Wedding Rings As Sacramentals: What To Do After Divorce


Have you been divorced and wondered what to do with your wedding ring? The issue of whether or not blessed wedding rings can be sold or altered in some way is a common source of confusion for many men and women who don’t want to keep their rings after their divorce.


When I went through my divorce 19 years ago, I did not ask for alimony and I left most of our possessions to my ex-spouse. This may sound odd to you, but my reasoning was such: It was my marriage I wanted, not a bunch of stuff (and we had plenty). If I couldn’t have my marriage, then I didn’t want the things associated with it.


So I had to start from scratch in building my new life, and frankly even with working two jobs I was starving to death! I had to pay my bills on my income alone, including all the lovely brand new legal fees that were racking up. I was embarrassed to tell my family how bad it had become, so I began hocking the few things that I had instead to get me through some rough spots.


The first to go was one of my most beloved items, my 12-string guitar. I had played it for years and kept it in pristine condition. It was so hard to let go.


That helped, but eventually I needed more help so I sold my big 28″ box television set (this was 1993). Finally, it came to the point where things got really desperate and I needed a bigger ticket item to help fill in the gap. So, I hocked my wedding ring. Painful, yes, but necessary. But shortly, thereafter, I wondered if I had done something wrong. Wasn’t my wedding ring a sacramental?


I had known other divorced women who had taken their wedding rings and had them melted down and formed into a different piece of jewelery, often with the same stones, but now it had a completely different significance. I had never heard them utter one iota of guilty feelings, but I felt that way nonetheless. So what is the truth about selling sacramentals, and in particular, blessed wedding rings?


First, it’s important to understand the term “simony” which refers to the buying and selling of “spiritual” things, namely indulgences (CCC 2121). This was a practice back in the middle ages with indulgences. Individual Catholics did sell indulgences–but in doing so they acted contrary to explicit Church regulations.


In 1967, Pope Paul VI wrote the Apostolic Constitution, Indulgentiarum doctrina, which thoroughly lays to rest any doubts or confusion about this issue of selling indulgences. It states:

 (40) Unfortunately, the practice of indulgences has at times been improperly used either through “untimely and superfluous indulgences” by which the power of the keys was humiliated and penitential satisfaction weakened,(41) or through the collection of “illicit profits” by which indulgences were blasphemously defamed.


This declaration would extend into the area of sacramentals if the object itself was sold under the guise of having a greater value than normal because of a blessing attached to it. For example, if someone tried to sell you a Miraculous Medal or scapular that had been blessed by the Pope or a saint, and stating the object had a much greater value than one that had not been blessed and therefore has a higher price tag. This would be contrary to Catholic teaching.


The Church provides us with sacramentals (primarily articles that have been blessed, such as rosaries, crucifixes, holy cards, etc. but can also be prayers), for the purposes of instilling piety in the one who possesses them.


Wedding rings are certainly reminders of the sacramental grace conferred on a married couple, but if the marriage ends in divorce and especially if it is declared null, this is no longer the case. Therefore, the Church does not mandate that wedding rings must be kept or cannot be sold. What  happens to a wedding ring is a very personal decision and is left up to the spouse who remains in possession of it. I’m sure there are many people out there who would never dream of giving up their wedding ring even after their divorce. But just as a person who owns a home that has been blessed and sells it to someone else to move to a different home, there is nothing wrong with selling your ring unless you are trying to sell the blessing that was attached to it.


 So, if you’re hungry and you need to eat, go ahead 🙂



  1. Lisa P. April 2, 2014 Reply

    I won’t bore anyone with the details of how I ended up making the decision I made about my rings – it’s a long story. Ultimately, I was down to my last $15.00, five kids, an ex-husband who refused to pay child support, and a son whose 8th birthday was the next day. I sold my rings to a pawn shop. I walked out of the shop before getting the receipt because I was never coming back to get those rings. I bought groceries, bought a small birthday present for my son, and swore I would never be that broke again. That was 9 years ago. I have since turned our lives around. I was lucky. I had an education and I was able to use it. My kids are doing well and we are ok. Their dad? He hasn’t changed much. But, I picked him and he is the father of my children. His rings? History. Do I care? Not a whit. The funny part? He does. He wanted me to keep the damned things for “our daughter”. Well, his daughter needed to eat and his son needed a birthday present no matter how small. And, I wasn’t on welfare and not about to ask my parents for a loan. I am not saying anything about people that have to do that. I was raised Catholic and we were married for 20 years. My kids were 4, 6, 8, 10, and 15 when we divorced. It was the hardest thing I ever went through. The rings meant something once but, in the end, they meant nothing but a means to dinner, some gas in the car so I could keep going to work so I could get a check, and a tiny birthday for a little boy. He is 16 now and doesn’t remember his 8th birthday but I do. Anyway, I guess I bored you with part of the story. 🙂

    For me, the rings ended up meaning nothing. What mattered to me were my kids. And that’s what still matters. THanks for reading.

  2. Joanna-615441 February 7, 2014 Reply

    I donated mine to Salvation Army Thrift Store. I figured there might be some poor fella who wanted to marry his sweetheart and couldn’t afford a ring.

  3. Tom-925515 December 20, 2012 Reply

    I as an Irish traveller do what we all do when our wife or husband dies or rarely divorce we wear our band on our right hand to show loss as either way we consider it a great loss.Probably seems strange to country folks?

  4. Maria-846262 October 19, 2012 Reply

    I was widowed 2 years ago and I still wear my wedding band, although I did take my diamond engagement ring off. I’m so used to wearing it, after 35 years, I have not felt comfortable, or like there is a reason to take it off.

  5. Catherine-759447 October 14, 2012 Reply

    I am saving my ring for my daughter for when she’s old enough.

  6. Robert-803886 October 12, 2012 Reply

    I sold mine to a pawn shop that specializes in gold purchases (known for paying the best prices) to be melted for scrap. I was insistent that the ring be melted, and would not be worn by someone else. I had to look at it a long time before I handed it to the gentleman. But in the end, I did not want to have around, since it represented a sacramental connection to someone with whom I no longer had (well, by the grace of God, will no longer have, when I receive annulment–please pray) that connection, due to betrayal. Before I had decided to part with it, however, I asked my daughter if she wanted it to be melted down and made into something for her, since without the marriage (which the ring represented), there would not have been “her.”

  7. Elva-906803 October 12, 2012 Reply

    I sold my wedding rings.. I needed a weekend vacation.

  8. Frank-761622 October 11, 2012 Reply

    It’s been almost a year now, and have yet to figure out what to do. My ex is saving her wedding band and engagement rings to give to the kids when they get older. Doubt I could d do that with mine since it’s coming from a broken marriage. So, I will probably just sell, and see what I can get.

  9. Blythe-906474 October 11, 2012 Reply

    I sold my wedding ring and sent the money to a family I adopted in Peru. The marriage mattered, and although I didn’t want the reminder of what promises the ring once held, I didn’t want to just blow the money either. I wanted it to go to something good, something else that mattered, something that would make something good come out of a very painful and bad situation in my personal life. I am so happy with that decision, and the family I adopted was in shock over having so many of their needs met at one time. It was a blessing to be able to change their lives for the better in a way that meant something to me!

    • Beth-933390 January 12, 2013 Reply

      Awesome idea. I’ve been struggling over what to do with my rings from my marriage. I’m widowed so its different but I LOVE this idea. And my late spouse would have as well. Thanks.

  10. Lois-765906 October 11, 2012 Reply

    But I did not sell mine for mad money … I needed to eat!

  11. Lois-765906 October 11, 2012 Reply

    me too 🙂

  12. Daniel-634934 October 11, 2012 Reply

    I sold mine to a precious metal refining company, and had some mad money…

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