What to Do With Your Wedding Ring If You Get a Divorce

There are tons of options when it comes to dealing with "divorce diamonds."

Two gold wedding rings on lace pillow

Getty / Valeriu Triboi 

Of course, no bride wants to think about it, but things happen. Divorce becomes reality for a number of couples every year, and after the dust settles, there’s always plenty of questions to figure out the answer to. Everything from who moves out and who keeps which furniture pieces has to be decided, along with the big question—what about the wedding rings?

What happens to your wedding ring after a divorce? While there are specific etiquette rules, and laws in some states, in place to determine the fate of your engagement ring if the wedding is called off, what to do with your wedding ring post-divorce is a little more unclear. Even though the marriage didn't last, that ring may still hold some symbolism of a (hopefully) happy chapter in your life, and there's a number of ways to hold on to it in different forms, or even use it to help others.

But what it really boils down to, is that the decision is all up to you. Hopefully, you’ll never have to use this advice, but just in case you’re looking for answers, it’s better to be prepared. Read on for tips on what to do with your wedding ring after divorce. 

If It’s an Heirloom, Consider Returning It

As previously stated, there aren't really any hard-and-fast rules when it comes to dealing with wedding rings after a split. However, if you were gifted an heirloom ring on your wedding day, it's considered common decency to return it. As Lizzie Post, etiquette guru, the great-great-granddaughter of Emily Post, and co-president of the Emily Post Institute, told TODAY Style, "If the ring was an heirloom, it’s very nice for the person who received it to give it back to the family they’re no longer a part of, or at least asking if they’d like the ring returned to them."

Meet the Expert

  • Lizzie Post is the great-great-granddaughter of Emily Post—the American author famous for writing about etiquette—and co-president of the Emily Post Institute. She is the author of "Higher Etiquette" and co-host of the "Awesome Etiquette" podcast.
  • Calla Gold is a Santa Barbara-based personal jeweler and the owner of Calla Gold Jewelry. She speaks at seminars and conventions as an expert jeweler, designer, marketer, and sales trainer.

Sell It and Donate the Money to Charity

When Jordana Horn discovered her wedding ring from a previous marriage sitting in a desk drawer, collecting dust, she took to Facebook to ask her friends what they thought she should do.

After combing through a list of suggestions that included tossing the ring, selling it, and even melting down the jewelry into a keepsake for her children, none of the ideas seemed quite right. "There’s the drama of the cinematic gesture of throwing it into the ocean or something," said Horn in an interview with TODAY Style. "But really, the divorce was more than enough drama for me."

So instead, Horn opted to do some good with her discarded ring, turning a painful period in her life into a gift for someone else. Horn decided to sell the once-precious piece of jewelry and donate the money to the Rachel Coalition, a nonprofit that helps those affected by domestic violence. "I really liked the idea of... paying it forward and doing something constructive with it," she said. "It was clearly something that meant something more at one point, so I definitely wanted to do something that was meaningful." 

I really liked the idea of paying it forward and doing something constructive with it.

Turn It Into a New Piece of Jewelry

More and more people are embracing a new, emerging trend of turning their "divorce diamonds" into entirely new pieces of jewelry. "Oftentimes, people feel like that diamond is charged enough with the memory of... the loss of the marriage, that they don’t necessarily want to put it on their finger," Calla Gold, a personal jeweler and owner of Calla Gold Jewelry, told TODAY Style. "So a lot of times what they’ll do is make a necklace out of it."

According to Gold, crafting something new out of something old can often help the person to reclaim their personal style post-divorce. "Occasionally I’ll run into a woman and she’s been married since she was 20 or something, and her husband has always bought her jewelry," Gold explained. "So in some cases, we are discovering someone’s taste together. It can be cathartic."

Get Rid of It Entirely

But if holding onto the ring in another form is all too much, some people are opting for an option that's a bit more liberating. Gold said she helped one woman actually burn her wedding ring. "She said, 'I want to see the flame, I want to see it melt,'" Gold remembers. "When it was just a puddle of useless nothing, I took that final picture and I sent it off to her and she was like, 'I’m free!'"

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