It’s all about a Promise. Perhaps your promise will be an oath between you and your god, or a guarantee from you to yourself, or an assurance that you will return to a loved one after a long voyage, or a sworn oath of allegiance, or a reminder of a professional declaration, or an agreement to accomplish a task, or even a pledge to marry, or love, or be faithful. It may be a valentine ring or a way to say you will always remember someone. It might be a simple ring that promises to be a larger or more expensive one in the future.
The Promises behind the Ring
The promise ring itself is merely a symbol of something you offer or receive, perhaps the safekeeping of virginity, or the assurance of fidelity. It may represent an accord to keep a secret or a pact, or it may signify a desire to reunite or unite more fully. It may also seal a treaty, or finalize a legal trade, or honor you in the commencement of an official position of trust. It may be given or received as an agreed alliance between those who have been betrothed since childhood, or to show affection for a friend, or even to exemplify a union of thought or hope or aspiration.
Mens promise rings can be tokens of affection from a mother or father not only from lovers or secret admirers. The promise ring may carry with it the weight of a solemn vow or simply a gesture of what is desired in another’s heart, yet impossible. Promise rings may be a figurative gesture of monogamy, chastity, purity, virginity, the intention of marriage or loyalty in friendship.
They may act as a visible prompt for sobriety or as a reminder of a religious belief or oath.
Therefore, given all the forms a promise can take, it is not surprising that the shapes and styles of promise rings are so widely varied – from elaborate gemstone masterpieces with emblems and crests to modest poesy inscribed bands.
Where did Promising Rings Begin
The history, and promise ring meaning, is quite a lengthy tale that is mixed with legends and conjecture following the course of records of the RING itself. Undoubtedly, the fact that a ring is circular in nature, with no beginning and no end, and encircles the finger where a primary vein pumps blood to the heart, has affected the evolution of rings and what they symbolize in relation to love and sentiment.
This is synonymous with eternity rings and promise rings and all jewelry given in honor of marriage alliances, engagements, friendships and pacts. However promise rings are richer in history than some other styles because they cover such a wide gamut of topics – from political treaties to professional oaths to maters of the figurative heart.
Promise Ring Tidbits – from Scribbling on Glass to Poesy
Perhaps the most interesting evolutionary promise ring tidbit is connected to medieval and renaissance times when scribble rings became popular for lovers ones to communicate with each other in secret. Each lover had a diamond ring that was sharp, probably a marquis or a princess cut diamond ring, and each would scribble messages onto windows, or mirrors or glass for the other to find and read.
It also became fashionable for lovers to write short poems and have them inscribed onto a ring, either on the inside or the outside, or both. This was the case primarily because of beliefs that etched words next to ones skin somehow penetrated the soul and also were like talismans or good omens. And that is how the poesy rings came into being, primarily with one line inscriptions of the promise given or of the intention behind the ring.
In Europe, poesy rings with verses or poetic rhymes were extremely popular from the 14th to the 17th centuries. Many of these poesy verses that were once inscribed into iron or bronze or brass are now inscribed in sterling silver promise rings and white gold promise ring settings that are still used today. They are unique personalized promise rings because YOU select what to say. Here are some ideas that are based on antiques that have been found.
As you will see, there are ancient inscriptions in Latin, archaic English, and many in Gaelic, as well as French, Italian, Spanish, German, Hebrew and Russian:
- Amor Meus (Latin) – My Love
- Semper Amenus (Latin) – Our love is forever
- amor vincit omnia (Latin) – Love conquers all
- Mani In Fede (Italian) – Hands Together in Faith
- il mio cuore el il tuo per sempre (Italian) – My Heart Is Yours Forever
- No Tengo Mas Que Darte que mi Corazon (Spanish) – I have nothing to give but my heart
- Mine Genyst (German) – My heart
- Mazel Tov (Hebrew) – Good Luck
- ot dushi (Russian) – from my soul
- Autre Ne Veuil (French)– No one, but you
- A Ma Vie De Coer Entier (French) – My whole heart for my whole life
- De M’Amoure Soiez Sure (French) – Of my love be sure
- a vila mon coeur gardi li mo (French) – Here is my heart, guard it well
- deux ames un coeur (French) – Two souls one heart
- vous et nul autre (French) – You and no other
- ne weil aymer autre que vous (French) I do not wish to love any other than you
- por tous jours (French) – Forever
- Anam Cara (Gaelic) – Soul Friend
- le mo ghrasa mise, agus liomsa mo ghra (Gaelic)
- gra anois agus go deo (Gaelic)
- cuirle mo croide (Gaelic) – Pulse of my heart
- anam cara (Gaelic)- Soul friend
- faithless to none yet faithful to one
- God unite both in love
- God for me provided thee
- Love is patient Love is kind
- I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine (ani l’dodi vedodi li)
- faith, love, unity
- my heart, my soul, my spirit
- in thy brest my hart doth rest – (16th Century English)
- yovrs only – (16th Century English)
- Celtic Rings and Puzzle Rings to Pre-Tie the Knot
It has long been a Celtic tradition to exchange unusual rings, such as eternal knots and crosses and puzzle rings. Puzzle rings have taken on a life of their own, making wonderful promise rings. It is said that the man gives a puzzle ring to his wife or woman or lady-lover and, if she is unfaithful she will remove her betrothal or marriage or promise rings in shame, and the puzzle will fall apart and that is how a man can know if a woman has been unfaithful. I laughed when I first heard this because I thought to myself, what silly woman would take off her rings, have an affair, and then not put them back together as before?
However, after I tried to put a puzzle ring together, I realized it wasn’t all that easy, and when I looking on line to purchase one, I discovered that some are so complex they come with video instructions. So perhaps in ancient times, without a video manual to follow, it’s possible the unfaithful wife may not have been able to return her gold or sterling silver rings to their original faithful position on her finger (But I still don’t know why she had to take them off in the first place). Nevertheless, they make beautiful and unique promise rings no matter what vow goes within the puzzle.
There are also men’s promise rings in trinity knot, puzzle and Celtic cross styles. Men promise rings are usually a little larger and have slightly wider bands, but otherwise are identical to the ladies ring versions. Having matching promise rings in any of these is easy. It’s also possible to find many antique engagement ring styles in Celtic variations of old. In fact, the older the better. Here are some styles to keep in mind:
- Raised Window Trinity Knot Band in yellow gold, can come with or without diamonds or cubic zirconia
- Platinum Marquise Diamond Puzzle and Claddagh set
- Celtic Cross Band with CZ diamonds in 14K or 18K yellow, white or rose gold, or platinum
- Celtic Weave Band – zillions of metal choices and colors
- Celtic Eternal Knot Band Pair – there are several titanium rings in this style
- Flowing Eternal Knot Band in 14K white gold/14K rose gold/14K yellow gold
- Newgrange Spirals Band
- Trinity Knot Band with gemstones in 14K yellow gold, white gold promise rings, or rose gold settings. You may also select a platinum band. Add diamonds, cubic zirconia, emeralds or sapphires, mix them together or choose one single gem.
- Knot and Shield Band
Raised Claddagh Knot Band -white gold rings are often polished to look like platinum
- Recessed Eternal Celtic Knot Band
Promise Rings For Him – Promise Rings for Her
What’s great about a ring for a promise is that, unlike an engagement ring that is given from a man to a woman, these rings are given and received by men and women alike. A woman need not wait for a man to ‘propose’ to institute an agreement of loyalty or trust with a mens promise ring. And even if the promise rings for him are not poesy or a scribble rings, they can be a way to communicate a sentiment that may have otherwise gone unspoken. Promise rings for women are usually a little more ornate (often cubic zirconia rings or an eternity ring); however it is quite common for the rings for her and the promise rings for him to be identical.
What are common styles of promise rings given today?
If they are a pre-engagement ring to show the intention of marriage or a commitment, they are usually somewhere between an engagement ring and a wedding band – less diamonds than the engagement ring and not as plain as a simple band. For a lady it can be a small solitaire, or a ruby ring or a pearl ring. Designer rings, like those from D&G, Calvin Klein, DKNY, and the GUCCI heart ring, and other small sapphire rings, peridot rings, garnet ring and emerald rings have become very popular as promise rings.
A jade, citrine, pearl or a solitaire ring may be classed as a promise ring if it is used as such because there is no exact set style or stone that exemplifies the perfect promise. And since many promise rings also contain a birthstone, the peridot or garnet or emerald or other stone may naturally be chosen according to the birthday to personalize it even more.
Costume Jewelry Promises for Fun
Younger lovers or secret admirers often go for the costume jewelry imitation versions of poesy rings with engraved messages on the outside of simple stainless steel or sterling silver rings. These styles are now available from wholesale rings distributors online. For valentine’s gifts, fashion rings with Celtic eternal knots, and engraved promise rings, are quite common as well as charm rings with little dangling hearts and keys and tiny sparkling simulated diamonds.
Between friends, a plain band may suffice, but between young girls there are cheap promise rings with glitzy yellow diamonds or pink diamonds (or cubic zirconia fake diamonds) that are fun and inexpensive. The most popular of all is a heart promise ring. These single or double hearts may have small fake diamonds around the edge with hollow centers or the sparkling little cz rings may have pave stones all around the slender band. A peridot ring with a few lab created diamonds encrusted around the genuine stone can be inexpensive and perfect and affordable enough to buy two – one for each young lady.
Sometimes childrens promise rings may take the form of animals or insects or even hugging teddy bears with hearts. For the young ladies who are in junior high school or middle school, a simple princess cut diamond inside a small swirl or double twist is a cheap ring option that allows two or three (or a group) of friends to each have one that matches.
For religious promise rings it will depend on the oath taken and the religion, but there are Christian promise rings with crosses or orthodox crosses in antique rings or even crowns or triple hearts to represent trinities and saintly icons of Madonna or other pious insignias. There are Hebrew inscriptions and biblical verses that can be etched into any precious metal, and there are companies that specialize in monogramming or carving promise rings with inner or outer lettering in almost any language or script.
Lex Est Arma Regum
There is one very unusual ring that is especially for lawyers or those involved with justice. It is called the “The Law is the arm of the Realm” or in Latin: “lex est arma regum”, which is the inscription on the ring. It is a reminder of the promise to uphold justice and is from a 16th century ring that was traditionally given to those who had been admitted to the bar. There is an original of such a legal promise ring in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. However, a replica of that ring is available for purchase online from a place called Crystal Realm, and it costs only $48. These replicas are truly out of the ordinary promise rings for guys, even if they’re not lawyers.
Sometimes class rings and high school graduation rings or even college grad rings are exchanged with friends or lovers. I’m sure everyone is familiar with the movies from the 50’s, where getting a boys pin or school lettered jacket or his class ring was a sign of having a boyfriend, which seems to have disappeared these days. However the pre-engagement period appears to have increased in modern times perhaps because men and women each have careers and must plan around them and also because wedding planning is often a lengthy process, so some ladies appreciate time to think about marriage, then get engaged and then finally get married sometimes after many years of having chosen THE ONE and having received an small token of loyalty in the form of a ring.
Double Indemnity (or at least two for the price of one)
A promise ring is often used as an engagement ring or even as a wedding ring for the simple reason that they are similar but less costly. There are also more varieties to choose from in colored gemstones and unusual styles for those who want something romantic but less traditional. There are simple and tasteful cubic zirconia rings, and the classic diamond solitaire ring that can be for promises or engagement or both.
An odd styled promise ring, made by a modern jeweler, may very well replace art deco engagement rings if that is what you have had in mind. An eternity ring, be it a full circle of diamonds or CZ stones or a half or a three-stone setting, may also be a pre-engagement or wedding ring and be given long before the date is set..as a prelude to the bigger promise.
Irish Claddagh Rings
Some very unique and beautiful gold promise rings are the traditional Irish Claddagh rings (originally from the village of Claddagh near Galway), which can be given as a promise of love from a man to a woman or as promise rings for men from women, or as wedding rings for both. These unusual heart promise rings feature two hands clasping a heart with a crown above -the hands for friendship, the heart for love, and the crown for loyalty. (For the full moving and beautifully written story about the history of the Irish Claddagh ring go to all claddagh. com).
Some of these vintage jewelry pieces (traditionally only gold rings) now incorporate rubies in the crown or have gemstones on the hands or in the heart and some of the bands are made from two-tone or three-tone gold. These rings may be accompanied with a saying or an inscription such as: With my two hands I give you my heart, and crown it with my love. A unique extra feature of this Irish promise ring is that it can be worn in different ways, like on the right hand with the heart pointing out which means the wearer is free and searching for love. If the heart is reversed inward, the wearer’s heart is taken, and if the ring is on the left hand pointing out it is an engagement ring and if facing inward it’s a wedding ring…which brings me to the intriguing question of:
Where to Wear a Promise Ring?
It sounds simple, but it’s not. The finger used for a promise ring is usually the same as the one that will be used for engagement or marriage; however that is not always true depending on the type of ring and what the promise is about. In some cases different fingers mean different things as does the way in which the gold rings are worn like in the above case of the Irish Claddagh ring.
However, the left hand is commonly the hand used for romantic commitment, so usually when a promise ring is for purity, chastity, virginity, monogamy and fidelity, the left hand is the one chosen, except for Poland, the Ukraine and Latin America where such rings are worn on the right. But to further complicate matters, if the promise ring is not for a romantic promise, then it will likely be worn on the opposite hand. So in the end, wear it where it feels comfy and looks best.
Whisper What your Heart Longs to Say
So weather you choose silver jewellery or gold jewellery, weather you decide upon sparkling eternity rings or vibrant red ruby rings or blue-purple tanzanite or some historical vintage rings from Ireland, think about what you’re promising and how it can best be said. Is it for you alone? Is it for God and the angels to witness your silent vow? Is it for a forbidden love or the lover you may lose? Is it for a child or a parent? Will it be an engagement ring or a way to prolong an inevitable marriage? Will it be filled with sentiment or just a token for fun?
When you can answer these questions and know in your mind what you would say if everything it meant needed to be inscribed in metal, then you are ready to select a promise ring that will whisper without words what your heart longs to say.