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Keeping the Faith With Promise Rings
Sometimes when two people come together, they know from the start that they're meant for each other -- but there are nonetheless certain situations that may keep them from either marrying or getting engaged right away. For example, they may be too young to legally do so, or they may want to attend college before settling down, or maybe they just can't quite afford it. Any of these situations is an ideal one in which to exchange promise rings, as symbols of their devotions and future plans together. Promise rings are often given on a special occasion, such as a birthday or the anniversary of the first time a couple met.
The modern tradition of promise rings is an invention of the 1990s, and some may view them, cynically enough, as "practice engagement rings." But in reality, promise rings are something unique in their own right. In their most romantic manifestation, they represent a heartfelt commitment, generally with an intention to move on to engagement; however, promise rings may take other forms as well. Sometimes they represent a Christian's bond to their God, or a pledge between friends.
Chaste and careful
Most often, it's couples that exchange promise rings; however, this isn't always the case. Sometimes, two or more friends may use to the bond of the promise ring to make a pledge against a bad habit: for example, smoking. Often, they representative a promise of sexual purity until marriage; in this sense they may be a gift from parents to a child, or may be used to cement a budding romantic relationship.
A less-common use for promise rings is one that likely predates the more modern, common applications: that of expressing religious purity. In some cases, they may represent devotion to a particular saint or religious figure. These are not to be confused with the bands that some Catholic nuns wear, however; those represent their marriage to God and the Church.
Like most modern jewelry, promise rings come in enough variety to make your head swim. If you're feeling particularly grand and can afford it, you can spend thousands on an elaborate promise ring. However, promise rings tend to be less ornate than rings used as wedding or engagement rings. Because those who buy promise rings tend to be young and of modest means, they're often smaller and more delicate than other celebratory jewelry, and are made of less inexpensive metals. Furthermore, they often come without stones, though diamond promise rings are not unheard of. These may take the form of a small diamond set in a yellow or white gold band, sometimes with diamond chips as accents. Engraved names and dates, along with heart-shaped settings, are common features of promise rings, especially those sealing a romantic relationship.