Husbands often give gifts to their wives before and during the marriage. One of the most valuable, and perhaps most sentimental of gifts, will be jewelry.

When couples divorce, personal belongings, property and other assets and debts all have to be divided. Any asset, like a diamond necklace, given to a wife by a husband is subject to California’s community property rule. This rule, in theory, mandates that asset be divided equally.

So, usually jewelry gifted to a spouse during a marriage is community property. In reality, jewelry carries with it more than just a monetary value and so it may feel like separate property to some. It also has a sentimental value, which is impossible to evaluate objectively. It also carries with it practical value; what use of a diamond necklace does the husband have?

The goal in dividing the net value of a marital community is to have each party walk away with roughly half the marital estate. If one spouse has a community property jewelry collection worth a significant amount, they can assume more debt or give up some other asset to equalize the value.

Similarly, if the wife no longer wants the jewelry, it can be transmuted to the husband, who can then do what he wants with it, or it can be sold with the proceedings divided between the two. Furthermore, the jewelry could be family jewelry that is intended to stay in the family. Language protecting family jewelry may already be in your premarital agreement, if you have one, or could be accounted for in another legal document, like a will. If the family jewelry has no existing protection, and both spouses want to keep it, you may benefit from the services of a family law attorney with experience in high asset divorces.

A good divorce attorney will be able to draft a reasonable property division that protects the things you value most and is reasonable to the other party. As you can probably tell, what happens to gifted jewelry during a divorce depends heavily on what personal value the jewelry has to each spouse. Jewelry gifted to the wife by the husband before they were married is not subject to California’s community property rule. This jewelry is part of the wife’s separate property.

Are you in the Los Angeles area and have questions about personal property? Certified Family Law Specialist Mark H. Karney has experience representing high net-worth individuals and handling complex divorces in Los Angeles County. Serving the Los Angeles and Beverley Hills area, Mark H. Karney offers efficient and tenacious legal counsel to protect the valuable assets you are entitled to. Call our office at 310-564-5710; email us at or contact us through our online form today to schedule a free consultation.