Love Island’s Maya Jama and NBA player Ben Simmons seemed like a picturesque couple when they first got together in the spring of 2021. Their romance did lead to an engagement, but the pair never made it down the aisle, splitting up in the fall of 2022. Now that the dust has settled from the breakup and the two have gone their separate ways, one thing still binds them. The 26-year-old baller is asking Jama, 28, to return his $1 million engagement ring and has enlisted the help of a legal team to make it happen.
“Ben was really shocked when she left and didn’t give him the ring back,” said a friend of Simmons to UK publication The Sun. “He was madly in love with her and thought it was forever so was really p***ed she didn’t give it back. It cost around $1million and they were engaged less than a year.”
So what happened? Apparently the couple called it quits because they were growing in different directions. Aside from them both pursuing demanding careers, they also had to navigate a long-distance relationship, as Jama is based in London and Simmons in New York where he plays for the Brooklyn Nets. The Australian native proposed to the TV personality in December 2021.
As for ring, the Love Island presenter’s rep says she was blindsided by the request considering Simmons hadn’t asked for the ring back in advance of sending a formal legal notice.
“Maya received a request from Ben’s representatives on Friday afternoon asking her to return the engagement ring that he gave her as a gift last year,” the spokesperson told The Sun. “This was the first time that she has been asked by Ben to return it and, for the avoidance of any doubt, she has never refused to return it. Maya is making arrangements to return the ring to Ben and wishes him all the best.”
While Jama claims she has never refused to return it, the fact of the matter is that she didn’t give it back when things ended and didn’t seem to have any arrangements in place to do so. But to play devil’s advocate, Simmons also could have reached out to ask for the ring before serving her papers. His lack of communication gives me both “scorned” and “petty” ex vibes. But petty isn’t far out when you’re heartbroken.
So, the question of the day is, should people return an engagement ring when there are no signs of a marriage taking place? Legally, in most places, the answer is yes. That’s probably why Simmons confidently hit Jama with legal papers asking her to send it back. In many places, an engagement ring is a conditional gift meaning that if the wedding doesn’t happen, the recipient is obligated to return the jewelry. In some states like Montana though, engagement rings are seen as “absolute gifts,” so the recipient can keep it whether they go through with the marriage or not. Some states also take who broke the engagement off into consideration.
Legal stuff aside, what is the ethical thing to do? I dug up a study that asked Americans what they think and stumbled upon one conducted by Findlaw.com in 2015. The survey found that 78 percent of Americans feel the person who gave the ring should get it back and 22 percent feel the recipient should keep it.
Some people may argue that asking for a gift back is in poor taste, especially if you gave the gift as an expression of love and decided to take it back in a moment of anger or spite. Some may argue that a gift of that magnitude–and I mean million dollar magnitude–should be returned.
I think an engagement ring is a symbol of a union to come. If that union never comes, then the ring should be returned. Why keep it? And what do you intend to do with it? My guess would be to sell it or add it to a Thanos-like collection of stones in your jewelry box. Both options aren’t ethical if you called the engagement off, in my opinion.
I remember seeing a post in a women’s divorce group about what divorcees and soon-to-be-divorced women did with their wedding bands and engagement rings. Most women sold theirs. A few decided to keep their rings as heirlooms to pass onto their kids. A special few trashed them. Whatever our thoughts on the actions, they’re all valid if you went through with the condition of marriage.
I personally wouldn’t want to keep a ring from my ex. It would be a constant reminder of a love that never materialized. Whether the engagement ended amicably or not, the past partner should choose what he does with the ring, be it giving the rock to the next woman in his life or selling it to get his money back. This also makes me think that maybe we should be having conversations about our expectations before we start giving out million dollar rings. That would save us all a lot of confusion, in addition to some heartbreak.