Who Keeps the Ring after a Broken Engagement?


The last Bachelorette couple, Jef Holm and Emily Maynard have just announced their breakup after getting engaged just a couple of months ago. This got me thinking, seeing as it comes on the heels of the news a few days ago that Courtney Robertson had also broken up with Ben Flajnik. These couples got engaged on national TV with engagement rings worth tens of thousands of dollars. Now they're broken up, what happens to the ring?

In the case of the Bachelorette couples, there's actually a clause in their contract to return the ring to the Jewellers that supply the rings to the TV show since it was not bought by the fiance.

But what about in real life, where the guy buys the ring and presents it to his girlfriend during the engagement which he hopes will lead to marriage? If the marriage never happens, who keeps the ring?

The engagement ring is a not-so-old proposal tradition that has gotten great traction among young contemporary couples. It is traditional in the sense that it is usually the guy that pays for, and presents the ring to the woman in the relationship.

Some people consider the engagement ring a gift with no strings attached. They believe that if a man gives his GF a ring of his volition, and she accepts it, the ring becomes hers to keep forever, whether or not they end up married.

Others say, it depends - so if it was the man that broke the engagement, he forfeits the ring, but if it was the woman who called off the wedding, then she must give back the ring. Sounds fair, right? But what if the woman decided to call off the engagement because the man cheated? Or the man called it off cos the woman checked out of the relationship?

The final camp is that which says the ring is a conditional gift which concludes with the wedding, and if the engagement is broken for whatever reason, the gift should be returned to the person who gave it.


I got my own proposal and ring. We shopped for it together, though Atala paid and then gave it to me in his own time. I am of the opinion that the ring is a gift, but it is one, just like the wedding ring, that is so closely tied to the relationship that if the relationship is gone, it makes no sense to me to keep it or use it.

At this point, after marriage, I will either return it outright, or it goes into our joint pot that will be split between us. Pre-marriage, the ring would have gone right back.

The only scenario I see for the woman keeping the ring is that she offers it back to the man and he tells her plainly to keep it. If he wants the ring back enough to ask for it back, then by all means let him have it.


PS - there I was thinking I was done with The Bachelor and Bachelorette Series until I read that Ashley Hebert and J.P. Rosenbaum are still getting married. They will be exchanging vows this December in a TV special. Fingers crossed for them.

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