THE TRUE MEANING BEHIND PROMISE RINGS
Eternity rings, engagement rings, promise rings… with so many different styles of rings around these days, it can be tricky knowing which ring to give when, and on which finger it should be worn. These days, tradition is fast being replaced by individual preferences and people are less constrained by customs, however, the gift of jewellery, especially a ring, is still one of the most sentimental gifts a person can receive.
Although the name is self-explanatory, the meaning behind promise rings is widely misunderstood and has been for centuries. While it is often considered to be a precursor to an engagement ring, a promise ring can mean any number of things. The beauty of this is that there are no constraints on style. A promise ring can be as flashy or as simple as the giver likes, it can be jewel-encrusted or a plain silver band. In fact, different styles of promise rings have been given in different cultures with different meanings for hundreds of years.
Popular promise rings
The most well recognised promise ring is the Irish Claddagh ring. Although the elements are always the same – a heart meaning love; hands meaning friendship; a crown symbolising loyalty – the meaning of this ring differs depending on how it is worn. For example, if the ring is on the right hand with the heart pointing outwards, the wearer is single, but if the ring is worn on the left hand with the heart pointing inwards, the wearer is married.
Traditional promise rings
There is also a strong tradition of promise rings in Turkey. A Turkish promise, or ‘puzzle’, ring can be made from two to 12 linked bands, which interlock in a complex design that can be unique to each ring. If the ring is removed, the links will fall apart and the puzzle must be solved before it can be worn again.
Rumour has it that these puzzle rings were given to women by their husbands to ensure their fidelity – if the woman removed the ring from her finger she would not be able to put it on again and the husband would know she had been unfaithful. A mini chastity belt if you will.
Bearing all this associated history in mind, it is pretty important in modern times for both parties to clarify the meaning behind the gift, but essentially a promise ring is a visual symbol of a commitment that binds two people together – whether the meaning is romantic, parental, platonic, or religious is simply up to the giver. And it’s a great excuse to buy another ring!
Discover a stunning range of diamond promise rings at Michael Hill.