So, You Don't Like Your Engagement Ring—Here's What to Do

If you don't like your engagement ring, don't panic. Here are nine tips for how to deal without hurting your partner's feelings.

By Jennifer Prince

woman hugs partner after engagement
Photo by Unsplash

You probably thought a bit about how someone might propose to you before it ever happened. It’s exciting to imagine where and how it might happen—and what the ring might look like. We’re human! So what happens when your partner proposes, pulls out a ring, and… record scratch… you don’t love this unconditional gift? Don’t panic. Before you allow this to ruin your excitement, know that you still have options. Here’s what to do if you don’t like your engagement ring.

Give it some time.

So, it wasn’t love at first sight between you and the ring. That doesn’t mean it won’t grow on you. As unlikely as it sounds, when given some time, many begin to love their rings. First impressions can be deceiving with conditional gifts, so allow the shock to subside and sleep on it. Then wear it around for a few days. Pair it with your other jewelry, ask your spouse why they chose it, and just live with it for a moment. You may find—especially if you don’t wear jewelry often—that you start to fall for it.

INLINE SteveCowellPhoto 1080x720 Jeff&Lauren Photo Credit // Steve Cowell Photo

Talk to your partner.

At the same time, don’t allow any negative feelings to linger. Avoid any possible brewing resentment by being honest with your partner. Open communication is a cornerstone of any marriage, even in the face of a difficult conversation. Simply be truthful and kind. Gently and tactfully let them know how you feel and say you’re open to discussing affordable options or compromises. In case you’re stuck, start with something like:

“[Name], I’m so excited to be marrying you, and I want to be honest with you about something that’s been on my mind. An engagement ring is something I’ve been excited about for a long time and I want to be happy with it forever.”

Also, try not to feel guilty. We know, easier said than done. But at the same time: Yes, you dislike your engagement ring. No, you’re not an awful person. When all is said and done, both you and your partner just want to be excited about being together. A small hurdle in the process won’t change that.

Modify or personalize your engagement ring.

With some thought, some modifications might be all you need. Tweaking some details without trading out the entire ring is a creative, cost-effective solution. Examine what you like and dislike about it currently (such as the band, shape, or center stone). Then ask your jeweler if certain changes can be made. That way, you can maintain the parts you and your spouse love and update any you aren’t crazy about. Turn it into a creative project between the two of you.

This is also a potential solution for family heirlooms. If you’re inheriting a ring and would like for it to feel more you, broach the subject of adding some personalizations. This could mean resetting the stone, adding or removing side stones, or similar. Although, if you and your spouse plan on doing this, discuss it with the person who gave it to you, if possible. This keeps appreciation and respect at the forefront of the conversation and makes it less likely to feel offensive.

Don’t make size the issue.

If you don’t like your ring because you truthfully wish the stone was bigger, tread lightly. Telling your partner that the ring isn’t big enough could come across as ‘this isn’t expensive enough.’ Don’t make your partner feel like they couldn’t afford what you wanted or expected—especially considering they likely purchased the best they could for you.

Ask yourself if it’s something else you don’t like, such as the material, type of stone, shape, or overall style. If it’s really about the stone size, though, keep your distaste quiet. You can always save up once you’re both more established and potentially get a bigger stone for an anniversary. This isn’t something to upset or concern your partner with.

INLINE Unsplash)1080x720 Photo Credit // Unsplash

Be considerate of budget.

If you do plan to modify or get a new ring, be considerate of your partner’s budget. Perhaps they can’t afford to get you your dream ring at the moment. That doesn’t mean they love you any less—or that you’re doomed to wear a ring you don’t adore. Be honest with yourself about whether or not this is a big deal and if you’re willing to compromise. Remember, this may feel paramount at the moment, but it’s far from the most important aspect of getting married. When suggesting alternatives to your spouse, ask that you’re both transparent about the expense and expectations.

Turn your attention to your wedding band.

Whether you’ve chosen to keep your ring or just can’t bear to bring it up, all hope isn’t lost. You still have a chance to embellish it with the wedding band of your dreams. Adding your band may even change the way you feel about your engagement ring entirely. For example, if you feel it’s lacking in a certain stylistic element (sparkle? gemstones?), make it present in your band. The addition just might turn the combination into a duo you adore.

Know the legalities of the ring for broken engagements.

One pressing question many couples have is what are the legal ramifications and rules about giving a carat engagement ring back. Can you get a full refund? Does the date of purchase matter? Is it ok to offer the ring up for resale or take it to a pawn shop? The reality is that each state has its own rules on what you can do with an engagement ring, so check with your state law.

However, the first place you should start is by checking the return policy of the retailer’s store where the wedding ring was originally purchased. Even if you can’t return the ring — especially if you’ve gone beyond their days of purchase — they may have an exchange policy. That way, you can get another piece with the same value of the ring. If you purchased your diamond engagement ring on sale, the piece of jewelry may be more difficult to return, or you may be unable to exchange the original ring.

Can you return engagement ring?

In the end, you may decide to trade in your current ring for something different. That’s OK! After all, it’s an expensive item you’ll rarely remove. If your significant other purchased the ring from a jewelry store, you should be able to return or exchange it within a given time frame. That is, it’s in its original condition—so be mindful of it while contemplating. Also keep in mind that policies differ from store to store. Some require a restocking fee, while others only allow exchanges. Ask your jeweler about your options.

If neither is possible—say, your ring was custom-made—you can still try and sell it. We recommend that all custom rings get approval before they’re purchased, but realize that that’s not always the case. You should be able to set a reasonable price if it’s in mint condition. Just be sure to handle the situation delicately and be aware that it could be difficult to resell. Then, once you’ve been able to return, exchange, or sell, make an afternoon of trying on rings together with your partner. Turn the situation positive and learn more about each other’s style.

Are pawn shops an option?

Although you won’t get the original purchase price for your piece, you can take your ring to a pawn shop. You’ll need to have your ring in-store so that the shop can place a value on your ring and offer you a price. Ebay and other resale sites are also an option. However, be sure to have the GIA paperwork to validate the piece.

Fast forward: You’ve discussed things and taken the steps you need to. Now do your best to swiftly move on. Don’t dwell—your engagement is to be enjoyed. Instead, move forward with the fun parts of wedding planning (like food tastings and honeymoon arrangements).

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