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Diamonds are forever... Or are they?

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A question that we are often asked by clients is what will happen to their jewellery in their divorce settlement. Items of jewellery are often valuable monetary assets and may also have sentimental value, especially when they are family heirlooms.

Back in October 2016 it was reported that French businessman Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini demanded now ex-wife Cheryl Tweedy to give back his late mother’s ring which he gifted to her to mark their one year anniversary. It was further reported that Cheryl was happy to give this back perhaps in light of the fact that it was agreed that Cheryl would keep her £20 million fortune. But what would have happened if they didn’t agree?

Let’s take an engagement ring for example. Is it fair for an engagement ring to be returned after divorce? The usual “rule” is that a party can keep their engagement ring if this was gifted to them. However, if it can be shown that the intention was for the ring to be returned (for example, by way of a Pre-Nuptial Agreement) then this will not necessarily apply. Intention can be express or implied. For example, if an engagement ring was a family heirloom, it can be argued that there was an implied intention for the ring to be returned in the event of divorce. 

Dealing with jewellery can be particularly difficult where this represents the lion’s share of the party’s assets upon divorce. In other cases, it may be possible to “offset” the value of jewellery against the value of other assets to justify an outcome if necessary.