Broken Engagements – Who Keeps the Ring?

Calla Gold Jewelry Princess Diamond Engagement Ring in Platinum

Who Keeps This Lovingly Designed Engagement Ring?

Stop the Presses; Newspaperman Tackles Ticklish Engagement Ring Ownership Subject

There sat the email from an East Coast reporter. Subject line: Broken Engagements - Who Keeps the Ring?

This reporter wanted a wedding Jeweler's input on the delicate question: “What happens if an engagement is broken, to the admittedly expensive engagement ring?”

It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. Living in Santa Barbara (one of the #1 wedding locales) and having designed many custom engagement rings and wedding rings, I do have an expert opinion about this. Here’s what I shared with him after reminding him as a Santa Barbara-based jewelry designer (note: this is not legal advice):

Five Things I Think About the Etiquette of Broken Engagements and Who Keeps the Ring

  1. If a couple is engaged more than a year I think she keeps it. However, if the center diamond is from his family and meaningful, she may need to return the family diamond.
  2. If they were planning the wedding and invitations went out, and he breaks it off, she totally keeps the ring. In a way as payback for investing her time, her heart, keeping herself free for him, and the embarrassment of not getting married after telling god and everyone they were going to.
  3. If she breaks the engagement, she returns the ring. If he was untrue, she keeps it.
  4. If he breaks it she keeps it. But if she was untrue she should return it.
  5. Back to the family diamond issue, if he breaks the engagement and invitations were sent, she keeps the ring. If the family offers a reasonable diamond to replace the family one, she should return the family diamond. It means more to his family than it would to her.

These are my opinions and have no law that I'm aware of behind them.

Calla Gold, Santa Barbara Engagement and Wedding Ring designer AND the "Emily Post of Jewelry Etiquette"

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About Calla Gold

Calla Gold is a Personal Jeweler and Author who takes pride in working with clients one-on-one to integrate their personal sense of style and taste into custom designed jewelry and repaired jewelry pieces.   Unlike typical Santa Barbara jewelry businesses, Calla Gold has no brick-and-mortar location. Calla Gold comes to you, bringing you the jewelry collection you want to see and collaborating with you to create unique custom jewelry. Calla also works with at-a-distance clients.

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Renee Manseau
Renee Manseau
12 years ago

I’d have to agree with this for the most part. The one that breaks it off loses say.

But personally, I don’t know if I’d want to keep my engagement ring unless I were to ask a personal jeweler (hint, hint) to reuse the diamond(s) to make something I could wear out and about as a newly single woman.

Santa Barbara Coach
12 years ago

I guess I never realized how complicated all this could be. There certainly are a lot of nuances! I just had a woman at my work out share how she just got back two diamond pieces of jewelry that her then-husband had originally given her over 20 years ago. He is remarried and she is remarried and divorced a second time and this just got resolved. She just asked him for the pieces and after all this time he was (according to her happily) willing to give them back. So I guess these sagas can really live on in minds… Read more »

12 years ago

I know someone who had to go to court and invest months of her life, oodles of her dollars, and tons of tears to resolving the issue of “who gets the ring when the engagement is called off.” What do you advise if one of the pair DIES? I know someone that happened to and the ring possession came into question.