Love is in the air, and thus, sales in the jewelry market are booming. The purchase of engagement rings tends to increase during the holiday season starting in the Fall and ending right before Valentine’s Day. Many people propose on Valentine’s Day, the day which symbolizes love, romance and devotion.
Under New Jersey case law, if an engagement is broken prior to getting married, the engagement ring is returned to the donor as it is viewed as a conditional gift in contemplation of marriage. If the engagement is broken, the condition, marriage, is not met. However, by proposing on Valentine’s Day, her birthday or any other holiday, and the wedding is subsequently cancelled, the question becomes who keeps the ring? The answer is not an easy “yes” or “no” but rather the analysis is very fact sensitive. Under this scenario, it needs to be determined whether the engagement ring was given as a conditional gift in contemplation of marriage or a plain vanilla gift. If the ring is in fact deemed a plain vanilla gift, even though the engagement was broken, the ring would belong to the recipient. In order to avoid any future issues, it might just be best to not propose on a holiday or a birthday. [posted by Lynda Picinic, Esq.]