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It’s easy to get a promise ring confused with an engagement ring. The two styles can look quite similar, so it is a common mistake. In addition to the fact that the rings may look similar to the eye, they also share a common theme of dedication to a committed relationship. It’s important to understand the difference between a promise ring and an engagement ring because it can assist you and your significant other when making the decision to take your relationship to the next level. Here’s what you need to know about the difference between promise rings and engagement rings.

Promise Ring Meaning: A Symbol of Commitment 

Unlike an engagement ring, a promise ring symbolizes another’s commitment, dedication and true feelings for you. While many promise rings are given to another when a romantic relationship becomes serious, some give promise rings to loved ones or very special friends for platonic or even faith-based reasons. Traditionally though, a promise ring is a piece of jewelry given as a physical token of their love and plans to marry the other person at some point. 

You might also hear the term pre-engagement ring thrown around when talking about promise rings. While you might be able to split hairs and say that pre-engagement rings and promise rings are different, they’re functionally the same thing. Any differences that they have really comes down to the individual wearers and what sort of commitment they imbue on them. 

rings with variety of gemstones

Promise rings do come in a variety of styles, though they tend to be simpler types of rings overall and are less ornate than a wedding band or engagement ring. Usually, a promise ring is just a plain band, so a solitaire stone or anything fancier is almost never seen. That said, promise rings are still new enough that the set of norms hasn’t been completely defined. If you want a solitaire stone on your promise of marriage, you’re more than welcome to do so.

That being said, the gift of a promise ring is not a proposal and should not be confused with one. It’s important to know that when someone gives a promise ring, it usually means that they intend to marry the other person, just not at that time. This could be for many reasons including age, distance, career goals or the fact that the couple would like to spend more time in a dating relationship before getting engaged. Whatever the reason behind a promise ring, it always means that the person wants to give a sign of commitment to their significant other.

While the traditional values of a promise ring are widely accepted and used today, other elements of the ring allow for some unique interpretation and personalization. The specific meaning behind a promise ring is truly up to the giver of the ring. While this meaning is commonly known as the idea of intended marriage, it can be a more specific promise that rings true to the person’s relationship with another. Other unique meanings behind promise rings include abstinence until marriage, values passed down from parents to their children or even a unique promise that the wearer makes to themselves. 

One way to personalize your promise ring is through the materials used to make it. There are relatively no hard and fast rules when it comes to what a promise ring should look like. Though these rings commonly include colored gemstones, birthstones and varied designs, they usually look different than a traditional engagement ring (without a center stone to differentiate between the two. Popular promise rings might include a symbol like a heart (like our “Sweetheart” ring) or infinity symbol, but it’s most important to choose a design that represents who you are! 

Unlike engagement rings and wedding rings, promise rings tend to be worn on the right hand. Of course, you can wear a promise ring on your left hand if you like, but that may cause confusion to others. Granted, it’s your ring and your relationship, so you don’t have to concern yourself too much about the perception of others if that doesn’t bother you.

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white gold diamond ring

Engagement Ring Meaning: Love and Marriage 

Unlike a promise ring, an engagement ring’s meaning doesn’t have any wiggle room. An engagement ring symbolizes a person’s desire to have the other’s hand in marriage. The giving of an engagement ring marks the starting point of planning a wedding and spending the rest of your life with the love of your life. 

While promise rings are typically worn on the right hand, an engagement is primarily worn on the wearer’s ring finger. Though ring fingers can differ by country or region in the world, wearing a metal band with some type of stone on your finger will usually have people assuming it’s an engagement ring.

Another major difference between a promise ring and an engagement ring is physical appearance. Traditional engagement rings are rather unmistakable in appearance, featuring a silver or gold band and one or more diamonds, usually with a larger stone in the center. While there are numerous styles and diamond shapes within the engagement ring category, these rings usually follow a general guideline. 

Learn About the Different Types of Engagement Rings

Like most rules and traditions, some like to break the mold and try something different. Nowadays, there are many different styles of engagement rings, including silicone bands, colored gemstones and unique styles. You don’t have to break the bank when shopping for a ring either. For those with a smaller ring budget, there are affordable engagement rings in multiple styles and sizes you’ll love. No matter your preference, there is an engagement ring out there for everyone. 

The Promise of Forever

Despite their different meanings, appearances and intentions, both engagement rings and promise rings symbolize something that is meant to last. They’re unique and deliberate signs of commitment between two people. They are beautiful physical reminders of your own values or someone else’s love for you, and Modern Gents has the perfect option for everyone. 

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