betrothal ring avaThere are so many different wedding traditions regarding the rings, but this time, let’s find out if these 4 rings – engagement ring, proposal ring, betrothal ring, and promise ring – are one and the same or they differ from one another. This is so exciting! From child’s innocent promise to a sealed wedding contract. What’s the meaning of these bands? Who gives them and when? How do they look like? And can you have all four?

A promise ring is a jewelry item, a ring that is given to show a special relationship to somebody. It doesn’t have to be a loved one. People often give promise rings to very close friends or brethren. This band strengthens your promise. For example, kids can give each other such rings and promise to be together forever and get married when they become adults. It doesn’t mean they’re engaged after that.

A proposal ring is a band you give to your honey when you’re popping the question. Some people think that a proposal ring and an engagement ring are the same, but there’s a slight difference. You might have seen movies where someone asks a woman he loves to marry him but doesn’t have an actual engagement band with him, so he uses some ordinary ring or even a toy for emphasis, and later, he buys his fiancee a real engagement ring. Though most couples use an engagement ring for the proposal, the band is put on and worn until it is replaced by or joined with a wedding ring.

An engagement ring is a band that shows everybody this person is taken and about to get married. It is worn during the engagement, no matter how long it lasts. And it is considered a symbol of love, loyalty, and desire to be together for the rest of your lives. In the US, it is traditional to give a diamond ring as an engagement band.


diamond engagement ring


A betrothal ring is rarely used today. It is a ring given to the bride as the beginning of the marriage contract in the past. It is not just a promise to marry someone but an obligation. And this ring is connected to a religious engagement – Catholic, Jewish, etc. If an engagement with a betrothal ring was broken, the other side could even go to court. This band was taken very seriously. And usually, betrothal rings were extremely intricate and costly.

For example, here is a Roman betrothal ring from the 3rd century A.D. It is solid gold, with an image of joined hands. This band is from The Met collection (The Metropolitan Museum of Art). By the way, the 3rd century A.D. is considered a time when betrothal rings became firmly established as one of the wedding traditions.


Roman betrothal ring from 3rd century A.D.


Now you know that all these four rings are a bit or even dramatically different. Each serves its own purpose, but all of them are symbols of love and devotion between two people.

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