Throughout life, people learn what it means to make a promise, whether it is a promise to pick up a loaf of bread on the way home, a promise to meet someone for coffee or a promise to remain loyal to one person for eternity. Lives actually revolve around promises. A company promises that working each day will reward someone with a paycheck. A child promises to be good in school. Spouses promise to be faithful. For this reason, it was only natural that humans began using tokens as tangible evidence of a promise. Because rings have always held special value in the hearts of people, it was only natural that promise rings should become the symbol of eternal love.
In ancient times, few people wore rings on the hands, probably because they interfered with daily tasks that needed to be performed. More common were nose, lip and neck rings. However, in ancient Egypt, those in power began using signet rings to seal documents, insuring their authenticity, and rings became a status symbol for the wealthy. Those with rings were considered powerful, but it is unclear if rings were given as tokens during that era. In ancient Greek mythology, however, there is mention of a ring being used as a pledge. When Zeuz freed Prometheus, he required the freed god to wear a ring forged from the links of his chain adorned with rocks so that he remembered that Prometheus must respect the will of Zeus. It was during ancient Rome that betrothal rings, an early ancestor of the promise ring known today, became popular. These were originally inexpensive iron rings with oval plates engraved with the betrothed couple, but eventually the iron was replaced with gold.
From the 15th through the 17th century in England, posie rings became popular, often used as tokens of love, affection and the promise of marriage. The rings usually had short love poems engraved either on the inside or outside of the ring, and were affordable to most people during that era. Another form of the promise ring, the memorial ring, were left to family and friends after someone died. In fact, Shakespeare bequeathed rings to a number of his acquaintances.
Many believe that the promise ring was a new jewelry craze that began in the 1970’s, when, in fact, history shows that the rings have been used throughout centuries. Couples now use a promise ring for pre-engagement, to establish a promise to remain pure until marriage, and even to demonstrate that they are in a monogamous relationship. To learn more, visit www.shaneco.com/promiserings/default.htmx.