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Former Bride-To-Be Won't Return Ring

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One Long Island judge forced a woman to return her engagement ring.

engagement ring

Even more classic than a Tiffany princess-cut 2.5-carat ring or a moonlit proposal atop the Eiffel Tower ... is the age-old dilemma of what happens to the engagement ring should the happy couple part ways.

Here's one way it can end: in court. That's where Long Island couple Danielle Cavalieri, 26, and John Gunther, 27, found themselves when they couldn't agree on how to properly handle their breakup. Cavalieri says that she is justified in keeping the $19,000 white-gold 2.2-carat ring because Gunther allegedly cheated on her.

The couple got engaged in March 2008 and was supposed to wed in October 2009. But they split, and Cavalieri promised that she would return the ring. When she later refused to give it back, Gunther took her to court. Cavalieri filed a counterclaim this past winter, saying she deserved the ring because Gunther allegedly had an affair. She also demanded $100,000 for "emotional stress."

But just last week, Justice F. Dana Winslow ruled that Cavalieri had to return the ring, due to New York State law -- which states that all jewelry given "in contemplation of marriage" should be returned to the giver, and that "fault in the breakup of an engagement is irrelevant."

But don't worry: Cavalieri's not drowning her sorrows in ice cream -- she's getting married to a new beau on Saturday.

Given that an engagement ring is bestowed with the intent of marriage, what do you think a jilted woman should do with it?

next: Couples Prone To Split After Pregnancy Loss
29 comments so far | Post a comment now
Kristin April 11, 2010, 11:23 AM

When I left my ex in 2008 we were engaged. I kept the ring. He wanted to take it home and bury it. *rolls eyes*. If, God forbid, hgappened between my fiancé and I now I’d give it back to him because it is a family ring.

tennmom April 11, 2010, 12:33 PM

I don’t know why a woman would want to keep the ring besides monetary value or spite.
I think it depends on why the relationship ended. If the woman changes her mind, she should return the ring. If the man ends it,she should “keep” the ring but sell it.

Marianne Johnson April 11, 2010, 1:29 PM

You should give it back. It’s being spiteful and greedy to want to keep it.

Kelly April 11, 2010, 1:34 PM

I would say it depends on the circumstances. If it s a family ring, give it back to the parents if the guy is a loser; him if it is not a terrible tragedy. If you break up with him, give him back the ring he gave you. If he is in the wrong, keep it and and do with it whatever you want. My former fiance took my ring by force and last I knew, even five years later, kept it in the box in a drawer… When he comes back to me, I will not take the ring back. For all he has put me through I want a new one!

Jannice April 11, 2010, 1:46 PM

I think the ring was given to the Woman.. She should be allowed to keep it. BUT.. I think it would be nice if she gave it to the father of the groom to help cover costs of the wedding that never took place..

Kimberly April 11, 2010, 2:51 PM

Out of all respect she shoul return the ring. If she is suspected of a new bureau and already planning another marriage how much feeling did she really have?

Anonymous April 11, 2010, 3:13 PM

she probably wanted to sell it at a pawn shop

Louise McCloud April 11, 2010, 3:34 PM

The law is the law on this one, and I have to agree the ring deserved to go back to her ex, while my heart goes out to her I agree with the decision, I have been in that situation myself, the thing I always tell my friends “nothing is for sure until you’re married, if you want to keep the ring, get it in writing, I have been engaged a couple of times, I have a hard and fast rule, I want a card stating that no matter what happens the ring is a gift, I have it signed and the jewelry store manager witness the signature”. My rationale for doing this is, an engagement is a committment not to be entered into lightly, therefor if you love me, prove it, show me your r-e-a-l-y ready to commit, in this day and age one has to think of that, if she had something like that in writing he wouldn’t have stood a chance of getting the ring back.

Gail Cooke April 11, 2010, 3:38 PM

I asked my fiancee if he wanted the ring back and he said no. So I kept it. I’ve been thinking about getting the diamond put into a new ring.

CUPID April 11, 2010, 6:07 PM


Louise McCloud April 11, 2010, 6:56 PM


Where was his “Morality” when he cheated on this woman, then dumped her?

Unfortunately, the law is on his side in this case, but the guy is a looser and whatever goes around comes around, I have a feeling this guy is one day going to look back and miss what he lost, by that time, she will have moved on to someone much better.

I also hope she reads “Momlogic” and takes my advice, “next time the engagement ring is a gift and puts it in writing, signed by her fiance and witnessed by the jeweler”.

Anonymous April 11, 2010, 7:16 PM

I would give the ring back, there is no reason to even keep a ring that has bad memories attached to it.

Louise McCloud April 12, 2010, 4:53 AM

Perhaps she wants to keep the ring so she can have it reset in a different setting, she definitely deserved to keep the ring, this guy cheated, he hurt her in the worse possible way, as a result this guy needs to be taught a lesson and apparently the only way to reach him is through his wallet.

The fact is their were some wonderful times, its not about the memories bad or good, its about teaching this guy a lesson so he’ll think long and hard before he ever dose this to another woman and he will, this is pattern, whoever he marries better watch out, once a cheat always a cheat, so sometimes a cheat has to be taught a lesson they’ll understand, that’s why, I firmly believe get it in writing, make the ring an unconditional gift, that way the ring would have belonged to her, and has the thought ever occured to anyone just maybe, she wants to sell it and donate the money to a worthy cause, whatever her reasons for wanting to keep the ring, I agree morally she should have been allowed to keep the ring and if this guy had any decency he would have insisted she keep the ring, after what he put her through she “earned it”, but she didn’t get the ring in writing as a gift, and he has no decency and unfortunately the law is on his side.

My heart really goes out to her, I know what it’s like to have your heart broken, I truly hope some truly wonderful guy is out their for her, who will be faithful and appreciate her.

Theirs a saying “A Good Man is hard to find, well A GOOD WOMAN IS HARDER TO FIND”

Anonymous Mom April 12, 2010, 11:50 AM

I’m going with tennmom, and adding this: The engagement ring is a symbol of the commitment to be wed to only one another (unless you’ve got some sort of “open marriage” arrangment!) If the woman breaks it off, ESPECIALLY if it’s by cheating, then the ring should be returned to him because she broke her part of the agreement symbolized by the ring. However, if he breaks it off - and once again, ESPECIALLY if it’s by cheating, like this guy - then he has broken the agreement and she should keep it, as she had planned to have it for always until he went and mucked things up. I would hope that if it’s an heirloom, however, that it goes back to the family, regardless of who broke off what - but if we’re talking “just bought it at Zale’s” then the above rules should apply. Perhaps they should work on that law in New York state…

renee April 12, 2010, 2:30 PM

return the ring, keep the diamond

Vicky April 28, 2010, 4:59 AM

The couple broke up because he cheated on her. At least that’s what the Post article said. Also, I heard that she took the ring to pay for all the money her parents lost on the wedding that didn’t take place AND he never asked for the ring, he had his brother call!

Todd April 30, 2010, 9:08 AM

The ring should be returned regardless of whether he cheated on her or not. If you start getting into the details of every breakup we might find situations where a woman was verbally abusive or perhaps she cheated in the past etc… that point who is at fault would get messy. That’s why the law is simple and straightforward to avoid all that potential BS. I’m sure both sides in this one have “their side of the story”. Regardless, the engagement is off. Return the ring. Also, to the poster who wants a signed contract at the jeweler’s place…you’re pathetic and I feel bad for any man that winds up with your greedy shallow personality.

Jimbo May 3, 2010, 3:44 PM

Marriage is, among other things, a contract. And an engagement ring is a seal on that contract, purchased (traditionally) by the groom. The ring is, in effect, a letter of intent, or an escrow.

For any reason, if the engagement is broken off, the contract is null and void and the ring must go back to the purchaser. I don’t care how big the rock is or who he cheated on. A contract is a contract.

Dirk Schaubhut November 26, 2010, 12:01 AM

Hey, marvellous job! I can’t seep at night.

Steven99 January 22, 2011, 7:31 AM

Thanks for the great article here. From the one side it looks funny but imagine if you would be in that position. I had almost the same situation in my life. My past wife said me to return diamond watches that she gave to me. It is a real craziness but we dealt with that problem without a court. However such situation happen and you can’t be sure that you won’t have to face it in the future by yourself. Thanks for the article here one more time and keep posting such nice ones in the nearest future too.

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