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'Right in the trash!' TODAY readers share stories of post-divorce wedding rings

by Lindsay Lowe /

When a marriage ends, what do you do with the ring? That’s the question we asked in a recent TODAY Style story, and it sparked plenty of debate! A recent TODAY Twitter poll found readers split almost down the middle between "Keep it" and "Ditch it."

Those certainly aren't the only two choices, though, and hundreds of readers weighed in on TODAY’s Facebook page, sharing what they did with their own wedding jewelry following a split.

One thing we learned from everyone’s stories? There’s no consensus when it comes handling wedding rings post divorce, though there are some options that come up again and again.

1. Donate it

The woman in our original piece, Jordana Horn, sold her wedding band and gave the proceeds to charity. TODAY Style reader Melodie Bennett went the same route and says the act brought her closure.

“I hung onto an engagement ring for years, unable to let it go,” Bennett wrote on Facebook. “Finally donated it to a charity auction. Weight lifted off my heart and could really move on!”

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2. Return it

Some women returned their rings, often because they were heirlooms from their ex-husbands’ families.

“We had our rings custom made. I gave mine back because he inherited the diamonds and gold from rings from his grandfather who was a former sheriff many years ago,” wrote Angie Marie Buckles on Facebook. “Didn't feel right keeping it.”

Another reader, Katie Riebel, shared the thoughtful way her parents dealt with their heirloom engagement ring and wedding band after they split up.

“Mom gave the engagement ring back to my Dad since it was a family piece … The set now belongs to me,” she wrote. “People have asked me if I feel it is unlucky but I tell them the engagement ring is my Dad's family, the wedding band is my mom's … It's family. How can it be unlucky?”

 Katie Riebel wears her parents' redesigned engagement ring and wedding band. Courtesy Katie Riebel

3. Repurpose it

Several readers gave their wedding rings new life by transforming them into new pieces of jewelry.

“I had mine made into a necklace for our daughter on her 21st birthday,” shared Pamela Graham Burkhalter. “Her father bought those rings, so I thought it was right for his firstborn to benefit when I no longer wore them. She basically never takes it off.”

Another reader, Sherry Hinkley Frazier, gave her engagement stone another chance at romance.

“I gave the diamond to my son,” she wrote. “He reset it and proposed to his girlfriend. She got a beautiful half carat that I’m sure he wouldn’t have been able to afford. They are very happily married.”

Then there’s reader Pat Lord, who turned her old wedding band into a toe ring!

4. Sell it

Other readers took a pragmatic approach and cashed in on their wedding rings. Several people said they used the profits to give themselves a much-needed treat after the stress of divorce.

“I sold mine and bought a ticket to Paris to visit a friend for a vacation,” reader Jan Crawley Sidle shared on Facebook. “After the year long battle of the divorce, I needed the rest. We were married 37 years.”

A few people said they used their old wedding jewelry to help cover the costs of a new engagement band.

“I still had mine from my first marriage when I started to date my current husband,” shared reader Judy Brauer. “He took me out for my lunch hour and we went to a jewelry store and traded it in towards a new ring.”

5. Throw it away

For some readers, selling or repurposing their old wedding jewelry just didn’t offer enough closure. Multiple people said they flushed their rings down the toilet! That seems like a pretty foolproof way to get rid of a ring for good — but not always, as reader Melissa Beckman McPeak revealed in a funny story.

“My mom flushed her engagement ring down the toilet,” McPeak wrote on Facebook. “About a year later I flushed the toilet and saw something floating ... it was the ring! My mom wound up keeping it after that, and my husband had a necklace made with that diamond."

Here’s hoping that diamond was thoroughly sanitized!

Several readers described the amazing feeling of tossing their rings for good. Christine Waring Bumiller said she threw hers “right in the trash,” while reader Martha Byrge flung hers farther afield.

“Tossed mine out the passenger side window of my car, the day my divorce was final,” Byrge wrote on Facebook. “NEVER an ounce of guilt.”

Reader Jessica Sanders took a slightly more violent approach. “Smashed mine with a hammer and mailed it to him,” she wrote on Facebook.

Meanwhile, Jennifer Flynn-Milan went for another kind of symbolism, throwing her ring into the water at the base of the Statue of Liberty.

“I needed to be free,” she said.

Long story short? When it comes to dealing with wedding rings post divorce, there's no single, easy answer — and no shortage of creative solutions!

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