A guide to promise rings

A guide to promise rings

In 2017, Meghan Markle caught the attention of the world when she was photographed sporting a ring next to a band with the letter 'H', with many speculating that it was a promise ring. Of course, we now know how her royal fairytale turned out - but what is a promise ring and does giving or receiving one mean wedding bells will ring in the not-too-distant future?

We explain the meaning and tradition behind promise rings and why people choose to give them to loved ones.

What does a promise ring mean?

It's seen as being not quite an engagement ring, but what really is a 'promise ring'? While a promise ring is often seen as a symbol of commitment, the specific meaning behind each one will vary depending on the individuals it's passed between.

Promise rings are most often gifted by couples to symbolise the love and commitment in their relationship. For some, the meaning might start and end with monogamy and there won’t be an engagement or wedding on the cards. But for many couples, a promise ring indicates that while it's not the right time to get engaged at the minute, marriage will feature at some point in their future.

Promise rings aren't just reserved for lovers, though. They can be a touching gesture between best friends; a declaration that they'll always be there for each other. Some people even gift them to themselves as a permanent reminder of their commitment to a promise they've made.

A history of the promise ring

There's a long history behind the tradition of this symbolic piece of jewellery - in fact it goes right back to ancient times. Back then, you'd only be lucky enough to wear rings if your job didn't include physical labour. In ancient Rome, the betrothal ring was given as a type of promise ring, while the Greeks wore them as a way to keep a loved one constantly on their mind.

By the early 1700s, the 'poesy ring' had emerged. This was engraved with a poem or promise and given to a friend or lover. However, it wasn't until the 1970s that the term 'promise ring' came to be used to describe a pre-engagement ring. Nowadays, buying someone a promise ring typically shows how serious you are about your relationship. Even if a couple never plans to marry, it's a great way to show their devotion.

But what finger do you wear a promise ring on? Well that's entirely up to you. It's usually worn on the third finger of the right hand - so it isn't confused for an engagement ring.

Styling up a promise ring

When it comes to the style of promise rings, anything goes. It’s all down to personal taste. Popular choices include hearts or designs that intertwine for added romantic symbolism. The lovely sentiment here is that a promise ring’s design will be unique to your situation and your relationship – so the style possibilities are endless. Choose a single diamond for wow factor.

Many women like to keep the beauty of a solitaire ring reserved for their engagement, but you could always opt for diamond for a more affordable but just as stunning ring. Alternatively, gem stones make beautiful promise rings and can be tied in with a loved one’s birthstone. If you fancy understated glamour and have a budget to stick to, go for crystals or semi-precious stones.

What metal is right for a promise ring?

The metal you choose for your promise ring will depend on a few things. Think about your partner's tastes and preferences and how often they'll be wearing the ring. Plus, if you think you're likely to get engaged, have they dropped any hints about the type of engagement ring they'd like? Your choice in promise ring might influence your engagement and wedding rings, so that could well take the decision out of your hands.

Platinum is extremely tough, durable and will last a lifetime - but the price tag reflects that extreme strength and brilliant beauty. Often more affordable, gold (be it yellow, white or rose) is a reliable choice that's as beautiful as it is long-lasting and a preferred choice for a promise ring. Have a look at our guide to gold if you want to find out more about this super-versatile precious metal.

Whether you’re looking to make a promise to yourself, your partner, a family member or friend, a promise ring is the perfect way to show a commitment. Browse H.Samuel's promise rings now.