If you break up, what happens to the engagement ring?
Breakups are never easy, especially when they involve the end of an engagement. One question that sometimes arises in such situations is whether the engagement ring should be returned, or if it can be kept by the recipient. It’s a delicate topic, and there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, as every relationship and circumstance is unique. Let’s explore the options.
The legal perspective on returning an engagement ring:
In some jurisdictions, engagement rings are considered a “conditional gift.” This means that the ring is given on the condition that the marriage takes place. If the engagement is called off, the person who proposed typically has a legal right to the return of the ring. However, depending on what the circumstances around the engagement ending are, this might not be the case, and it may just be considered a gift that the recipient can keep. Laws for such things vary from place to place, so if you do feel the need to go down the legal route, seek legal advice from a lawyer in your area.
The emotional perspective:
While the legal aspect is one part of the equation, most couples don’t resort to utilising it. Just because something might be recommended by law, that doesn’t take the emotional side of a broken engagement into account – and emotions often play a much more substantial role to the decision. Here are some considerations:
- Communication: Open and honest communication is key. Have a calm and respectful conversation with your ex-partner about the ring’s future. It’s an opportunity to express your feelings and understand theirs.
- Sentimental value: Engagement rings often carry significant sentimental value – perhaps far moreso than the monetary value of the ring. It might be too difficult emotionally to keep hold of, or alternatively, being able to keep the ring might mean much more to them than the re-sale cost would to you.
- Shared expenses: If you and your ex-partner shared the cost of the ring or if it was a family heirloom, it may complicate matters. Be willing to discuss how the ring’s value should be divided or shared fairly, or who it should rightly be returned to should it be a family heirloom.
- Consideration for feelings: Be considerate of each other’s feelings. Returning the ring might be an act of closure for one person, while the other might want to keep it as a memento.
- Future use: Discuss what will happen to the ring if it’s returned. Some choose to sell it, while others may keep it for personal reasons or future generations. Some may return it on the basis it’s not to be used again. This is up to you and your partner to try and decide.
How to resolve it in a friendly way:
In many cases, a friendly resolution is possible. Here are some suggestions of what to do with the ring.
- You might decide together to return the ring as a symbol of closure and respect for each other’s feelings.
- You could agree to sell the ring and divide the proceeds between the both of you, so no one feels like it’s ‘unfair’.
- If the ring has deep sentimental value, you might keep it as a personal keepsake while acknowledging its significance to the relationship.
Remember that breakups are emotionally charged, so be open to compromise and focus on finding a solution that brings a sense of closure and respect for both parties. And if you’re ready to move on with the next chapter of your life, read our guide to divorce rings, and the psychology behind them.