Who gets to keep the engagement ring in a divorce proceeding?

Engagement rings given prior to the marriage are treated as gifts conditioned on marriage.  Therefore, if the parties marry, the donee (i.e. the wife) gets to keep the engagement ring as her separate non-marital property.  In other words, the engagement ring is not subject to equitable distribution (the division of marital assets).

It’s a different story if the parties separate before getting married.  If the engagement is terminated by the donee (i.e. the future wife) or if the parties mutually agree to end their engagement, the ring must usually be returned to the donor– the party who gifted the ring.

If for some reason the ring was given to the spouse during the marriage it then is a marital asset subject to equitable distribution.  It becomes a little trickier when the engagement ring is upgraded during the marriage.

However, in most cases the engagement ring will be the separate non-marital property of the spouse to whom it was given as they are typically given prior to the marriage.