DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have been told that proper ladies do not accept expensive gifts from men to whom they are not related, either by birth or by marriage.
How large or expensive a gift would count as improper? Does it depend on the means of the donor? Of the recipient? Which relations (e.g., father, brother), if any, are excluded from this rule?
Since many engagements are sealed with a pricey ring, does being betrothed count as an appropriate relationship for the exchange of other such gifts?
GENTLE READER: The engagement ring is a pledge, whose acceptance is dependent on a forthcoming marriage. That means it is to be returned if either person breaks the engagement. Miss Manners is sorry, but the jilted should have only the satisfaction of throwing it in the faithless one’s face, not of selling it.
A variation of this will tell you what a lady should not accept from a gentleman to whom she is not related or planning to become related: anything she would still want to keep even if she discarded him.