What to do With Your Wedding Ring after Divorce

By Tracy Achen

Are you wondering what do you do with your wedding ring after divorce now that everything is finalized? Do you give the ring back to your ex or is it yours to do with as you please? If it’s any consolation, a lot of women struggle with this same issue. And by wedding ring, I'm talking about the complete set, both the diamond engagement ring and the matching wedding band.

What once was a symbol of the love you shared, the ring may now bring pain or even anger, making it hard to truly leave that all behind. And, let’s be honest, your ring may be too expensive to toss and too gorgeous to hide in a drawer. If you’re stumped on what to do with your wedding ring after divorce, here are 7 things to consider:

1. Give the ring back to your ex

I know, giving the ring back is probably the last thing you want to do. Technically, jewelry like a diamond engagement ring is given as a gift and is the recipients to do with as they please. But there are a few instances when returning the ring is the best thing to do.

For example, if you have a prenuptial or post-marital agreement which stipulates the ring is to be returned after divorce, you’ll be legally bound to return it. Also, some states consider the wedding ring given during the marriage ceremony (not the engagement ring) as marital property, which is divisible in a divorce. Therefore, it’s always best to ask your divorce attorney how wedding rings are handled in your state.

Another situation in which you should consider returning the ring is if it was a family heirloom. If it was given to your ex by his mother or other family member, it would only be right to return it. Keeping the ring is just mean-spirited.

2. Continue to wear it

There are no set rules saying you can’t wear your wedding ring after you’re divorced. While the vast majority of divorced women remove their wedding ring during their separation or divorce, some women choose to continue wearing their wedding ring after the divorce is finalized. Some wear their rings out of a sense of familiarity and just aren’t ready to take it off.

Another reasons for continuing to wear your wedding ring is to avoid broadcasting to the world you’re no longer married. This can help you avoid having to discuss the split with casual friends and co-workers until you’re ready. A ring on your left hand can also act as a deterrent to the advances of possible suitors until you’re ready to open yourself up to dating again. 

Of course, you can always continue to wear the ring on your right hand, especially if you really love the design of your ring. It may need to be resized to fit properly, as our left and right hands slightly differ in size.

3. Keep the ring to pass down to your children

Many women opt to keep their engagement ring as a possible heirloom for their children. Others may be reluctant to hold onto the ring because it could be viewed as a symbol of a failed marriage. But keeping the ring for your children is worth considering, especially if it has a really nice diamond. 

The way to realistically look at the ring for future generations lies in the value of the diamonds. After all, the stones can be set in an entirely new ring when your child gets engaged.

4. Repurpose the ring into another piece of jewelry

Along these same lines, you can transform the ring for yourself. You might decide to use it to create something different as a symbol for starting anew, maybe a stunning necklace or diamond earrings. Most reputable jewelers can rework the diamonds from a wedding ring into a totally new piece of jewelry that you would be proud to wear.

If you just have a gold band or a ring with a small diamond, you might consider having it melted down for the gold. The gold can then be sold for cash or redesigned into something else.

5. Sell your wedding ring after divorce

If you want to move forward and leave the ring behind, it might be best to sell it. This can give you extra money to buy something special just for you. You can also use the money to pay off bills or legal fees, take a much needed vacation, or fix up your house.

Options for selling your ring include pawn shops, jewelers, online marketplaces like Craigslist or eBay, and online diamond buyers. Generally, the first three options will only offer you a very small fraction of what the ring cost. The best option for most people is to sell their ring to an online diamond buyer.

It’s important to note you’ll probably only receive 20-60% of the ring’s original purchase price when you sell it (1). The purchase price of a ring is the full retail value. When it comes to selling the ring, you’ll generally only receive the resale price, which is based on the value of the stones and possibly the setting. Even so, selling your ring will generate more money than it would just gathering dust in some drawer. 

If selling your jewelry is something that sounds right for you, then you’re going to want to make sure you get the most from your sale. That’s where a company like Worthy can help! Worthy is not a diamond buyer, but a selling partner for you. They are on your side and genuinely want you to get as much money as possible for your jewelry. To begin the selling process, Worthy evaluates your piece to help you understand its value, so you can set your own reserve price for Worthy’s network of 1000 professional buyers who compete for your jewelry.

Once the high bid hits your reserve, you’ll get paid almost immediately. If your reserve price is not met, you can decide whether to accept the high bid or have your item returned to you. If this sounds like a good way to proceed, you can get started by having your wedding rings appraised by an expert from Worthy, at no cost to you. You really can’t lose!

6. Donate the ring to your favorite charity

Your ring is worth something, so why not put its value to good use by donating it to a cause or charity you support. Some charities that accept donations of jewelry include Goodwill, Helping Hands of America, and Support Our Troops. You can also call your local charities or domestic violence shelter to ask whether they accept jewelry donations or not.

If you have an expensive ring, you’ll want to make sure you get your ring appraised before you donate it. You’ll be able to use this appraisal when you do your taxes to classify the ring as a donation. You’ll also need to give a copy of the appraisal to your charity so they can provide you with an invoice of the jewelry donated and its value. 

7.  Dispose of the ring

If you just want to be done with all the bad memories, it can be really tempting to just throw your ring away. Before you do, just make sure you’re not throwing away a lot of money. Those rings might represent money you could really use, so it’s best to at least have them appraised before throwing them in the lake.

On the other hand, maybe your ring isn’t worth that much and you wouldn’t get much of anything back by selling it. It can be cathartic for some women to just throw the ring away. There are some innovative ways to get rid of your ring, including:

  • Throwing it in the trash, knowing it will head to the dump
  • Tying your ring to a helium balloon and releasing it
  • Throwing it in a lake, river, or the ocean
  • Flushing it down the toilet
  • Burying it in the back yard
  • Tossing it down a storm drain
  • Throwing it out in a field or swamp
  • Tying it to a bottle rocket and sending it flying (only in areas where aerial fireworks are legal)
  • Giving it to a panhandler
  • Casually dropping it on the beach for some treasure hunter to discover
  • Throwing it in a volcano
  • Tossing it out your car window while driving down a country road 

Final Thoughts

Determining what to do with your wedding ring after divorce is ultimately your decision. And after reading the suggestions above, you now have some options on what you can do with it. But it’s important to wait until you are ready. If you decide to get rid of the rings, make sure it’s a decision you are comfortable with. 

Related

Transformation after Divorce - Choosing to Move Forward 

How to Sell Your Engagement Ring  

Worthy Review - How It Works and What to Expect 

References:

1. Diamond Resale Value: How much is your ring really worth?