Various promise rings with the words "forever," "only you," "always"...

Various promise rings with the words "forever," "only you," "always" and "I love you" are for sale at Maddaloni Jewelers in Huntington ($250 to $450).   Credit: Daniel Goodrich

Rich Kawas and Laura West commemorated their bond with a promise ring — but the two aren't teenagers, they're in their '60s and have no plans to wed. So, why a promise ring?

"It’s to show her it’s all about true love, not getting married," Kawas, 64, says of the ring. "Why get married after three times?" Kawas adds, referring to himself. He notes, however, that he is devoted to West and considers her his "girlfriend, live-in partner and almost wife."

Long Island jewelers say Kawas and West are among a growing number of older lovebirds who are buying the objects of their affection a promise ring to acknowledge they’re in an important relationship — expanding the promise ring from a traditional expression of puppy love into a modern symbol of commitment between adults.

Rich Kawas, of Little Silver, New Jersey, purchased a promise...

Rich Kawas, of Little Silver, New Jersey, purchased a promise ring for Laura West from Maddaloni Jewelers in Huntington. Credit: Laura West

WHO'S GETTING PROMISE RINGS?

"When I started out in the business 42 years ago, kids 13, 15 and 17 used to get promise rings left and right, and now they’re a very big part of today," says Louis Maddaloni, owner of Maddaloni Jewelers in Huntington. He says he’s seeing customers come in to buy promise rings now who are not just in their 20s, 30s and 40s but "in their 50s, 60s, 70s — even 80s." He sold Kawas the diamonds and platinum ring that he gave to West.

"They’ve had a divorce, children … and don’t need to be married again," Maddaloni says of the older purchasers. "They want to be with someone sincerely."

Jewelers say men are also being given promise rings these days, couples are exchanging promise rings; and some are purchasing matching rings.

"We’re just beginning to see it," Gary Hudes, president at Gennaro’s Jewelers in Bellmore says of buyers beyond their teenage years coming in for promise rings. "But it looks like a trend that will pick up."

A SPECIAL MEANING

Hudes says adults are using the rings today to show the recipient they really care about them, but they’re not declaring exactly what lies ahead.

"They’re making the commitment to the other person but they’re not quite there yet for the engagement," Hudes says. "They’re giving a sign, ‘I’m committing to you.’"

Marc Solomon, president and owner of Solomon’s Fine Jewelry in Plainview and Albertson, says the stores do a "tremendous" engagement ring business but things have been picking up lately with promise ring sales; and he thinks that’s partially due to the pandemic lockdown.

"I sold one just the other day," Solomon says.

Solomon says the meaning of a promise ring is more intense than back in the day with teenagers.

Louis Maddaloni at the counter with men's and women's promise rings. The first shot is a close-up of Laura West's ring.  

"It’s much more serious. With people living with people during the pandemic, they want to tell the person they really love them and they want to commit but not go crazy," Solomon says. "You can hunker down with someone you were dating and a strong like can grow into love."

Diane Frassanito, co-owner of Frassanito Jewelers in Huntington, says she is seeing so many people in romances later in life buying promise rings that the store has a special promise rings collection. She adds that older purchasers can typically afford a more expensive ring than the teenager who may have historically spent around $75 to $150 on a promise ring, so the pieces offered in the collection are priced from around $795 to several thousand dollars. They range from colorful gemstones to diamond rings.

Designs by Kamni, a private jeweler who operates by appointment on Long Island out of Hicksville, also offers a variety of styles she says are appropriate for adult promise rings, including eternity bands.

"To me it’s a special treasure," West, a grandmother of four says of her promise ring. She and Kawas have been dating for 10 years but started living together in their Little Silver, New Jersey, home eight years ago. "He didn’t have to do this, but it’s so beautiful and generous."