In the US, engagement rings are a real ritual, as is petitioning. Many American women are still impatiently awaiting the question: Will you become my wife? A thing that seems a bit “old-fashioned” to many Europeans.
About 100 years ago it was still common in the USA for the engagement ring to cost three times the groom’s salary. A tradition that is now much looser. Nevertheless, the prices for an engagement ring remain high, because even today it is still expected that the engagement ring is worthy of its important message and an omen of the happy union.
A relatively recent statistic about the US speaks of 2.2 million marriages in 2015 and about 880,000 divorces. However, there are no statistics on how many applications there were per year in general… and how many of them did not result in marriage.
The question is, what happens to the engagement ring after a separation? Since the price of jewellery is high enough, it seems logical that the person who bought the ring wants to recover his failed investment. However, the legislation is not clear and the case is in a kind of “legal grey area”. Moreover, there are different interpretations between states in America, as Judge Thomas Thorndike and Christina Demirs of Connecticut reported in 2007: “Most jurisdictions that have considered ownership of an engagement ring after the engagement has been broken have adopted a debt-based perspective according to which the donor is only entitled to restitution if the obligation has been broken by mutual agreement or unjustifiably by the recipient”.
On this basis, Mariah Carey was granted the right to keep her engagement ring. In a court case in November 2016, her ex-fiancee, a young man from Manhattan, asked Mariah Carey to return the 125,000 euro ring to him. But the singer was right when she claimed that the ring could stay with her in California.
In other states of the USA, the legal view of the matter points to a “no debt perspective”. That is, if the main purpose of the engagement period is to ensure that the couple can cope with a life together, it would be neither reasonable nor logical to punish the donor to prevent an unhappy marriage. In this case, the gift is considered a “gift”. If the condition (marriage) is not fulfilled, the gift has not fulfilled its duty and must be returned.
In any case, the lawyers advise you to be clear when you give an engagement ring and also pay attention to the date. So it is not advisable to give away an engagement ring on Valentine’s Day or birthday.
But here too there is a precedent: Debbie Lopez managed to keep her 100,000 Euro ring in 2014 because she claimed that her ex-boyfriend and father of her son would never have asked her the question “would you be my wife?” Lopez received this gift as a thank-you for being a good mother and a great woman – a present without conditions!
The business idea of Josh Oppermann, who himself is a victim of an annulled engagement, is interesting: He opened an Internet platform on which you can buy and sell second-hand engagement rings. The name of the platform: “I Do Now I Don’t” with an annual balance of over four million dollars!