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What’s a Promise Ring? And How To Wear One?

Updated March 2022 

No, really. What is it? Read our guide on what it means, how to give one, wear one, and honor one.

Promise ring, pre-engagement ring, commitment ring…you say toe-mah-toe, I say toe-may-toe. Whatever you call it, this post-modern pre-engagement trend is on the rise, and we absolutely love the idea. More opportunities to celebrate love? Count us in!

  • What’s a promise ring?

    So what’s the purpose of a promise ring? A promise ring is just that – a ring that symbolizes a promise, just not THAT promise (as in, marriage). 


    The beauty of the promise ring is that its meaning is entirely up to you. Some couples use the promise ring as a pre-engagement ring or as an alternative to the wedding ring (because you may or may not want to get married, but having a beautiful ring anyway; why not, right?). Others use it to signify an important milestone in their relationship or a promise they’ve made together. 


    It makes total sense – couples these days might already be living together, happily choosing to marry later in life or not at all. So, a token of commitment in the form of a thoughtful ring that was born out of an intimate promise between two loved-up people? Yes, please!

  • Okay, but. Promise ring vs engagement ring. What’s the difference?

    Here are some examples of what a promise ring is for: 

    • Knowing you’ve found true love

    • Commitment to be besties forever

    • Father to daughter, mom to son

    • Renewing your commitment

    • Abstinence until marriage

    • Long distance relationships, eg during a semester abroad

    While an engagement ring is a precursor to marriage, a promise ring captures the unique essence of your relationship. 

  • How much should a promise ring cost?

    A promise ring doesn't have to cost much. It's a symbol. It's the thought that counts. Get her something she'd love to wear, rather than thinking about the price. 


    If you’re looking for a budget friendly option, look for promise rings made from recycled silver, then customize it with her birthstone. 


    That being said - don’t wait to make this purchase an ethical one! Ethical rings have a lot of stories to tell. Whether it’s a recycled silver or artisanal gold or a gemstone sourced from known origin, ethical promise rings do exist and they can be at a budget too. Scroll down for some examples of promise rings under $100.

  • Does a promise ring have to be a ring?

    Great question. Depending on where you are in the relationship, a promise ring doesn’t have to be a ring. A silver pendant necklace or birthstone bracelets are great pieces to show your promise too. Since it’s the unofficial-official piece, you can choose any piece of jewelry as your promise piece. In other words, it’s all in the story (your story) behind each piece of jewelry. 

  • Should I custom make a promise ring?

    If you know her design sense pretty well, then why not? Custom made or not isn’t just the question for you, the giver. Sometimes, problems arise when the receiver doesn’t quite like the design of the ring (Errr.. awkward?). The safest bet? A silver ring with her/his birthstone. Add engraving inside the ring for a secret message and extra flare!

  • Who should wear one? 

    Anyone who wants to celebrate their union! A ring is a symbol of love, and not necessarily marriage.


    We've designed promise rings for couples in long distance relationships, people who are focusing on their careers and delaying engagement, those who choose to not get married, those who’ve been dating since they were high school sweethearts and those in ethical non monogamy or polyamorous relationships. 


    We even created promise rings for best friends who made a vow of parenthood. Making a promise to become parents together, and with each other, if they don't meet a suitable partner by the time they turn 40. 

  • Can you give a promise ring to your boyfriend?

    Ummm, duh! A promise ring for him is absolutely okay and normal. Why the wait, right? If you have a promise to stay loyal to him, then check out our friend’s story of a lady proposal for some inspo! 


    Scroll down for some ideas for a promise ring for him. 

  • Is there an age limit for promise rings?

    We go by the ‘never too late’ rule. So, we don’t believe there's an age limit for a promise ring. 


    That being said, it’s always wise to discuss what a promise ring will mean for you and your partner before buying the ring. If your partner is in her 30s and wants to eventually (soon-ish) tie the knot with you, it might be better to consider saving up for an engagement ring (if that’s what she prefers). If both of you are globetrotters in your 50s cringing at the idea of settling down but can’t get over the idea of being apart, then a promise ring might be for you.


    In the end, a promise ring should work for you, and for your love. 

  • Where did it come from?

    Miley Cyrus. Not. Although she did play a big part in making it so popular. 


    The promise ring reminds us of the good ol’ American tale of the guy giving his high school sweetheart his class ring. But actually, the idea of the promise ring goes way back. Posy rings – engraved with lovely poems – were common in 16th century England. And acrostic rings – spelling out names of loved ones in gemstones – were all the rage in Victorian times. The concept of a ring to symbolize love and loyalty dates back to Roman times, when brides-to-be would wear bands around their left ring finger.

  • What does a promise ring look like?

    Whatever your heart desires. We’re not exactly traditional here at Gardens of the Sun, and we’d never tell anyone how their rings should look, but even in mainstream thought, promise rings are a free-for-all. The more pragmatic folks out there tend to pick a promise ring with their engagement ring and wedding band in mind (nothing that would clash). And some couples see the promise ring as a chance to get creative and make it a fashion piece. Bands with a mosaic or a cluster of stones are popular as they signify fruitful years together. We think the Hidden Gems, Particles and Soul Searchers collections make great promise rings. 

  • What finger do you wear a promise ring on?

    Some people wear promise rings on the left ring finger (if not engaged or married), because of the myth there’s a vein that runs from that finger straight to the heart. Others wear them on a chain or on their little fingers (pinky promise, get it?). 

  • Do you get on your knee for a promise ring?

    Giving a promise ring would be similar to making someone a promise. Do it over a candle-lit dinner, in front of the TV, at a baseball game, while you’re hiking in the desert, through a love letter, on Zoom – the point is, each couple expresses their love and enjoys their time together differently, so that should inform the whole process. 


    The main thing is, there’s no “on one knee” expectation with the promise ring. It’s whatever floats your love boat. 


    We love the promise ring because it reminds us to stop, slow down, step back and talk about important and intimate commitments with the person we love. Sometimes we get so caught up in the wedding whirlwind that we forget about the most important thing: the true promise we make to each other. 

  • What to say when giving a promise ring?

    Well - your promise! Frankly, your speech can be as simple as “I promise to … ” Though this (boiling down your feelings to a few powerful statements) isn’t an easy task either. Our point is to keep it bare minimum without unnecessary romantic frills. 


    Our tip? Set aside a night to distill your thoughts and take inspiration from the greatest love poets like Rumi or Kahlil Gibran. Or dive deep into co-creating your dream relationship, by setting relationship agreements. 

  • Best place to buy a promise ring? 

    If both of you are lovers of ethical rings created with meaning, Gardens of the Sun is where you’ll find your promise ring. We have a knack for designing rings from scratch and we LOVE love stories. So chat us up. Or maybe you’ll find a promise ring for her from our selection below? 


For your first love


ethical-pinky-promise-ring-for-her-wabi-sabi-wedding-ring

Like a stardust, she’s a glitter in your world. Just a small speck of her is enough to brighten you up inside out. 


Nothing says I love you, all of you, like the wabi sabi ring and the shadow band.


Even though these are ‘technically’ wedding bands, fret not! A promise ring can be anything you make it out to be. These understated ring bands can be a low-key love statement or a classic timeless piece. Plus, each has a band wide enough for personalized engraving! 


For the person you've known since forever


ethical-pinky-promise-ring-for-her-opal-ring

She’s fossilized underneath fluorescent lights. Like opal, she dances with light. This opal ring is for those who love good stories. Sitting neatly in line are fossil opals from Australia, known to be found among ancient bones. Just like this ring, your love knows no expiration date. 


For the elegant, old-school soul


ethical-pinky-promise-ring-for-her-pearl-hidden-gems-ring

She’s dainty and smart, a collection of deep-sea wisdom and ancient tales. Pearl is the oldest gemstone known to humans, and comes with legends galore. This ring doesn’t need to make bold statements; because her gentleness already comes in volumes. 


For the spiritual lovers


This is the ultimate ring to keep your seven chakras in sync. With one color representing each chakra, this is a token for a safe spiritual journey within. Use this as a unisex promise ring to keep your spiritual worlds close to your hearts.


For the tree-huggers and adventurers


ethical-pinky-promise-ring-for-her-pearl-and-moonstone-necklacce

She’s a cocktail of happy thoughts and wise musings. Iridescent and patterned like dancing light on the sea bed, the pearl and moonstone pair is an ocean of calm for you to tap into. This necklace is perfect for the tree huggers and nature-lovers who are such champs at living in the moment.


For the vibrant, passionate ones


ethical-pinky-promise-ring-for-her-rose-garnet-ring-in-white-gold

Rough and far from perfect. She knows this well, and so do you. This ring doesn’t need all that brilliance to stand out from the crowd. Juicy and sweet, this deep-pink garnet is a star in her own show.  


For the urban hippie


ethical-pinky-promise-ring-for-her-rose-cut-emerald-ring

Seafoam emeralds from the Panjshir mines in Afghanistan are the show-stopper centerpiece in this quirky silver ring. One half hippie, one half city chic, and all around stunner. The promise ring for the adventurous soul who loves to experiment with styles. 


For the fierce and feminine


ethical-pinky-promise-ring-for-her-rose-cut-sapphire-and-ruby-ring

This promise ring is for the fierce and the feminine, and for those who can carry these two energies with ease. A pair of ruby and sapphire, the strongest contenders for tough gemstones after the diamond. It’s a perfect ring for those who aren’t in a rush because they want their love to grow to its full bloom.


For the balance-seeker


ethical-pinky-promise-ring-for-her-emerald-and-peridot-ring

She can be all glitz and glamor. The same way she can be wrapped cozy in her pajamas on a Saturday morning. This ring is perfect for those searching for that sweet balance, so that their love lives can land safely at home. 


For those who have been through a lot


ethical-pinky-promise-ring-for-her-double-rose-cut-diamond-ring

She doesn’t need all the sparkly diamonds. She lets herself just be. Side by side, these two stones are like twins with their own unique destinies. Each stone a uniquely different diamond, this ring symbolizes a love gone through ups and downs. 


For those who want a personalized promise ring


ethical-pinky-promise-ring-for-her-custom-birthstone-ring

Create a custom three-stone promise ring. The trinity ring represents past, present, future. Or you, me, us. It’s symbolic - which is exactly what a promise ring is meant to be.


Create a combination of your birthstone, their birthstone and the month you first met or first got together. And if you need some help combining the right colors and shapes, our team will happily create a mockup for you before we craft it.   


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