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What is a Promise Ring?

Clearing up the confusion between promise rings and engagement rings.

There are big and small differences between a promise ring and an engagement ring. Some are material — like the size of the diamond or gemstone and expense — and some are emotional.

Simply put, you give or get an engagement ring when you want to spend your lives together, after the proposal has been enthusiastically accepted. The reasons for giving and getting promise rings vary, and often only the wearer and giver know what the promise is.

A couple things

What the promise ring symbolizes between couples is highly individual, but most often it represents love and commitment. That could be a promise to someday become engaged at an unspecified time, perhaps after graduation, the end of a stint overseas or when it’s easier financially.

Promise rings are gaining popularity among couples that may not feel the need to put a label on their relationship or stick to a timetable. For them, a ring is an outside symbol to people who move in together and have no immediate plans for marriage but are clearly in a committed relationship. If an engagement ring comes along in the future, the promise ring often moves over to the opposite hand.

Other relationships

Promise rings can be exchanged between friends, pledging friendship forever. Promise rings may also be given by a parent to a child as a way of saying “I’ll love you forever.” Promise rings may also be known as purity rings, and represent a pledge of abstinence. They can be worn as a promise of anything, really, like a commitment to faith, to a goal, or a pledge to break a bad habit.

Other considerations

Promise rings typically are smaller and subtler than engagement rings, and may or may not be worn on the traditional wedding band finger. Diamonds are popular, but in smaller sizes or clusters, or with gemstones — usually the focus is not on the diamond, but on the overall design.

Metals, too, are often different. While 18K and 14K gold and platinum lead the way for engagement rings and wedding bands, 10K gold or sterling silver are more affordable and popular options for promise rings.

You’ll find a variety of motifs such as infinity symbols, single or entwined hearts or Claddagh rings.

Whatever the reason you want to give or get a promise ring, it’s a beautiful, tangible symbol of love and commitment.

Where to find

You can find a wide selection of promise rings at both Jared the Galleria of Jewelry and Kay Jewelers.

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