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Promise Rings: What They Are and When to Give Them

How to find the perfect promise ring (with jewelry inspiration)

By Mike Fried,

Promise rings are symbolic pieces of jewelry that signify a commitment or intention between two people. They are often given as a pre-engagement ring or to commemorate a meaningful milestone in a relationship. While not as binding as an engagement ring, a promise ring holds sentimental value, representing love, fidelity, or future intentions. When choosing a promise ring, look for a design that resonates with both you and your partner; it could be a simple band or a more intricate design featuring gemstones or engravings.

The budget for a promise ring varies greatly, depending on the material and design. You can find promise rings ranging from under $100 to several thousand dollars. Given their purpose, promise rings don’t need to break the bank; they are more about the meaning behind them than their monetary value. Whether you opt for a classic design in gold or silver or decide on something more ornate with diamond accents, the most crucial aspect is that the ring resonates with the promise being made.

Promise Ring

“Increasingly, couples are embarking on buying a ring together — and in some cases, they’ll start with a proposal ring, or “promise ring,” that acts as a placeholder until they can make the final choice. These often consist of a plain, flat, yellow-gold band with one or more small diamonds or less pricey gemstones, or a slender ring with a bezel-set gem.” Rapaport.com

Here’s what we’ll cover in this article:

What is a promise ring?
What is the meaning of a promise ring?
Which finger should you wear a promise ring on?
What does a prose ring look like?
How much should a promise ring cost?
When is the right time to get a promise ring?
What is the difference between a promise ring and an engagement ring?
What is the difference between a promise ring and a purity ring?
Our top picks of promise rings
Where is the best place to buy a promise ring?
FAQs about promise rings

To help you with the diamond buying process we lean on our expertise and experience. The author of this article, our CEO, Mike Fried has over 20 years of experience in the diamond industry. Mike started from the bottom, sorting and evaluating hundreds of thousands of diamonds to learn every facet (pun intended) of diamond quality and value. Mike followed that up by spending years buying and selling diamonds on the wholesale market as well as selling tens of millions of dollars worth of diamonds to diamond retailers.

Bottom Line Recommendation

Promise rings represent the love that a couple has for each other. The rings can be given at any time and are a symbol of commitment. Styles range from ornate diamond rings like this one from James Allen to yellow gold knot rings like this example from Blue Nile. Choose a design that represents your personal style and unique love story.

Above all, we recommend purchasing your promise ring from a reputable vendor like Blue Nile or James Allen. Although cheap promise rings may seem like the way to go, jewelry made of sterling silver or rose gold will last longer and carry far more beauty than a poorly made ring.

If you are looking for a cheaper alternative to the classic engagement rings, a popular trend we’ve been seeing from our readers is to go with a lab-grown diamond for the promise ring, then purchase a natural diamond for the engagement ring. If you want to go that route, we’d recommend going with James Allen or Blue Nile, our favorite lab-grown diamond retailers.

What is a Promise Ring?

A promise ring is a type of ring that symbolizes the unique and special love and commitment between a couple. Promise rings are given as a sign of a serious relationship and to signify a commitment to be with one another in the future.

In a way, promise rings are pre-engagement rings, as they come before the commitment of marriage. The exchange of rings can mean that a future engagement is likely or simply show that you have a devotion to one another that you’d like to symbolize.

Promise Ring Meaning

“Promise rings symbolize love. Worn on any finger, a promise ring represents a couple’s commitment to their relationship.”

“The meaning of a promise ring in a relationship is unique to each couple. But in general, when given or exchanged, promise rings signal commitment to an exclusive relationship.” Gemological Institute of America (GIA)

The meaning of a promise ring can differ from couple to couple, from symbolizing that you’re committed to each other to hinting at engagement and marriage in the near or distant future. 

It’s best for you and your partner to decide between the two of you what a promise ring means for you two specifically. A promise ring could mean:

  • That your relationship is developing and you want to show how important you each are to one another.
  • That you love each other and want to show your commitment, but feel it’s too early (or you’re simply too young) to formally become engaged.
  • That you’re separated by distance (such as in a long-distance relationship) but want to show each other that you’re still fully committed to each other.
  • Anything else that matters to you. A promise ring can have any special meaning for you and your partner, from commemorating an achievement or milestone in your relationship to showing how much you care for each other.

If your promise ring has a special meaning, you may choose to have a message engraved onto the ring to remember your promise and commitment to one another.

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Which Finger Should a Promise Ring Be Worn On?

Promise rings can be worn on any finger on either hand. There’s no “correct” finger or hand for a promise ring — instead, it’s best to wear your ring on whichever finger is most comfortable and convenient for you.

Some people like to wear their promise rings on their left ring fingers. This is the most common way to wear a promise ring. Others prefer to wear it on the right ring finger so as to not confuse it with an engagement ring.

What Do Promise Rings Look Like?

Promise rings tend to be smaller and less extravagant than engagement rings. They often use precious metals such as gold and silver. Many promise rings feature diamonds and a variety of other valuable gemstones.

Look of a promise ring

Most of the time, these gemstones are smaller and less obvious than the gemstones you’d find in an engagement ring, with a more subtle appearance. Some promise rings don’t contain any special design features at all, with a simple appearance similar to a wedding ring.

Promise rings and other couple rings can be diamond rings, such as this tapered baguette ring from Blue Nile, or gemstone rings, such as this sapphire heart ring also from Blue Nile.

Some promise rings are also designed as Claddagh rings. This is a traditional Irish design that features a heart held by two hands and a crown, representing love, loyalty and friendship. Some couples even decide to choose matching promise rings.

In general, promise rings are usually smaller and subtler than engagement rings. Diamonds are a popular choice, although the stones tend to be of smaller carat weight or grouped in a cluster rather than as a single stone.

Gemstone ring designs like these from Blue Nile are also a popular choice for promise rings and other couple rings. Like with other non-engagement and wedding jewelry, there are no “rules” regarding the best metals for promise rings, making everything from rose gold to sterling silver rings popular.

How Much Should a Promise Ring Cost?

Just like with engagement rings and other jewelry, there aren’t any specific rules explaining how much you should spend on a promise ring. 

Promise rings can range in price from just a few hundred dollars for a simple, elegant ring made from gold or sterling silver to several thousand dollars for a promise ring that features diamonds and/or other gemstones.

Like with engagement rings and other jewelry, the purer the gold used to make the ring and the larger and higher quality the diamonds or other gemstones it featured, the more you’ll typically pay for the ring. 

If you’re interested in buying a promise ring, spend as much as you think is appropriate. Since promise rings are often purchased by younger people who aren’t yet ready to promise, they’re usually less expensive than engagement rings.

One way to save money on your promise ring is to go with a lab-grown diamond. Here is a stunning one carat diamond that you can use in a ring for only $1,290. That is roughly 60% less than a natural diamond.

When to Give a Promise Ring

While giving a promise ring isn’t as daunting as giving an engagement ring, it’s still a special and important moment for any couple. Thankfully, there aren’t any “rules” for giving a promise ring to your partner, making the process quite straightforward.

Promise rings can be given at any point during a relationship. Sometimes. couples date for one year or longer before exchanging promise rings. For others, the timeline is faster, with promise rings or other couple rings exchanged early in the relationship.

Overall, promise rings are a visible sign of your commitment to the relationship, no matter what you’re planning for the future.

How to Give a Promise Ring

When giving a promise ring like this one from Blue Nile, you don’t have to plan anything elaborate like you might if you were giving an engagement ring. However, you can if you want to. For example, many couples opt to exchange promise rings as a dating anniversary gift, for Valentine’s Day or for a birthday.

Many couples also have a conversation when exchanging promise rings about what the rings mean for them specifically, adding extra significance to the moment.

You don’t need to say anything specific when giving a promise ring. If you want to, you can talk about what the promise ring means for you and express how much you value and cherish your partner and your relationship together.

Some people like to mention certain phrases or recite their partner’s favorite song lyrics, poetry or sayings. Ultimately, it’s up to you — you know your partner and your relationship better than anyone else, making you the best judge of what to say when you give a promise ring.

If you’re not good at speaking off the cuff and think you might feel nervous when giving the ring to your partner, it’s okay to prepare something ahead of time and practice before you give your partner the promise ring in person.

As always, it’s up to you how you choose to give a promise ring. You can plan something a little elaborate and unique if you think your partner will appreciate it. Alternatively, you can choose a more normal moment to give the ring and focus on the moment itself instead of the setting.

In general, it’s best not to overthink it. Giving a promise ring should be a romantic and personal moment. Give the ring in an authentic, natural way and your partner will surely appreciate it.

Promise Rings vs. Engagement Rings

The difference between a promise ring and an engagement ring is the ring’s purpose. While an engagement ring is given only for one reason — to propose and symbolize that you’re going to get married — a promise ring is given as a symbol of commitment, not marriage specifically.

When you give (or receive) an engagement ring, you’re signaling that you’re specifically going to get married. After the ring is given, you and your partner will usually actively start planning your wedding and make a firm commitment to get married to one another.

A promise ring is much more symbolic. No wedding date is set and there’s no single meaning to the ring. Instead, it could symbolize a commitment to each other, a friendship, pre-engagement, a relationship milestone or any other personal meaning. 

Aesthetically, promise rings are usually simpler than engagement rings. While you can choose a promise ring with a large diamond or gemstone or an ornate setting, most people choose a ring that’s simple yet elegant when they’re giving a promise ring to their partner.

The Difference Between Promise Rings and Purity Rings

While the terms “promise ring” and “purity ring” are often used interchangeably, they represent two distinct commitments.

Purity rings symbolize a commitment to abstinence until marriage. Giving a purity ring is usually accompanied by a commitment not to have sex until married. Sterling silver rings are commonly given as purity rings, often with an engraved message.

Unlike promise rings, it’s rare for purity rings to feature diamonds or other gemstones, or come in colored precious metals such as gold.

Promise rings don’t have anything to do with abstinence unless the couple decides so. With a promise ring, you and your partner are simply exchanging a physical symbol of your love and commitment to one another.

You might have also come across posy rings in your search for a promise ring. A posy ring, or posie ring, dates back to the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. These rings were given in England and France as lovers’ gifts. They’re different than a promise ring but could look similar.

Best Promise Rings

Promise rings for couple

The design of your promise ring is completely up to you. As with any piece of jewelry, it’s best to match the personality and style of the person wearing the ring.

Below, we’ve put together a list of high-quality promise rings in different styles, gemstones and settings. Take a look through the designs below and take notice of any rings that stand out and catch your eye.

1) Diamond Promise Rings

Diamond rings are classic, timeless and make for beautiful promise rings for couples. Diamond promise rings often feature clusters of small diamonds, creating a beautiful shape like a flower or starburst.

The diamonds used in promise rings and other couple rings tend to be smaller than those used in engagement rings, making these more affordable than a lot of other diamond jewelry.

Diamond promise rings:

Diamond promise rings

2) Gemstone Promise Rings

A gemstone ring can add color and flair to your significant other’s hand, making it a good option if you’re looking for something with personality. Popular gemstone couple rings range from ruby heart rings like these from Blue Nile to pink sapphire halo rings, with countless other options also available.

Gemstone promise rings:

Pink Sapphire and Micropavé Diamond Halo Ring
Pink Sapphire and Micropavé Diamond Halo Ring from Blue Nile

3) Promise Rings Without a Gemstone

It’s also totally okay to give a promise ring without a gemstone. In fact, many promise rings and couple rings don’t feature any stones — instead, they might have an engraved message, pattern or other unique design.

If you prefer a more simple style, a ring made out of white gold or a sterling silver ring might be the right choice for you and your partner.

Promise rings without gemstones:

Mini Rope Ring
Mini Rope Ring in Rose Gold from Blue Nile

Where to Buy Promise Rings

When you’re buying any fine jewelry, it’s important to verify that you’re receiving a high-quality product. In this case, promise rings are no different. While it’s easy to find cheap promise rings online, these will often deteriorate, causing them to look less beautiful as they get older.

Because of this, we recommend choosing a vendor that’s known for their high-quality settings and gemstones. This way, you’ll end up with a beautiful promise ring that will last for decades, all at an excellent price.

Throughout our years in the jewelry industry, we’ve closely vetted sellers to determine the best and most reliable in the business. We highly recommend looking for a promise ring through the dealers below.

All of these dealers are reputable, trustworthy and offer great value for money. If you have any questions about these vendors, please contact us.

Blue Nile (Diamond and Gemstone Rings)

Blue Nile is one of the world’s largest online jewelry vendors. Their website is full of high-quality rings that are suitable for giving as promise rings, although many don’t include “promise ring” or “couple ring” in their name. Read our in-depth review of Blue Nile.

  • Maintains the largest online inventory of diamonds and settings
  • Emphasizes diamond, gemstone and jewelry quality
  • Offers excellent prices and easy return policies

James Allen (Diamond and Gemstone Rings)

James Allen is another large online jewelry vendor. Similar to Blue Nile, James Allen focus on high-quality rings featuring diamond and other gemstones, although they also stock a range of simpler promise rings and couple rings without gemstones. Read our James Allen review.

  • Provides high-tech imagery (allowing you to see every diamond and gemstone up-close before purchase)
  • Known for their excellent customer service
  • Offer appealing prices for their large collection

Leibish & Co. (Gemstone Rings)

Leibish & Co. is a smaller online jewelry retailer that’s known for its fancy colored diamonds. It’s also a good place to shop for promise rings, with a large online inventory that contains a diverse range of gemstone rings. Read our review of Leibish & Co.

  • Maintains a large online inventory of gemstone rings
  • Designs all jewelry with high-quality settings
  • Offers colored diamond alternatives

Leaning more toward an engagement ring instead of a promise ring? Check out all the different styles of engagement rings here

FAQs About Promise Rings

What’s the difference between a promise ring and a couple ring?

The terms “promise ring” and “couple ring” are often used interchangeably to refer to any rings exchanged between couples that aren’t engagement rings. However, there are a few differences between these two rings.

Promise rings are exchanged to symbolize love and commitment. They often feature diamonds and other gemstones. Although they’re available in a variety of metals, promise rings often use precious metals — it’s not uncommon to see a gold or sterling silver ring, for example.

Couple rings, on the other hand, tend to be matching pairs of rings designed for couples to wear as fashion jewelry, or just for fun. Search for “couple rings” online and you’ll find everything from fine jewelry to matching couple rings with artistic patterns, unique materials and cool designs.

In short, promise rings are given for a specific purpose, whereas couple rings tend to be a more generic, less specific form of matching jewelry for couples.

What’s the difference between a promise ring and an engagement ring?

Visually, promise rings and engagement rings can be quite similar, although promise rings tend to feature smaller gemstones. While they both symbolize a similar commitment, they’re given at different points in a relationship.

Can men wear promise rings?

Yes. Unlike engagement rings, promise rings are for men and women. Many couples choose to wear matching promise rings, while others choose a promise ring for their partner that matches their personality.

Are promise rings statement rings?

Although promise rings are given to make a certain statement to each other, they’re not usually considered statement rings. Statement rings usually refer to rings that make a visual statement, such as with a unique or eye-catching design that stands out from other jewelry.

How much are promise rings?

Like other jewelry, promise rings can range from affordable to highly expensive. Simple gold or sterling silver rings without precious gemstones can often cost only a few hundred dollars, while more expensive rings with diamonds and other gemstones can reach into the thousands.

Are promise rings only for religious people?

Although purity rings are often given for religious reasons, promise rings and other couple rings generally don’t have a religious connotation. Despite this, some people wear promise rings both as a symbol of commitment to their partner and to their religious faith.

Can you still wear a promise ring after getting engaged?

If you like your promise ring so much that you don’t want to stop wearing it, you can keep it on after you and your partner get engaged. Many people wear their promise ring on the opposite hand after getting engaged to separate it from their engagement ring and wedding ring.

Here are some other diamond jewelry gift topics to browse:

James Allen James Allen is the leader in online diamond sales. Their imaging technology is the same as inspecting a diamond with a jeweler's loupe. They have the largest exclusive loose diamond inventory online and fantastic prices. They also have the nicest collection of lab-created diamonds online.
What we love about them:
  • No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. James Allen will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Free International Shipping
  • Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
  • Provide insurance appraisals
  • One free resizing within 60 days of purchase
  • Free ring inscriptions
  • Best-in-class high quality imagery of all diamonds in stock
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • Best-in-class packaging
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Blue Nile Blue Nile is the largest and most well-known internet jewelry seller. They have a very large exclusive online inventory. Their high-quality images are catching up to James Allens' and their prices are amazing. 
What we love about them:
  • No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. Blue Nile will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Free Shipping
  • Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
  • Provide insurance appraisal
  • One free resizing within the first year of purchase
  • High quality images of about half of their diamonds
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • 100% credit towards future upgrades (must be at least double in value)
  • Best in class fulfillment
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About the author

Mike Fried Mike Fried Mike Fried has over 25 years experience in the diamond industry working with Leo Schachter Diamonds, Moshe Namdar Diamonds, and joining The Diamond Pro in 2007. He is recognized as an industry expert and has been quoted in publications such as Us, People, Page Six, The Next Web and more.

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