind. One way to do this is to avoid the huge diamond solitaire and choose tiny diamonds to stud your ring instead. A small birthstone or colored gemstone can also be considered. Also, don’t go all out with the metals used. For instance, platinum is unnecessary, although gold is definitely a solid investment, regardless of the occasion for which the jewelry is intended. To constrain the cost, consider rings in 14k gold instead of 18k.

How Much Should a Promise Ring Cost?

Keep the price moderate. We’re sure you want a special promise ring, but at the same time, you shouldn’t eat into your actual engagement ring budget. Even if you can’t afford a lavish promise ring, don’t let it bother you. The ideal promise ring is below $1000 and can even go as low as $300. Remember, this is just a placeholder until you can get an engagement ring to slip on. (Of course, if you intend to step up things to that level!)

Add some color to your promise ring and veer away from the conventional diamond center stone. This round blue topaz ring is set in 14k white gold and framed elegantly by a sparkling diamond halo. Vintage-inspired, but with clean, contemporary lines, this ring is ideal for the couple that wants to make a subtle and classy statement.

An unconventional bypass band sparkles with 0.19ct diamonds and frames a beautiful cultured pearl. One of the interesting pieces from our fashion line, it is crafted in 14k white gold and stands out for its unique design and combination of materials. Fabulous for young, fun couples who love all things quirky and unique.

How Long Should You Date Before Giving a Promise Ring?

It depends on when you feel comfortable and settled enough in your relationship to want to make a promise. This process may only take a couple of months for some people, while for others, it may take a year. Typically, we’d recommend waiting for at least six months before you give or receive a promise ring. Whenever you are ready to exchange these, be very clear about the ring’s purpose and whether you’re ready to uphold the promise that has just been made. Also, there is no point in giving someone a promise ring if you’re ready to get engaged a few weeks or months away. Make sure there is a clear intent behind the promise ring before you present it to your loved one.

promise rings

If you’re the kind who likes to pull out all the stops, with classic OTT patterns straight out of the ‘60s, slide on this 14k white gold cluster ring. With 0.19 ct diamonds across the floral center stones, it radiates charm and luxury.

promise rings

This one is for the couple who loves each other and doesn’t mind screaming about it from the rooftops! Very aptly, an open-heart ring studded with 0.06 ct diamonds takes centerstage. Set in a simple ring with 14k yellow gold, it is great for couples who are happy to flaunt their affection for one another.

What To Do with Your Promise Rings Once You are Engaged?

Isn’t the transition from a promise to an engagement ring sound beautiful? Most women wear their promise rings on the ring finger of their left hand. But as soon as the engagement ring takes over, the other ring moves to the right hand. We would not suggest stacking the rings together; better reserve that place for the wedding ring! If the size fits well, you can also wear it on another finger of the left hand. Wear your promise ring stylishly as a necklace pendant. We strongly recommend you keep wearing, valuing, and cherishing your promise ring as a significant piece of jewelry all your life. After all, this is where the real love story began!

What Happens to The Promise Rings When a Promise Is Broken?

“Promises are only as strong as the person who gives them,” said Stephen Richards. Sometimes, a relationship doesn’t work out despite the best intentions and efforts. What does etiquette dictate? The proper thing to do when a promise is broken is to return the ring to its giver. If your relationship has ended amicably and you think it is churlish to return the ring, it’s fine to hang onto it. Keep it as a souvenir of the good times together. Every couple is different, so play it by ear.

promise rings

Hollywood Couples who Exchanged and Flaunted Promise Rings

If you associate promise rings with teenage love or a gesture lacking matured sensibilities, think again. These rings find favor with our celebrity couples who have preferred making a promise and then showing it off publicly too. While a few are going strong, others have an estranged status now; still, the names are worth taking some inspiration cues – Robert Pattinson and Kristen StewartRobert Pattinson (again!) and FKA TwigsMiley Cyrus and Liam HemsworthSelena Gomez and Justin BieberKylie Jenner and TygaPrince Harry and Meghan Markle (royal couples do make promises and keep up to it!), Cara Delevigne and Ashley Benson, and Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux. Needless to say, the list goes much longer.

Unlike other rings, a promise ring is special because it comes from the heart and doesn’t follow the dictates of custom or society. So choose well! Head to Gabriel & Co. to explore our beautiful collection of promise rings to celebrate the first milestone in your journey as a romantic couple!

This post comes from Gabriel & Co’s editorial team.

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