diamond engagement ring

The Wedding’s Off: What To Do With the Diamond Engagement Ring?

While most engagements have happy endings, some do not always continue down the path to marriage. With it already being a difficult situation, it’s important to know about the etiquette surrounding a broken engagement and the ring.


Who Keeps the Diamond Engagement Ring?

  • Many wedding and etiquette experts agree that the woman should return the engagement ring to the man.
  • Others say that it depends on who broke off the engagement: if it was the woman, they indicate she should return the ring. If  it was the man,  the woman should keep the ring due to the costs of paying for the dress and other wedding expenses.
  • If the ring was given on a birthday or a holiday such as Valentine’s Day, Christmas or New Year’s, some legal minds consider it a gift and not necessary to return.
  • If the ring was an heirloom, it should always be returned to the family.

At the end of the day, much of this depends on individual circumstances. A good rule of thumb is to go with what each person feels is right to them, taking into consideration any personal factors.

Does the Law Override Etiquette With a Diamond Engagement Ring?

While some broken engagements end amicably, others can be more complicated or difficult.  Whichever the case, it still may be surprising to find that some states have laws governing engagement rings.

According to CNN.com “in California, it depends on who broke the engagement. For example, if the person who received the ring is the one who is reneging on the engagement, then that person must relinquish the jewelry. In New York, North Carolina, Minnesota, Tennessee and other states, appellate courts say engagement rings are conditional gifts that must be returned to the gift giver if the condition — namely, the marriage — does not take place, regardless of who broke off the engagement. Kansas and Montana say a gift, once given, cannot be taken back.”

In general, law does override etiquette and cultural traditions with engagement rings. It is important to know what the legalities are in the state where the couple resides if any problems arise.

Reselling the Diamond Engagement Ring

Something that may come as a shock to those wishing to sell their engagement ring is how fast it depreciates when they leave the store after the sale. Contrary to popular belief, diamond rings rarely hold their value and often get only a fraction of the initial purchase price.

Despite this gloomy news, one can still recoup some of the money. Here are a few smart tips to get you started:

  1. Do your research. One of the biggest problems with selling an engagement ring is that many rush it too fast, and do not get as much as they could have had they looked at all options. Look at similar rings and diamonds to get an idea of pricing.
  2. Avoid pawn shops. Although a popular option, you likely will not get much for your money and these shops should be used as a last resort.
  3. Patient? Sell online. Check out online stores to get an idea of what your diamond is selling for (make sure you have your documentation in order to compare apples to apples). Sites such as eBay, Craigslist, and your local online classifieds are great places to start selling online.
  4. Check out Rapaport Diamond Price List. Wholesalers and diamond dealers use this frequently and it will give you an idea of what they are buying the diamonds for and what you might be able to expect.
  5. Break it up. Consider selling the setting and diamond separately, especially if the setting is intricate and of high quality, since most lose money on the setting over the diamond. The diamond wholesalers are more interested in the diamond than the setting.
  6. Make it Presentable. Get it professionally cleaned and use the best photography, lighting and ring box. Some jewelers will be able to take professional pictures. Put all the paperwork together and be prepared to show it to potential buyers.

Photo courtesy of thefrisky.com

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