Bret Michaels is shooting down reports that he and on again/off again girlfriend of 16 years, Kristi Lynn Gibson, are engaged -- and claims that the big rock we've been seeing on her finger is simply a "promise ring."

Michaels was on the CBS "Early Show" this morning, where he said that rumors of him proposing to Kristi over 4th of July weekend were untrue -- but added, "She's a beautiful woman, she's strong, and I love her."

As far as marriage plans go, Bret says it's a "work in progress."