Who Keeps the Ring?

This is one of those topics that is not incredibly fun to talk about because no one wants to think about relationships ending. What do you do with an engagement ring after a break-up? We’re going to look at some pros and cons in different scenarios, but it’s ultimately up to the former couple.

A close up of hands removing a ring from their finger.
Couple with sunset in the background.


In the case of an ended engagement, the etiquette says to return the ring. In 2022, there are some other considerations to be made. It’s not entirely as cut and dry as it might have been in the past.

If both parties were financial contributors to the purchase of the ring, it seems only fitting that both parties are involved in deciding the ring’s fate. This may be especially difficult if there is animosity in the split, but financially it might be best for one to buy the other out or to sell it collectively and split the money.

If one party bought the ring, that person should generally retain ownership if the relationship ends before the marriage. In some states in the U.S., laws dictate what should happen with the ring if the couple cannot amicably determine an agreeable outcome. Some laws say that the ring is a gift but contingent on the marriage occurring.

No one wants an engagement to end, but the ring can be a hefty investment, and it has the potential to be explosive if not handled with care.

Close up of hands handing over a ring from one to the other.


The laws are different in the case of who keeps the rings post-divorce. Generally speaking, an engagement ring is considered a pre-marital gift that can remain with the recipient. There may be a different arrangement determined in divorce court, but that is the general thinking. If a ring is intended to be passed on to shared children, it makes it an easier choice to keep them.

Some couples decide that they want to close the chapter and move on. For example, I have been blissfully married for 12 years to my current husband, but I was married once before. My ex and I decided that I could keep the set, but I had paid for the wedding band, and they were soldered together. I eventually sold the set because we did not share children, and the sentimentality was not something I wanted to hold onto anymore. I had initially thought that I might because there is a period of mourning when a relationship ends, even in the most amicable way. It was a tiny, low-quality diamond that was a reminder of our youthful struggles, and I was past that and moved on. I am so so much happier and don’t miss the set. That marriage ended on friendly terms, and it was easy to decide on the rings. He kept his band, and I kept mine.

There is no cut-and-dry rule, and a lot depends on the nature of the dissolvent. We are not taking a position on what anyone should do in what may be a challenging and personal time. We would love to hear some feedback on what you think or a story if you are willing to share.


We want to say that the most important thing is that this kind of tender situation is handled with respect and consideration for all involved. There is unlikely to be a perfect solution, but doing the best is always the best choice.

Our favorite of the new trends, of course, is people buying themselves “divorce rings.” Empowering themselves and marking a life milestone with sparkle. We wish that love never faltered, but if it must this is a fun recourse. 

What do you think, should the ring be returned after an ended engagement? Is it a different answer for you if it is a dissolution of a marriage? What then happens to that ring? Would you wear a ring that was part of an ended relationship? Let us know in the comments!

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