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Court Orders Woman To Return $40,000 Engagement Ring To Her Ex-Fiancé

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One man's half-decade quest to recoup his investment on a ruptured relationship ended in Manhattan Supreme Court last week, when a judge ordered the return of an exorbitantly expensive engagement ring. The Post reports that one Jennifer Rutten must return the $40,000 boulder her ex-fiancé, Rodney Ripley, gave her in 2011. If for some reason she cannot send back the ring—if, for example, she flushed it down the toilet or sold it to cover legal fees, who knows—she must reimburse Ripley the full purchase price.

Rutten and Ripley reportedly met in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and after Rutten moved to New York, Ripley proposed on the Brooklyn Bridge—with a diamond that cost slightly less than the average Brooklyn family's annual income. The financial commitment seems to have outweighed the emotional commitment, though: The couple never made it down the aisle, breaking up within a year. Ripley asked her to return the ring—a 3-carat rock from this very pricy jeweler—but apparently, Rutten did not appreciate being bothered in the wake of a certain superstorm.

"I was dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and he started harassing me," Rutten explained, the Post reports.

Yet the Sandy defense turned out to be just one in a series of excuses she deployed in attempting to secure legal ownership of the ring. Rutten's lawyer, William Costigan, reportedly argued that the ring's value, which he erroneously deemed $13,000, made it a matter for civil courts to decide; the complainant, however, kept receipts. He paid $39,057.10 for the ring itself, and an additional $40,000 for an insurance policy.

Rutten's lawyer also argued that when Rutten relocated to Wisconsin with the rock in 2013, the case moved outside New York jurisdiction. This would not seem to be a particularly useful legal route, however, as Wisconsin also views engagement rings as conditional gifts: As is the case in New York, the ring must be returned to the person who purchased it if the couple splits without marrying.

According to the Post, Rutten's final defense held that Ripley became "more typically abusive, emotionally abusive," and that in her anger, she didn't want to give back the ring. Justice Robert Reed wasn't convinced, though: On Aug. 27th, he ruled that "the undisputed facts show that the ring was given in contemplation of marriage and that marriage did not occur," obligating Rutten to return either the diamond or its retail cost within the next 45 days.

Data does suggest that lavish spending on weddings and their associated accouterments—big gaudy rings very much included—correlates to higher break-up rates. I'm not saying that the diamond in question is cursed and doomed this union, but I don't know, maybe weighting down your partner's hand with the cost of a luxury sedan is exactly as wasteful as it sounds.

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