When you break off an engagement, who gets the ring? The New York Times investigated this question over the weekend, interviewing people who went through broken engagements, a law professor, an etiquette expert and lawyers who have handled who-gets-the-ring cases. The answer? There isn't one; it depends on the couple and on what you think an engagement ring represents.
A 1999 oft-cited court precedent says that the man gets the ring back no matter what—even if he was the one that broke off the engagement. In some state, including Texas, the bride can keep the bauble if her boy ended the relationship. But there are also those who feel that the ring is a gift, and the woman shouldn't have to give it back, even if it was expensive and the guy couldn't afford it.
The etiquette expert said that if the woman breaks the engagement she should send the ring back. If the man breaks it he should let her keep the ring. And—this is, to me, the crazy part—if the man's given her a family heirloom he should ask for it back and then buy her some to replace it, or give her credit at a jewelry shop! "'Nice people do that,'" she said.
I've never received an engagement ring so I can't say for sure how attached I'd be and how I'd feel about giving it back. But I just can't imagine holding on to something that represented a relationship that had ended. And I can't understand why someone would want to, unless they were really angry and wanted to hurt their ex by keeping something he spent money on.
A broken engagement will be painful for both parties, no matter who initiated the ending. And unless you see an engagement ring as a transaction it doesn't make sense to keep it as compensation for hurt feelings.
And honestly, what could be more tacky than wearing an engagement ring after your engagement has ended?
Readers, what do you think? Who gets the ring after an engagement has ended? Does it matter who broke off the engagement? Let us know in the comments.