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The promise ring is the eternal symbol of faith and love in a partner – but which finger should you wear it on? We answer this dilemma below, and give a little background on where this unique, stunning tradition came from in the first place.
Promise rings in the UK have a long history that dates back to medieval times. It was the Georgians and the Victorians who made the promise ring so pertinent, during the times of the Industrial Revolution. It is no surprise then, that some of the original meanings and traditional wearing of the rings have been lost to time.
Many of our customers often stop to ask:
“What finger does a promise ring go on?”
And it’s no real wonder. It’s widely accepted that promise rings can be worn on any finger of your choosing. You can wear them on a necklace around your neck, or on whichever finger fits.
Promise rings are almost exclusively given to those we intend to propose to one day, so it’s a good practise run. If your beloved buys a ring, sees the size, and realises how it does or does not fit you, they have a better idea of how big to make that engagement ring. This is part of the reason why many people wear them where they fit.
We also have other types of rings adding to this confusion. Think of the Claddagh, for example. This Irish ring was first made in the 17th century in a small fishing village in Galway, Ireland. The placement of this ring on your fingers has 4 different meanings. If the heart faces you, you are in love if it faces away, you are single. The other two meanings come from which hand the ring is worn on and may mean you are engaged[i].
While the Claddagh is fascinating, it is this type of counter-ring that has challenged perceptions around the promise ring and muddied the waters of confusion.
Now that we all appreciate why we are confused, let’s fix it with some facts. How should you wear that promise ring?
Usually, promise rings are worn on the left hand’s ring finger (if the person isn’t married), or on the right hand if they are married.
The symbolism of the ring finger aligns with the use of the ring. You are ‘reserving’ this person in your heart. You likely intend to marry them one day. It is this wondrous love that we are protecting until the day when we can marry them. Therefore, we traditionally place the promise ring on the ring finger.
Once you are married, you can then move your promise ring to the opposite hands. Some romantic couples even buy promise rings for each other after marriage, as a testament to the love and respect they have for one another.
Don’t fancy wearing a promise ring on your finger or feel that you have no ring fingers left? No problem. Can you wear a promise ring as a necklace? Absolutely! This is why you sometimes see rings attached to chains around people’s necks – it’s another way of displaying this classic, deeply-symbolic gift from someone. Some even prefer wearing rings on their necklaces because it is closer to their heart.
The purpose of giving someone a promise ring dates back much further than you might think – right back to the 16th century, in fact. Prior to the popularity of promise rings caused by the Victorians or the Georgians, couples in love were using promise rings as a token of affection.
It all started in England and in particular during the Georgian and Victorian eras, where ‘Acrostic’ rings that spelled out a word in gems (such as emerald or ruby) were popular. These rings allowed lovers to pass secret messages to one another. The ring’s gemstones spelled out words based on the first letter of their names.
Since then, promise rings of the non-acrostic variety have surged in favour. Within the past decade, promise rings to have become something of a mainstream trend. The reasons for this are numerous, but it’s hard to look past the influence of famous promise ring owners who proudly display their jewellery in music videos or on TV.
The reasons for wearing a promise ring are varied, depending on the individual, situation and relationship, but they’re most commonly recognised as ways to demonstrate fidelity and loyalty.
This dates back to ancient times, and if the question “what finger do you wear a promise ring on” is still reverberating around your mind, the answer has been similar for centuries; the reason they’re typically worn on the ring finger of the left hand is because there’s a vein that runs from that particular finger to the heart.
As noted, the definition of a promise ring varies between couples as much as the question “what finger is a promise ring supposed to go on” has different answers.
Typically, these days, promise rings are often worn as a sign of commitment within the confines of a romantic coupling. Their appeal largely comes from the meanings these rings represent.
Some couples will wear promise rings as a way to confirm a future engagement, while others simply wear them to reflect one-hundred percent devotion to one another.
As the name suggests, a promise ring signifies that a promise has been made between two people. At its base level, it is used to demonstrate a partner’s love and commitment to their relationship. Some people will give their partner a promise ring long before a marriage proposal, for instance.
However, being given a promise ring doesn’t always signify that a proposal is on the cards. Equally, it means far more than simply dating someone – it’s a sign and tangible symbol of a special bond that the whole world can see.
Some couples who aren’t ready to commit to marriage wear promise rings to demonstrate that their commitment to one another extends far beyond sharing the same house or monthly bills.
Ah - good question.
As with all jewellery, there is a certain level of etiquette required when it comes to the reasons for investing in and gifting a promise ring.
The question of “what finger do you wear a promise ring on” should always come last, and certainly after you’ve decided why you want to give someone this important piece of jewellery.
Promise rings shouldn’t be treated lightly, despite the fact they don’t carry the same levity of an engagement or wedding ring. Equally, they’re best given after a couple has dated for a significant amount of time.
How long that is depends very much on the couple in question, but at least a year is usually a good indication that the relationship is strong and means more to both parties than casual dates.
Just remember that this is far more than a piece of birthday jewellery, for example, make sure the meaning behind a promise ring chimes with your situation before buying and gifting.
The good news about promise rings is that pretty much any style goes. It’s whatever suits you and your partner best and, to be honest, whatever catches your eye most profoundly.
Common themes for promise rings include hearts or intertwined pieces that are intended to demonstrate the union of two people.
Due to the aforementioned celebrity influence, many people see promise rings as fashion pieces, too. It’s why the answer to “what finger do you wear a promise ring on” has so many interpretations.
The great thing about the abundance of styles you can choose from when it comes to promise rings is that you’re less likely to come across the issue of them clashing with other rings.
For instance, a promise ring shouldn’t compete with an engagement or wedding ring if the eventual intention is to get married. All of these rings serve a purpose and are therefore best left to their own devices when it comes to style.
Just like any piece of jewellery, there are no rules when it comes to how much you’re expected to spend. Despite this, promise rings are usually significantly less expensive than their wedding-related counterparts.
It’s also important to bear in mind that promise rings are often purchased by younger people who don’t necessarily have lots of disposable income.
Only spend what you can afford, and what feels right!
What finger do you wear a promise ring on? Or are you yet to buy one for that special someone? If you’ve got any questions about promise rings, please do not hesitate to get in touch![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]