If you’re into frugal jewelry, you NEED to know about Gold Vermeil! It allows you to get the look and feel of gold, for roughly the same cost of Sterling Silver!
What is Gold Vermeil? It’s a form of gold plated jewelry that layers at least 2.5 microns of gold (with a purity of 10k or better), on top of a Sterling Silver base metal. In the United States, the term is regulated by the Federal Trade Commission. If these basic requirements aren’t met, the term can’t legally be used.
Sound good so far? Then buckle up, because we’ve only scratched the surface! I have a lot more to share! In the paragraphs that follow, I’ll provide more information on what Gold Vermeil is, how it’s made, how to care for it, what it’s worth, and LOTS more.
How is Gold Vermeil Made?
A Sterling Silver ring base is suspended in a tank of electroplating solution. A piece of gold that’s at least 10k is also placed in the solution. An electrical current is then fed into the tank. That current causes the gold to separate and adhere to the Sterling Silver. This process builds up a coating that soon encompasses the base metal completely.
The final thickness of the coating on the ring is influenced by the amount of time that the base metal is left in the tank.
How Thick is Gold Vermeil?
By definition, Gold Vermeil (which is pronounced ver-MAY) has to have a gold thickness of at least 2.5 microns. For the sake of comparison, standard gold plating often has a thickness of .5 to 1 micron, but it can be thicker or thinner. It’s not uncommon to find gold plating that only covers the surface enough to provide a VERY temporary gold appearance.
Even on delicate pieces like this simple and elegant Gold Vermeil ring, it’s nice to know that it has that thicker gold coating that a Vermeil piece is required to provide.
The Benefits of Gold Vermeil
Gold is expensive! At this moment, gold costs a little more than $1,500 per ounce! Sterling Silver is MUCH cheaper. Right now, it costs about $17 per ounce. I took my wedding ring off and weighed it a moment ago. I literally had no idea what it weighed—so I was curious.
Turns out, it’s exactly a quarter of an ounce. Based on that, if my ring were made of solid gold (which it isn’t), it would cost $375 for just the raw gold alone. When you tack on the cost of the metal alloys that are mixed in, manufacturing, middlemen, retailer markup, etc, the cost could grow to something much higher.
If my ring were made only of Sterling Silver, the metal cost would be around $4.25. Again, there are a whole host of manufacturing costs that would need to be factored before arriving at a true retail cost. The point here is that there is a HUGE difference in the cost of Gold and Silver.
Inexpensive Sterling Silver makes up the inner portion of Gold Vermeil jewelry—the part that no one sees anyway. It saves you the cost of using gold to fill the space. Because the vast majority of the weight of Gold Vermeil is made up of Sterling Silver, you’re able to save serious money over the cost of solid gold.
For the sake of example. Let’s assume that a gold coating of 2.5 microns represents 3% of the rings final weight. That would mean that 97% of the ring would be made of Sterling Silver ($4.12), with 3% would be made of gold ($11.25). This is a very basic illustration, but hopefully, you get the point.
Instead of paying hundreds of dollars for a solid gold ring, I’m able to get my metal cost down to roughly $15 by using a less expensive metal in the ring’s center! Keep in mind, that you STILL end up with something that looks identical to the more expensive ring.
The real benefit of Gold Vermeil, is that it allows you to have the look of the gold that you love, for cost of the Silver you can afford. You can wear very expensive-looking jewelry without blowing your budget.
Gold Vermeil engagement rings, wedding rings, and wedding bands allow couples to lower their overall wedding costs. They can then redirect the money that’s saved on rings toward other wedding-related expenses (something there seems to be no end to).
Some couples love their Gold Vermeil jewelry and expect to keep it for a lifetime, while others plan to upgrade in a few years once they’re a little more established.
Can Gold Vermeil be Resized?
Jewelers can resize Gold Vermeil rings, making them smaller or larger if needed. After resizing, the ring will need to be replated to give the surface a uniform appearance.
Is Gold Vermeil Durable?
Just how long does gold vermeil last? The answer to that question depends on three main factors:
- The purity of the gold used. Lower purity gold (like 10k) is harder and more durable than higher purity gold (like 24k).
- The thickness of the gold layer. The minimum allowable thickness is 2.5 microns, but there isn’t a defined maximum thickness. There could be a layer of 3 microns, or more, on some Gold Vermeil items.
- How the jewelry is worn. Jewelry that’s worn every day will take more concentrated abuse than jewelry that’s only worn occasionally. How careful you are to remove it before activities that could potentially cause damage is another important aspect.
I frequently get durability questions like, “How does gold vermeil wear?” and “Does Gold Vermeil wear off?” Questions like these are related to a number of other more specific durability questions that I’ll address below.
Can Gold Vermeil Get Wet?
The issue of water goes well beyond swimming. Can you wear gold vermeil in the shower? Can you wash your hands or wash dishes with Gold Vermeil on? In reality, it’s best to remove your jewelry before coming in contact with water whenever possible. There are two primary reasons for that.
- Water is known as ‘The Universal Solvent’. Over the course of time, it wore away stone and created the Grand Canyon for example. Water can also wear away the gold layer on your jewelry with time and repeated exposure.
- Water carries dissolved minerals, known as ‘hard water’. As jewelry gets wet and then dries off, hard water deposits can form on the surface of the jewelry. Those deposits can be corrosive, but they can also mute or discolor the appearance of the gold.
During the swim season, I often get the question, ‘Can you wear gold vermeil in water’? Swimming has risks above and beyond the two already outlined above. Salt Water and Chlorine are two additional hazards that swimming can introduce. Both of these can be destructive to gold. Keep your gold as dry as possible to maximize its life and beauty. Getting it wet once or twice probably won’t be catastrophic, but repeated exposure could start to take a toll.
Will Gold Vermeil Tarnish?
Tarnish is a darkening, or discoloration, on the surface of your jewelry caused by oxidation. Copper is the second-highest ingredient in Sterling Silver. Copper tarnishes as it’s exposed to moisture. It’s this Copper component of the Gold Vermeil base metal that’s capable of tarnishing.
Gold Vermeil tarnish isn’t something that will materialize right away. It also isn’t something that’s inevitable—but it is possible, over time, as the gold layer wears down and your jewelry is exposed to moisture.
Does Gold Vermeil Turn Green? Tarnish can appear green, but it typically forms in patches—not a uniform discoloration. If tarnish eventually appears, it can easily be removed with a good cleaning.
How to Keep Gold Vermeil from Tarnishing
The best way to prevent the appearance of tarnish is to keep your jewelry dry. Remove it before exercising (sweating), washing your hands, showering, etc. If your jewelry does get wet at some point—remove it and dry it as soon as possible. You should also remove Gold Vermeil rings before applying lotions or hand sanitizer.
When you’re not wearing your Gold Vermeil jewelry, store it in a Ziploc bag (or some other airtight container.
Will Gold Vermeil Turn My Finger Green?
The same Copper component of Sterling Silver that can tarnish over time can also leave a green or black mark on your finger. Many people associate those finger stains with ‘fake’ or low-quality jewelry. It isn’t always an accurate association. Even ‘pure’ rose gold rings can leave these marks, because it also has significant Copper in the metal mixture.
Not everyone experiences these marks when they wear jewelry that contains Copper. Much of it has to do with the skin chemistry of the wearer. Things like hormone levels, ph balance, and how much you sweat can all have an impact. The lotions and medications being used can also influence whether marks appear as you wear your jewelry.
My wife and teenage daughter each had the same plated ring. It had copper as its base metal. My wife wore the ring for over a month without marks appearing on her fingers. My daughter saw stains on her finger the first day that she wore the ring. I inspected the plating, and it was all intact. Again, different people will have different experiences in this area based on the factors mentioned above.
If needed, you can add a coating of clear fingernail polish to the inside a ring to create a barrier that should prevent finger stains. Reapply the fingernail polish as needed. There are similar polymers, created for sealing jewelry, that can also be applied. They do the same thing as fingernail polish but can last longer between applications
Does Gold Vermeil Fade
The color of Gold Vermeil can fade slightly over time, as atoms of the two metals present in the jewelry defuse into each other. Standard gold plated jewelry pieces often have a layer of Nickel between the base metal and gold coating, to act as a barrier between the two. According to the Federal Trade Commission’s jewelry guidelines, Gold Vermeil can’t contain that Nickel coating.
It’s important to remember that gold plating (including Gold Vermeil) will need to be replated eventually. How long it takes before you get to the point where replating is needed, depends on the durability factors outlined above.
When you take it in for replating, you can specify how thick you want the application to be. You might pay the jeweler to apply a 5 to 10-micron layer of gold, extending it’s life before replating is needed again.
Does Gold Vermeil Change Color?
The only factors that could generally influence the color of your Gold Vermeil jewelry, are the possibility of eventual tarnish or fading (both of which are described above). Again, you may never experience any tarnish, but if you do, it can be removed with a good cleaning.
Does Gold Vermeil Rust?
Rust is a form of corrosion that can be extremely destructive. Fortunately, Gold Vermeil will not rust. It’s still a good idea, however, to keep your jewelry dry for the reasons outlined above.
Is Gold Vermeil Good For Sensitive Ears?
Gold Vermeil earrings often aren’t an ideal choice for those with sensitive ears, because Gold Vermeil isn’t Hypoallergenic. Any gold that’s less pure than 24k gold has other metal alloys mixed in to increase harness and influence the look of the gold. Unfortunately, 24k gold often isn’t hard enough to work well for body jewelry. Sterling Silver (the base metal for Gold Vermeil) also has metal alloys mixed in. It contains Copper (and sometimes small amounts of other metal additives).
The question often comes up, ‘Does Gold Vermeil contain Nickel?’ It’s an understandable question since sensitivity to Nickel is so common.
“Nickel is thought to be one of the most prevalent contact allergens. Researchers estimate that about 5–10% of the population in the industrialized world is allergic to nickel on contact, and that figure reaches 10–20% in young women, who are more likely to be exposed to the metal in jewellery — particularly earrings and other piercings — that contain the metal.” -Alla Katsnelson
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires companies that use the term Gold Vermeil for their products to meet certain minimal standards. Among those, is a requirement NOT to add any metals, like Nickel, on top of the Sterling Silver base without disclosing it to buyers.
This means that if no Nickel disclosure if provided, the jewelry shouldn’t contain Nickel. Here’s the issue though, the FTC can’t catch rogue retailers immediately. They also can’t prosecute immediately. Because of that, it’s still a buyer-beware environment.
Those with sensitive ears, won’t want to risk reaction to unknown metal additives, so earrings made from hypoallergenic metals might be the best idea. Surgical Stainless Steel and Titanium are two common choices.
What is Rose Gold Vermeil?
Rose Gold is a mixture of yellow gold and Copper that leads to gold with a beautiful pinkish appearance. Rose gold can be tricky to get repaired, because the color can vary so much from item-to-item.
Again, the Rose Gold color depends on the amount Copper that was added to the gold mixture. Less copper results in a pale pink hue, while more copper creates a much redder copper-like coloring. Jewelers have difficulty matching the precise color of the item they’re repairing—but they can recoat the ring in a completely new layer of rose gold.
Be aware that not all jewelers will want to resize or repair rose gold jewelry because they don’t have the supplies they need on hand. If one jeweler says they can’t help, you’ll need to check with others. Some jewelers are well equipped and work with a large amount of rose gold jewelry—you’ll be able to find someone to do the work for you.
If you live in a small rural community, and can’t find a local jeweler to work on your rose gold ring, you might consider mailing it to an out-of-state jeweler. There are several repair services that do work for people across the country (and around the world).
This gorgeous Rose Gold Vermiel Morganite ring is an affordable head-turner!
What is White Gold Vermeil?
This variety is made as White gold is layered on top of a Sterling Silver base. In reality, ‘White Gold’ is not actually white on its own. The gold layer has to be plated with Rhodium to provide the traditional coloring that you’re accustomed to. In a sense, White Gold Vermeil is a twice-plated piece of jewelry (the base metal is plated with white gold—the white gold is then plated with Rhodium).
The thickness of the gold layer is defined and regulated in the United States, but the thickness of the Rhodium coating is not. The challenge with White Gold Vermeil, is that the Rhodium coating is fairly thin and can sometimes wear through quickly. You’ll need to have a jeweler reapply the Rhodium plating for you periodically.
How to Clean Gold Vermeil Jewelry
You have to be very gentle as you clean your Gold Vermeil. If you press too hard or use the wrong products to clean with, you can rub through the gold that coats the surface. Never use brushes, silver polishing cloths, or chemical cleaners. You also DON’T want to use an Ultrasonic cleaner for this delicate job. They’re wonderful for many other types of jewelry, but Gold Vermeil isn’t compatible.
The simplest cleaning technique, is rubbing gently with a soft 100% cotton or microfiber cloth. Use a long up and down rubbing pattern, rather than circular motions as you clean.
If you feel that you need something more in order to clean your jewelry, add a few drops of mild dish soap (like Dawn) to a small bowl of warm water. Rather than submerging your Gold Vermeil in the water, dip your soft cotton cloth in the soapy water and then use the damp cloth to wipe the piece lightly When you’re done with cleaning, dip another section of the cloth in some clean water to rinse the jewelry with as you again wipe it down.
When you’re done rinsing, you’ll want to dry the item well. For jewelry items that have a lot of hard to reach parts, you may want to dry the item well with the cool setting of a hair drier.
Gold Plated vs Vermeil Which is Better?
Gold Vermeil is typically the better bet … but not always. Gold Vermeil generally has a much thicker layer of gold than standard gold plating delivers. Because of this difference (and because the base metal of Gold Vermeil is ALWAYS Sterling Silver), it’s typically more durable than standard gold plating. I say ‘typically,’ because there are situations where non-Vermeil gold plating might be the more durable option.
- When the standard gold plating is much thicker than the layer on an otherwise similar piece of Gold Vermeil (assuming the gold purity is equal on both).
- When standard gold plating offers a lower gold purity than another similar Gold Vermeil piece. Lower gold purity (like 10k or 14k is going to be harder than pieces with higher gold purity like 18k or 24k).
Because it’s difficult for a consumer to gauge the thickness of the gold coating on their jewelry, it’s easy to be misled. Gold Vermeil, at least, provides SOME assurance that the coating is no thinner than 2.5 microns (to be in legal compliance in the United States).
Rolled Gold vs Vermeil
Rolled Gold jewelry is also known as Gold-Filled jewelry. Rolled Gold and Gold Filled are both terms that also have specific manufacturing requirements that are enforced by the FTC. Rolled gold jewelry has to have a gold coating that totals at least 5% of the total weight of the item. That generally leads to a much thicker coating that you’ll find on most Gold Vermeil.
Rolled Gold has a gold layer that has been mechanically bonded to its base metal through a heat and pressure treatment process. That essentially makes the two metals one solid piece, adding durability.
Gold Vermeil is typically more durable than standard gold plating. Rolled Gold is generally going to be the most durable gold option outside of solid gold. It offers the ability to save significant money, while also getting jewelry items that can last for many years.
Gold Vermeil can be a great choice for those needing a frugal jewelry option. Gold Vermeil can be a great choice for those than need a frugal jewelry option. If you love the look of solid gold, but have budget constraints, Gold Vermeil might be for you! Understanding the advantages and limitations of Gold Vermeil will help you to make smart buying decisions. It will also help you to care for your Gold Vermeil jewelry, so you can get as much life and enjoyment out of those pieces as possible.
What Is the Difference Between Gold Vermeil & Gold Plating?
What Does 925 Mean on Gold Jewelry? Where & Why it’s Added
What Is Rose Gold? The Ultimate Guide for This Amazing Metal
Confusing isn’t it? When you look at a gold plated item beside a Gold Vermeil item side-by-side, they look identical. So, how different can they be? The two are actually quite different. I’ll lay it all out below.—
What Is the Difference Between Vermeil and Gold Plating? Gold Vermeil uses Sterling Silver as a base metal, with at least 2.5 microns of gold encasing it on all sides. Standard Gold plating can have a variety of cheaper metals at its core, like Copper, Brass, or Nickel. Standard Plating also has a much thinner gold coating (starting at just .175 microns).
You now understand some of the basic differences between Gold Vermeil (pronounced ver-MAY) and standard gold plating, but there’s a lot more that you should know. I’ll share other important details about both jewelry options in the paragraphs that follow.
Both Gold Vermeil and gold plated jewelry offer an affordable alternative to solid gold jewelry. You can find gold vermeil earrings, bracelets, rings, pendants, necklaces, cufflinks, and more. All the same types of jewelry are available in standard gold plating too.
Quick Fact: All Olympic Gold Medals awareded since 1912 have actually been gold plated Sterling Silver?
Before diving into all the ways that these two gold jewelry options are different, let’s look at how they’re similar.
3 Key Similarities Between Gold Vermeil and Gold Plating
Gold Vermeil and standard gold plating have the following in common …
Both Have the Look and Feel of Gold
Gold covers the surface of both your standard gold plated jewelry and Gold Vermeil. The purity of the gold used is also at least 10 karat (10k). The gold on the surface could be yellow gold, white gold, or rose gold. This process isn’t new—gold plating has also been known, historically, as ‘Silver-gilt’ or ‘Gilded Silver’.
Both Are Commonly Created Through an Electroplating Process
Electroplated jewelry is created by suspending a base metal in a bath of electroplating solution. A piece of Solid gold is also placed in the same tank and solution. An electric current is sent through the solution in the tank, causing a transfer process to start. The gold is attracted to the base metal, creating a coating. The thickness of that coating depends on the amount of gold added to the tank, and how long the base metal remains submerged.
Plated jewelry is sometimes referred to as ‘dipped’ jewelry because of the way the electroplating process works. Gold-electroplating provides great flexibility. It can be used to create the thinnest gold coatings of all the various plating processes. Electroplating is also capable of creating thick coatings that can endure decades of active use.
The base metal used for standard gold plating is coated in Nickel before it’s introduced to the solution. The Nickel is like a coat of primer that helps separate the base metal from the gold. Without it, atoms from the base metal would be more likely to diffuse into the gold layer over time. That diffusion can cause normal gold coloring to fade with time.
Unlike standard gold plating, Gold Vermeil’s base metal isn’t coated with Nickel before placing it in the electroplating solution. Gold Vermeil is also left submerged in the tank for a much longer period of time, which leads to a thicker coating (at least 2.5 microns).
Both Have a Metal Other Than Gold Under Their Surface
As the name implies, solid gold jewelry has the same consistent metal mixture throughout the item. If you cut a piece of solid gold jewelry in half and then examined the insides, you’d see a consistent color throughout.
If a piece of standard gold plated jewelry (or Gold Vermeil) was cut in half, you’d notice that the gold is a relatively thin surface layer. The majority fo the ring material is an entirely different color.
4 Key Differences Between Gold Vermeil and Gold Plating
Gold Vermeil vs gold plated jewelry—the two do have similarities, but they also have several important differences. I’ll address key distinctions below.
The Thickness of Their Gold Coating
Standard gold plating is thin. In the United States, gold plating is supposed to be a coating of at least .175 microns, but that’s a very thin coating. The only thing you can really be sure of with standard gold plating is that it’s going to have enough gold applied to give it the appearance of being made of gold.
The durability of general gold plating varies wildly because it’s so dependent on the type and the thickness of the gold coating. The thinnest gold layers may wear through within just days, or weeks, of normal use.
In the U.S., Gold Vermeil needs to have a coating of at least 2.5 microns (0.0025 millimeters) of gold in order to legally be marketed as that kind of product. That’s true even if the jewelry qualifies in all other ways.
The FTC (The Federal Trade Commission) is the consumer protection agency that enforces compliance with these quality standards in the United States. Other nations will have different minimum standards…and a different enforcing body for these (or similar) terms.
Canadian Gold Vermeil, for example, is only required to be 1 micron thick. That’s a distinction you need to be aware of as you consider buying jewelry that’s labeled as Gold Vermeil from different sources.
The Base Metal Used
Standard gold plating can be done over a wide variety of metals. Common base metals for plated jewelry include Copper, Brass, Steel, Nickel or Sterling Silver.
Gold Vermeil ALWAYS uses Sterling Silver as it’s base metal. If you have 2.5 microns of gold coating some other type of metal, it CAN’T legally be referred to as Gold Vermeil—it MUST be Sterling Silver.Sterling Silver is less likely than many other metals to cause skin reactions for sensitive wearers. Because of this, many people with sensitive skin prefer it as a base metal for their plated jewelry. Nickel is a metal that can cause skin reactions for some. Again, the base metal for plated jewelry is often coated in Nickel before being covered in gold. The gold plating that encases the Nickel is thin and can often be worn through quickly.
The Final Cost of the Item
Because Gold Vermeil often uses more gold in the manufacturing process, it may cost more. The difference in the value of the base metal used also has a small impact on the final cost of the jewelry. Again, Sterling Silver costs more than the metals that are most often used for standard gold plating.
While Gold Vermeil sometimes cost more, for the reasons mentioned above—but doesn’t ALWAYS cost more. The price increase for a Sterling Silver base metal and a much thicker gold coating can be little to nothing in some cases. When a price difference does exist, it may be worth the splurge if you can afford it.
The Hallmarks Used to Identify Each Jewelry Type
Before explaining the hallmarks used to identify various forms of gold plating, I’ll quickly explain the stamps that are used to indicate gold purity.
Purity imprints include a number like 10, 14, 18, or 24, immediately followed by the letter ‘k,’ (for ‘karat’). Karat is a measurement of gold purity. Pure gold is 24 karat (24k).
Gold is a soft metal that isn’t very durable on its own, so other metals are often added to increase the ultimate hardness of jewelry. Other common grades of gold are 22k, 18k, 14k, and 10k. The lower the karat number, the less pure the gold is. Because 10k gold has a higher percentage of other metals mixed in to increase hardness, it’s much more durable than 18k gold for example. By the same token, 18k gold is much harder and more durable than 24k gold.
Symbols like the following are often used to identify gold plated jewelry:
- GP (Gold Plated)
- GEP (Gold-Electroplated)
- RGP (Rolled Gold Plate)
- HGE (Heavy Gold-Electroplated)
- HGP (Heavy Gold Plate)
To be considered ‘Gold plated’ (GP), jewelry needs to be coated with AT LEAST a .5 micron layer of gold that’s 10k or purer.
The Electroplating process can produce jewelry that uses a GEP or the HGE stamp—depending on the thickness of the gold coating. A jewelry item would need to have at least a 2.5-micron coating, applied through the electroplating process, to qualify as ‘HGE’.
Gold plating that’s done through a method other than electroplating, could be stamped with RGP or HGP (depending, again, on the thickness of the gold coating that was applied).
A separate stamp indicating gold purity may also be added to the plating imprint. The finished hallmark might say something like, “10k GEP,” for example. The full stamp then tells us that the jewelry was electroplated with 10k gold. Instead of using abbreviations, it’s possible for an imprint to also say something like, “10 Karat Gold Electroplate.”
Hallmarks can also communicate information about the thickness of the gold layer that was applied in some cases. For example, you might see an imprint like ‘1 micron 10k G.P.’ on occasion. There may also be a mark, like ‘925’ indicating that the base metal is Sterling Silver in some cases.
Gold Vermeil often doesn’t bear any stamp indicating the kind of plating process that was used to manufacture it. What you often will see though, is a hallmark for Sterling Silver. The numbers 925 are the most common stamp to identify the presence of that particular metal in the center of Gold Vermeil jewelry. The 925 stamp references the fact that Sterling Silver is 92.5% pure silver with the remaining 7.5% made up of other metal alloys.
What makes it really stand out, is when ‘925’ is stamped on something like a yellow gold surface. The hallmark alerts you to the fact that Sterling Silver is hidden beneath the surface. This beautiful Wedding Band is a great example of Gold Vermeil Jewelry, and the hallmarks it utilizes.
Is Gold Vermeil or Gold Plating More Durable?
Just how long does gold plated jewelry last? That depends on 4 major variables:
- The thickness of the gold coating.
- The type of gold that was applied.
- The material used as the base metal.
- How the jewelry is worn.
I’ll explain the implications of each of these variables below.
The Thickness of the Gold Coating
Gold plating can range from an ultra-thin layer (often referred to as flash gold plating or gold wash) that can rub off within hours, to a thick coating that can easily last for decades. Thicker is, obviously, better.
I saw the following ring offered by a discount retailer the other day. As you can see, it’s advertised as ‘flash plated,’ with 14k gold. The ring was only about $15, but I’d be surprised if it lasted a week before the gold layer had been worn through with normal use.
The Type of Gold That Was Applied
Again, lower purity gold (gold with a lower number preceding the ‘K’) has a higher ratio of other metal alloys mixed in. Those metal additives increase the hardness of the gold mixture substantially. That means that 10k gold will be the MOST durable option available, with 14k being the next best alternative.
The Material Used as the Base Metal
Some metals are softer than others. Pure Silver is significantly softer than Sterling Silver, for example. Pure Silver is also softer than Copper and Brass. Copper and Brass are both softer than Nickel or Steel.
The softer the base metal, the more easily it can become bent and misshapen. My wife has a thin Sterling Silver ring that this happened to several years ago. As she wore it in the course of everyday activities, the bottom of the ring bent in. A bent ring isn’t comfortable, but a ring that bends too easily can also present some danger for your fingers as well.
How the Jewelry is Worn
Jewelry that’s worn all day, everyday, takes more concentrated abuse than jewelry that is only worn occasionally. Pieces that are worn in direct contact with your skin also tend to show wear faster. That means that a necklace worn on top of your shirt is likely to hold up better than one worn beneath it, for example.
Your jewelry is also likely to last longer when you remove it before showering, swimming, exercising, etc.
There are other durability questions that I hear a lot related to gold plating and Gold Vermeil. I’ll quickly address three of the most common.
Will Gold Vermeil Tarnish?
It’s very possible for tarnish to eventually appear because Gold Vermeil always has Sterling Silver at its core. As the gold layer thins over time, that base metal may oxidize to some extent, leading to tarnish your jewelry. The good news, is that this isn’t a permanent condition. If tarnish does appear one day, it can easily be removed with a good cleaning.
To be clear, tarnish on the surface of your Gold Vermeil won’t always happen—and can be remedied if it does. My wife has had some uncoated Sterling Silver jewelry for many years that has never tarnished at all.
Does Gold Vermeil Wear Off?
Gold plating, of any kind, will wear through at some point. How soon, depends on some of the durability factors that I outlined above.
When the plating on your Gold Vermeil eventually wears through, you won’t need to throw the jewelry away. Jewelers can ‘dip’ the same item again, to recoat it through the same electroplating process that was originally used to create it. The process is relatively inexpensive.
Will Gold Vermeil Turn My Finger Green?
Here are some quick facts that play a role in the answer.
- Sterling Silver is at the core of Gold Vermeil rings.
- Sterling Silver contains roughly 7.5% Copper.
- Copper oxidizes when exposed to moisture.
As Copper oxidizes, it CAN leave a green or black mark on your finger. In reality, everyone’s skin can respond a little differently to metals like Copper.
My wife and teenage daughter wore the very same ring several months ago at different times. It was a Copper ring with Rhodium plating. The ring left no mark on my wife’s hand—but stained my daughter’s fingers the very first day that she wore it. Why the difference?
These differences are related to things like:
- How much a particular individual’s hands sweat.
- The creams and lotions being used at the time.
- Differences in hormone levels.
- The PH of your body chemistry.
As you can see, whether a given piece of Gold Vermeil jewelry leaves marks as it’s worn, depends a great deal on the specific person that’s wearing it.
If this ever becomes an issue, there are a couple of potential remedies that you can try. The simplest option is coating the side of your jewelry that contacts your skin with clear fingernail polish. That coating will need to be reapplied as it wears off. If you want a longer-lasting option, there are some polymers made specifically for jewelry that can last for several months before needing to be reapplied.
Is Gold Vermeil Better than Gold Plated?
Gold Vermeil has some real advantages, but Is it worth paying a higher price to get the benefits of Gold Vermeil? Generally speaking, I think it is. In reality, though, the answer is more complicated than that.
A 2.5-micron coating of 24k gold over Sterling Silver would quality for Gold Vermeil, but it wouldn’t hold up as well as a 2.5-micron layer of 10k gold over Brass (Heavy Gold Electroplate), for example. I point that out because it’s hard to make the blanket statement that Gold Vermeil is ALWAYS the better option.
Having said that, there is one BIG advantage that Gold Vermeil has over standard gold plating. That advantage is PREDICTABILITY! There are several things that I have an assurance of when I buy Gold Vermeil.
- The base metal is Sterling Silver.
- The gold coating is at least 2.5 microns thick.
Other, more standard, gold plating could be thin or thick—it’s difficult to know for sure. The base metal could be Copper or Nickel—that isn’t always disclosed. It’s because of predictability that I feel Gold Vermeil is more desirable, overall, and probably worth paying a little extra for if needed.
Is Gold Plated Jewelry Worth Anything?
Used jewelry with gold plating generally isn’t worth much—but that’s ok. You almost ALWAYS have to sell used jewelry for less than you bought it for. That’s true of nearly ALL types of jewelry. The reason is simple, buyers are hunting for a bargain. If they wanted to pay retail, they’d go to a store.
Instead of selling to another individual user, you could also sell to a refinery or metal recycling company—but they’ll pay only for the melt value of the gold that’s on your jewelry. Items with thin plating will be worth almost nothing. It would likely take a pound of it to get $20-$40. If you have a piece of jewelry with a particularly thick coating you’ll likely fair much better.
Here’s the bottom line though. Jewelry is not an investment—it’s a consumable! The greatest value that most jewelry will gain is sentimental value.
Both standard gold plating and Gold Vermeil can provide an excellent opportunity to own beautiful, and expensive-looking, jewelry for far less than similar solid gold alternatives would cost. When the gold layer is thick enough, and the type of gold used is
What Does 925 Mean on Gold Jewelry? Where & Why it’s Added
The Difference Between Sterling Silver and 925 Silver
White Gold vs Platinum | The Best Metal for Your Special Ring
Is that “925” imprint on your gold jewelry good or bad news? It could be either. It really depends on whether you understood the meaning and implications of the stamp BEFORE you bought.
What does “925” mean on Gold Jewelry? When 925 is stamped on gold jewelry, it means that the item has Sterling Silver beneath its surface. The number ‘925’ represents the percentage of silver that’s added to Sterling Silver (92.5%). By plating Sterling Silver with gold, you can get an expensive look at a much lower actual cost!
If you understand the pros and cons of this type of jewelry, you’ll be a more savvy shopper. You’ll be able to buy 925 gold when you find a great piece at an ideal price. In the paragraphs that follow, I’ll teach you the ins and outs of 925 gold jewelry, so you can shop with greater confidence, and avoid getting ripped off.
What Does 925 Mean on Jewelry?
When you see “925” stamped on gold jewelry, it means that the piece isn’t gold all the way through. This type of jewelry consists of a gold overlay on top of a base of Sterling Silver. It would typically be referred to as ‘Gold Vermeil’ (pronounced ver-MAY). Gold Vermeil is like standard gold plating with two exceptions.
- The base metal is always Sterling Silver. Standard gold plating is done over a variety of metals like Nickel, Copper, and Brass.
- The gold layer, or coating, on the surface of the ring, is much thicker. Standard gold plating is thin (approximately .5 micron). Gold Vermeil generally has a gold thickness of at least 2.5 microns.
I’ll explain more about the difference between gold plating and other options like ‘gold-filled’ a little later.
But why those specific numbers (925)? The stamp has to do with the composition of the Sterling Silver that lies under the surface of the gold plating.
Rings suffer a lot of bumps and scrapes as you use your hands for everyday things. You aren’t even aware of all the things your ring comes in contact with as you move and grab things throughout each day. Because of these daily hazards, most common jewelry metals, have other alloys mixed in to increase hardness (durability).
Sterling Silver is more than JUST silver. Copper makes it more scratch-resistant than silver would otherwise be on its own. Other metals alloys are sometimes also added in smaller quantities.
Guess what percentage of Sterling Silver is actually comprised of silver (I gave it away earlier)…it’s 92.5% or more. Again, the remaining part is often made up of Copper, but could also include other metals. I wrote an article that dives into deeper information on the composition of Sterling Silver. Feel free to review it if you want to learn more.
‘Hallmarks’ are abbreviations, or symbols, that get used like disclosure labels for jewelry. Hallmarks disclose the metal composition of jewelry pieces—because visual appearance, alone, can be deceiving. They can also reveal the craftsman or nation that the item comes from in some cases.
The number 925 is a common hallmark, or ‘fineness mark,’ for Sterling Silver. The number 925, represents the minimal percentage of silver (92.5%) that has to get added for a metal mixture to qualify as Sterling Silver.
A 925 gold ring might have the “925” hallmark stamped on the inside of the ring where it’s visible only to the wearer. A 925 gold bracelet might have the numbers stamped on the backside of the clasp (where it isn’t visible as you wear it). The stamps are generally tucked away, and hidden, in areas where they can’t be observed by others.
Why Stamp Gold Jewelry with 925?
The simple answer is disclosure. A Sterling Silver ring, plated in 14k gold, for example, looks exactly like rings that are made ENTIRELY out of 14K gold. Because more gold is used to make the solid gold ring, it’s worth a lot more than the plated ring.
The 925 stamp on the inside of a gold ring, for example, lets buyers know not to pay solid gold prices for the gold-plated version.
While “925” is currently the most common mark for Sterling Silver jewelry, variations could include “92.5”, “.925”, “S925”, “Ster”, or “sterling.”
A solid gold jewelry item (without a base metal at its center) would get stamped with a number like 10, 14, 18, or 24, followed immediately by “K,” (or “KT”). That stamp discloses the purity of the gold used to make the piece. Again, these stamps allow you to know the metals used for the portions of the item that you can’t see…the part that lies beneath the surface.
Should You Buy Gold Plated Jewelry?
Not all gold plated jewelry is created equal. The type of base metal and the thickness of the gold plating are two important considerations. If you buy from the wrong manufacturer, you may be sorry that you purchased a plated ring.
Some manufacturers focus on producing cheap jewelry that looks great when it’s new—not on making durable pieces that last. The coating on these thinly-plated rings might only last for a few weeks before the base metal starts showing through the surface.
Quality plated rings aren’t always more expensive, but you should be willing to pay a little more, if needed, to get something more durable.
How to Recognize a Quality Piece of Gold Plated Jewelry
For a non-professional to visibly assess the quality of a particular piece of 925 gold jewelry is difficult—at best. You can’t tell how thick the plating is with a visual inspection. I do have two recommendations though for ensuring that you don’t get stuck with a garbage ring that gets worn out in a matter of weeks.
- Read reviews from other past buyers. Most online retailers seem to collect and display reviews from past buyers. Access to these reviews empowers you to make more informed buying decisions. I can quickly learn about the strengths and weaknesses of a particular ring from past buyers that have first-hand experience with it. They’ll share their actual experience and won’t ‘sugar coat’ their experience with the ring.
- Make sure the ring is covered by a solid return policy. If a retailer gives you a generous return policy, you’ll have greater confidence in the quality of their products. If you quickly wear through the gold plating on a ring that you purchased from them, for example, you end up stuck with it. This is one of the reasons (among others) that I’m not a fan of buying jewelry through auctions sites. They’re often a ‘buyer beware’ environment that can leave you holding the bag on a shoddy product.
The Pros and Cons of 925 Gold Jewelry
Where there are a lot of reasons to love gold plated jewelry, there are also some serious cautions. As the band Poison put it, ‘Every Rose Has its Thorn.’ We’ll explore both the pros and cons of 925 gold rings in this section.
First the “pros”…the biggest advantage of gold plated jewelry is price. Because Sterling Silver is so much less expensive than gold, you can buy 925 gold jewelry for a fraction of what the solid gold version would cost. That means that you can buy very expensive-looking jewelry, at prices that you can afford.
It isn’t only people with limited budgets that love saving money with gold plated jewelry. Even if you can afford to buy the pure gold version of a particular item, should you? It may make more sense to use the money you save elsewhere. If you LOVE variety in your jewelry—you might be able to get 5 or 10 Gold Vermeil items instead of 1 solid gold piece. Remember, that to outside observers, a gold plated ring is going to look just like a solid gold ring.
Plated rings make great starter rings—when you know that you’re going to upgrade the ring down the road anyway. They provide something beautiful and inexpensive now…until you can afford the ring you really want down the road.
Plated gold rings, and their center stones, are often far less expensive. Because of this, you may not have to bother with insuring them—which saves you money! If they get lost, stolen, or damaged, you can replace them with another inexpensive 925 gold ring.
Now for the “cons”…plated jewelry will need to be recoated as the gold layer is worn away over time. As we’ve already mentioned, the plating can sometimes be pretty thin.
You will need to have a Jeweler dip or re-plate your 925 gold jewelry periodically to make sure worn spots are recoated. How frequently that happens depends on the craftsmanship of the jewelry, how it’s cared for, and how often it’s worn. That replating may be needed every few months for some or every couple of years for others. Re-plating will likely cost $30 to $65.
If you have to pay $50 to have gold reapplied to your ring every 3 years, you’ll end up spending around $350 to maintain your plated ring over 20 years. Because of that maintenance, a plated gold ring will be cheaper in the short term, but may not save you much over the long term.
Sterling Silver can be plated with any type of gold. You can commonly find 925 White Gold and 925 Rose Gold jewelry available, in addition to yellow gold options. The level of gold purity used is typically 10k or higher.
Is 925 Gold Jewelry Susceptible to Tarnish and corrosion?
Because normal gold plating is typically very thin, tarnish and corrosion is possible if your jewelry is in an environment that’s conducive. That’s especially true as the thin outer layer is worn through.
Gold Vermeil provides a much thicker layer of gold-plating, so it’s far less likely to have problems with tarnish and corrosion. The fact that it uses Sterling Silver as it’s base metal, instead of Copper, also helps. In spite of all this, corrosion is still possible—particularly as the gold layer begins to wear thin, and the jewelry gets exposed to moisture.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires jewelry advertised as Gold Vermeil, to have a thickness of at least 2.5 microns. Other nations have similar consumer protection groups with their own set of standards. Those requirements may be different in various parts of the world. In Canada, for example, the standard is only 1 micron. At that thickness, Gold Vermeil is only about twice as thick as standard gold plating. While thicker is always better, that’s still far too thin to offer much long-term durability.
Gold-filled jewelry encapsulates a base metal in a THICK coating of bonded gold. It’s so thick, that you typically never have to worry about tarnish or corrosion.
Whether your gold jewelry is solid, plated, or filled—I recommend removing it before showering, swimming, playing in the ocean, soaking in a hot tub, or cleaning with household chemicals.
Leaving it on once or twice, won’t be catastrophic, but prolonged exposure could hurt your gold jewelry over time.
Is 925 Gold Worth Anything?
The resale value of Jewelry that has gold plating over a Sterling Silver base isn’t very high. This is true because brand new plated rings are so affordable. You can easily find quality gold plated rings in the $50 to $150 range, for example. While you could probably find someone willing to buy a used ring, in good condition—they definitely wouldn’t want to pay retail. Because of that, the resale value of these rings is hardly worth the effort of listing them.
The good news, is that you stand to lose very little on your inexpensive plated ring if you aren’t able to resell it at some point down the road. Your worst-case scenario is the loss of maybe $50 to $150. Contrast that with the experience of many people that try to resell a $6,000 diamond ring, but are only able to get $1,500 for it (a loss of $4,500)!
Is 925 Gold Pawnable?
The melt value of silver is minimal (typically $20/ounce or less). The melt value of the thin layer of gold lining the surface of these rings is also minimal. Pawnshops will most likely turn you away. If they do give you something for the ring, it won’t be much…unless you have a diamond mounted to it. Even then, the amount offered will likely be disappointing, because they ‘low ball’ when they buy diamonds too).
Gold Plated vs Gold Vermeil
Gold plated rings involve a thin layer of gold over other base metals that could include Copper, Brass, or Nickel for example. The ultra-thin coating of a cheap plated ring may look beautiful when it’s brand new, but it can quickly change color, and start to look drab, as the surface gold wears away.
Imagine having a thin layer of 14k White Gold coating a copper base metal. As the plating wears away over weeks or months, reddish-brown Copper begins to show through the surface, ruining the look of the ring. The dark base metal catches the eye and is hard NOT to notice.
Gold Vermeil is also considered gold plating, but it’s a thicker application (about 75% thicker), producing a more durable ring than standard plating provides. Another distinction is the type of base metal used. Gold Vermeil utilizes 925 Silver as the base metal. That’s a much better metal for jewelry use, than cheap alternatives like Nickel and Copper.
Both forms of plated jewelry are MUCH less expensive than buying solid gold jewelry. Both types will need to have the gold coating reapplied occasionally as time passes.
Gold Vermeil vs Gold Filled
Gold Filled jewelry isn’t plated—it’s gold that’s physically bonded to a base metal, so the two essentially become one. Roughly 2 dozen layers of gold are then also applied to build up a thick and durable gold coating that can look and wear like solid gold jewelry!
The gold that is applied to the surface of Gold Filled rings ends up being 5% of the total weight of the item. That may not sound like much gold, but it IS—especially compared with alternative products.
The 5% of the ring’s material that’s comprised of gold, makes the ring look and function like a solid gold ring. Since gold is so expensive, the less you use in your jewelry, the cheaper it will be. Since Gold-Filled jewelry uses a common base metal for 95% percent of the total weight (the part that’s hidden on the inside), it ends up costing A LOT less.
What if There is No Stamp?
If jewelry is advertised as 18k gold over Sterling Silver, for example, but you don’t see the 925 stamp on the item, you should proceed with caution.
Absent the reviews, reputation, and return policy, I probably wouldn’t buy the item. There’s too much room for deception and disappointment in buying an unmarked item. If the reviews, reputation and return policy were strong, I might decide to go ahead and buy even without the hallmark stamp.
The 925 mark provides valuable insight into the metal that lies at the center of jewelry, which has the appearance of being solid gold. Sterling Silver is great base metal to use for plated or gold filled rings. A 925 gold ring provides an excellent way to buy the beautiful gold jewelry that you want at a price you can actually afford.
The Difference Between Sterling Silver and 925 Silver
What Is Rose Gold? The Ultimate Guide for This Amazing Metal
White Gold vs Platinum | The Best Metal for Your Special Ring
A ring can communicate intention, emotion, and commitment. Not providing that token at some point can cause stagnation, stress, and concern in the relationship. Beyonce summed that up when she sang, ‘if you like it, then you shoulda put a ring on it!’ But what if you’re not ready for engagement? A promise ring might be the best next step.
What is a Promise Ring? A promise ring is a ring that’s given, and received, as a token of commitment (a promise) to someone—or a particular ideal. Promise rings serve as a visible reminder to the wearer and also as a notification to those that see it on their hand that a commitment of some kind has been entered into.
The remainder of this article will tell you everything you’ve ever wanted to know about buying, giving, and wearing promise rings of various kinds. You’ll understand what they communicate, what they should look like, what they typically cost, and much more.
What is the Purpose of a Promise Ring?
If you’ve found yourself wondering, ‘what is the point of a promise ring,’ you’re not alone. They’re not as well known, or familiar, as engagement rings and wedding rings. The commitments that promise rings symbolize aren’t as consistent either.
So, what is a promise ring’s purpose? The purpose ultimately depends on the context described by the giver when the ring is presented. When the ring is given by a romantic partner, it’s typically intended to convey a strong mutual commitment to each other. When given by someone other than a love interest, it’s often a sign of a strong and lasting friendship. Outside of a romantic relationship, the ring can indicate that the wearer is making a commitment to a particular goal, standard, or ideal.
What Does a Promise Ring Symbolize?
Again, a promise ring’s meaning is framed and understood by the way the ring is presented, and who it’s being given by. There’s typically a conversation that transpires in the moments leading up to the gifting of the ring. That conversation tells the intended wearer what they’re committing to, and what the ring is expected to convey, as they wear it.
There’s also common meaning found in the ring itself. The materials used in the ring, and the overall beauty of the ring, have symbolic parallels to the value and beauty of the relationship, or other commitment. The shape of the ring, a circle, has no beginning or end, symbolizing eternity, or the enduring nature of the commitment.
Promise rings can be used for any of the following purposes, and many others:
- Relationship exclusivity
- Unique Friendship
- Symbol of a parent’s endless love for their child
- Commitment to significant and specific goals
- Commitment to religious ideals
With so many potential applications, promise rings can be a great way to mark, or memorialize, commitments of many kinds.
Why Give a Promise Ring?
A promise ring can help to define the status of a relationship between two people. It provides a visible reminder of the other person that can draw the thoughts of the wearer back to their partner, or a particular promise, throughout the day. The ring also communicates a deepening commitment to the other person and potentially progress toward future marriage.
Those that like to move slowly, might find that a promise ring allows them to try something similar to engagement without taking that bigger step just yet. They can sometimes provide a lower level of commitment for someone that wants to test the waters for a potential future marriage proposal.
Promise rings are often far less elaborate and expensive than engagement rings, so they can also be more cost-effective when money is tight.
Is a Promise Ring Bad, Cheesy, or Childish?
People will have different opinions on this, but I’m confident that most will agree that there’s nothing wrong with making a commitment to someone, or something, and then memorializing that commitment with a piece of jewelry. If you think about it, that’s exactly what we’re doing with engagement rings and wedding rings. The fact that the commitment being made typically isn’t the same for those wearing promise rings, doesn’t make it less significant, cheesy, or childish.
This practice is nothing new. Promise rings have been gifted and exchanged for centuries. Even after all these years, promise rings are used to mark a wide range of special commitments.
Promise Ring History
Where did the promise ring originate? Believe it or not, these rings have been traced back to the ancient Romans—hundreds of years before Christ. In those days, laws required couples to announce their intent to marry and then wait at least a certain amount of time before marrying. A ring served as a token of their intent.
After hundreds-and-hundreds of years, the Europeans began using promise rings very similarly to the way we use them today during the late 15th century.
What Is Another Name for a Promise Ring?
Promise rings can be used in a number of specific ways, and are known by a variety of names in those various applications.
- Chastity Ring
- Purity Ring
- Abstinence Ring
- Commitment Ring
- Friendship Ring
- Non-Engagement Ring
- Pre-Engagement Ring
Additional information on all these potential uses will be shared below.
Is a Promise Ring the Same as an Engagement Ring?
No, but the purpose of the two ring types is somewhat related in certain instances. An engagement ring means that you’re planning to get married—the meaning is fairly defined and specific. The possible range of meaning for a promise ring is MUCH broader.
I’ll provide more clarity on the distinction between these two ring types below.
What is a Promise Ring vs an Engagement Ring?
Again, promise rings and engagement rings are similar but different. Here are three ways they’re similar:
- Both serve as a visual notice to others that you’re already committed to someone.
- Both remind the wearer of a commitment made.
- Both signal a maturing (evolving) relationship.
Here are a few ways that they’re different:
- Engagement rings are often bigger, more expensive, and fancier (though not always the case).
- They can represent very different specific commitments (engagement rings represent the specific intention to get married, while promise rings don’t necessarily need to symbolize that same intention).
- They may represent a different level of commitment (engagement is often viewed as a more serious commitment).
As mentioned above, a promise ring, used in this application, may also be called a Commitment Ring, a Non-Engagement Ring, or a Pre-Engagement Ring. I wrote this entire article on the difference between an Engagement Ring and a Promise Ring. You should read it if you want more even more information on these rings and how they relate to each other.
Can a Promise Ring be Used as an Engagement Ring?
The two rings are usually different, but they could be the same. There are no universal rules, or even guidelines, regarding what an engagement ring has to look like. If you receive a nice solitaire as a promise ring, for example, it could be repurposed as an engagement ring—and even a wedding ring further down the line.
I proposed to my girlfriend (now my wife) this way when we were in school and looking to get married. It wasn’t an intentional plan to save money (though we did need to save money at the time). I was genuinely clueless about how engagement rings differed from wedding rings at the time.
I proposed with a diamond solitaire that I borrowed money to buy at the time. When we got married a few months later, my fiancee removed the ring before the ceremony so I could put it back on her ring finger as a wedding ring.
Transitioning a ring from a promise ring to an engagement ring, and later, perhaps even a wedding ring, could build the sentimental value of the piece, and keep you from accumulating too many rings that end up sitting idle in the future. Ultimately, this approach could save you a lot of money as you start your lives together (filled with many other expenses).
Some may cringe at the thought of using the same ring to mark both relationship milestones. On the surface, it might feel like it’s a sign that the giver doesn’t value the relationship enough to celebrate it with a new ring. I can understand that initial impression, but I see the situation a little differently.
Rings are a physical representation of an inner commitment. It’s not about the ring—it’s about that commitment. Have you ever heard of someone tying a string to their finger to make sure they remember something? Every time they see or feel the bow on their finger, they think of the thing they’re supposed to remember.
After completing the task that the string was supposed to represent, they could decide to leave it on to help them remember a completely different item that also has to get done. The SAME string can work for remembering completely different things at different times.
Promise rings and Engagement Rings serve a very similar purpose—when you see or feel them, they help you to think of your partner and the commitment that you’ve made to them. As that commitment evolves, the meaning that the ring carries can evolve too.
Using the same ring for both stages of a relationship is the minimalistic approach that leads to the smallest negative impact on the environment and your pocketbook. Again, this approach could also lead to increased sentimental value for the ring, since it will have stayed with you for so long, and through so many stages of your relationship. Those who buy different rings to mark each new stage of the relationship end up gathering a small collection of rings over time that they eventually rarely use—or even look at.
Let’s face it our taste and style is almost never the same as our partner’s. If you try to surprise them with a special ring, like an engagement ring, you’re unlikely to pick the same ring style FOR THEM that they would have likely chosen FOR THEMSELVES. Because ring shopping together is always safest, you might decide to propose using the promise ring you gave them in the past, and then go ring shopping (together) for a separate engagement ring in the days that follow, if you’d like.
My Brother-in-Law surprised his girlfriend with an engagement ring that he had purchased without her. She loves him—but HATES the ring. It doesn’t look anything like the styles that she loves most. It isn’t about diamond size, it’s about design for her. They’ve now been married for more than 20 years, which means she’s had to wear a ring that she really doesn’t like the look of for a LONG time now. A promise ring could help you to avoid making a costly mistake like this.
All of this doesn’t mean that you can’t, or shouldn’t, use a separate ring to propose when you’re ready to get engaged—just that it isn’t REQUIRED.
Can you propose with a promise ring without having your wife get stuck with it long-term? Sure—this hybrid approach is often a GREAT option!
Should a Promise Ring be a Surprise?
I love surprises, but I know other people that hate them. Whether the presentation of a promise ring should be a surprise, or expected, depends on your personalities, how well you can keep a secret, and how confident you are in your ability to pick a ring style that your partner will appreciate.
Have you ever met someone who can’t stop looking at their new ring? They’re excited about the relationship milestone that the ring represents—but they also LOVE the ring they were given! It’s really nice when you can have that kind of outcome! If you and your partner have a similar sense of style, you may be able to purchase the perfect ring without needing their input. If you’re like most couples though, and don’t always agree on fashion and design, you may want to get their input on the ring before committing on a given ring (especially if you’re spending a lot on it). Here are a couple of ideas for getting input.
1. Walk by a jewelry counter and stop to comment on the rings that you think look nicest. Your partner will probably just in to agree or tell you that you’re crazy that other rings are much more attractive. You don’t need to buy the very rings they point out, but you can learn something valuable by at least observing the styles that they prefer.
2. Scroll through some Reddit posts on promise rings commenting on the pictures people post. You can ask your partner if they share your opinion as you go. Again, this gives you an opportunity to learn their style preferences.
Another option is to guess…but keep your receipt. If you purchase from a retailer that allows returns (and you should), you’ll have the opportunity to surprise your partner with the ring, but STILL, exchange for another ring if they end up not loving the style you chose for them.
What Should a Promise Ring be Made Of?
Promise rings can range from simple and inexpensive, to the ornate and costly. The most inexpensive options are typically made out of metals like Stainless Steel, Sterling Silver, or various base metals plated with gold, platinum, or other precious metals.
If you’d like stones to be incorporated in your promise ring, the more inexpensive options typically involve Cubic Zirconia (CZ) stones. If you have a larger budget, you might consider alternatives like Moissanite, Morganite, or various colored gemstones. Diamonds are also available options. While large diamonds can be incredibly costly, smaller diamonds are much more affordable and can be used in some really beautiful ways as the main focus fo the ring or embellishments.
If you’re able to, you could consider metals like gold (yellow gold, white gold, or rose gold), platinum, or palladium. I mentioned earlier, that it’s possible to use your promise ring as an engagement ring as well. Need to save money in the short term, while still making the engagement process to feel really special in the long term?
If you purchase a promise ring that’s made out of gold or platinum, you can help to keep your cost low in the short term, by mounting a Cubic Zirconia to it for now, while it’s serving as a promise ring. The ring will look beautiful, won’t be excessively expensive, and will work well as a reminder of your love and commitment. When you get engaged, you can take that gold or platinum ring and replace the CZ center stone with a lab-created diamond, Moissanite, or some other stone that catches their eye. With the new stone, their old, familiar, ring will take on a new life and feel like it’s brand new!
What Does a Promise Ring Look Like?
There are many ring styles and designs that could be used as a promise ring. I’ll highlight several examples, but they’re only the very beginning of the options that you have available to select from.
Simple Promise Rings
Some people aren’t looking for flashy. Simple fits best. These rings appeal to the minimalist, and those that have a ‘less is more’ philosophy. If you’re looking for a simple promise ring for her, you might be drawn to something like the following. It has a simplicity that’s delicate and elegant.
Infinity Loop Rings
These rings have additional significance for some, based on the symbolism that’s built into the design. The sideways figure 8 is a symbol for infinity or forever.
Love Knot Promise Rings
Like many other promise ring designs, the love knot style has symbolism that adds real depth and meaning for many couples. Knots are a long-standing symbol for promises and serious commitment. The two sides of the knot hold and support each other. When joined properly, knots allow two separate pieces of rope to become one, to have increased capability, and to, collectively, withstand incredible pressure.
Tiarra Promise Rings
It’s said that a picture ‘is worth a thousand words.’ The image that this ring style provides is also a clear statement that’s made without words. Tiarra Promise Rings are a continual reminder of just how the person wearing the ring is thought of by the one that gave it to them. It says you’re a special—a princess!
Heart Promise Rings
A heart-shaped promise ring is a constant reminder of love. It’s a simple design with a message and meaning that’s heartfelt and powerful.
Fingerprint Promise Rings
There’s something awe-inspiring and special about the fact that fingerprints are unique to each individual. The fingerprint of the one you love on your ring is a continual reminder of how unique and special they are. The fingerprint also literally makes your ring different than ALL other rings in existence. It symbolizes the uniqueness of the other person, your love, and your commitment.
This is a fun combination of the heart symbolism and the uniqueness of the customized fingerprint.
Engraved Names Promise Rings
Seeing your partner’s name on your ring can be an additional special connection that engraved promise rings provide. There are many fonts, letter sizes, and materials to choose from if you choose to purchase this type of ring. You’ll also have the option of engraving on the outside of the ring, the inside of the ring, or BOTH! These are obviously customized rings, so in addition to the name, you can also engrave a date that’s significant for your relationship—or even a special message like, “Love You, Babe!”
Gemstone Promise Rings
Gemstones add a splash of color to promise rings. They allow you to use complementing colors and contrast to make a ring even more beautiful. The particular gem chosen can also add meaning, in some cases, because various gems are said to represent different emotions or sentiments. It’s interesting to read about those meanings, but I wouldn’t obsess about them—because the MOST important objective is for the person wearing the ring to LOVE it. That might mean choosing a striking color combination or using a stone that’s one of their favorite colors.
Promise Rings For Men
There are many colors and options for rings that could be used as promise rings for guys. Whether they like something thin or wide, shiny metal or camo as a finish, you’ll be able to find something that works well for them.
Matching Promising Rings
If you’re both wearing promise rings, you can choose rings that match or coordinate if you’d like. There are many options here too. The ring could resemble each other in terms of color, finish, and/or theme. Sometimes the graphics on the surface of the ring or the language engraved on the surface of the two rings fit together in some way.
Christian Promise Ring
These rings have religious symbolism that serves as a continual reminder of important beliefs, convictions, and ideals.
Purity (Chastity) Promise Ring
Almost any ring can serve as a purity ring. The important thing, is the meaning attached to the ring (more than what the ring says). It serves as a reminder regarding a commitment. The ring pictured be says, “I will wait for my beloved,” but only “my beloved” is visible on the outside of the ring.
Promise ring with birthstones
Birthstones represent the month in which you were born, and become a really nice way to customize a ring in a meaningful way while also adding some beautiful color to the ring. Some designs will allow you to add the birthstone that represents both of your birth birthstones if you’d like.
Promise Ring Bands
A promise ring band keeps things simple. No stone—just the metal ring as a reminder of your simple, but strong, commitment to each other. Some couples don’t want to draw a lot to the commitment they’ve made. They’re more reserved and like more simple things. If that sounds like your partner, this might be the right ring style for them.
Silicone Promise Rings
Silicone rings are really gaining in popularity! They’re extremely comfortable to wear, inexpensive, and more casual than many other options. Quality brands are extremely durable. You can wear them in the pool or shower. You can also work in them without fear of damage, in fact, they were originally worn by factory workers and craftsmen that couldn’t work with normal rings on for safety reasons. Silicone rings come in a wide variety of designs, widths, and color combinations.
Again, the examples shared above represent just SOME of the major categories of style options available, but the full scope of possible styles is vast! The important thing to understand, is that there are rings available to match every style preference and budget.
How Can You Tell if it’s a Promise Ring?
In most cases, promise rings look the same as many other types of rings, however, they typically are less expensive and ornate. For example, you would rarely find someone wearing a multiple carat diamond solitaire as a “promise ring.” It would be far more common to find a ring with one or more small stones or gems used as a promise ring.
You can recognize promise rings by the way they way they’re presented (what is said as they’re being given). Outside observers can sometimes recognize a ring as a promise ring when it isn’t being worn on the ring finger of the left hand AND there’s no other ring on that finger. Of course, it is quite possible for someone to wear a ring on one of their other fingers strictly for fashion, so you can’t be sure based on that observation alone.
How Will You Feel If He Gives You a Promise Ring?
Receiving a promise ring can be exciting for some, but disappointing for others!
If you’re hoping for an engagement ring, for example, you may initially be disappointed and wonder, “why did he give me a promise ring—doesn’t he see me as marriage material?” That’s especially true if you’ve already been dating for many years.
There are countless reasons why your partner might feel that a promise ring is the right next step for your relationship. Financial concerns are one really common reason that couples sometimes start with a promise ring, and then save money as aggressively as possible for a nicer ring—or the money they’ll need to cover other early expenses as they start a life together.
I started dating the woman that later became my wife during my Sophomore year at college. I felt financially unprepared at that time for marriage and still had A LOT studying ahead of me at the time.
We met during the summer and continued to date throughout the Fall. As Christmas approached, I found myself exploring the display cases at a local jeweler. I settled on a small ring—something I could afford at the time. The ring was a heart-shaped blue Sapphire mounted to a plated gold band. It was inexpensive but looked nice.
I was nervous to give it to her. I didn’t want to scare her away by coming on too strong, but I also wanted to communicate the evolving nature of the relationship. Her home was thousands of miles from mine while we were away from school. I liked the idea of giving her a physical reminder of me and our relationship. Fortunately, she loved the ring and understood the intent behind the gift.
Sometimes the decision to present a promise ring instead of an engagement ring is more of a timing issue than a money issue. Your partner may not understand your feelings, and could be afraid of freaking you out by moving too fast. They may want to finish school or just date a little longer to ensure that marriage is likely to work well for you both (especially if you haven’t been dating very long at that point). The promise ring shows they’re thinking about you! They care for you, and want to give you a physical representation of that love and commitment.
If you feel like your partner is resisting commitment or the relationship is progressing too slowly, talk about it, but try to do it in a way that recognizes their effort and intent. Trying to see things from their perspective, and acknowledging their good intentions should lead to a more productive discussion. Best selling author Stephen R Covey taught the communication principle ‘seek first to understand—and then to be understood.’
That’s not our normal ‘knee jerk,’ or natural, way of communicating—but by making a conscious effort to approach important conversations this way, you can often achieve deeper communication, less defensiveness, and ultimately, a better mutual understanding.
Why Wear a Promise Ring?
When I was in High School, girls often wore their boyfriend’s class ring or school jacket. When you saw a girl in the hall wearing a jacket that’s 8 sizes too large, or an oversized ring with yarn wrapped around the band to help it fit, that was a visible sign that they were in a relationship.
Engagement rings, wedding rings, and promise rings aren’t oversized like those old class rings that girls used to so proudly wear, but they’re still a visible symbol of a relationship. As I’ve mentioned, that symbol serves three major purposes for people in relationships:
- To remind the wearer of their partner and the value of their relationship
- To remind the wearer of the commitment they made to their partner.
- To visibly broadcast the fact that the wearer is in a committed relationship.
Promise rings used for other purposes can be used to remind the wearer of a special commitment to any given promise, ideal, belief or goal.
What Does a Promise Ring Mean in High School?
When promise rings are exchanged by kids in high school, it’s typically is a sign of exclusivity (they’re a couple). Sometimes promise rings are given with the sentiment that the two plan to get married when they’re old enough too, but that’s a less common implied connotation.
Another common application of promise rings in high school has to do with abstinence. Parents, or religious leaders, sometimes gift promise rings to kids as part of a commitment the kids make to maintain their virginity. We’ll talk more about this particular application of the promise ring a little later.
How to Drop Hints That You Want a Promise Ring
The best way to drop hints that you want a promise ring, is to talk about other couples that have used them and then to mention how you feel about the gesture…or ask how your partner feels about them.
Stopping by a jewelry display case (in a department store or mall for example) to admire some of the rings that could work as promise rings is another great approach. If you just admire them and then mention what that type of ring is used for, you’ll let them know that you see value in the gesture, that you’re open to it, and the kind of rings that you might like. You can have a quick exchange, like those mentioned above, in a really natural way that doesn’t sound scripted or contrived.
Someone recently asked me, “do guys know what a promise ring is, anyway?” Nope, was my simple answer. Of course, not all guys are in that boat, but I find that in most cases, it’s something that guys haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about until things get really serious, one of their friends brings it up, or you find a way to educate them on it.
Can a Girl Give a Guy a Promise Ring?
Do guys wear a promise ring, or does just the girl wear a promise ring? Instead of waiting for boyfriends to present a promise ring, some girls want to take matters into their own hands if they can. They often ask, “Is it weird to give a guy a promise ring?”
In the 1950s, the answer to that question would have been an obvious, “yes.” It was weird at the time, but things have changed over the past 70 years! While it’s far less common for the girl to present a promise ring to her boyfriend, it can, and does, happen.
I also hear people ask, “Should I give my boyfriend a promise ring if he gives on to be first?” The answer is, “it depends.” Typically, promise rings, like engagement rings, are only worn by one partner in the relationship.
After I got engaged, it was hard for me not to have a ring on my finger. I was excited about the commitment I had made, and I couldn’t understand the double standard that’s customary with those rings. Why should my Fiancée be expected to wear a ring if I wasn’t wearing one—it didn’t make any sense to me.
More-and-more guys feel the same way, and would be happy to wear a promise ring if you purchase for them. Remember, that most guys would just get a band. They can wear that ring on whichever hand and finger they prefer, so it shouldn’t look strange or make them too uncomfortable.
What Does a Promise Ring Mean From a Boyfriend?
When your boyfriend gives you a promise ring, it typically means that they want you to make a more formalized commitment to each other. The ring could be a step toward engagement in their mind. It could also be a way for them to ensure that you’re both ‘singing from the same sheet of music’ when it comes to the relationship (that you both have similar expectations for now…and the future.
What Does a Promise Ring Mean for a Girlfriend?
The promise ring meaning for her is often richer and more defined. It’s relationship progress, commitment, and even an important social signal. Rings that demonstrate deep commitment are almost always exciting news to share with roommates, parents, friends, and siblings.
Promise Rings for Couples
When you both decide to wear rings as a symbol of the commitment you have to each other, you can coordinate those rings, if you’d like, to match or complement each other.
Many high-quality, yet inexpensive rings are offered in multiple widths to accommodate the style preferences of each partner. Here’s an example of a simple and affordable ring style that I really love. A ring like this can work really well for a man or woman because a variety of widths are offered, including 2mm, 4mm, 6mm, or 8mm.
Here’s another set that I really like. Both rings are made of the famously tough metal, Tungsten Carbide—which means incredible scratch resistance! These matching bands would look equally great on a man or woman’s hand.
Ring sets like either of these can allow you BOTH to wear a matching visual representation of your inner commitment.
As I’ve mentioned several times, there are MANY different ways that promise rings can be used. The sections that follow will give you a clearer understanding of some of those common applications.
The Long-Distance Relationship Promise Ring
Remember when I talked about the ring that I purchased for my girlfriend in college? When we weren’t at the college that we attended together, it was a very long-distance relationship. The promise ring that I gave her that first Christmas was a reminder of me, and our relationship—as well as the exclusive nature of our relationship.
It’s common for college students to carry on long-distance relationships during the summer. People that get job transfers or military reassignments are also forced into long-distance relationships at times. The presentation of a promise ring can provide insight into just how committed your partner is. If they hesitate to accept the ring, it may uncover issues that you weren’t aware of, so you can get them out in the open and discuss them now—not later, when you’re hundreds, or thousands, of miles apart.
On the other hand, if your partner is excited about the ring and willing to embrace the intended commitment that it represents, you can leave with greater certainty that your relationship is on solid footing.
The Meaning of a Promise Ring From Parents
When mom or dad gives you a promise ring, it’s typically going to fall into one of two categories. The ring is either intended to symbolize their unconditional love for you, or it’s supposed to serve as a ‘chastity ring’ or ‘purity ring.’
A Chastity Ring is a physical reminder of a promise that your parents ask you to make to them, to abstain from sexual activity until you’re married (or reach some other milestone that they define as they introduce the ring). As temptations present themselves, the ring is intended to act as an anchor and support.
What is a Friendship Promise Ring?
When you have an incredibly special and unique relationship with a person that you want to recognize in a meaningful way, you can give them a promise ring—or buy a matching set so you’re both wearing coordinating or matching rings.
A friendship promise ring is a way to commit to always be there for each other. Again, it’s a continual physical reminder of the special bond that you share.
What is a Christian Promise Ring?
A Christian Promise Ring, which is sometimes also referred to by some as a ‘Catholic Promise Ring’, is just a religious-themed ring that features scripture, depictions of saints, a crucifix, or some other religious symbolism. These rings can be used to represent a wide variety of commitments, or promises, however, most often they’re used for spiritual or moral commitments.
A Christian Promise Ring might also commonly be given to a child as a chastity ring. The design theme often adds an extra layer of significance and commitment for the wearer. These rings can also be used as a reminder of other meaningful spiritual goals.
Can I Buy a Promise Ring for Myself?
Promise rings don’t always have to be gifted to you by someone else. There ARE situations where it could be helpful to buy YOURSELF a ring to commemorate an important goal or commitment that you’ve made.
A young student might buy a promise ring to mark a commitment to do WHATEVER it takes to get into medical school for example. During those times when they’re feeling discouraged with school, when thoughts of quitting cross their mind, the promise ring can remind them of their commitment and help to get them through.
A promise ring could be used to represent a commitment to a weight loss goal and a healthier way of eating. When you’re tempted and wavering, the ring could serve as a reminder, and boost your determination to fight through temptations and cravings.
Remember, that the ring can really hold any significance that you attribute to it, so your use of a promise ring (even one that you purchase for yourself), can take any form that’s meaningful in your life at the time.
What is the RIGHT Time to Get a Promise Ring?
There are no universal answers to this question—so much depends on the giver and the receiver. If you buy a promise ring for your partner too early in the relationship, it could scare certain personality types away. It’s kind of like saying, “I love you” after the first date when you still hardly know a person.
You have to read the signals of the person you’re thinking of giving the ring to in order to know when they’ll be receptive to that kind of a gesture and commitment. Some may be ready only a few weeks after meeting them, while others may take years to get there.
It’s safe to say that you probably shouldn’t spring a ring on someone after only a couple of dates—that’s way too soon for most people. Wait until you have some accumulated experiences—until the relationship has matured.
If you have any questions about how the ring might be received, it would probably be best to have a discussion about how your partner views the relationship and the stage that you’re in. Ask about the future (not marriage necessarily… but just where they see things going over the next 6 to 12 months). Hopefully, this kind of conversation will allow doubts or concerns related to the relationship, or commitment in general, to surface.
Another approach could be to talk about a friend that gave their partner a promise ring. Ask subtle questions to find out how they feel about the gesture. Because you’re talking about another couple, it should be a fairly comfortable way to gain insights about how receptive they might be if you were to present THEM with a promise ring in the future.
What Age is Too Young for a Promise Ring?
When you’re using the promise ring in non-romantic ways (between parent and child or to symbolize a commitment to important goals for example), the logic behind how soon is too soon will be different. What isn’t different—is the fact that there are no one-size-fits-all answers. Parents often wonder when a purity ring might be appropriate to give a child, for example.
Kids are all different in terms of maturity and their ability to understand and keep commitments. You’ll need to gauge the signals from your child as you interact with them to know when they’re ready to properly understand and be influenced by something symbolic—like a promise ring. It truly has more to do with maturity level and comprehension than age.
What is a Good Price for a Promise Ring?
Promise rings can run the pricing gamut from simple and affordable to extravagant and expensive. Quality rings can start at about $15. On the other end of the spectrum, fancier options might cost several thousand dollars.
The amount you spend on a promise ring, depends a lot on the preferences of the person that will be wearing the ring—and the available budget of the person buying it. Another important factor that might influence the amount that you spend, is how long the ring is expected to be used. If you plan to propose with another ring in a few months, you probably shouldn’t spend much on the, very temporary, promise ring. If you anticipate that the ring will be worn for several years, or you plan to later use it as an engagement ring, you could certainly justify spending more to get a quality, long-lasting, ring.
I’ll outline the materials and features that you can expect to find in various price ranges below.
A Promise Ring Under 200 Dollars:
If your budget allows you to purchase a promise ring that costs between $100 and $200, you should be able to find a number of options in Sterling Silver, 10k gold, and even 14k gold. If you choose gold, you’ll have the option of yellow, white, or rose gold. If you’d like stones in your ring, you can get a very small diamond or gemstone in this price range. If you’re looking for a more substantial center stone with a modest price tag, diamond simulants are your best bet. These include stones like Cubic Zirconia and Moissanite for example.
A Promise Ring Under 100 Dollars:
With a budget of $50 to $100 dollars, you’re looking at Sterling Silver, gold filled jewelry, or Platinum-plated Sterling Silver. Gold-filled rings have a very thick layer of gold on top of a Sterling Silver base-metal. These should be much more durable than most plated jewelry. Center stones in this price range will typically be simulants and man-made stones. Cubic Zirconia will be most common.
A Promise Ring Under 50 Dollars:
Rings that cost less than $50 can still be beautiful and durable. In this price range, you’ll be looking at plated rings most commonly. Plated rings typically have a relatively thin layer of gold, platinum, or rhodium on top of a base-metal. The base metal is often comprised of Sterling Silver or a Copper alloy. While the plating will eventually be worn away, it can be recoated by a jeweler at a reasonable cost as needed. Hopefully, you won’t need to ‘redip’ your ring more than every year or two.
How Much Should You Spend on a Promise Ring?
You should NEVER feel pressured to spend a certain percentage of your annual salary on something like a ring. That’s kind of like saying you should spend 2 months of your income on Christmas presents. A ring is a gift. The value of the gift isn’t in the ‘melt value’ of the metals or the resale value of the center stone—it’s in the sentimental value that the ring holds. It’s good to purchase a quality ring that your partner finds attractive, but THAT should be your aim—not society’s expectations.
The rules about the percentage of your income that you should spend on rings, like engagement rings, were created and promoted by the people that profit from your purchase—they’re completely ridiculous.
Here’s the standard, in my opinion, spend as little as possible, while still buying a ring that both you and your partner can be happy with and proud of. It doesn’t need to be worth more than the rings that all your friends are wearing…just attractive, durable—and something that stirs pleasant thoughts and feelings when you look at it.
If that’s your mode of thinking, it won’t matter what the average cost of a promise ring is for other couples, how much the latest fashion magazines say you should spend on your ring, or any other social norm related to spending expectations. You’ll care more about VALUE than VANITY, and should end up with a really attractive ring AND some significant savings.
How to Give a Promise Ring
There’s a great deal about promise rings that isn’t solidly defined by culture and tradition. One reason, is that promise rings can have such a wide variety of meanings and purposes. The MOST important thing, is to clearly communicate what you intend for the ring to mean (in terms of commitment), so they understand the context of the gift.
All other elements of the process are can be planned to make the moment special and memorable. The ring is sometimes given during a quiet conversation in a private setting, other times it might be given over dinner at a nice restaurant, for example.
Do You Kneel When Giving a Promise Ring?
While it looks romantic, you shouldn’t kneel when presenting a promise ring. That’s a well-known tradition with engagement. One of the worst things you can do is accidentally confuse your partner about what’s about to happen.
If you drop to one knee and pull out a ring box, your partner will assume you’re proposing (asking them to marry you). They’ll then likely be disappointed that you ONLY gave them a promise ring, they’ll get confused and think you ARE engaged, or they’ll freak out and get scared by the fact that you’re apparently trying to propose marriage (when it may feel too soon to them at that point). Regardless—any of those outcomes are going to be AWKWARD!
I’d suggest sitting down and starting with a little conversation. Early in the discussion, you might let them know that while you’re not ready for marriage right now, you’d like to celebrate the relationship and acknowledge your mutual commitment with a promise ring—and then speak from the heart. At that point, you can show them the ring as you tell them how important they are to you and how much you value (and are committed to) the relationship.
What is a Promise Ring Ceremony?
Promise Ring Ceremonies are events that can be very much like weddings. A couple that wishes to make a deeper commitment to each other, can invite friends and family to watch them exchange rings and vows.
Unlike a wedding ceremony, no minister needs to officiate, because marriage isn’t actually being performed. In all other senses, this type of event can feel very much like a small wedding. Some keep these events small, inviting only their closest circle of family and friends, while others turn these events into big celebrations that feel very much like weddings.
The vows that are exchanged, have typically written by each partner to express their love and commitment to the other. There are no real rules about the way people arrange those sentiments. Some people choose to recite a poem or the lyrics to a meaningful song instead of doing something more traditional.
How Long Should You Wear a Promise Ring?
The promise ring will typically continue to be worn for as long as you’re in that phase of the relationship. Those using a promise ring to symbolize a different type of goal or commitment will wear it until they’ve fulfilled the commitment or obtained the desired goal. The total span of time will vary for each individual and application—but it will typically be several months to several years.
With that in mind, it’s important to be selective about the materials that you chose for your ring. Reviews from past buyers can be really helpful, especially those that are left after owning the ring for a while, so you can get a sense for durability. Reviews are especially important for ‘plated’ rings. A plated ring is one where a precious metal, like gold or platinum, is layered over a cheaper base metal, like Silver or Copper.
Not all plated rings are bad, but you have to be very careful with the purchase. I bought this ring for my wife about a year ago. It’s honestly a beautiful ring and still looks like new. It is a plated ring, but the plating seems to be really thick. I’m curious to see how it holds up over the next few years. So far, I’m incredibly impressed. It has the look, and feel, of a MUCH more expensive ring! Most people that look at it would assume it’s a diamond ring. At less than $70, it’s hard to beat!
Not all plated rings hold up. Manufacturers sometimes try to cut corners to collect short-term profits instead of building a reputation for quality (long-term profits). I once gave my wife a very inexpensive plated ring to wear. It was a really attractive ring when it was brand new. Within 30 days, the thin Rhodium plating had completely worn off major sections of the ring, exposing a reddish-brown base metal of Copper beneath the wafer-thin coating.
My daughter recently started wearing a Rhodium plated Copper ring. On the very first day that she wore it, the ring started turning her finger green. I’m certain that within a month or so, the Rhodium would have been worn away if she had continued to wear it. The message here, is that plated rings can be inexpensive and beautiful, but you need to be SURE to buy from a manufacturer that focuses on QUALITY if you’re going to use them.
If you buy the cheapest plated ring you can find, you’ll probably have to replace it in 4 to 6 weeks. If that happens, your total cost, once all is said and done, will be higher than they would have been to purchase a higher quality ring from the start.
Sterling Silver and Stainless Steel are two inexpensive materials for promise rings that might be worth at least exploring. Gold and Platinum can also stand the test of time, but might be too expensive for some budgets. One way that you can use quality materials, but still stay on budget, is to buy thinner rings that use less gold or platinum in them.
A few examples follow. You’ll typically pay $150 to $250 for a non-plated gold or platinum option. Here’s an example of a white gold half eternity band with 15 small melee diamonds. It’s 10k white gold (not plated), and costs less than $170. This delicate White Gold ring is made of 14k gold and also features a very small diamond for less than $150. At less than $200, I think this 14k gold ring with three diamonds is a unique and beautiful option too. This infinity promise ring features 14k gold and lab diamonds for less than $240. It has rich symbolism and a beautiful design
If you’re a lowkey and casual kind of couple, that values simplicity and comfort, you could also consider a silicone ring like this one. These are lightweight, they stretch, and are extremely durable. It’s not a showpiece, but at less than $20, it certainly is comfortable and practical.
What Hand is a Promise Ring Worn On?
One of the most common questions I get about promise rings, is whether they should be worn on the left or right hand. In reality, you can do whatever makes you comfortable, but wearing it on your non-dominant hand can often help to protect the ring from some common wear and tear.
If you’re right-handed, you tend to grab things with that dominant hand. The more you pick things up with that hand, the more likely your ring is to get scratched as it comes in contact with various items during your everyday activities. That isn’t a big deal, but since you can wear a promise ring on either side, it might be a worthwhile consideration.
What Finger is a Promise Ring Worn On?
Just like you can wear your ring on either hand, you can also wear a promise ring on any of your fingers. For rings given to represent relationship commitment, and exclusivity, wearing the ring on the ‘ring finger’ of your left hand (the finger next to your ‘little finger’) could be seen as a more meaningful gesture.
It can signal deep commitment because that’s the finger others tend to check for clues on whether you’re engaged or married. Wearing your promise ring on the ring finger of your left hand is a strong signal that you’re off the market (so to speak).
Those that prefer to wear their promise ring on one of the other fingers of their left or right hand, can choose whatever’s most comfortable. ANY finger can be used. The pointer finger and middle finger are common choices. The Thumb and little finger are also sometimes chosen, but much less commonly.
Those that avoid wearing a promise ring on the ring finger of their left hand often make that choice because they DON’T want to send a signal that they’re engaged or married until they are. Part of that decision is sometimes also just the desire to save that culturally significant ring finger for their engagement and wedding rings.
What to do With a Promise Ring After a Breakup
You can give a promise ring back after breaking up if you’re on friendly terms with your ex…and want to. Otherwise, here are a few other ideas …
- Sell it on eBay
- Donate it to goodwill
- Drop it in a collection plate
- Hand it to a homeless person the next time you’re asked for change
- Toss it into a wishing well and hope for better luck next time
- Melt it down
- Try skipping it across a lake or pond
- Give it to a friend that can simply appreciate it as nice jewelry (without any emotional baggage).
Get generous or destructive if you want it gone! Parting with the ring can be therapeutic if things didn’t end well. The last thing that you want to do after ending a relationship (that’s definitely over), is hang on to mementos that pull your mind back, making it hard to reset and move on.
What to do with a Promise Ring After Engagement
If you’ve been wearing your promise ring on the ring finger of your left hand, you’ll want to move it to another finger, so your new engagement ring can occupy that finger going forward. You can continue to wear your promise ring, if you’d like on your right hand, or one of the other available fingers on your left hand.
Here’s an idea, if you don’t like the feel of a lot of rings on your hands, make a promise ring necklace. A promise ring necklace is just a simple chain, or necklace, that you run through your promise ring so you can hang it around your neck.
Guys can wear a promise ring necklace too if they’d like. Some jobs won’t allow jewelry to be worn on the hands for safety reasons. That’s often the case for jobs in manufacturing and construction. In those situations, a promise ring necklace could be the perfect alternative.
Promise rings remind us of commitments that we’ve made to others…or to ourselves. They can also visually communicate that we’ve made commitments to others. The meaning and significance that a particular promise ring holds for the giver, and the receiver, depends on what was expressed when the ring is given.
Promise rings don’t have to be fancy, or expensive, in order to have real significance! There are no universal rules in terms of how much you should spend on a promise ring, what they should look like, or when you should give them—because every couple and circumstance is a little different.
The Difference Between a Promise Ring and an Engagement Ring
White Gold vs Platinum | The Best Metal for Your Special Ring
The Difference Between Sterling Silver and 925 Silver