News & Events


What could happen to my jewellery after my divorce?

Jewellery can become a point of contention for some divorcing couples, as they attempt to resolve their financial matters following the breakdown of their marriage. Jewellery can hold a significant emotional attachment for some, which can cause difficulty in reaching a financial settlement, and valuing such items on the second-hand market can be problematic. The higher the financial value of an item, the more important it is to ensure that all jewellery held by the parties is fully considered.

If couples are unable to reach a settlement without intervention from the Court, the parties are obliged to provide full and frank disclosure to the Court and the other party by way of ‘Form E’ financial statements. This document sets out, with supporting documents; full details in relation to property, personal assets, investments, savings, liabilities, business assets, pensions, and income amongst other relevant assets.

Section 2.8 of the Form E specifically deals with personal belongings with an individual value of more than £500. Any jewellery with an individual value of more than £500 should be disclosed, so that this can be considered by the Court as part of the overall picture of the assets held by the parties. The current value of such items is usually interpreted as a reasonable re-sale value, rather than an insurance valuation. The general approach tends to be that each party will retain their jewellery; however, the higher the value, the greater the argument that one party has those assets as a resource available to them, and this can be taken into account when considering the overall fairness of a financial settlement.

The Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1970 states that engagement rings, in particular, are presumed to be an absolute gift from one party to another, unless it can be demonstrated that the ring was provided on the condition that it should be returned if the marriage fails, or the parties do not get married at all. An example of where engagement rings may not be considered an absolute gift are cases involving family heirlooms, where the ring has been passed from one generation to the next. There is a potential to argue in such cases that the heirloom was provided on the implied condition of the marriage taking place.

To avoid future disputes in relation to the jewellery, couples can enter into a written agreement to expressly state how this issue will be dealt with on divorce. This can be dealt with by way of a pre-nuptial agreement which would be entered into prior to marriage, or a post-nuptial agreement which is entered into during the parties’ marriage. Both parties would need to obtain independent legal advice before entering into such agreements.

If you have any questions in relation to these issues, please click here or email the family team at family@bpe.co.uk.

These notes have been prepared for the purpose of articles only. They should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice.

Get in touch

Talk to us about your legal challenges and discover how our expert, pragmatic legal advice and broad commercial acumen can help.