Promise Ring vs Engagement Ring - What's The Difference?

Ahhhhh, to be young and in love! 

Such a magical time in your life, and you’ll be brimming with emotions towards your significant other; now you just want to tell the whole world exactly what they mean to you. 

Do you get them a gorgeous bouquet of flowers in their favorite colors? 

Do you write them a love song that tells them how they make your heart sing every time they enter a room? 

Do you get them a ring? 


What kind of ring? 

Well, a couple that spring to mind; promise ringsand engagement rings! 

Woah Woah Woah….we’re not quite ready for marriage yet. 

Well, if you’re not quite ready for the leap into wedded bliss, you may want to take a look at a promise ring… 

Regardless of the stage, you are at in your relationship, there is a ring to certify the commitment you feel to one another. 

A promise ring is given in the earlier stages of a relationship to signify this commitment, the integrity of your bond, and the values a couple holds.

It is often seen as a promise that marriage is to come later down the line but not at that very moment. 

On the other hand, the engagement ring is exclusively for proposing marriage, so if you’re not ready to walk down the aisle, you may want to opt for a promise ring. 

Now we’ve done a quick overview of the two, we’ll dig deeper into their differences and why many couples opt for both at some point in their relationships. 

So, are they the same thing?

Simply put, no. 

As we mentioned in our introduction, an engagement ring is a promise of marriage and a commitment to be wed with certainty.

So this is an immediate symbol of the proposal to marry and isn’t to be confused with anything else. 

If you offer an engagement ring and don’t follow through with the wedding, you’ll likely have one heartbroken bride or groom to deal with. 

Can a promise ring be used as an engagement ring?

On the other hand, a promise ring could technically be seen as an engagement ring after it was initially given, but it isn’t the most common practice. 

Most couples use the promise ring as an early sign of commitment and then replace it with an engagement ring when they are ready to be wed to show the progression of their relationship. 

This also helps avoid confusion or the dreaded “what are we?” question! 

The meaning behind promise rings

Unlike the beloved engagement ring, promise rings can have many meanings. 

Overall, they are significant in showing someone you care about how you feel and are a fantastic way of making a promise towards your relationship with them. 

A promise ring’s meaning is ultimately determined by the giver and the wearer, but it’s widely accepted that they are a commitment to the love shared between two people.

Romantic Connection 

Many couples opt to give promise rings to show a romantic devotion between the two.

Usually, one that points toward monogamy and ensures the relationship is sacred to the two people involved. 

It’s a perfect option for couples who want to offer total commitment to one another but feel that engagement may be too serious at the given stage. 

This is why promise rings are popular with younger couples who intend on going the distance with one another but aren’t quite at the age they would like to be before getting hitched.

Religious Values

Many religions use promise rings as a symbol of their values within relationships.

They are often seen as inviting a partner into the family before marriage and confirming that the couple will be wed one day. 

Lasting Friendships

Though not the most common use of the promise ring, some people get each other promise rings to symbolize their lasting friendship. 

Think of them like the grown-up version of a friendship bracelet – they are also a terrific way to remind you of one another if you live long distances apart or can’t see one another as often as you want. 

Secret Promises 

Sometimes, the meaning doesn’t have to be known. 

They can be a way of honoring a secret shared between the two of you that only you will know.

But, on the other hand, they might signify a particular moment in your relationship or something you want to remember for years to come. 

There are no rules regarding promise rings other than keeping the promise they represent! 

The meaning behind engagement rings

Engagement rings, other than wedding rings, are probably the most famous rings known by all, and their meaning is widely accepted across all cultures, countries, and religions. 

They represent the engagement of two people on a romantic level with the proposal to be wed shortly. 

Since their conception, it has been a tradition that the man gives the engagement ring to the woman – however, it doesn’t have to be the case; if you love someone and want to marry them, you can give them an engagement ring. 

In fact, while the woman or recipient of the proposal is usually the person to wear the given engagement ring, many couples are now both choosing to wear engagement rings until they get married and swap them out for a wedding band, or just add on the wedding band that sits next to their engagement ring.

It’s an elegant and beautiful way to signify your love to one another and doesn’t have to be reserved for just one person in the couple. 

Both of you can show the world how in love you are and celebrate that you are soon to be wed!

Again, if you have no intentions to get married yet, avoid giving an engagement ring and maybe go for the promise ring to prevent your other half from getting mixed signals.

When is a promise ring typically given?

There is no hard and fast rule regarding when a promise ring should or can be given.

In fact, you can give one at any stage of a relationship – even after engagement and marriage. 


Well, they are a symbol of a promise, and in a relationship or friendship, you can make new promises at any point, and they are a fantastic way of marking this.

Of course, many couples choose to give promise rings in the early stages of a relationship to symbolize the values and choices we have discussed above. 

But really, there is no such thing as too soon or too late… a promise is a promise, and it is a brilliant thing shared between two people whenever they feel it is essential. 

A gorgeous ring just makes that promise even more special!

When is an engagement ring typically given?

When you’re ready to pop the big question and only then! 

If you’ve found the love of your life and are ready to be wed to them, it’s time to get them a stunning engagement ring, get down on one knee and ask the all-important, “will you marry me?”. 

There is no determined period in a relationship when this should be done, only when both people are ready to do so. 

Like with a promise ring, there is never a too soon or too late scenario; if you love someone and want to spend your life with them and marriage is what you want, then go for it! 

Just be sure to pick an engagement ring that will melt their hearts when they see it! 

How is a promise ring given?

There is no official etiquette around giving promise rings; it’s more a case of marking a special moment between two people.

You want to try and make it something to remember though, romantic and heartfelt is what will make the moment truly stand out. Perhaps a walk on the coast or cocktails at your favorite bar! 

Every couple is different. Therefore, you may want to make a big occasion of it or simply present it as a gift for their taking. 

What finger should a promise ring be worn on?

Promise rings can be worn on any finger you like, but the ring finger, where an engagement or wedding ring usually goes, is the most common place to wear it. 

It’s personal preference; you may like to pop the ring on a necklace to keep it closer to your heart or wear it on the opposite hand to your ring finger to show the difference from an engagement ring. 

What finger should an engagement ring be worn on?

In Western cultures, the engagement ring is worn on the “ring finger”. The ring finger is on the left hand, and the finger is next to the pinky. 

It is accepted that this historical tradition meant the ring was closer to the heart and was an unwavering connection of a couple’s love. 

This isn’t always the case. Many cultures wear the engagement ring on the right hand but with the same finger. Some wear them on whatever finger they feel like. 

Again, with any piece of jewelry, it’s about how the wearer feels and what they find most comfortable, so just because everyone else is doing it – doesn’t mean you have to do it the same way. 

Be unique, so long as it makes you happy!

How is an engagement ring given?

The man down on one knee with a ring box in hand is what most people think and what we’ve gotten used to seeing in films. 

Over time, we’ve even seen rings presented in desserts or glasses of champagne, but these can be a choking hazard waiting to happen - so be careful with that one!

In fact, there are a fair few proposal situations you might want to steer clear of…

But there are many that will create lasting lifelong memories! 

From flash dance mobs to hot air balloon rides to planes writing in the sky – there are unlimited ways to give someone an engagement ring and ask them to marry you. 

Probably best to avoid something too showy and in public if your fiancé-to-be is quite shy, though, but if they love a big celebration, pull out all the stops! 

How to choose a promise ring?

A promise ring can be any design of your choosing, 

White gold, platinum, and rose gold metals are big winners, though, as they are romantic, softer tones that are perfect for a younger wearer, but you can choose any color metal you like. 

As for stones, you can go for a diamond if your budget permits or perhaps cubic zirconia if you’d prefer to save the diamond for the engagement ring.

There are many affordable diamond choices available, however, so no need to totally rule out diamonds at this stage! 


How to choose an engagement ring?

Regarding engagement rings, the possibilities are endless…and believe us, this is a good thing!

With so much to choose from, you’ll be lost in engagement ring heaven with the help of one of our wedding specialists.

With engagement rings, it’s all about diamonds, diamonds, diamonds! 

1.5 to 2-carat diamonds are an optimal and sophisticated choice; you can have one or many diamonds. 

Depends on how much sparkle you can handle!

But you may also prefer a different gem or stone in the engagement ring - it’s all about what matches the wearer's style. 

Metals come in abundance – from platinum, yellow gold which is available in various karats, white gold, rose gold, silver...anything your heart desires.

Again, you can choose what shows off your love best; it doesn’t have to be flashy or showy; it can be quaint and reserved. 

But it can also be bold and bright – you’re best getting yourself to our store and seeing for yourself just what’s on offer! 

And if you can’t make it to our store, we can send sample rings to your home so you can get a feel for the designs and colors yourself.

The Takeaways

Promise rings or engagement rings simply mean one thing: commitment.

If you have found the love of your life or have someone so special in your life you want an item of jewelry to showcase that love, then a ring is a perfect gift.

A promise ring is almost always suited to any stage of a relationship or friendship, whereas an engagement ring is something to be carefully considered as it is a direct proposition of marriage.

Whatever you want or wherever you are in your life, there is always a ring to mark your commitment.

The choosing of the right one is down to you.

But never fear; you do not have to make that choice alone – our ring experts at Ben Garelick are always on hand to help you make the best decisions!

Visit us at our Buffalo, NY store today.

Not nearby? Not to worry - chat with our diamond experts online 24/7, call us on (716) 631-1584, or text (716) 574-0966.

Let’s make your commitment truly special!

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