Despite your best efforts, your relationship may not work, and one of you or maybe even the two of you may have to break your marriage.
When this happens, you are forced to figure out a lot of things, some thorny and others that may be non-issues.
If the relationship had been very serious, there may be several contentious issues for you both to figure out, but even if you’d not moved things so far ahead, one of the thorny issues you may be forced to take a lot of time dealing with is who takes or gets to keep the engagement ring.
This is especially true if neither of you had outlined your expectations regarding the engagement ring at the start of the engagement party. It may also become an issue if either party changes tone now that things have turned sour.
Unfortunately, with all emotions running high and raw, it might be too hard for you two to settle things, and you may have to turn to the law – in which case, understanding what the law says about the ownership of the engagement ring after a divorce or broken engagement is essential.
Who legally owns an engagement ring after divorce?
Typically, the law doesn’t recognize the engagement ring as marital property that should be divided between couples, so this decision may lie between the two individuals.
If this doesn’t work, the court has to go back to determine if the ring was given as a conditional or an unconditional gift – this is because, at the basic level, the ring is regarded as a gift.
So, if the ring was fairly expensive and the marriage pretty short-lived, the court may order that they sell the ring and then split the proceeds halfway.
Alternatively, the spouse wishing to keep the ring may have to credit their part onto the other spouse’s account within the agreed final distribution for the property.
In case the engagement ring was a family heirloom, the court will take a different approach to this case, deeming the ring a simple gift.
With this in mind, if you have substantial wealth before marriage and the engagement ring to be given is a family heirloom, it will be wise to enter some form of prenuptial agreement detailing your wishes on what should happen if the engagement or marriage fails.
Unfortunately, it may be too late now if you are reading this as you get ready to finalize your divorce, and so, if you feel like you are at loggerheads, you may want to make a simpler and wiser decision – opt to pass the ring down to your children.
Just remember that if this is not a viable option for you, the court may order that the ring be returned to the family it came from. In most cases, the 50-50 split is ideal for most couples, except for when either couple dissents the decision.
Back to pre-nuptials, the document will specify who gets the engagement ring and several other items if the marriage ends.
Note that this is where the whole idea of conditional and non-conditional gifting comes in – the engagement ring is deemed conditional if the giver requires its return in case of a failed marriage and in case the ring is given as a gift that is not expected back, the recipient won’t have to return the ring if they don’t want to.
Finally, the nature of your breakup may determine who gets to keep the engagement ring. Often, the person who breaks things off cannot keep the ring.
This is the case in some states where the engagement ring is considered a contract, so the party guilty of breaching the marriage contract must relinquish all their rights to the ring, giving it to the innocent party.
Can you sell your engagement ring after divorce?
Yes, you could sell the engagement ring after your divorce. This is the most recommended thing to do because after divorcing, holding onto engagement and wedding rings can easily become emotional warfare as it becomes a painful reminder of the relationship ending.
So, to separate or avoid the pain, selling the engagement ring after the divorce is ideal.
And also, as mentioned above, when spouses cannot agree on who gets to keep the engagement ring, especially if it was (is) worth a substantial amount of money, the court or arbitrators often require that they sell the engagement ring and then split the proceeds.
While this is true, this may not be the case for you, and there might have been no contention regarding the party that keeps the ring – in such cases, you may have opted to sell the ring for your own personal reasons. But what reasons are these?
Why should you sell your engagement ring after divorce?
After divorce, a wedding and engagement ring will always carry many painful memories of the ended marriage, so selling both or either ring will give you a simpler way to get rid of that big, everyday reminder of the failed relationship. In many ways, selling the ring allows you to reclaim yourself.
While this makes sense, there is a lot of skepticism where selling the jewelry is concerned, but you should have a clean conscience before and after, especially if you truly believe that selling the ring will give you more peace. But if you need more reasons to sell the ring, here you go:
I. The ring helps to release the symbols and associations from your past.There is no doubt that your engagement and wedding rings hold deep emotions that can be very painful, but choosing to sell that ring allows you to release those emotional barriers, some of which you may not even be aware of. So, that final sale will turn into the best way to say goodbye to what was an important part of your life (lives).
II. It’s a good way to make money.We can all agree that despite the pain of the ended relationship, even when you both agree that it is time to end things, you will smile a little when you have some extra money in your account. Ultimately, a good quality engagement ring is a great financial asset, and the money from the sale might help cushion you in the future – there are countless uses for that money.
III. A good boost for your new start. When making a fresh start, the proceeds from the sale of the engagement ring will allow you to have some money to fund the fresh start you are about to make, even if it means paying for a vacation, school, or starting a business.
IV. Allow room for a new relationship. This might not be in your mind at the moment, but selling the ring gives you more emotional space to accommodate a new relationship.
5 tips for selling engagement ring after divorce
1. Determine the value of the engagement ring
You first have to determine if the ring still has any value. While some engagement rings are made of the finest materials that hold value for years, others don’t have much value.
Getting a valuation for the engagement ring is crucial because it allows one to determine its best price. Remember that the ring won’t be worth what it was bought for because the initial purchase price includes the retail store’s markup.
Depending on what the engagement ring is made of, it may be valued for its ‘scrap value’ determined after the metals are melted down and then turned into something new, the value of the pure gold in the 14k or 18k gold, and finally, the value of the diamonds or any other gemstones that it’s made of.
Remember that all gemstones, especially diamonds, lose most of their value immediately after purchase, and when it’s valued later, they may have lost between 25% and 75% of their value. So, always consider such things before selling and overvaluation of the ring.
2. Find the best place to sell the ring – Sell it on Consignment
You could sell your engagement ring on a consignment basis by walking into a reputable brick-and-mortar jewelry store and then sell it in person. On a consignment basis, you will leave the ring with the store for a specific time, and the store will try to sell it for you.
Once sold, you each get an agreed percentage of the ring’s sale price.
This is an ideal arrangement because it means that you get the best value for the ring because the retailer doesn’t have to worry about any risks and doesn’t have to make an upfront payment. The only catch is that it may take a long before it’s sold.
3. Try selling it on online auction websites
If selling the ring on a consignment basis doesn’t work for you, selling it online might be the next best thing for you to do.
There are numerous trustworthy online sites like CashForGoldUSA, which gives you the scrap value of gold, or Worthy, which offers a great reselling space for special pieces.
4. Sell on an online marketplace
You could also sell the ring on Ruby Lane or Etsy, where the buyer buys from these marketplaces directly, and you’d have to ship.
The catch with this arrangement is that you’d be responsible for the valuation and insurance.
5. Set realistic expectations
When reselling your engagement or wedding ring, you should expect to make between half and a third of the original retail price.
The good news is that pieces by name brands like Cartier or Tiffany tend to hold much of their value and are better than discreet rings.
But you also need to know that the condition, age of the ring, and also the amount of wear and tear it suffered over the years will determine its value; and so is the documentation accompanying the ring like the insurance appraisals and GIA certifications that would increase the value of the ring.
So, if you have been considering selling your engagement ring now that you are divorced, this is your sign to go ahead and look for offers.
Stephanie is a jewelry lover when she was a teenager. Her major was fashion design when she was in college. She is a jewelry designer at SOQ Jewelry and other design companies. Now she is also a writer for our website. She writes a lot of designs&brands posts with very actionable tips.