Promise rings may seem like a modern piece of jewellery or tradition, but they have actually been around since the 16th century when they would be exchanged by couples too young or too poor to wed. Rings have always been used to symbolise commitment, but there are also biblical references to the religious rings of the devout. It became popular in the in the 15th and 16th century for couples to exchange rings to communicate and solidify their love.
There have been several different types of engagement rings over the centuries:
• Scribbling rings – in the 16th century, lover exchanged scribbling rings which were inlaid with uncut diamonds or crystals. The wearer would use the sharp points of the diamonds to etch their beloved’s names or vows into window glass.
• Poesy rings – during Shakespeare’s time poesy rings became very popular among young couples. The bands would be engraved with romantic sayings and banded the lover’s words to the beloved’s body.
• Pre-engagement rings – these rings reflected the optimism and romance of the 19th-century era. They were more ornamental than their predecessors and reflected both the growing availability of semi-precious stones and the new influx of wealth into the middle classes.
• Regards rings – these rings were often used as engagement rings, but non-engaged couples and even best friends exchanged them as well. These rings featured a serious of semi-precious stones which spelt out the “R” for regards, the beloved’s name or the word “dearest”. They would be adorned with emeralds, garnets, amethyst, ruby, diamonds or sapphire stones.
• Modern promise rings – during the 20th and 21st centuries promise rings became very popular again. This was the era where courtship or dating became longer than ever and couples became frustrated with the lack of progression or commitment. Exchanging promise rings became a way that couples could transition into their relationship without the greater pressures of engagement.
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Some believe that exchanging promise rings is a way of expressing their intention to eventually marry, but the tradition is open to interpretation. A promise ring might signify a decision to remain abstinent before marriage or engagement. These rings are also referred to as “purity” rings. Some couples exchange promise rings when they decide to live together before getting married, to mark the milestone of co-habiting as a couple. A promise ring can also signify a promise that one has made – pure and simple!
How to wear your Promise Rings
There is a variation in how promise rings are worn. Some people wear their rings on their left-hand ring fingers, like an engagement ring. It is also popular to wear a promise ring on the right ring finger of the right hand to avoid confusion that one has got engaged or wed.
Promise rings can be worn by men and women and a rising tradition is coupled purchasing a “pair” of promise rings that match, similar to wedding bands. The most popular styles for modern rings include sterling silver, three small diamonds and a heart-shaped stone design.
Buying Your Statement Promise Ring
If you are thinking of buying an engagement ring, then try and be unique! Unlike engagement rings where diamonds are generally used, a promise ring can be anything that you can imagine. If you are planning to invest in a diamond engagement ring then you may prefer to get a different promise ring with a different kind of stone, setting or style.
A very popular tradition is using birthstones in promise rings, in the Victorian era, men often gave this to their intended brides. In fact, Prince Albert gave Queen Victoria a promise ring with an emerald snake on it! Promising your commitment to a birthstone ring makes a personal statement that your beloved will cherish no matter how many years pass (or how many more rings you give them!).
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You can use different types of precious and semi-precious gemstones to pick unique designs. Gemstones are excellent as they not only provide options for all price ranges but the can also be personalised to a large extent. If you decided not to use your beloved’s birthstone then a ruby ring could represent romance, passion and indulgence while a sapphire or tanzanite ring could be used to signify purity and soulmates.
It is also important to consider budget when choosing a promise ring as this will set the benchmark for future engagement and wedding rings. Once you have decided on a total budget for a promise ring, engagement ring and wedding ring then it is advised to allow 1/6 of that towards the promise ring.
If your budget is limited then don’t worry as you can still choose an economic but statement ring thanks to the selection of beautiful semi-precious stones available today. Aquamarine, citrine peridot and amethyst rings are not only affordable but they are also unique and beautiful. You can also replace gold with sterling silver to make your budget go further. If you wish to go bold and simple then go for eternity bands which are available in a range of metals to suit your budget.
Caring guide for your Promise ring
Over time, jewellery rings can become a very precious family heirloom. However, taking care of your ring to keep it in prime condition require effort. The gemstones of your ring can lose their clarity from things such as daily wearing, pollution, and fine dust. The surfaces of gold, silver, and platinum rings can become dulled. This is why it's essential that your promise ring receives the proper care and attention it deserves.
We recommend that your ring is professionally cleaned at least once a year in order to maintain its clarity and beauty. For the 'in between' care we suggest the following:
Platinum, Gold & Silver Promise rings: A non-abrasive cleaner will help to maintain your gold and platinum jewellery between annual professional cleanings. Salt air and products containing sulphur, even some papers and rubber bands, can cause rapid tarnishing in sterling silver jewellery. Silver will stay at its best through regular use of a non-abrasive silver polish.How you store your ring is also a very important part of taking care of it. We recommend that it always be placed in a lined box or pouch, such as the original case, when not being worn.
Cleaning your ring: Your ring is prone to getting dusty, soiled and smudged, the natural oils from your skin, lotions, powders and soaps can all create a thin film on the surface of the metal. There are several ways to clean your ring:
• Detergent Wash: You already have what you need to clean your ring: an old toothbrush and some dishwashing detergent. Dish detergent is designed to cut through grease and grime and to rinse off easily, which are exactly the properties needed to clean jewellery. This can be used safely for cleaning both gold and silver jewellery, etc. It will not harm gems or metals.
• Cold Bath Water: Using 4 parts of cold water and 1 part of a very mild dishwashing detergent make a solution to soak your ring in for several minutes.
• Dip Method: Find the brand name liquid jewellery cleaner that's best for the kind of ring you have according to the stone and metal type. Follow the instructions on the label of the cleaner carefully.