Promise Rings: What They Mean, How They’re Used, And More

You’re in a serious relationship and want to show how much you care about your partner, but you’re definitely not ready to get married. That’s where a promise ring comes in. While the idea might seem slightly antiquated or even a little corny, that’s not the case at all. Here’s everything you need to know about this piece of jewelry and how to present it to the one you love.

What do promise rings mean?

“There are many different ways that promise rings can be used in relationships. Some people use them as a way to symbolize their commitment to spend the rest of their lives together. Others use them as a way to show their commitment to each other during tough times,” Aditya Kashyap Mishra, relationship and co-founder of, tells Bolde. No matter what the reason is, promise rings are a beautiful way to show your commitment to your partner.”

Where did the tradition of exchanging promise rings begin?

According to The Jewellery Quarter, promise rings began to be used in the 16th century. They were originally called posy rings and featured romantic engravings such as personalized messages or poems. However, the idea of giving someone a ring to prove your everlasting devotion can actually be traced all the way back to the 2nd century B.C., when Roman men “claimed” their brides by presenting them with a ring to wear.

By the Victorian era, promise rings were introduced in the form of acrostic rings with gemstones used to spell out devotional words. However, in the present day, the trend of promise rings has only begun to truly pick up steam in the past 15 to 20 years. Today, they remain a simple, loving gesture to show dedication and regard for someone you love.

What finger and hand do promise rings go on?

In truth, you can wear your ring on any finger you’d like, and on either hand. After all, it’s your jewelry and your decision. However, GIA reports that the ring and middle finger of the left or right hand are popular choices. Or, you may not want to wear it on your hands at all. You might decide to place your ring on a necklace and wear it around your neck.

For those who wear their promise rings on the left hand, the ring is often moved to the right hand after they get married. However, again, there’s no hard and fast rule on how it should be worn. Do what feels right for you.

Are promise rings only for couples?

Definitely not! Promise rings are used for all types of relationships, not just romantic ones. “The promise can be anything from a commitment to remain friends, to a promise to remain faithful in a relationship, or a vow to get married. Promise rings are not just for couples; they can also be given by a parent to a child, or vice versa,” Mishra explained.

They can also be shared between best friends and siblings to illustrate an unbreakable bond and close connection. That being said, they are traditionally shared between romantic couples.

When is a good time to give a promise ring?

  1. You want to prove your commitment but aren’t ready to get married. You may not want to make the kind of commitment that comes along with marriage. However, you are committed to your partner and plan to be with them long-term. A promise ring can be used in this case as a gesture of love and devotion. Presented in the right way (and accompanied by the right words), they’ll be sure to appreciate it.
  2. You’re celebrating a special milestone in your relationship. Maybe you’ve been together for six months or a year. Perhaps you just went through a tough time together and made it out stronger. A piece of jewelry isn’t just a lovely gift, it’s also a beautiful gesture to illustrate your bond.
  3. You want to make things official. Sure, you could just ask them to be your partner, but it’s nice to accompany that with a gift. By giving a promise ring, you illustrate the seriousness of your feelings for them. It’s not just empty words; your partner now has a tangible item that proves your intentions. It can be incredibly reassuring.
  4. You’re going away for a long time or your partner is. While a long-distance relationship can be challenging, a promise ring can help ease the blow. If you both have an item that connects you across the miles, that’s special. As a result, you will still feel bonded until you can be together again physically.
  5. You want to make a romantic gesture. It goes without saying that a promise ring is a wonderful gesture that any hopeless romantic would love to receive. There’s something old-school about it, traditional and chivalrous. Plus, it’s incredibly romantic, and who wouldn’t want that?

How are promise rings presented?

While there’s no one right way to give your partner a promise ring, it will be more meaningful and go over better if you pick the right setting. You might consider presenting your ring on a romantic date, on a special anniversary, or while doing something together that you love. Whatever the case, pick a time when you’re alone together and can concentrate on one another fully.

There’s also one other thing to keep in mind: not giving the wrong impression. While a promise ring is important and meaningful, it’s not a marriage proposal. You wouldn’t want your partner to get the wrong idea if you make too big of a deal out of it.

“Whenever you decide to gift your loved one a promise ring, it’s important that you don’t do any over-the-top plan or act that may confuse your partner into thinking you are actually proposing, as it could pass off as rude or disappointing,” advises Berlin-based sex educator Nina Nguyen. “A promise ring can hold a beautiful meaning for the couple, so they shouldn’t be stained by a bittersweet memory.”

What are some of the rings for men?

Men often prefer simpler jewelry, which is why this LerchPhi Tungsten engravable promise ring is such a great choice for the special guy in your life. Zales has an 8.0mm Black Stainless Steel Band for $49.99. If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind promise ring, The Vintage Gentleman has The Outdoorsman Ring, made with Tungsten Carbide metal with a whiskey barrel oak wood sleeve and an etched forest background. It’s a bit pricier at just under $200 but is well worth the price.

What are some good ring choices for women?

Promise rings don’t have to cost the world to be beautiful and meaningful. Zales has a beautiful Diamond Accent Three Stone Promise Ring in Sterling Silver for only $49.99. For something slightly less conventional but still classic, Kay Jewelers is offering a gorgeous Claddagh Ring in 14k White Gold for $115.49. You can add a personal touch to your promise ring with this PaulaMax Jewelry Promise Ring that includes two birthstones and two names engraved. Now that’s something really special. If you’re someone who likes supporting small businesses, you might want to head to Etsy to check out their selection, which is varied in style and price.

Bolde has been a source of dating and relationship advice for single women around the world since 2014. We combine scientific data, experiential wisdom, and personal anecdotes to provide help and encouragement to those frustrated by the journey to find love. Follow us on Instagram @bolde_media or on Facebook @BoldeMedia