Do you give the ring back?

Last updated 12:09 27/08/2012

Given last week's revelation that there are actually more than a couple of blokes who read this blog, I'm thinking today's topic may gain a similar ratio of reaction as this really is one for the guys out there.

I read with interest this opinion piece about what the legal implications are around an engagement ring when the engagement gets called off.

(I'm interested to hear your feedback on his conclusion in the above piece. Did you even know that was a thing? Have you known anyone to do it?)

While I don't plan on calling mine off (honest!), I know people (actually, quite a few now that I think about it) whose engagements never made it to the next stage and I've often wondered what the done thing is when it comes to the token of promise.

Not that she's a moral compass for society, but who could forget when Aussie model Lara Bingle made headlines for "flushing" her $200,000-plus engagement ring, given by then fiancé Michael Clarke, down the loo. (It was, in fact, not the case... but the symbolism behind such a story made it quite believable.) Ring 

Bingle's bungle is just one of numerous amusing (if that's the right word?) stories about how people dispose of unwanted "gifts" or mementos from relationships - which almost always seem to involve the act of physically "throwing" items away.

My theory is that there can't be a one-size-fits-all response because it would need to come down to each scenario.

For example, if I did call off my engagement, I would 100 per cent hand the ring back.

Yes, it was given as a gift - but the intention behind it was something I wouldn't have fulfilled so therefore I think it should go back.

More to the point, what on earth would I do with it if I kept it?

I'd never wear it again - what a waste - and I wouldn't want to sell it because then I'd be left with "guilt" money that I also wouldn't feel comfortable with. BUT - that's just me.

If Future Husband backed out on our engagement, I would still offer back the ring. I don't know if he'd want it or not (we haven't exactly had this discussion, for obvious reasons) but that's the only thing that would sit right with me.

What would you do if your engagement got called off? Would you give or expect the engagement ring back? Under what circumstance would your response depend?

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Silarnon   #1   12:18 pm Aug 27 2012

Seems to me that if she (or he) accepted the ring, then they should return it when the engagement is called off.

The ring is not just a gift, it is a symbol of the agreement between two people to commit to each other - a symbol of that union. It is sometimes called a betrothal gift, and as such is a symbol of that betrothal. If there is no betrothal, then the gift should be returned.

Thus the ring should be returned to the giver, no matter who breaks the engagement.

Although, according to this article (, tradition generally holds that if the betrothal fails because the man himself breaks off the engagement, the woman is not obliged to return the ring. This reflects the ring's role as a form of compensation for the woman's damaged reputation.

Personally, if I'd given her my Grandmother's beloved ring (or a ring of similar sentimental value or with family history - an heirloom), then I'd want it back.

lady   #2   12:20 pm Aug 27 2012

i would give the engagement ring back in most circumstances. But, my fiance cheated on me, so I kept the ring. not my fault so i get to keep it thats my opinion. and to be honest the first one he brought me was $50 and it broke so this was a replacement, he's welcome to the one he proposed to me with. LOL he didn't ask for it back either, feeling guilty i think.

Rob   #3   12:21 pm Aug 27 2012

Good Topic. Lots to think about. Basically, it does come down to the individual circumstances in order to decide whether or not to give it back. But in general, whether it be the physical demonstration of saying "I'm so sorry but I don't love you enough to marry you", or whether it be to suggest that a lousy cheating knobhead "stick that where the sun doesn't shine", in essence there doen't seem to be any reason I can think of to keep it.

Leyna   #4   12:23 pm Aug 27 2012

When my ex cheated (on valentines day no less) I gave the ring back - I was amazed how many people asked why I didn't keep it!!

The main reason I gave it back is that it was a family ring, passed down from his mother, so I felt it was not my place to keep it despite what he had done. If it had been one he had bought with his own money I would probably have pawned it off to pay back the $3,000 debt I was lumped with when I left him...

Hindsight is a beautiful thing, isn't it.

AJ   #5   12:27 pm Aug 27 2012

I agree. The ring is a gift from the guy so by all means give it back, especially if you're the one who broke it off. Read - an engagement ring is a commitment to marry, so if you're not going to marry the guy who gave you the ring then you should return it. Even if he was the one who break it off.

M   #6   12:28 pm Aug 27 2012

With my ex, we broke up just a few months before the wedding. Everything had been planned, invitations sent, people brought flights from overseas, everything. I have no idea what she did with the ring or anything. We never spoke to each other ever again. Still, was the best thing I ever did.

NH   #7   12:29 pm Aug 27 2012

I discussed this once with some female friends and was quite surprised at the number who wouldn't give the ring back. One had a ring that was of special significance to her fiancee's family and even she said she would refuse to give it back if anything happened and they broke up before the wedding, which I thought was terrible. I'm with you Greer, you give it back. I can see how it's different if you've been married for years, but not if you never make it to the actual wedding day.

Sc@rlett   #8   12:29 pm Aug 27 2012

Personally I think it all depends on the circumstances. If I was calling off an engagement because I no longer loved the guy then I'd definitely offer the ring back. However, when I called off my engagement because my then fiance was cheating on me I didn't offer the ring back. Why should I? It was because of his actions that I ended things. It was a quite expensive ring and I loved it. It spent the next few years living out of sight in a drawer and I now wear it as a dress ring. It holds no memories for me - apart from being a large piece of bling, which I love.

Tash   #9   12:50 pm Aug 27 2012

A question I find interesting is what would you DO with a ring from a broken engagement? If the girl keeps it, would you still wear it? Throw it away? Sell it? Get it made into another piece of jewellery?

If the guy ends up with it, do you sell it or keep it? And would you propose to someone else with the same ring?

Lisa*   #10   01:21 pm Aug 27 2012

My fiancee and I brought the ring with 'our' money so I don't think either of us have ownership or a right to it instead it is a symbol of our relationship. I assume if something went wrong and we didn't marry I would dispose of the ring via selling it probably because it wouldn't be meaningful to either of us anymore. Keeping in mind that my ring isn't a crazy expensive one, just a modest ring.

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