When the latest celeb breakup hits the headlines, we’re reminded that even the beautiful, rich, famous folks out there aren’t immune to heartbreak. Billie Eilish, Kylie Jenner and even iconic supermodel Gisele Bündchen have recently gone through a breakup or divorce. And just like us, many celebrities don’t take it well.

Remember when a bitter Kanye West spent months trolling Pete Davidson for daring to date Ye’s ex, Kim Kardashian? Or when Jason Sudeikis had custody papers served to his former fiancée, Olivia Wilde, while she was on stage at a public event? And who could forget Megan Fox’s monumental social media deletion, sparking rumours of a split from MGK?

It all makes our ways of coping with a breakup (Netflix binges, girls’ nights out, regrettable rebounds) seem slightly less dramatic!     


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Who keeps the engagement ring after a breakup?

When elite Hollywood couples and influencers break up, we all want to know how, when, why, and who gets what. For example, who keeps that Insta-famous engagement ring after the engagement ends?

It’s also an important question to ask yourself whether you're getting engaged or calling it off. Do you give the engagement and wedding rings back after a divorce, or do they count as gifts?


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Engagement breakup: What are the rules?

When dealing with a broken engagement or a divorce, how do you decide who should keep valuable items like an engagement ring, wedding ring or another precious gift?

John Owens, partner at MSB Solicitors and an experienced divorce lawyer, answers some common questions about who’s entitled to keep what.

1. Who is legally entitled to the gift if an item (like an engagement or wedding ring) was gifted?

Unless a piece of jewellery was intended to be returned to the purchaser, the general rule is that the person who received it keeps it and is treated as a gift. 

The legislation that deals with this upon a divorce or relationship breakdown is the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1970, which states: “The gift of an engagement ring shall be presumed to be an absolute gift. This presumption may be rebutted by proving that the ring was given on the condition, express or implied, that it should be returned if the marriage did not take place for any reason”.


2. If you break up during the engagement period rather than after the wedding, does it change who can keep what (and vice versa)?            

The general position is that an engagement ring will remain an absolute gift regardless of its value or when the relationship breaks down (either during the engagement or marriage).


3. Do rules ever change depending on the value of the item?                         

 The general rule is that the more expensive the jewellery or gift is, the more impact it may have on the overall financial settlement upon divorce. The Court will look at the value of all assets in a case to be divided between a couple, hoping to achieve a fair division. 

The jewellery and its value would need to be included in the financial disclosure provided by the parties and the list of the relevant assets for the division. The more valuable the jewellery is, the more important it will be when considered alongside the other assets of the marriage. 

In a high-net-worth case, this jewellery will be less relevant. But if the jewellery is expensive and the parties have fallen on hard times financially, the jewellery will become more relevant and may have to be sold to meet the parties’ needs.


4. Do the rules change if the gift or ring is a family heirloom?                       

If an engagement ring or another piece of jewellery provided during a relationship was a family heirloom, I would advise my clients to have a Pre-Nuptial Agreement regarding this piece of jewellery. So, if the relationship or marriage broke down, there would be clear evidence of the intention for the heirloom to be returned to the party who provided it in the first instance.

The normal rules and presumptions will apply if there is no Pre-Nuptial Agreement, meaning the ring or other jewellery was given as an absolute gift.


5. Are there any exceptions?               

There are always exceptions to the rules. When considering the division of the matrimonial pot, the Family Court will consider the value of any ring or piece of jewellery deemed to be valued over £500.00. 

The significance of the value of this jewellery will depend on the overall weight of the matrimonial pot for division. If the jewellery is significantly valued, depending on the value of the other assets in the case, the person who gave the jewellery can be compensated by the jewellery recipient retaining that asset.


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Getting through a breakup or broken engagement

So, the person who received the engagement ring is usually allowed to keep it after a breakup or divorce, although this will depend on whether you have a prenup and might also sometimes rely on the ring's value.

While it’s good to know about the logistics of the breakup, the emotional side of things is always hard to deal with. If you’re going through a breakup right now, here are a few tips for getting through the worst of it:

  • Connect with people who make you feel good: Spend time with friends and family who you know will be supportive.
  • Be careful what you share online: Keep the private details private, and only share them with people you trust.
  • Set boundaries: Don’t let a toxic ex reel you back in with vague promises or false hope. If you know separating is healthy, go through with it and stick to it.
  • No social media stalking: For your sanity, mute or unfollow your ex on social media. (If you need to stay in touch with an ex-spouse or partner for legal reasons, there are other channels you can use to keep in contact.)
  • Work out: Exercise releases feel-good hormones. Whether it’s a new gym routine, a fun team sport or hiking in nature, getting active is good for your body and mind.
  • Look after yourself: Be gentle with yourself, give yourself time to grieve the loss of the relationship, and remember that these complicated feelings won’t last forever.
  • Be a class act: The best way to “win” a breakup is to create a life you love. Don’t waste time being petty, throwing shade or thinking of ways to get back at your ex. Focus on feeling better and moving on, and don’t let an ex’s lousy behaviour drag you down to their level.


Remember, you can buy yourself flowers – and your special jewellery piece while at it. Celebrate your new-found singlehood or console a loved one going through a breakup with Abbott Lyon’s range of breakup jewellery.

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