What is The Difference between Engagement Rings and Promise Rings

Rings are the most popular forms of jewelry today. It has been the trend through the centuries with artifacts from many ancient civilizations showing evidence of rings used for different purposes. The prominent position of a ring on a finger makes it easy to express a specific meaning. They are not only symbolic but also work perfectly as fashion accessories. On the red carpet, a stylish outfit is not complete without a beautiful ring. Engagement and promise ring are among the most popular types of rings today for many reasons. although they both express undying commitment, they also have many differences. Most people find it hard to choose between elegant diamond engagement rings and similarly glamorous promise rings that are available in the market.

Buying any ring for a special person in your life is already a tough task due to the wide variety of ring styles that are available these days. Choosing between these popular rings makes life even harder. If you cannot decide between engagement and promise rings, this article will guide you through the differences and offer other tips that would help you buy the right ring to suit the occasion. Keep reading

A Brief Overview of Engagement Rings

An engagement ring has been around in many cultures for years and it symbolizes an intent to marry. It is one of the most important pieces of jewelry in a couple’s nuptial journey. The presentation of an engagement ring comes after a couple has known each other for some time and before a wedding ring hence its importance. Due to the importance of engagement rings in modern society, there are many styles, designs and materials used in their manufacture. Most couples also customize these rings to give them a symbolic meaning.

A Brief Overview of Promise Rings

The hype around promise rings has increased their presence in the market. A promise ring, also called a commitment ring, is an expression of undying commitment to a person or to a decision you have made in life. As the name implies, there is commitment behind this ring, which could be a promise to faithfulness in a relationship, promise to commitment in a friendship, promise to keep your virginity till marriage or a commitment to stay sober. Promise rings boasts of ancient heritage and became popular through a decree from the church in the 17th century. It carried some serious commitment of love and devotion. Bishops and other church leaders wore promise rings as a display of their commitment to the church.

Fast forward to the 19th century and these rings once again gained popularity as men going to war gave their spouses promise rings. It was the only thing that would keep couples connected during the war. Today celebrities such as Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, and the Jonas Brothers have made promise rings popular on the red carpet thus reigniting interest in these pieces.

It is important to understand the differences between engagement rings and promise rings in order to buy the right ring. The following are some of the factors that help differentiate between the two popular rings:

The Difference in Meanings

An engagement ring has only one meaning, which is an intention to marry. It comes just before a wedding ring. A promise ring, on the other hand, is a symbol of commitment. It carries different meanings that include:

  1. A commitment to a friendship
  2. A commitment to fidelity in a relationship
  3. A commitment to monogamy
  4. A pre-engagement/commitment to a relationship that would lead to an engagement
  5. A promise to yourself if you want to stay committed to a cause such as sobriety

If you want to gift someone special with a ring that shows your commitment to your relationship/friendship, a diamond promise ring will do the trick. It is the safest bet when you are in a young relationship and you have not yet made the decision to marry.

Differences in Ring Design

Engagement rings and promise rings come in a variety of elegant styles and designs. However, there is a distinction when it comes to the size and styling of the two popular rings. For engagement rings, a lot of detailing goes into the styling to craft an elegantly designed ring. The idea is to make a glamorous ring that carries a lot of symbolic meaning. Most couples go for customized engagement rings.

When it comes to promise rings, you can still find stylish pieces made from precious metals such as gold and diamond. However, the detailing is less intricate on a promise ring as many people do not customize these pieces. They are smaller and more subtle compared to engagement rings.


Giving an engagement ring is an elaborate occasion with an element of surprise added to the equation. There is no confusing the purpose of the ring because the couple has been together for some time.

With a promise ring, there is no such glamor and glitz when presenting the ring. It is a show of commitment that requires much thought and you have to make the recipient understand the purpose of the ring.

Differences in Ring Finger

As per tradition engagement rings are conventionally worn on the ring finger of the left hand, the same finger a wedding ring is worn on. For a promise ring, however, you can choose to wear it on the ring finger of your right hand to avoid confusion. However, other people still insist on wearing it on the ring finger of the left hand. In essence, you can wear a promise ring on any finger of either hand but for an engagement ring, only one finger is acceptable.

With this information, you can now decide whether to buy an engagement ring or a promise ring. Remember the main difference is in the meaning, size and design of the ring, the presentation and the finger on which the ring is worn.

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