Engagement Ring is not a Gift

Did you know that 26 percent of all engagements occur at Çhristmas time? Tucked right in there with all the excitement, stress and partying of the holiday season, a man and woman decide to commit their future to each other – Worse time of the year to make such an important decision.

An engagement ring is not a gift, like jewelry or a cashmere sweater. The ring is the beginning of a commitment that you fulfill when you marry. If either of you decide not to marry, you have to return the ring.

Seems obvious, right? Wrong. Who gets to keep the ring depends on where you live.

Most states treat engagement rings as ‘conditional gifts given in contemplation of marriage’. If you’re not going through with the marriage for any reason, whether you call it off, or your fiancée does, you have to give the ring back.

For example, in California, considered to be an ‘implied conditional’ state, if the man breaks the engagement, he won’t get the ring back. If she breaks it, he can ask for the ring back. Maybe he’ll get it, maybe not, but he can go to court to try.

Howeer, in Montana, an engagement ring is considered to be an unconditional, completed gift. She doesn’t have to give it back and there’s nothing he can do about it.

Whether you return the ring , or you get to keep it, I feel sorry for the poor guy who may be paying for years on his credit card for a ring that loses more than half its value the minute he buys it. (A diamond, like a car, is worth a lot less when you try to resell it.) It doesn’t seem fair in this day of gender equality that a man should go into debt to prove his love.

Engagement is a two-way street. How about couples exchanging engagement rings that they both can afford. It would be interesting to know if the biggest engagement rings resulted in the happiest marriages. Meanwhile, check the law in your state…unless you live in Montana

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