Marilyn Monroe said that diamonds are a girl’s best friend, and Emily Ratajkowski certainly agrees. In a sexy Instagram post, the model showed off two stunning rings, each holding a diamond weighing more than three carats. Once we stopped wondering what it would feel like to carry $130,000 worth of jewels on our fingers, we began questioning whether divorce rings are actually a thing. Our investigation led us to four amazing women who gave their engagement rings a post-divorce makeover. 

While the average divorced woman can’t exactly relate to the flashy luxury that Ratajkowski showed off in the viral photo, they can likely understand her reasoning behind the move.

Emily Ratajkowski showing off her divorce rings
Emily Ratajkowski repurposed her engagement ring into divorce rings. (Photo from Emily Ratajkowski/Instagram)

“I don’t think a woman should be stripped of her diamonds just because she’s losing a man,” Ratajkowski told Vogue. So now, without further ado, we would like to introduce you to our newest friends here at The Exit: four women who wear their divorce rings with pride, and a bench jeweler who helps bring those visions to life.

Turning a wedding band into a symbol of independence

Daphne Grant and her ex-husband didn’t have a lot of money when shopping for her wedding band in 1999, so the two lovebirds went searching for something in their local mall in Sherman Oaks, California. A jeweler there offered to make her a simple platinum band for a great price, so they took him up on the deal. 

“It was even more beautiful than I had imagined it would be. I was doing a little happy dance as we left the store, and randomly ran straight into actor Jon Voight! I apologized and told him we had just purchased my wedding band and he congratulated us,” said Daphne, who now lives in Mission Viejo, California. 

They tied the knot, but quickly got a summary dissolution of marriage, citing “irreconcilable differences.” 

Daphne was left with a platinum ring that was obviously a wedding band, so she couldn’t imagine ever wearing it again – until several years later when she was visiting friends who own and operate Lightning Ridge Opal Mines in Melbourne, Australia. 

“I was looking at their stunning boulder opal cabochons and fell in love with one. I was in art school at the time, and a creative lightbulb went off – I could combine it with my old wedding band that was collecting dust.” (If you’re wondering what a cabochon is, it’s a gemstone that has been shaped and polished rather than faceted). 

Big Ole Divorcee Bling Ring
An old wedding band helped Daphne Grant create her ‘Big Ole Divorcee Bling Ring.’ (Photo by Daphne Grant)

She bought the cabochon and returned to Australia a year later, bringing both the cabochon and her old wedding band with her. She and her friends at the opal mine designed what she now refers to as her “Big Ole Divorcee Bling Ring.” 

“Putting it on as a brand-new ring made me feel a sudden freedom and sense of closure,” she said, adding that she loves that the ring is completely unique to her.

“Hilariously, when they skimmed down the band, they ended up leaving the inscription with my name and my ex’s wedding date on the inside. I think it’s cute though, it makes me laugh.”

From a turbulent marriage to a ring honoring lost pets

Sherry Milikin’s divorce ring honors her deceased pets. (Photo by Sherry Milikin)

Sherry Milikin of Jesup, Georgia, had a quick engagement, meeting her ex-husband on a blind date in August 2013 and getting married just two months later.

“I wasn’t in love, but I was lonely. I thought I would make a good wife, he would make a good husband, and we would live a good life.” 

At their beach wedding, their guests picked out their own seashells to sign. Sherry’s sister signed the largest one. When they got home, the newlyweds filled a vase with sand and the signed shells. 

One day in November, just one month after she tied the knot, Sherry came home and saw that her sister’s shell was broken. Her husband said the vase fell off a table, but the vase wasn’t broken – and neither were any of the other shells. Sherry was skeptical. 

Soon after, Sherry’s dog supposedly ran away. She spent hours driving around looking for him in a panic, but never found him. Then her other dog went missing. Her husband lied and said that Sherry’s son had let her out.

“Suddenly, two of my three cats were also missing,” Sherry said, adding that she spent hundreds of dollars on newspaper ads trying to find all of her pets. 

Right after Thanksgiving, Sherry and her husband had a huge argument. He admitted that he had killed Sherry’s cats by “accidentally locking them in the attic” and causing them to suffocate. Sherry didn’t buy the story, as she knew she would have heard her cats meowing if they were locked inside the house. He claimed he didn’t hurt her dogs, but Sherry knew better. 

The revelations continued after that. Sherry found out that the house she supposedly owned with her husband was actually a rental, and that his last name – which she had taken as her own – wasn’t his birth name. 

“The person who had wined and dined me just two months ago was now controlling and horribly mean,” she recalled. 

At Christmas, Sherry’s husband became irate that she was drinking wine and playing Monopoly with her son and his girlfriend.

“Things escalated, and my son punched him. His son pinned my son down on the top of the car, and my husband began hitting my son.” 

The police were called, and Sherry’s son went to jail. Her husband also lied and told the cops that Sherry was drunk. She was arrested for public drunkenness at her own home, and also jailed on Christmas Day. As soon as she was released on December 26, she left him.

Although many women might have been eager to throw their ring out of a moving vehicle at that point, Sherry had a different perspective.

“I didn’t want to sell my ring because it was the nicest piece of jewelry I had ever owned,” she said.

She decided to reset the diamond in another band and added two cognac diamonds on the sides – one for her dogs that were killed by her ex-husband, and the other for the cats he killed. She hopes to one day add another stone to represent her son. 

“I still wear the ring, and I still miss my animals. I’ve also had lots of therapy to move on from the trauma of those last three months of our five-month relationship,” she said. 

Transforming an engagement ring into a symbol of self love

When Ashley Stroh got engaged, she knew she wanted an emerald ring – but her fiancée wasn’t on board, saying that emeralds didn’t make great engagement rings. She then settled on an emerald cut diamond, but he didn’t like that idea either. 

Ashley Stroh transformed her engagement ring into what she had wanted all along. (Photo by Ashley Stroh)

“He talked me out of the emerald cut because he felt like for the money he was paying, the ring should really sparkle. So, we settled on a radiant cut diamond,” said Ashley, who lives in Columbus, Ohio. 

She loved the ring, but she always felt as though it was a compromise. When she got divorced in 2022, she considered getting rid of the ring, but ultimately decided against it. 

“I thought about selling it, but I knew it was worth more than what I would get if I did that. I also have a good relationship with my ex-husband, and I look back fondly at the time we had together, so I still viewed it as a sentimental piece of jewelry.”

Ashley decided to transform the ring into what she had wanted all along, flanking the center diamond with two beautiful green emeralds. 

“It went from an obvious diamond solitaire engagement ring to the perfect right hand ring,” she said, adding that the transformation “felt like a declaration statement that I was choosing myself for once.” 

A mom’s precious gift to her son’s wife

Cyndee O’Quinn of Warner Robins, Georgia, saw a unique opportunity when her son Sean was getting engaged to his fiancée Rebekah. Divorced for many years at that point, her engagement ring was sitting at home unused.

“I knew my son didn’t have a lot of money, and I wanted Rebekah to have a nice ring. Even though my ring wasn’t huge, it was more expensive than anything he could afford at the time,” she said. 

So, she gifted it to her son, and Sean worked with a jeweler to design a new ring around the marquise cut diamond. The result was spectacular.

The engagement ring Cyndee O’Quinn gifted her son's wife.
Divorced for many years, Cyndee O’Quinn gifted her engagement ring to her daughter-in-law and son. (Photo by Boone Studios)

“It means a lot to me that they used it. It was a happy ring at one time, and special because it was mine. It was kind of like I was giving them a part of me,” Cyndee said. 

The gift means a lot to Rebekah, too, who also incorporated her own mother’s engagement ring diamonds into her ring. 

“Having our mothers’ stones feels very full circle for Sean and me. We’re both products of single mother households, and to have our moms at the heart of my ring makes me feel close to both of them, always.” 

Cyndee O'Quinn with her son Sean McGraw and daughter-in-law Rebekah Scarborough-McGraw
Cyndee O’Quinn with her son Sean McGraw and daughter-in-law Rebekah Scarborough-McGraw. (Photo by Boone Studios)

The emotional and financial hurdles of creating divorce rings

Robbie Betancourt, a bench jeweler based in Macon, Georgia, has experience turning visions into reality for divorced women who are seeking new life for their old jewels. In fact, he even made a divorce ring for his own mother. 

However, he says that women should know that the decision isn’t always as simple as putting diamonds in a new setting and moving on. 

“There are two headwinds that people face with divorce rings – the first is emotional. Can they remove the emotional attachment that comes with those stones? If they can look past that, then the first hurdle is handled.” 

The second obstacle is financial. “Oftentimes, newly, or soon-to-be-divorced women need to spend money on legal affairs or set up a new living space. If an engagement ring is being remade into something else, then there is money going out.” 

But Betancourt says that divorce rings can be a great thing if both of those hurdles can be overcome. 

“It can be a cathartic experience to remake something that once represented a broken relationship and now represents the rebirth of an individual,” he said.