In both New Jersey and Pennsylvania, an engagement ring is a conditional gift given in exchange for the promise of marriage. If the engagement is broken and the marriage doesn’t occur, regardless of fault, the ring is returned to the giver.
The problem occurs once the marriage has taken place and the couple is faced with their pending divorce. The ring is usually not an issue in the case of a long term marriage, but generally becomes an issue when the marriage was of short duration. In that case the giver is often hurt and offended and wants the ring back. The court views the ring as a pre-marital gift and therefore not subject to equitable distribution. Only the increase in value is considered marital property subject to equitable distribution.
An additional problem couples are facing today occurs when the divorcing couple agrees to to sell the ring(s) in order to obtain much needed cash to pay off marital debt. Even though the price of gold is high, the amount of cash that the couple is likely to receive for such a sale is probably going to be very disappointing. It may seem logical that the value of the ring should be what it was appraised for or more due to inflation and the price of gold. Unfortunately the cash they receive for the ring will most likely be less than half the value of the appraisal. You should visit several jewelry stores that you trust and you will learn what they value, but be prepared.