The Conditional Engagement

The Conditional Engagement Ring

Give it back if it doesn’t work

Came across an interesting moral question the other day when a friend of mine who is engaged, said that she would NOT give back an engagement ring if her engagement was broken. This kind of surprised me because I figured that a woman would give back an engagement ring because she would not want a symbolic reminder of a failed relationship. Perhaps maybe it was for the monetary value of the ring, but when I asked if that was the case, she was not concerned about the ring’s value; in hopes to pawn it off for some cheddar — her only reason for aspiring to retain such a ring is because it ‘looks nice’, aesthetically speaking.


However, my understanding of this whole marriage ish is that an engagement ring is a conditional offering; a man’s desire to wed his woman in the near future. I don’t think the ring can be labelled as a ‘gift’; flowers, candy, expensive jewellery are gifts, not an engagement ring — it has more significance than a ‘gift’, historically speaking (shot to those that want to label an engagement ring as a ‘gift’).

Historical Sense

From what I can find, the engagement ring was presided (created as a a formality) by Pope Innocent III in 1215 by the Fourth Lateran Council; their initial purpose were to preserve a ‘a visible division of social rank, ensuring only the privileged wore florid jewels’ (bastards) and to declare a longer waiting period between betrothal and marriage. Traditionally, it is a norm for the woman to return the ring if the engagements is called off, but in some cases (i.e. the man cheats) the woman is not obliged to return the ring — however in some U.S. states, the view is that the engagement ring is a conditional gift and that the ring SHOULD be returned under any circumstances.

Furthermore, if you want to get symbolic about the whole ‘marriage’ situation, the engagement ring is a symbol of the man’s property (i.e. the woman); the engagement ring is only worn by the woman as a symbol to other men that she is ‘taken’ (the man does not wear any symbol/ring until actual marriage); the ring shows that she is already tied to a man. Think of the engagement ring as a sign of ‘marked territory’; sort of like what a Lion or Tiger does, for the purposes of protecting their possession.

Thus you can fill out the strong symbolism and even emotional pulses one send’s out when you still desire to keep an engagement ring after the engagement is called off.

But if the ring is nice … I guess its cool, right? (feelings, emotions, sanity being absent of

.:: Food for thought ::.


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