Pre-Marital Ring Woes

January 10, 2008 at 9:17 pm 11 comments

As Heidi and Spencer illustrated with their extremely surface level relationship on The Hills, not all engagements pan out. No good friends of mine have ever called off their wedding but I did have an acquaintance in college whose engagement went sour. She was a 19-year old looking for an “established” man and she found him at the Belmont, most likely in the complex hot tub. After two weeks of impressing her with his car DVD player and other such fineries, the deal was done. He proposed with a 2.5 carat ring and she accepted wholeheartedly. After getting to know one another, in say, two months time, they came to the mutual realization that they were extremely incompatible in almost every area that counted. Then the war began over who was going to keep the ring.

Out of vengeance she declared she would keep it, sell it and buy a red sports car with the proceeds. He demanded that it was given with the expectation of a contract being fulfilled, and since the contract was voided, the goods had to be returned. After some plentiful involvement from attorneys, it was determined that she would have to return the ring.

In this article debating the ring-return question, Emily Post says that regardless of who breaks off the engagement, the ring should always be returned. But beware to any IRF readers on the verge of proposing to their Valentine this year: if a ring is given on Valentine’s Day or Christmas, courts generally rule that the ring is classified simply as a gift.

Entry filed under: Commentary, JL's Posts, Manners and Grammar. Tags: , , , .

Gift ideas for 2008 But Can You Annul the Memories?

11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. lemare  |  January 11, 2008 at 12:52 am

    JL, upon reading this book, I pulled out my Manners Bible: Miss Manners Guide To Excruciatingly Correct Behavior. This is not the first time I’ve mentioned Judith Martin on IRF, and it certainly won’t be the last. She had some things to say on the matter.

    Some parents wrote in speaking of a broken engagement (the groom dumped their daughter). She returned the ring, as he claimed it was his personal property. Therefore, the parents feel that he should reimburse THEM for the wedding dress return and nonrefundable deposits.

    Judith writes:

    “Miss Manners understands that you would like some financial compensation as well, and supposed that you might find a lawyer who would try to get it for you. The law did once offer compensation for breach of promise, and current feeling favors turning pain into cash. But etiquette takes the opposite view: that no self-respecting person would want to accept anything from a cad, and that a lady should not only return the engagement ring, but spurn any participation in obligations that her own family incurred.

    “Before you reject this no-doubt quixotic approach, Miss Manners suggests you calculate what repayment would cost your daughter in the way of public embarrassment and private humiliation. Rather than put her in the position of appearing both jilted and greedy, you should put her into that dress, ded and refashioned to make a splendid ball dress–and allow her to plunge back into social life, unsullied by sordidness, to meet a genuine gentleman.”

    This finance girl is pleased to know that cost-benefit analysis apply to manners, too!

  • 2. lowdogg  |  January 11, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    2.5 carat! A guy has to leave himself some room to grow. Give her a 2.5 and what will she expect on the 5 year?

    I wonder how much pest control he had to sell.

    What is the average now at the BYU? Most were under a carat. Has that been eclipsed?

  • 3. TRussell  |  January 11, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    What are the rules on say a $2mm ring given as compensation for you having to deal publicly that your husband had an affair on your vacation? If he asks for it back, are you to also insist upon paying for the hotel room and repurchase sold off accoutrements?

  • 4. Sportsattitude  |  January 11, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    On a man-woman level…I think if a guy thinks enough of a girl to give her an engagement ring, the thing to do is let her keep the ring regardless of what happens after the fact. If you’re a man and have made a determination – regardless of the time and/or effort put into considering the relationship – to take that step…you should man up and consider it a gift given. Surely an expensive one in many cases, but a gift nonetheless. That keeps it nice and simple. IF the girl offers to OR insists on its return, at that point the guy can certainly accept it back.

  • 5. JL  |  January 11, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    Or if the man isn’t crystal clear on the woman’s intentions, he can go to and coyly replace it later with the real thing. But that might bring up some post-marital woes…

  • 6. lemare  |  January 11, 2008 at 7:37 pm

    there was a Perfect Strangers where Larry Appleton was trying to replace the fake diamond in Jennifer’s ring. I can’t BELIEVE I remember that.

    I’d like to get a guy who dumped his bride commenting on here and telling us (a) if he asked for the ring back, and (b) if he reimbursed the bride’s family for all the non-refundable deposits. If anyone knows of one, invite him/her on to comment! (I actually know one, but I don’t feel like cluing him into my blog world).

  • 7. lowdogg  |  January 11, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    Be proud of your bloggy self!

  • 8. Massimo  |  January 11, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    LeMare, there’s only one episode of “Perfect Strangers” worth remembering and that’s the one where Balki dresses up like a ninja. That has nothing to do with engagement rings (I’m hardly the one to ask), but it needed to be said.

  • 9. pammyshep  |  January 13, 2008 at 2:28 am

    I agree with LowDogg… a BYU student giving a 2.5 carat engagement ring! Where were these boys when I went to BYU? I remember this one guy giving his fiance a diamond “chip.”

    I didn’t watch “Perfect Strangers” because it replaced “Growing Pains” mid-season one year and everyone knows that Kirk Cameron was waaaaaay hotter than Balki.

  • 10. critts  |  January 14, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    No – there were TWO episodes worth remembering. The one where Balki and Larry tried to remodel the bathroom themselves? It was hilarious, but then again, I was 8 years old.

  • 11. Lindsay  |  January 14, 2008 at 7:47 pm

    I remember the one where Balki is given a checkbook and gleefully thinks he can write checks for any amount for anything! I guess he wouldn’t have cared about a girl keeping a ring–he just would have written a check for another one (until that killjoy Larry clued him in.)


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