Engagement & Promise rings are back for Valentine’s Day
Are Engagement & promise rings making a comeback?
If you look towards the hands of celebrities and social media influencers, the answer is yes.
In the last few years, promise rings – an economical and humble ring that symbolises a serious relationship but not marriage – have been seen on celebrities from singer Miley Cyrus and now-ex-husband Liam Hemsworth to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
More recently, social media influencers pushed the phrase “Showing Off Our Promise Rings” into a viral trend on TikTok, according to Bustle.
Eder studied at a university in Oklahoma, a conservative state in the US that is part of what is called the Bible Belt, where promise rings are a “big deal” she said.
Fast-forward a few years, Eder met her now-boyfriend a few months before New Zealand’s Covid-19 lockdown in March and April. While lockdown spelt the end for many romances and even marriage, the five weeks Eder and her boyfriend spent together with her family during lockdown expedited their relationship, Eder said.
“I wouldn’t put a timeline on anything – and this sounds silly – because there isn’t a timeline on how fast you fall in love,” she said. “My parents knew each other for three months when they got engaged and are still married 25 years later.”
Pandora, another global jewellery brand with a presence in New Zealand, sees an uptick each year in sales for its promise rings leading up to Valentine’s Day, according to a company representative.
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There’s evidence that promise rings have been in and out of favour for hundreds of years. In the 16th century, English love birds gave and received posy rings that were engraved with love poems, according to the Knot. Acrostic rings, where different gemstones were code for different letters, communicated secret messages between couples during the Georgian and Victorian eras, which was between the years 1714 and 1901.
The classic bow ring was also seen as a promise ring. The bow, like the relationship, could easily come undone as opposed to the seriousness of an engagement.
There are no cut and dry rules for this new generation of promise ring bearers. It’s all up to the couple on if and when a promise ring is given, how to present it, the reason it is exchanged, or which finger to wear it on. Some people wear it on the wedding finger, on the ring finger of the right hand, or on a chain around the neck.
“I personally would wear it on [the wedding] finger,” said Eder, who plans to move it to the right hand when she, hopefully, gets engaged.
A promise ring has traditionally been seen as a gift for a woman in the relationship. Now men are wearing them too. Actor Robert Pattinson, a serial promise ring giver, wore matching promise rings with former girlfriend FKA Twigs.
Promise rings are often confused with “purity rings” which were a trend in the late 90s and early 2000s. Chaste celebrities including Britney Spears and the Jonas Brothers wore rings – often on their wedding finger – to symbolise their commitment to abstaining from sex until marriage.
The current trend for promise rings could also be the antithesis of purity rings as couples increasingly live together before marriage, have no intention to ever marry or if they do, get married later in life, one jeweller told the Knot. Those couples might still want a symbol of their commitment and a promise ring is a good stand-in.
For Eder, it is all about the feeling in your gut on if and when to exchange promise rings.
“When you feel comfortable in a relationship and you start to think that you might want to spend the rest of your life with that person,” she said, “that might be the right time.”
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