It's the worst-case scenario of weddings, the sort of thing that could make Miss Manners implode: A bitter broken engagement leads to the courtroom, where jilted lovers duke it out over rights to the wedding ring. Legally, a bride-to-be's diamond — which often costs tens of thousands of dollars — actually represents a "binding contract," explains Slate's Casey Greenfield. If the bride breaks her "promise" to marry, she's bound to return the ring. But this law sometimes gets a little murky. An excerpt:
“Christopher Reinhold of Staten Island says the diamond ring he gave to Collette DiPierro, who broke off their engagement in September 2009 after four months and growing doubts, is rightfully his. He has sued her to get it back.…But DiPierro says that because Reinhold proposed on her birthday, the $17,500 ring was a gift, not a token symbolizing a promise to marry. So she can keep it. Or, actually, spend it: Neither Reinhold nor DiPierro claims sentimental attachment; both would be happy with the ring's cash value.
“Contract law takes the view that the exchange of a ring for the promise to wed constitutes a binding contract. It's not the most romantic narrative, but in a court fight over a diamond, romance already lies in the dust....”