Here’s a little something from Slate’s DoubleX that talks about engagement rings – specifically what is to be done with them in the event that the wedding is called off.
Christopher Reinhold of Staten Island says the diamond ring he gave to Collette DiPierro, who broke off their engagement in September 2009 after four months and growing doubts, is rightfully his. He has sued her to get it back. In his New York state-court suit, Reinhold says that he gave DiPierro the ring upon her promise to marry him. Since she broke off the engagement and the marriage did not take place, the deal, he says, is off. But DiPierro says that because Reinhold proposed on her birthday, the $17,500 ring was a gift, not a token symbolizing a promise to marry. So she can keep it. Or, actually, spend it: Neither Reinhold nor DiPierro claims sentimental attachment; both would be happy with the ring’s cash value.
I know that an engagement ring ought to be a gift, not a contract or a payment in advance of future “services,” but in court contract law usually wins out and apparently agreeing to marry someone means entering into a verbal contract of which the ring is a part. Tres unromantic! Etiquette, of course, agrees that giving it back is the thing to do, but bad blood sometimes wins out over good manners.
What I’ve always wondered about the never-bride who keeps the ring is what she is going to do with it. Wear it? That could be awkward. Keep it at the bottom of her jewelry box? Again, awkward – I don’t like having old jewelry given to me by exes around. Sell it? Maybe I’m alone in thinking this, but that seems rather mean spirited – though if the giver of the ring was very abusive I might just say hock the thing for plane tix to somewhere awesome.
Calling off a wedding is such an emotionally charged thing to do, so do you really want a piece of bling (or the cash equivalent) reminding you that you or your once spouse-to-be said “I don’t” before anyone had a chance to say “I do”?
I HATE the idea that it’s even an issue. What does it matter if the ring was a gift or a way to seal the deal or something else? My idea of good manners does not include trying to profit off of a failed relationship (unless, as I mentioned above, there are some serious issues involved). Now you tell me: Is there any situation you can think of in which keeping the ring would be a love, not a hate?