Engagement rings

My mom (who is getting up in years) told me that if I ever got married I could have her engagement ring – but there are strings. She says it’s worth about $8,000 - $10,000 ( :eek: For a ring?). She says that it must stay in the family, and that my hypothetical fiancée would have to sign a contract stating that she would return it if we didn’t get married, or did get married and later divorced.

What is the custom? How do you broach the subject? (A: Find someone to marry. B: Procure the ring. C: Offer the ring and say, “Will you marry me? If so, please refer to this contract; paragraph 1, section A.”?)

[sub]Of course I would consider suspect any woman who’d have me as a husband! :stuck_out_tongue: [/sub]

I’d pop the question with a simple substitute ring, and later give her the option of your mother’s ring. It sounds beautiful, but a bunch of contracts are not very romantic nor are they an inviting way to join a family. If she’d rather have something without your mom’s demands on it (and a fiance may want the engagment to be about you and her, not you her and your mom) then you two can go out and pick out a ring together.

My husband gave me his great great grandmother’s engagement ring, with the blessing of his mother and grandmother. It is a half caret diamond, set in a beautiful white gold set.

No one in his family made me promise to return it if things didn’t work out between us. No contracts were signed. No prior discussions happened before he surprised me with the proposal. I would not dream of keeping someone else’s family heirloom if things did not work.

I would have to question why your mother would offer the ring with strings attached if she did not approve of her soon to be daughter-in-law to have it.

I’m not sure of the custom, but I would figure a pre-nup could cover that. I certainly wouldn’t it up while you were asking her. :stuck_out_tongue: Before the marriage took place it wouldn’t be an issue because the ring legally must be returned to you if the marriage doesn’t take place. The pre-nup just covers your butt in the unlikely event of a divorce.

Conversely, you don’t have to use your mom’s engagement ring if you don’t want, or don’t feel comfortable asking someone else to play by your mom’s rules.

Yeah, me either. But people can turn into petty, selfish animals when the marriage crumbles. You mother should probably not offer it up.

I agree. If the ring means that much to Johnny’s mom, she should hang on to it, instead of putting a burdeon on her son & new daughter-in-laws union.

Can’t you wait for a while and give it to her on a vow renewal sort of thing?

Or maybe when the first child is born?

I am probably going to get attacked for this but it is what I have always heard. The engagement ring always belongs to the man even after the woman wears it on her finger. If the couple breaks up, then the ring should be returned to the man. The one exception is when the ring is given to the woman on a holiday such as her birthday or Christmas when it is considered part of her usual present and then it belongs to her completely.

Like I said, I didn’t come up with this stuff but so many other married guys have told this to me that I have started to think there might be something to it.

The engagement ring always belongs to the man even after the woman wears it on her finger. If the couple breaks up, then the ring should be returned to the man. QUOTE]

I’ve always heard the opposite and the engagement ring always belongs to the woman. Legally speaking, if the couple gets married and later gets divorced, the engagement ring is considered “pre-marital” property and belongs to the woman because it was a gift and given before the marriage. Perhaps this varies by state law, but something to consider and include in a pre-nup or contract if the man wants to be certain the ring is returned to him in the unfortunate instance of divorce or break-up.

That’s what I always thought. But in my own case, my engagement ring is partly from my fiance’s grandmother’s ring. She left it to him when she died, and we took the center stone (150 years old) out to have it re-set into my current setting (I wanted to keep the original setting, which was a 1930’s Edwardian setting, but the shank was worn through). I’ve always figured that if we split up (not in the cards), I’d return it to the family because it’s more a sentimental item to them than it is to me.

I don’t think your mom is wrong, but the contract is pushing it a little.


Only if the break-up is before they get married. After many years of watching Judge Judy and Joe Brown and Mathis, etc. I’ve learned one main thing (besides Document, Document, Document) and that’s an engagement ring’s a conditional gift - given in contemplation of marriage. If that marriage doesn’t take place, the ring goes back to whomever paid for it (usually the guy). However, if they get married the condition’s been met and that ring is hers in the event of a divorce (unless otherwise stated in a contract like a pre-nup).

Thanks for the opinions.

Of course, with my luck in the area of romance, my 5½-year-old nephew will end up getting the ring! :stuck_out_tongue: :wink:

The one time I was engaged, there was a family ring, but I didn’t care for it, and while it wasn’t worth that sort of money, it was still in the range of $2000-$3000. So I asked if we couldn’t get another ring that I’d wear for everyday, saving the heirloom for fancier occasions. It worked quite well; I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of wearing a several thousand dollar ring every day anyway, and the one I wore I loved and it cost about $140.

I am all for the second ring idea.

I gave them both back; I couldn’t bear the sight of either one after we broke up. Maybe I shouldn’t have…I could have sold the family ring for a nice chunk of money. Oh well. (Hey, it was an engagement ring. He gave it to me. It was my decision what to do with it. 'Nuff said.)

Johnny: Skip the old ring and get her something that suits her lifestyle. That is, when there is a “her”. This way, the ring will be hers and not just a loaner. Plus, just because the ring is a pricey number doesn’t mean she’s going to like it.

When I bought my wife a ring, I avoided the regular settings and found her one that just looked cool. Also, being a nurse, I wanted to avoid a ring that would get caught on rubber gloves. I found a nice ring with a bunch of diamonds and sapphires in a channel setting. She loved it and she doesn’t have to take it off at work.

Seven and Mauvaise are both correct about who owns the ring and when. IANAL, but we covered this extensively in my General Law 101 class. The men in my class were quite interested in all the possible scenarios.

I would refuse Mom’s offer, Johnny. Tell her to keep the ring and leave it to you in her will, and then give it to your daughter someday.

There is no way I would offer up an heirloom for a marriage that, from the get-go, has only a 50% chance of surviving. Divorces are nasty and people do horrible things … like run away with Grandma’s jewelry. I think it’s good to show faith and support for a new marriage, but not to the tune of giving something with enormous sentimental value to the new family member.

And FWIW, if your wife is going to wear a ring for 50 or so years, I think it’s nice to let her pick it out herself. Propose with a Cracker Jack ring and then go shopping. :smiley:

Ahhh Shagnasty …no attack planned here :slight_smile: but I think perhaps the guys telling you this are just having a little bout of wishful thinking. If the engagement is broken, I think the woman can keep the ring. I don’t think she should but I have always heard that she can. The engagement ring marks the engagement and the wedding ring marks the wedding vows. In the case of a divorce, it’s a no-brainer. She keeps it. She probably earned it.

As for your mom’s ring, Johnny ,I vote for the idea above by Abbie , an heirloom ring such as you describe would be nice to pass on to a granddaughter. Soooo…you better get busy! :eek:

By the time Mr Cazzle and I became engaged, we knew so much about each other’s lives, families and personal histories that something like this would have already come up in conversation, been thoroughly discussed and each of us would have known where the other stood on the matter. I can’t imagine being thrown into a situation where the first I heard of his mother’s engagement ring and the strings she’d attached to passing it on was when we got engaged.

What you have “always heard” is incorrect. Go back and read Mauvaise’s explanation. Oh, I’ll just quote it for you.

Johnny: Does your mom think you’re not hitched because you’re too cheap to buy a ring? :stuck_out_tongue: Definitely tell her “thanks but no thanks.” Tell her that if you ever do get engaged, you want to give your fiancee a genital piercing instead.

friends of the Future Mrs Johnny L. A.: Ohhh. Congratulations, let’s see the ring. :eek: