Divorce: Rules of Engagement Rings

I still remember exactly what was said on the day. I still remember the sensation of having something beautifully alien on my finger, catching the light, and wondering whether or not you were supposed to leave it on while you slept.

I still remember the jolt of panic when I couldn’t feel the rings on my finger, looking down horrified I’d lost a treasured possession. I still remember recalling sadly that I had deliberately taken it off. I still remember realising that the indent on my finger had finally disappeared.

I’ve finally got used to wearing a combinations of charity shop purchases and family heirlooms on my left hand middle finger again because now they won’t scratch a wedding band.

My old engagement ring is very beautiful and very ‘me’. It was a square sapphire with three diamonds on either side. Now that I no longer wear it, I am trying to be less metaphorically ‘square’ and more cavalier with rules…to a certain extent.

But what do you do about this once treasured possession when you’re separated? What about divorcing? Are there rules of an ex-engagement ring?

Initially I took my rings off for about two months because I didn’t feel married. After two months of pulling sleeves over my left hand (luckily it was autumn), I eventually put them back on because I knew I was committed to making my marriage work. I wore my engagement and wedding ring for a long time after we were separated. It was easier than answering questions about their absence.

I took them off when I was finally ready to answer questions that inevitably came along. When I took them off, I knew they no longer held the meaning they had. The words that were spoken when they were gifted have become obsolete. The love, far more precious than the objects themselves, is no longer being bestowed upon you. The value of the ring, disregarding it’s beauty, was in the intention of the gift giver.

However beautiful it is, however ‘you’, it becomes inappropriate to wear it any longer. Some people long to wear it again, because it is lovely. They want to wear it for it’s own value and beauty as an object distinct from the gift giver and their intention.  But it takes a long time for that connection to be eroded.

Which is why sticking it in a jewellery box and tucking it out of sight is completely appropriate, legitimate and healthy. I think I put it in ‘his’ bedside table – it seemed apt. Said bedside table is now full of my craft and writing magazines and the toolkit I got for my birthday – which yes, I have used. 

For me, the memories made it beautiful. Studied objectively now, I can see a beautiful piece of jewellery. Yet when I have slipped it back onto my ring finger on the odd occasion, because, well, it’s still pretty and it’s the only place it fits – the metal feels strange against my skin. It doesn’t belong there anymore. It is pretty, but it’s not mine. It’s not me.

If I had children, I might have passed it on to them as their parents’ memory. But as I don’t, I decided to pass the beauty on to someone else to form new memories, via eBay. Keep it in a drawer, sell it on, wear it – what matters is what feels right for you. 

With the money from the sale, I think I’m going to buy a new item of jewellery. Something mine, something me, something to remind me of the inner strength I never knew I had. That is definitely worth remembering. 

7 thoughts on “Divorce: Rules of Engagement Rings

  1. I sold my wedding ring from my first marriage. Great feeling. I lost my ring with Hannah in the hospital room she lay dying in. I have here hanging in front of a mirror at the house. It will never leave my possession, regardless of what the future holds.


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