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Promise Ring vs. Engagement Ring: What’s the Difference?

  • 8 mins

Something as small as a ring can hold immense dreams, promises, and love. However, not every ring embodies the same intention.

With an engagement ring, you ask for someone’s hand in marriage. A promise ring, on the other hand, is a token of commitment and devotion, which doesn’t necessarily have to do with romantic love.

But these brief descriptions only scratch the surface of the significance and symbolism of engagement rings and promise rings. With this in mind, let’s dive deeper into the differences between these two types of rings to understand their unique roles in relationships.

Key Takeaways

  • An engagement ring signifies a marriage proposal, while a promise ring symbolizes various commitments beyond romantic love.
  • Promise rings can represent commitments between romantic partners, friends/family, or even oneself—offering versatility in meaning and significance.
  • Engagement rings typically follow a proposal, while promise rings can be given at any stage in a relationship


What Is the Meaning of a Promise Ring?

The meaning of a promise ring is right there in its name—you promise to fulfill a commitment or pledge.

While an engagement ring always symbolizes a promise of marriage, a promise ring can represent various commitments or intentions. And that’s precisely where the allure of promise rings lies—their significance is shaped by the people who wear them.

A Promise to Your Partner

Though a promise ring isn’t solely given to romantic partners, this type of ring most commonly symbolizes a commitment between two people in a romantic relationship. But what kind of a commitment?

Well, it depends on the relationship.

It can be a promise to stay faithful, a commitment to work on the relationship, or a pledge to someday get engaged. Whatever the case, a promise ring sends a clear message—you’re serious about the relationship and envision a future together.

“Together” can also be an important keyword here, because sometimes both partners will wear a promise ring. And unlike engagement rings, promise rings don’t have to be worn on a specific finger. You can wear it on whichever finger you’d like, so you and your partner can make the rules!

A Promise to Oneself

There’s a major difference when it comes to the promise ring vs. engagement ring battle—a promise ring doesn’t have to involve two people.

That’s right. You can also make a promise to yourself! Whether it’s a religious commitment or another value you hold dear, a promise ring can remind you of it every single day.



What Is the Meaning of an Engagement Ring?

With engagement rings, things are much simpler. These rings are used to propose marriage, as simple as that!

First comes the engagement ring, then the wedding planning and the wedding itself, and—finally—a wedding ring.

An engagement ring is typically worn on the ring finger of the left hand. Why? This ring is believed to be directly connected to the heart by the so-called “vena amoris,” or the vein of love. Talk about romance!



What Are the Differences Between a Promise Ring and an Engagement Ring?

What promise rings and engagement rings symbolize isn’t the only difference between these desirable rings. Here are a few more important distinctions to keep in mind.

When Each Is Given

One of the most unique things about promise rings is how flexible they are. Essentially, this means that you can give them (or start wearing them) at any point. After all, it’s never too early or too late to make a promise of commitment or love.

So, in a romantic relationship, you can give your partner a promise ring at any stage. When you first start going out. When you realize you want to marry that person. Even after you’re married! There’s no wrong choice as long as you (and your partner) feel it’s the right moment.

With engagement rings, things aren’t as flexible. You give an engagement ring when you’re ready to make a formal commitment to marry someone. This is because the wedding (and the wedding rings) usually follow suit relatively quickly. So, if you aren’t ready for the next step, a promise ring might be the way to go instead.

However, if you’re wondering when to give an engagement wedding ring within your relationship, no one can answer that question but you. Some people decide to take this step only after spending significant time together and feeling confident in their decision to marry. However, others come to this decision much faster, as the old saying goes, “When you know, you know”!



How Each Is Given

There are probably few people who don’t know how an engagement ring is given. Traditionally, you get on one knee and present the engagement ring in a beautiful jewelry box to your partner, followed by the all-important question, “Will you marry me?”

Of course, the specifics can vary from couple to couple. There doesn’t have to be any kneeling, and you can say whatever your heart desires.

The same goes for the proposal itself.

It can be a simple and intimate moment just between you two or an elaborate affair involving your families and a full-on spectacle. It all depends on your personality and preferences.

As for a promise ring, there isn’t a particular scenario that comes to mind when giving one. However, you’ll probably want to give this ring to mark a special occasion or remember a specific moment forever.



What Each Ring Looks Like

When discussing what a promise ring should look like there are no rules! These rings come in various styles and designs, from simple bands with delicate accents to decorative masterpieces set with your birthstones. Again, it all depends on your preferences and the exact occasion. If the occasion in question is tied to a specific date or event, consider engraving it on the promise ring.

Of course, an engagement ring can also be engraved. And technically, this ring can also look however you’d like it to! But, to be fair, there are some common trends when it comes to engagement rings.

A solitaire engagement ring featuring a single, prominent gemstone is arguably the most common choice for an engagement ring—a classic, if you will. The same goes for a diamond ring in general. There’s simply something beautiful and timeless about a diamond engagement ring, which makes generations of couples in love keep coming back to this choice. 



Which Ring Is Right for You?

Now that you know how promise rings and engagement rings differ, there’s only one question left to answer—which ring is right for you? Truly, only you can answer this question. Supported with the information from this guide regarding engagement rings, romantic promise rings, and other promise rings, you should be able to make the right choice.

Since a romantic relationship is the most common scenario in which both rings are given, let’s focus on it for a second. It’s all about how ready you and your partner are to get married. If you are ready to love, honor, and sacrificially serve your partner for the rest of your life, then an engagement ring will be what you need to ask them to enter into the covenant of marriage with you.



Find a Stunning & Affordable Ring with Faithful Platform

After deciding which ring to give to your loved one, the next step is finding the perfect ring. That’s where Faithful Platform comes into play.

Using our unique process, you can design your own ring from scratch. Simply find an inspiration and reach out for a free consultation. From there, we’ll work together with you to create a truly one-of-a-kind ring to fit your story, style, and budget.



Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is a promise ring the same thing as an engagement ring?

No; while both rings hold sentimental value, they serve different purposes. An engagement ring is all about popping the big question and committing to marriage, whereas a promise ring symbolizes various kinds of commitments or intentions.


How long after a promise ring do you get engaged?

There isn’t a hard and fast rule here, which is part of the allure of promise rings. You can give or start wearing them at any point in your relationship journey, so it’s up to you and your partner’s readiness. We recommend waiting to propose with an engagement ring until you know you are ready to love, serve, and honor your future spouse for the rest of your lives.


What’s the point of a promise ring?

The point of a promise ring is to symbolize a commitment or pledge between two people. It’s like wearing your promises on your finger as a daily reminder of your devotion.

Whether it’s a promise to stay faithful, work on the relationship, or maybe even a pledge to someday get engaged, a promise ring sends a clear message—you’re serious about your relationship and envision a future together.


Is a promise ring a big deal?

A promise ring can be a big deal, but it’s really up to the individuals involved.

For some, a promise ring holds immense sentimental value and represents a significant milestone in their relationship journey and doesn’t carry the same weight as an engagement ring or wedding band. Ultimately, the significance of a promise ring is shaped by the meaning it holds for the couple wearing it