What is a Promise Ring? A Bond Between Two Soulsadmin
Do I really need a promise ring? What is a promise ring in the first place? Isn’t promise ring supposed to be some form of restriction? Were promise rings made after diamonds were discovered? I’m a guy, and promise rings are definitely not my cup of tea, uh-uh. I think I should gift my daughter a promise ring, so she doesn’t go astray. Whew! That’s a lot of questions and thoughts people have about promise rings without knowing much about these tiny but important pieces of jewelry! Read on to know all about it and put your doubts to rest!
John Lennon had once quoted, “Love is a promise; love is a souvenir, once given never forgotten, never let it disappear.” This charming verse can be considered as a really good piece of advice by all those people who are afraid to fall in love, or don’t believe in the concept of having a fulfilling and long-lasting relationship. It’s a little difficult for people nowadays to understand the depth of love and of retaining that love forever; things have become extremely transient, and convenience is more valued than honor and morals. Thankfully, not everyone is like that. There are people who believe in love, the beautiful gifts it carries for the people who believe in it, and the amazing benefits it has for people who are in a relationship.
Isn’t it wonderful to be in love? You often think about her or him and your future doesn’t just involve you, but there is another person by your side whom you include in all your future plans. What is even more wonderful is when you are loved back by the person of your dreams. The togetherness and sense of compatibility draw you both closer and make you one unit. The togetherness doesn’t have to be the imposition of one person’s characters and wishes on the other person, thereby eliminating his or her individuality. A relationship can bring together the unique traits of two people and create a balanced union in which both can be themselves yet focus on and stay committed to each other. Commitment to each other can rarely be felt or experienced overnight. People get introduced to each other or meet each other accidentally; they start getting to know each other, and when they find that they like each other’s company, that’s when commitment becomes a suggestible idea to both of them. In fact, most people now-a-days prefer to know each other well before they even think about getting committed, let alone getting engage and married. But the start of this beautiful journey starts with a promise; a promise to try and love each other and try and be with each other through the good times and the bad. Promises made in relationships indicate that a couple is intent on each other, and one of the most enchanting ways to do this is by using promise rings.
What is a promise ring?
Promise rings are often confused with abstinence or purity rings. The latter category of rings can be worn by any individual, even by those not in a relationship, as a symbol to remain a virgin until he or she gets married. The couple who choose to wear these rings is making a declaration of loving each other without having a physical relationship. A promise ring, on the other hand, can better be called as a pre-engagement ring. These rings are worn by people who have been in a relationship for a short period of time and are looking to understand each other better before they make any official commitment to each other, such as an engagement. So, a promise ring is worn at the initial stages of a relationship by people, who want to announce to the world that they like each other, and when both members of a couple want to let the other person know that they have made a promise to maintain their relationship with him/her.
An engagement ceremony can take a while to be planned just like weddings. Impromptu proposals are fantastic in movies, but it takes a lot of courage for a man or woman to actually get the deed done. So some people choose to wear the promise-ring to signify that they will shortly be getting engaged, but the majority of the people who choose to wear a promise-ring do it because they want to let the other person know that they are considering this relationship seriously so that it can progress into something more lasting and loving.
Also known as heart rings, these rings are often engraved with a few words expressing the love one person feels for the other. Some of these heart rings are known to contain a whole poem, which contains all the words that a person has in his/her heart for the person! The vow or promise that they make to each other is written on the ring so that every time he or she reads it, they get a sense of contentment that they are in a relationship that is valued by the other person too. It’s not easy to keep telling the other person how much you love her or him, is it?! Some even consider it to be a really “cheesy” gesture, and it’s easy to smother someone in the name of love when you overdo it. What better way to let someone know that you love her or him by getting your words etched on a ring and handing it over to let them know you value them and will work with them to make the relationship work?
The origin of promise rings
Want to fully understand what is a promise ring? Then it would help to know the origins of this ring.
Let’s start with rings in general. It is said that finger rings were not nearly as common in ancient world history as it is in the present. Instead of finger rings, the popular jewelry in those days consisted of lip rings, anklets, bracelets, nose rings, and earrings. The reason was simple – almost all the tasks that had to be done were carried out by hand. There were no devices to help a person cook meat or keep a cave well protected against cold and wild animals. Over a period of time, as people starting making basic machines such as levers, hammers, bows and arrows, etc., they started wearing rings. The first ones to consider wearing rings were Egyptians. In fact, even when the Egyptians started wearing them, they were not for ostentatious purposes but rather to be used as signets, which were used for sealing documents. As these seals were required to authorize various tasks and commodities by important people, the little piece of metal on a finger started gaining a lot of respect and importance. Thus, people high up in the royalty or power ladder wore such rings and everyone started wishing to wear them, after attaining a level of importance of course.
The Greeks have a very different and interesting version of how rings came into existence. It is said that Prometheus was held captive by Zeus after the former had angered the latter by secretly gifting humans with a spark of fire. Zeus, in retaliation, kept Prometheus chained to a rock and cursed a vulture to tear at his liver every day, bit by bit. This torture would have been enough to kill any ordinary mortal, but as Prometheus was a Titan, he survived but very painfully. Finally, after a very long time and the pleas of the other Greek gods, Zeus agreed to free Prometheus but ordered him to wear a promise ring on his finger that swore his respect to Zeus always. Talk about extracting a promise so seriously!
On a happier note, let’s look at how promise rings for couples first made their way into history. It is in ancient Roman history that rings were used for the first time to signify the relationship a man and woman shared. It is said that when a man and woman had decided to remain with each other for the rest of their lives, they were fashion simple iron rings with beaten oval plates mounted on them. These plates had the names of the couple engraved on them, and each wore the ring that contained the name of the other person. This was known as “annulus pronubus.” Over time, the rings were no longer made of only iron and gold also be fashioned out of gold.
A romantic twist in the tale of promise rings for couples was ushered in by none other than the English. It is said that from the 15th till the 17th century, it was very common to see posie rings being gifted by one person to the other in whom he was interested. Traditionally, it was men who expressed their feelings in this manner, but there have been instances in which men too have posie rings. Similar to the modern day promise rings, these rings were inscribed with words of love and togetherness, and some were even used to express the interest one had in marrying the other person. These expressions of emotions or the desire to marry were underlined by the sweet wordings which were etched either on the inside or the outer surface of the ring. A large number of rings unearthed in English history implies that promise-cum-posie rings were extremely popular and cost-effective amongst the English.
Another variation of the promise rings, known as the memorial ring, was distributed by people who wished to be remembered even after their deaths by the people to whom the rings were given. If accepted by the recipient, it implied a promise that he/she would wear the ring in respectful or loving memory person who was deceased or was about to pass on. One of the most commonly cited examples of this form of rings is that of Shakespeare distributing memorial rings to his near ones.If you talk about the actual promise rings as we know them today, then they were, in fact, created and used in a popular manner only in the 1970s.
There has been a lot of talk about love and promise rings. But, in fact, both expensive and cheap promise ring can be exchanged for other reasons too. So don’t just stick to romantic situations to buy a promise ring; there are plenty of other loving and emotional circumstances in which promise rings would be a befitting option to be gifted or exchanged as a token of the emotions the person making the gift feels. Apart from being memorial rings, here are some of the other reasons based on which promise rings for women and men are crafted and used.
- Pre-engagement – As discussed earlier, promise rings are typically given by a couple to each other when they have the intention to be engaged in the long run but just want to declare their dedication towards each other for the time-being. It is said that earlier, only men were required to gift promise rings to the woman of his dreams because he had to become capable of earning a living that can support him, his to-be-wedded-wife and the family they create. However, in modern days, there is no such imposition and in fact, both women and men have started holding down jobs, so pre-engagement rings exchanged are mainly for social and emotional reasons.
- Purity rings as promise rings – One reason why even purity or chastity rings were considered as s is because it was a promise being made by the wearer to himself promise ring/herself (if he/she voluntarily asked for the chastity ring) or with the person making the gift of the ring to remain untouched and chaste until marriage. These rings were only taken off when the time had come to replace them with wedding bands. In fact, those rings that were gifted by a parent to his/her child was often followed by an informal ceremony wherein an agreement was signed by both parties and in which the ring wearer promised to abide by the parents’ wishes. Usually, a cheap promise ring was used as chastity ring and later there was separate niche created for them altogether. However, in a narrower sense, purity rings are no longer considered as promise rings.
- Monogamy – In an age where having multiple sexual partners before or even after a wedding has become quite common, it becomes difficult for a couple to understand if their partner is truly monogamous, or faithful to him/her. One of the best ways in which this problem can be resolved is if the pair agrees to wear a ring that confirms they are exclusively dating each other and are committed to keeping it a monogamous relationship.
- Friendship rings – Pinkie swears are fun when we are children. Some of those swears are powerful enough to bind two people forever. However, friends, who wish to express their affection and loyalty for a friend with whom they have an exceptionally strong bond, or whom they have known for a number of years, also exchange promise rings with each other. There are several women and men’s promise rings that can be found in the market for friends of the opposite sex. It doesn’t mean that if two people exchange rings with each other, they shall only remain friends with each other exclusively and with no one else. These promise rings are to signify that their friendship is a strong one that deserves some form of commemoration and expression.
Self-promise – A promise to get that difficult job promotion, a promise to oneself that one would join the armed forces, a promise to oneself to give up an addiction, a promise to oneself to remain faithful to a spouse or to better love parents – there are countless promises that we make to ourselves. But often, in the process of honoring the promises that we make to the others we break the promises we make to ourselves. And that is why promise ring for her and him are made as a treat just for her/himself, as a reminder that such accomplishments can be made, and the promise should continue to be held.
Promise rings are more of the “happy” rings because they are usually gifted at the blooming stages of a relationship or to please oneself. They are treated more like treats and fashion statements whereas wedding and engagement rings carry a heavier and more sacred significance. Buying a good promise ring with the right words etched on it is certainly a good investment as well as a way to express your emotions and intentions.