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What to Do With An Engagement Ring After a Divorce

By Mike Fried,

Life has many twists and turns that we can never expect. If you find yourself with a ring you no longer need, we have some tips to help you through the process.

Your basic 3 options are:

  • Keep it – If you’re hesitant to part with your ring there is nothing wrong with holding onto it. You might choose to bequeath it to your children or store it safely for some time, until you’re prepared to either pass it on or breathe new life into it.
  • Sell it – Whether you want to cash in your ring for a getaway vacation or to start your own business, selling your ring can offer you some exciting new opportunities.
  • Repurpose it – You can often repurpose the setting and incorporate the diamond into a fresh jewelry item, such as a pendant or cocktail ring

In this guide we’ll cover who gets the engagement ring in a divorce, options for selling your diamond ring, and ideas for resetting your diamond should you want to keep it.

Here’s what we’ll cover in this article:

Who gets the engagement ring in a divorce?
What to do with your engagement ring after a divorce
How to sell your engagement ring after a divorce?
How to repurpose your engagement ring?

Who Gets The Engagement Ring In A Divorce?

Deciding who gets the ring can seem tricky. In most cases, the engagement ring belongs to the person who received it, but there are some exceptions. Here are a few guidelines that can help.

The engagement ring is a pre-marriage gift.

The law varies by state, but in most cases, the engagement ring is considered a pre-marriage gift—meaning the ring forever belongs to the person who received it. The ring remains as the receiver’s property in both the case of a divorce or a called-off engagement.

To help you with the diamond buying process we lean on our expertise and experience. The author of this article, our CEO, Mike Fried has over 20 years of experience in the diamond industry. Mike started from the bottom, sorting and evaluating hundreds of thousands of diamonds to learn every facet (pun intended) of diamond quality and value. Mike followed that up by spending years buying and selling diamonds on the wholesale market as well as selling tens of millions of dollars worth of diamonds to diamond retailers.

The engagement ring symbolizes a marriage promise.

In other states, the situation is similar but slightly different. The ring represents a promise of marriage. If the bride walks down the aisle and delivers on that promise, the ring is freely hers. The ring, then, isn’t subject to being returned in the case of a divorce. On the other hand, if she calls off the engagement, she must return the ring because she didn’t deliver on her marriage promise.

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Exceptions may apply if the ring is a family heirloom.

If the ring is a family heirloom, it may need to be returned to the family from which it came (even if the law states that they wouldn’t get the ring back otherwise). For example, if he used his grandmother’s ring to propose, it might be returned to him, since you only received it because you were joining the family.

Exceptions may apply if the engagement gets called off.

If the couple never gets married, some courts look at which person is at fault. For instance, if he cheats during the engagement, the ring belongs to her. If she cheats, that’s a different story. A few courts, however, say that fault doesn’t matter. If the promise of marriage is not fulfilled, the ring is returned to the giver, even if they are the one to cheat or call off the wedding.

Outside of the law, you (and maybe your ex) have to decide what makes sense for your unique situation. Perhaps you feel you should return the ring because it’s a family heirloom or maybe you feel you should keep it due to hardship and heartbreak. Ultimately, choose the route that makes sense for you, but remember that in most cases, the receiver keeps the ring.

In divorce mediation we always have to deal with division of assets and who gets what but the diamond engagement ring and really any jewelry that was a product of the marriage is always a special case. The sentimental value and memories that come with the diamonds oftentimes can’t be quantified. I help the couples get to the heart of the matter by having honest discussions on their expectations and providing creative options for what to do with the jewels that will enable both parties to move forward in a healthy way.

Divorce Mediator Dori Shwirtz of DivorceHarmony.com

What To Do With Your Engagement Ring After A Divorce

Outside of the legal aspect of selling an engagement ring after a divorce, which may vary based on your state and the specific details of your marriage, there’s no established “social rule” for what to do with your engagement ring.

“When it comes to etiquette, there are no established rules for dealing with rings following a split, says etiquette guru Lizzie Post, a spokesperson for the Emily Post Institute and host of the Awesome Etiquette podcast.” Today.com

Rather than tucking your ring away in a drawer only to collect dust, you can use it to bring new energy into your life. Some people want to rid themselves of their ring altogether—making selling it the best option. Others want to keep at least some part of their ring (if you’re interested in this option, check our article about redesigning a ring after a divorce). Whatever you decide, look through your options before deciding on what’s best.

Sell Your Engagement Ring After A Divorce

You may or may not know how much your ex spent on your ring, but it’s important to realize that your diamond’s resale value won’t be anywhere close to what was paid for it.

Here are the two biggest reasons you won’t receive the value of your ring’s original price:

  • Profit margin percentages were a part of your diamond’s original purchase price
  • There is no real consensus on what a diamond’s “market price” is

So while you won’t be able to recoup the entire amount spent on the ring, you can still get a good value, especially if you approach selling your diamond in the right way at the right place.

Where to sell your engagement ring

When it comes to selling your engagement ring after divorce, not all options are equal. In fact, there will be a huge disparity in the amount you receive depending on where you sell it.

If you walk into a brick and mortar store—perhaps similar to where your ex bought the diamond—you’re likely to receive a very low price. Here’s why: brick and mortar stores get diamonds for significantly less than what they sell them for. Stores get diamonds at wholesale prices from their suppliers on consignment—meaning they don’t have to buy a diamond until it sells. Therefore, a jewelry store will offer you a cheap price, because otherwise they’d just buy a similar diamond on better terms from a supplier. Jewelers also know that buying from you is a great opportunity to buy a diamond at well below the market price.

Pawn shop prices tend to be even worse, because they expect the diamond to sell for well below the market value. In order to make your ring worth their while, they need to purchase your diamond at an even lower price.

Worse yet, many of these diamond buyers understand that people who own diamond jewelry — particularly those who are recently divorced — often don’t have a complete understanding of how much a ring might be worth.

For this reason, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) suggests getting an engagement ring or other jewelry appraised if you’re unsure of how much it may be worth to a used diamond seller:

“If you do not know how much money you should be asking for your item, we suggest that you get a fair market value appraisal first. Fair market value is the appraiser’s opinion of what a willing buyer will pay a willing seller.” Gemological Institute of America (GIA)

You could also try to sell your engagement ring directly to someone who wants it, although that approach comes with some risk—like whether or not you’ll receive a reliable payment. Selling your ring on a site like Craigslist or eBay will also probably not give you the market price, because consumers would rather go to a store or online jeweler to receive a new ring that comes with warranties.

Based on our years of experience, we’ve found that the best place to sell an engagement ring is online. In general, you can find better deals buying a diamond online and the retailers provide good options for returning, selling or upgrading. When you sell online, you retain more value for your ring, because their cost structure is much better than physical stores.

We’ve had a number of our readers sell their rings to a variety of online vendors, including White Pine, Worthy, and Abe Mor. The number of satisfied sellers who worked with Abe Mor was exponentially higher than with White Pine or Worthy. The difference was so pronounced that we don’t bother recommending either Worthy or White Pine anymore.

Here’s how Abe Mor works: they offer a secure shipping program that allows you to send in your diamond from anywhere in the world. Their experts examine your diamond. Then, they make you an offer (which you can either accept or deny). It’s very likely that Abe Mor’s offer will exceed the amount you’ll receive anywhere else. Their longstanding relationships with jewelry retailers gives them the inside scoop on market prices—translating to higher offers for you. You can read through our full Abe Mor review here.

You can sell your setting

Whether or not you decide to sell your diamond, know that you can just as easily sell your setting.

Your setting will be worth the scrap gold price. Even if your ex paid $4,050 for a custom setting like this one from James Allen, your ring will still be melted down to scrap gold. Why? Almost everyone wants a specific, unique design for their engagement ring. Rather than reusing your ring, a consumer would prefer their own design.

While it’s a financial loss to sell your ring for scrap gold, you’re at least able to recoup some of the cost. Most pawn shops and jewelry stores pay about 50 cents for every dollar of scrap gold value. For example, if the scrap value for your ring is $2,000, a store will probably offer to buy the ring for about $1,000. However, at Abe Mor, they offer 75 cents for every dollar of scrap value. So, in that example, you’d receive $1,500 for the $2,000 scrap gold value, instead of $1,000. And if you work through Abe Mor, they’ll handle the resale of your diamond and setting.

Repurpose Or Reset Your Engagement Ring

Many choose the option of resetting an engagement ring after divorce, because they either absolutely love the diamond or want to hold onto some of the sentimental value of the marriage—such as the kids or adventures they had together. Some also plan to hand down their ring to a daughter or son for a future proposal. By resetting or gifting the ring, you can turn the difficulties of a separation into the joy of new beginnings.

If you want to keep enjoying your diamond’s beauty, you can melt down the setting and place the diamond in a new piece of jewelry—like a diamond pendant or cocktail ring. You could even give this new piece of jewelry to one of your children as a gift.

Many jewelers, such as Brian Gavin Diamonds and Blue Nile, make custom jewelry. They can incorporate whichever pieces of your engagement ring you like the most and create something just for you. The custom piece can be passed down for generations or simply symbolize your new independence.

James Allen James Allen is the leader in online diamond sales. Their imaging technology is the same as inspecting a diamond with a jeweler's loupe. They have the largest exclusive loose diamond inventory online and fantastic prices. They also have the nicest collection of lab-created diamonds online.
What we love about them:
  • No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. James Allen will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Free International Shipping
  • Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
  • Provide insurance appraisals
  • One free resizing within 60 days of purchase
  • Free ring inscriptions
  • Best-in-class high quality imagery of all diamonds in stock
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • Best-in-class packaging
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Blue Nile Blue Nile is the largest and most well-known internet jewelry seller. They have a very large exclusive online inventory. Their high-quality images are catching up to James Allens' and their prices are amazing. 
What we love about them:
  • No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. Blue Nile will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Free Shipping
  • Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
  • Provide insurance appraisal
  • One free resizing within the first year of purchase
  • High quality images of about half of their diamonds
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • 100% credit towards future upgrades (must be at least double in value)
  • Best in class fulfillment
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About the author

Mike Fried Mike Fried Mike Fried has over 25 years experience in the diamond industry working with Leo Schachter Diamonds, Moshe Namdar Diamonds, and joining The Diamond Pro in 2007. He is recognized as an industry expert and has been quoted in publications such as Us, People, Page Six, The Next Web and more.

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