Promise rings have increased in popularity since the early 1990’s, but not many people in Dublin or Ireland know what a promise ring is or what the words “promise ring” mean. You may think it is a new fad born out of the end of the twentieth century, but they have been around far longer than that and date back further than what you may think.
A Brief History on Promise Rings
Many believe that its roots can be traced back to the ancient Visigoths who required that a ring shall be given as a pledge or promise when the ceremony of betrothal was performed - the ring was not contractually binding, but rather a promise that should not be broken. Another theory suggests that promise rings have their roots in Venice when during the 12th century, a marriage to the sea was performed by the Doge (the chief magistrate of Venice) who would cast a ring in to the sea each year on Ascension Day - affectively marrying Venice to the Adriatic Sea.
Poesy rings are another variant and were popular during the period from the 15th to 17th centuries. They were given by English and French couples as a gift that symbolised their love to each other. Poesy rings were usually made from a band of gold with inscriptions etched into their surface - such as religious text or quotes from contemporary courtship stories of the time.
What is a Modern-Day Promise Ring?
Couples give one another promise rings to promise their commitment and love towards one another. However, the meaning behind them varies from person to person or couple to couple and it is a ring given to symbolise and remind oneself of a promise made. The promise made can be almost any promise and is unique to the couple, some of the most common promises include those to be married in the future (usually within the next couple of years), the promise of forever love between each other, a promise to be faithful, or even a promise to always be friends.
Promise rings have become synonymous with purity rings, but there is a subtle difference between them whereby promise rings are used as a token of commitment within a romantic relationship and a purity ring is worn as a sign of chastity. One such famous example includes the Jonas brothers who wore a purity ring after promising themselves and God that they would stay pure until marriage.
Which Finger do you Wear a Promise Ring on?
This varies from person to person and culture to culture, but it usually depends on the type of promise being made. A couple who has promised themselves to a future marriage would usually wear the ring on their engagement ring finger (later to be replaced by the engagement ring). Many couples often wear them on the opposite hand to ensure that no one confuses it for an engagement ring and assumes they are engaged. If it is not linked to a future marriage then the norm is to wear it on the opposite hand of the engagement finger, or even on a chain around one’s neck.
How are Promised Rings Designed or what do They Look Like?
The design and etiquette around tradition and cost are much less sacred than engagement rings, and there are not really any rules or traditions about what they should look like and how much they should cost. Promise rings are usually much cheaper than engagement rings and are made out of either Sterling silver or low-carat gold. They can be made in just about any style that a couple sees fit with the most popular designs including Claddagh rings, intertwined hearts and shapes, rope patterns, and twisted ring designs.
That is not to say that a promise ring can’t be as extravagant as an engagement ring. It is a personal promise made between a couple and the design chosen and amount spent depends entirely on the couple and what they see fit.
How much do Promise Rings Cost?
The cost depends on the type of ring chosen and what it is made from. As a generalisation, a promise ring is usually much less expensive than an engagement ring. Keep in mind that many couples buy a promise ring to symbolise their intent to get married and often buy a promise ring until they can afford their dream engagement ring.
Prices vary from country to country and jeweller to jeweller, with some being sold for as little as few euros and others for as much as a couple of thousand euros. You can see an example of one of our promise rings which goes for little over thirty euros.
How do you give a Promise Ring?
There is no right and no wrong way to give a promise ring. Unlike engagement rings where the norm may be to go down on one knee, a promise ring can be given in any manner as to which you see fit. It is usually given as a gift such as a birthday, Christmas, or Valentine's Day gift.
The beauty of a promise ring is that it is unique to every couple and there is no wrong or right way to do it - what is important is the feelings it promotes and the promise and meaning it symbolises.