Normally, gifts given by one party to another are not recoverable. But what happens to an engagement ring when the parties separate between the proposal but before marriage This can be extremely important question with the extreme cost of engagement rings.

If any gift including an engagement ring is given in contemplation of marriage, it is treated as a special kind of gift. The courts in Ontario have held that a gift given in contemplation of marriage can be recovered by the giver if the giver makes a timely demand for it. Historically, the courts also deemed it necessary to consider whether the giver was responsible for ending the engagement. There are cases out there where judges have considered this factor. However, s. 33 of the Ontario Marriage Act has since removed any consideration of fault when determining whether the giver can recover a gift given in contemplation of marriage.

Accordingly, if possession of the engagement ring is important to you as the giver, make a timely demand for its return. Make sure you keep proof of payment for the ring as well. For further reference, see a decision on this issue in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Newell v. Allen, 2012 ONSC 6681.​