A breakup after an engagement is a painful process for all involved. There is a deep-set grief that everyone must work through. Of course, this predominantly involves the once-prospective bride and groom, but also their parents and their close friends who have been celebrating their bonding journey. They also have to grieve that the loving partnership has had to be dispelled.
What happens to the engagement ring can be a bitter and political affair. It can be used to play out both sides’ grief and hurt, and can be a symbol of all that did not work in the relationship.
There is no strict answer as to who should take ownership of the engagement ring after a wedding proposal falls flat. If the marriage proposal was outrightly refused, the ring should not have been handed over and should be easily decided in favor of the man. Of course, there are always twisted and money hungry people in the world, and there are probably instances of an engagement ring being presented at the bottom of a champagne flute, the marriage offer being rejected, and the wily bride-not-to-be keeping the ring regardless! If necessary, take these cases to a court of law as they are easily resolved. In the United States, an engagement ring is often considered a ’conditional gift’ that should be returned to the giver if the condition (of marriage in this case) is not met. Legal fees can be expensive and although the principle of the case is worth upholding, it may be better to cut your losses and learn from why you date this sort of person in the first place. Some states like Montana have less legal recourse as there are precdents which have found an engagement ring to be a gift, in any case, and this can be difficult to argue against.
However, it is not always so clear. Sometimes a bride-to-be and her family can invest substantially in the wedding preparations only to be left at the alter. If this is the case, it may be much easier to justify to yourself to keep the ring or sell it to recoup some of the costs and stress of organising a wedding non-event.
Family rings that have been handed down through the generations may be worth returning if there is some amicable agreement.
Wanting to keep an engagement ring could be a sign that you have not yet accepted the need to move on. If this is the case, the physical presence of the ring in your life could be holding you back from your future.
While in most cases, returning an engagement ring is probably the best idea, it is not always the case. Weigh up your sense of self and decide what is most deserving for you, hopefully with an objective eye.