Wedding Rings After Divorce


Whether you initiated the divorce or it caught you completely unaware; whether you would be happy if you never saw your ex again, or still harbor intense feelings for him, the ring is a binding tie that isn’t doing you any good.  


In fact, it could be weighing you down emotionally and acting as a bar to you moving forward and embracing your new life. 


Even in the worst of marriages, wedding rings retain at least some degree of sentimentality no matter what.   Therefore, the trick is letting them go in a satisfactory way while achieving closure and forging ahead with a new life.  Here are some ideas:

Give It Back

You may be among the rare women who feel like giving the ring back to your ex, and if you do, that’s perfectly fine.  If your ex paid a high price for your perfect engagement ring, he is probably not going to give it up easily. At the same time, this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s his to take back. 


You might already know that engagement ring etiquette dictates that the engagement ring should be returned to the man if an engagement is broken up by mutual agreement or if the woman is the one who calls the wedding off.  If an engagement is broken by the man, the woman should keep the engagement ring and do whatever she likes with it.

In the event that you and your ex had an agreement that the engagement ring should be returned to him in case of divorce, you will need to return it to him. This is particularly true if the ring is one of his family’s heirlooms.

However, once married regardless of why the marriage has come apart, the ring is technically your property; it was a gift you received before the marriage and so an item you came into the marriage owning.  Therefore it is your property. If you want to give it back, great. If you want to use the value of the ring as a bargaining chip when giving it back, that is okay too.

You might decide that you want to save the ring and pass it down to another family member or even have it made into another piece of jewelry. 


If you’re still in love with your diamond ring and want to keep it around, by all means do just that. Keep the ring to hand down to a daughter or granddaughter in the future, or give it to a son or grandson to present to his intended.  


If you’d like to keep enjoying your diamond’s sparkle, consider having the ring melted down and made into a diamond pendant that you can wear, or that can be handed down to a daughter or granddaughter.  If the ring has more than one stone and you have several children you would like to present with jewelry, you can easily use the diamonds, along with any gemstones and the metal from the setting to have several custom necklaces, rings, or other items made.

A deep family connection remains, and future generations will benefit as the ring or jewelry made from it is passed on from one person to the next.

If you decide to make it into a new piece of jewelry, it really does represent a new start in life while reminding you of where you’ve been.  Instead of turning your wedding ring into a typical necklace or pendant, you might also consider something a little different like an anklet or a barrette.


If, however, your divorce was an ugly one that caused emotional distress to other family members, they might not want to see the diamond or have it passed on to them.  But feelings might soften over time, so consider keeping it hidden away for a while if you really want to keep it but others want nothing to do with it. After all, you can still sell it later if you need the money.

Sell The Ring

You might also decide to leverage the cash value of your engagement ring and sell it to raise money for something else, pay for a vacation, or even something your ex would never let you buy.  


There are many ways to use the money you make from selling your diamond to have some fun. How about spending the cash on a nice vacation, a new car, making a down payment on a house, or just remodeling the one you live in now? 


After all, there are probably some unwanted reminders of your ex there, such as that man cave he insisted on just before you found out he wasn’t really the one for you.

Get an appraisal to determine the ring's value and then put one of the options below to good use.


  • Newspaper Ads: Place an ad in the newspaper offering to sell your ring at a good price.


  • Online Auction: Thanks to sites like eBay, eBid and uBid, users can set up an auction to sell wedding sets or individual rings. You define the conditions and wait to reap the rewards.


  • Internet Classifieds: Free classifieds like Craigslist, eBay's Kijiji and Oodle provide additional options for selling off wedding rings.  Be sure and check the credentials of any interested parties.

  • Take it to several jewelers and get their offers. Now you have a starting point.  Finding comparative values will not only give you information, it will also bolster your confidence about what your ring is worth in the current market right now. 


  • Get as much paperwork as possible to help substantiate that value and give the jewelers some sense of history and its original purchase price.  Do you have a bill of sale? An old appraisal of the ring? A certificate, like a GIA certificate? Was the ring ever included on your insurance policy?  


Gather all the documentation to corroborate what you have and get a handle on it so you have more knowledge about its value.


  • Get an appraisal from an auction house.  Go to one of the auction houses, like Christy’s or Sotheby's. They will give you an accurate, independent appraisal. Once you’ve been to an auction house, you will have an idea of the fair market value and they will give you an evaluation on the piece. 


Once you have a guide, it can make you more comfortable and at ease because it is always very fair and not just based on what they want to pay.


  • If your jewelry is modest, there are other options. Try to sell the rings at CashforGoldUSA and CashforDiamondsUSA (they have the same parent company), one of those places that advertise on TV.


  • If you have a significant ring, loose diamond (or branded watch) you expect would fetch more than $1,000 at market, Worthy is an online auction site that makes it very easy to sell your bridal jewelry online, for a fair price.  


Best yet, you can get a very good idea of whether Worthy is right for you even before you commit to working with them.  Their system is very transparent, they have an A+ Better Business Bureau rating, and their website is very easy to use. 


Give It Away

Donate. It’s a great tax write off, and you could be doing something really good for someone. Good karma!


The decision about what to do with your wedding ring after you’ve made the split can be a simple one you can make in a snap, or a more difficult one involving both your heart and head. 


Regardless of the decision, your jewelry assets retain their value. Whether that value is mainly sentimental or is based on resale potential is completely up to you.  Last piece of advice on rings: this is a really, really big decision so don’t do anything hasty! It’s okay if your rings sit in a drawer for years and years. When you finally decide to make a move, it will be the right decision because it will have been well thought out.

If you have questions or concerns about your divorce, call Kimberly Surber at 907-347-3860 for a free consultation.


Tags: Wedding Rings After Divorce, Divorce Tips, Divorce Help, Divorce and Finances, divorce financial tips, CDFA, divorce advisor

This information is not intended to be a substitute for seeking legal advice from an attorney. For legal or tax advice please seek the services of a qualified attorney and/or qualified tax professional.

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Kimberly Surber

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