Would You Buy Back the Engagement Ring Your Ex Gave You?

In a Dear Abby column this week, a LW writes:


I was engaged several years ago, but the engagement didn’t last. We broke up and I gave him back his ring. We remain close friends, however, and hang out at least once a week.

I have been dating another guy for a couple of years, and we’re thinking about getting engaged. I am wondering if it would be improper to ask my ex if we could buy my old ring from him. It was – and still is – my “dream ring,” and I know my ex has kept it in the glove box of his car ever since I gave it back to him.

I don’t want to commit a faux pas, but it seems silly to buy another identical ring. What do you think?

— Headed Down the Aisle

Personally, I think this is a really strange and pretty tacky idea, and I can’t imagine what her current boyfriend must think (if she’s even mentioned it to him). I’d tell the LW to just MOA. She found a different dream man, so she can find a different “dream ring.” Also, why is her ex keeping an expensive engagement ring in the glove compartment of his car?! That’s almost as strange as asking an ex if you and your new boyfriend can buy back your engagement ring from him. I kinda wish these two would have stayed together — they seem well-matched, at least in terms of quirkiness.

What do you think: would you ever want your old engagement ring back for a new engagement (and new fiancé/e)? Related: do you or have you continued wearing jewelry from an ex, even after getting serious with someone else? Does the new person know whom the jewelry is from?


  1. Avatar photo muchachaenlaventana says:

    Yikes, no!! The only interesting part of an engagement ring for me is the idea of my significant other getting me something unique to me that I would love as a sign of our love/lives together. Also tell your ex to not keep a ring in the glove box of his car, that is just stupid.

  2. Oh, for fuck’s sake. She should let the ring stay in the past along with the relationship it represents and get a new ring. Who knows, maybe she’ll like it better than the old one. (What is a “dream ring” anyway?) Also, I’m with Wendy, who leaves an engagement ring in their glove compartment for years?!? Maybe he’s planning on using it in the future, which also, um, no.
    As for less significant jewelry that you got from an ex, if you like it and want to wear it, then I say wear it. And if you’re uncomfortable telling your current SO where you got it, just say it was a gift.

  3. No, I’m with you, it’s tacky and weird. Maybe she figures they can get a great deal on it though, as opposed to buying new.

    I have one very simple but pretty necklace from my ex-bf that I still wear a lot, and I’m pretty sure I mentioned it to my husband at some point (only if he asked). But most of the jewelry my ex-bf gave me I sold. And I gave my engagement ring back to my first husband and would never think to want it again.

  4. lets_be_honest says:

    Clearly she should just break into the ex’s car. WAY less awkward than asking him for it directly.
    I still wear jewelry from exes. No big deal. I wouldn’t wear an engagement ring from a prior engagement though.

    1. Well, I was wondering where this LW lives, what is the make and model of his car, and where I can find it during the evenings?

  5. Eh, if it genuinely doesn’t bother you or either guy involved, I don’t think it’s anyone else’s place to tell you whether it’s acceptable or weird. And it’s not like it’s something you have to share with others anyway, if you don’t want to. Some people put a lot of stock and symbolic meaning into things, especially engagement rings, and others don’t and wouldn’t care. Like some people think that buying a “used” engagement ring ie. from a broken engagement, is tacky or depressing, but at the end of the day it’s just an object.

    1. Wendy (not Wendy) says:

      Normally, sure, but the whole point is she is ASKING if it is acceptable or weird!

  6. I really want to know why he’s kept it in his glove compartment all this time and why she knows it’s there. I would probably have sold it!

  7. Avatar photo veritek33 says:

    Weird and tacky.

    I sold everything the ex gave me in terms of jewelry. Why would I want to wear a daily reminder of an abusive asshole? Nope. Just nope.

  8. I would not, WOULD NOT, ask to buy the ring. That’s so weird. Also, why in the hell is he keeping it? If I were a potential fiance of his, I WOULD not want the ring he gave to someone else. Gross.
    Wearing old jewelry from exes if fine, IMO, but not engagement rings.
    When I called off my engagement, the ring was given back. I assumed he would resell. I thought it was the “perfect” ring for me. I don’t know what I’ll do if I’m engaged again. I’m kind of over the whole ring thing now. Whatev.

  9. lets_be_honest says:

    There’s something about selling jewelry from exes that makes me sad. It makes sense why people do it obviously, but its still sad to me. I’m going to donate all my old ex jewelry to the junior high school boys and girls so they can give it to each other and I can be responsible for young love!

  10. I don’t know, isn’t a ring just a ring? The LW is obviously still really good friends with her ex and seem like they’re on great terms. Heck, they hang out once a week. I actually am a little jealous of that.
    I think if all three people involved are cool with it, then live and let live.

  11. Avatar photo Crochet.Ninja says:

    OMG dude. no no no no no. how rude to your current boyfriend! pick out another ring and leave the past in the past.

  12. If all of them are cool with it – I don’t see an issue. Not for everyone – sure. But everyone has something in their relationship that isn’t for everyone. Married too young; married too old ; didn’t marry at all; ring too expensive; ring not expensive enough etc…. Once it isn’t hurting someone – have at it!

  13. trixy minx says:

    I know my ex bf wore the watch i gave him many years after we broke up. He wore that thing everyday.. even the years after we broke up and it stopped working.. oh boy

    1. right? who cares what they do with the ring but why keep it in the glovebox of your car for years, haha.

      1. Yeah wtf! And why does she KNOW that’s where it is? I expect her next question to be like, “Scale of one to ten, how crazy would it be to break into my ex’s car and…”

      2. yeah I can imagine that conversation now…so you know the engagement ring, I keep it in my car. just seems really random to me!!

    2. Why? Uh, to be ready for a drive-by proposal?

  14. What doesn’t sit right with me is the idea that the ring is somehow independent from the man. It reminds me of those women who have their wedding planned before they even meet the man they will marry. To me the ring is special because of who chose it. I think its perfectly normal to have preferences about ring style but the process of selecting a ring is VERY personal and unique to the relationship, in my mind. This is true whether the couple chooses the ring together or whether the man chooses it on his own.

    Personally, the main thing I love about my wedding ring is that my husband stood in a ring shop, looked at dozens of options and chose this one. For me. It’s special for that reason.

  15. tbrucemom says:

    I don’t know, the LW and her ex must be pretty close to see each other at least once a week. It might actually help him out to be able to get a decent amount from it. However, I do think it’s odd that he still has it and keeps it in his car’s glove compartment. I kind of think there’s still something between them. Not that they’re cheating, I think there’s still feelings. As far as jewelry, I kept the jewelry my ex-husband gave him except for my wedding rings and a necklace that he gave me as a wedding present, just too much emotional attachment.

  16. If the jewelry doesn’t have that much emotional attachment to either party, I say go for it. It’s just a piece of jewelry, really. Which isn’t to say people don’t have emotional attachment to specific pieces of jewelry – I found out recently my mom has my bubbe’s necklace, the one she wore every day, and I had a very strong emotional reaction to seeing it. But the ring Bassanio got me years ago has gone through “incarnations” as I like to call my tendency to lose it and replace it… It may not be the same ring and that doesn’t matter to me. Me wearing that type of ring means something, but the metal itself doesn’t.

    1. Oh and I’m getting the necklace: I negotiated with family members to get my bubbe’s necklace but replace the stones, which turned out to be quite valuable.

    2. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

      I agree – if the ring has no emotional attachment to the parties, go for it, only thing to lose is you’ll fail to reach a purchase price you both agree to. … And you risk finding out that he actually does have emotional attachment to the ring and has been holding on to it hoping you come back to him or something like that – awkward!

  17. The closest thing I have to old jewelry from an ex is a dark blue bracelet a boy gave to me in the 9th grade. He had gotten it for me while on vacation with his family, and he told me that he hoped it’d remind me of him when I looked at it as the shade of blue matched his eyes. I accepted it but slightly remember snickering to myself about it later. I still have it, and cringe at the memory of what a non-sappy, un-mushy jerkface I was.

    1. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

      Aww, that’s cute.

  18. Ahhh every time this type of topic comes up my mind goes to my “Ex Box” where I keep very limited gifts and pictures from exes. It has been downsized to a shoe box since I usually throw away and give away stuff whenever I go through it every year or so. But that dang promise ring is still in there. And I’m still on the fence as to whether I want to sell it or not.

  19. Bittergaymark says:

    This sends odd messages to both men. I’d be weirded out if I was the new guy. And it’d leave me blue as the ex, too. And I tend to have AMAZINGLY relationships with my exes. Find a new DREAM ring. Seriously. This is profoundly odd.

  20. I generally don’t care about engagement rings at all but I STILL think this is odd. You can’t really take the symbolic meaning out of an engagement ring – do you really want a ring that comes from your ex? Super weird.

  21. Crazy_Pug_Lady says:

    Personally, I wouldn’t want my old engagement ring back from my ex-husband. Before my separation was even finalized I had given him back both my engagement ring and my wedding ring because I felt so uncomfortable wearing or even having them around. They now reside in the tank of my ex’s pet turtle(does that beat glove box of a car for weirdness?)

    As for the LW, it’s her and her fiancée to be’s call, If it doesn’t bother them and they were planning on shopping together and getting the same exact ring, then why not?

  22. I don’t think this is that strange. I’m also picturing the LW as older since it’s been several years. I wouldn’t approach the ex to purchase the ring. However if the LW and new bf tell the ex that they are planning to get married and he offers them the ring, then that’s acceptable. Personally I think it’s great they are still friends.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *