When one gets engaged, it's typical to buy a ring from a jewelry store like Tiffany's or Cartier. But some lovers have other plans, like using a family heirloom. Whether it belonged to a mother, a grandmother, or a great-grandmother, the sentiment behind the ring itself brings more meaning to the act of the proposal.
Compare Old, New, Borrowed and Blue, in that the bride is given items for her wedding.
See also Hereditary Wedding Dress.
- A Zig-Zagged example occurs in Blue Ramun: when Eagle confesses his love to Jessie, he gives Jessie an earring that belonged to his wife Yuma, before Yuma's untimely death. In Eagle's culture a married couple exchanges earrings instead of wedding rings, with each partner wearing one half of the matching pair; women on their left ears, men on the right. A widow/widower wears their partner's earring for a year after the death of their spouse. Eagle continued to wear Yuma's earring for more than three years after she was killed, both in grief and out of an inability to forgive himself for not being strong enough to prevent her death. Giving Jessie the earring symbolizes both that he's made peace with Yuma's death and that he reciprocates Jessie's feelings.
- In Superman, Clark proposed to Lois with the same ring Jonathan gave Martha. When she (temporarily) broke off the engagement, he threw the ring into space, then remembered this and had to go and retrieve it.
- In Ace In The Hole (Persona 5), Ken gives Shinjiro his deceased mother's antique engagement ring and orders him to use it to propose to Fuuka.
- In Lost Together, the reason why the Dragon Prince Herb is quite bent on chasing his Runaway Fiancée all over China is that she stole a royal heirloom ring, implied to be the one given to the Crown Princess for the wedding ceremony. Learning she lost the ring and that it was picked up by Ranko doesn't help with his anger.
- Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race: Dr. Light gives Mega Man his mother's engagement ring to propose to Kalinka with.
- In Remnant Inferis: DOOM, The Slayer keeps the Blazkowicz family engagement ring as the last thing he has left of his old life and family, gifted to him by his mother as per the family tradition. Later, he gives it to Yang before leaving Team RWBY behind as a promise to return to them in the future, although given the slowly building Ship Tease they've been having since he met her, it could be the beginning of something more.
- A Tale of Two Rulers: In lieu of a wedding ring, Princess Zelda gives Ganondorf a pair of earrings that he himself owned in one of his old lives, long-lost and unearthed by archaeologists. Ganondorf is uncharacteristically touched.
Ganondorf: The gemstones in these... they were cut from the headcrests of the first mothers I ever knew... I like them very much... Thank you.
- Treasure is a Firefly ficlet that has Wash giving Zoe his mom’s ring after Zoe agrees to marry him.
- In Unexpected Surprise, Adrien intends to propose to Ladybug with his mother's ring. After she rejects him, he loses it, but she finds it and returns it to him for a proper proposal once they make up.
- In Addams Family Values, Fester proposes to Debbie with an ornate ring. On seeing it Gomez and Morticia immediately recognise it as Gomez and Fester's mother's ring which she was buried with. Cue Debbie holding up a shovel indicating that she and Fester dug up the grave to get the ring.
- In Blooded, Lucas hides his mother's engagement ring in a bird's nest for Liv to find in what he hopes will be a romantic proposal. Things do not go as he had hoped.
- Crazy Rich Asians: Eleanor's striking emerald engagement ring is given focus early in the film. Her husband bought it after his mother refused to give him the family's heirloom ring because she didn't approve of Eleanor. Later, her son Nick uses it to propose to Rachel, signifying that Eleanor has finally approved of their relationship.
- In The Hangover Stu wants to propose with a ring that his grandmother smuggled through the Holocaust.
- In Legally Blonde, Elle hopes that her boyfriend Warner will propose with his grandmother's Harry Winston diamond ring. He breaks up with her and uses said ring to propose to Vivian instead.
- The Lover. The Chinaman gives the underage French girl he's having an affair with his mother's ring, presumably a family heirloom meant to be passed onto the wife with whom he has a long-arranged marriage, and he's shown placing it on her ring finger. Naturally the girl's family refuse to believe the Chinaman would give her an expensive diamond ring if he wasn't getting something in return, despite her fervent denials.
- In Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, Mia is gifted her suitor Andrew Jacoby's grandmother's ring as part of their Arranged Marriage. She gives it back in the end.
- SAS: Rise of the Black Swan. The ring that Tom Buckingham intends to give to Sophie Hart is a family heirloom that his ancestor chopped off the ring finger of a Maharaja during the Indian Rebellion.
- In Unforgettable (2017), it is revealed that David proposed to Julia with his grandmother's wedding ring. It is later stolen by Tessa, who was caught wearing it in the finale.
- In You People, Ezra buys Amira a small engagement ring, and his friend says that if she complains about its size, he should claim that he got it from his grandmother and that she was a Holocaust survivor. Amira actually loves the ring, but for Cringe Comedy, he (badly) goes through with the lie anyway.
- In Nicole Riddley’s Catching Genesis, lycan Constantine gifts his werewolf (later lycan) mate Genesis a sapphire ring that once belonged to his grandmother. According to Serena, it was believed to have once been worn by an empress, and Constantine had been waiting centuries to give the ring to his erasthai. Unfortunately, Milan covets the ring and steals it after kidnapping Genesis with the intent to kill her. Constantine later reclaims the ring during Milan’s execution.
- Dr. Greta Helsing: Defied by Francis Varney, who has plenty of heirloom jewellery lying around from a past that he's not very proud of. He dismisses it all and commissions a custom ring that thrills his fiancee, not least because it represents him moving on from the Supernatural Angst that hampered the beginning of their relationship.
- The Twilight Saga: In Eclipse, Edward proposes to Bella with an antique engagement ring (circa late-Victorian to early-Edwardian era), which originally belonged to his mother, Elizabeth Masen.
- The Big Bang Theory: Sheldon proposed to Amy with his great-grandmother's ring. Amusingly, when his first attempt to propose got derailed by an ultimately temporary breakup he tried to return it to his mother, but she told him to keep it so his brother couldn't give it to "his whore of a girlfriend."
- In Bones, Sweets proposes to Daisy with his deceased mother's ring. He explains that his (adoptive) parents' marriage lasted sixty years, so that ring has sixty years of love in it. It becomes less poetic after Daisy wears it to Indonesia and is forced to swallow it for safekeeping.
- Charmed (1998):
- After Piper and Leo finally get engaged she gives him her mother's engagement ring to give back to her at a romantic moment. Leo then loses the ring before he can give it to her. Piper and Phoebe cast a spell to find lost things which returns the ring...along with literally everything else that they've lost over the years such as pens, socks, their old dog, and even Phoebe's natural hair color.
- When Phoebe gets engaged to Cole she digs out Grams' old wedding ring to use as her engagement ring. It turns out that Grams cursed the ring after having multiple failed marriages, and now anyone who tries to use it gets turned into a stereotypical 1950s housewife. Once the ring is removed Phoebe decides to throw it down the drain so it can't curse anyone else.
- Friends: Ross gives Emily his grandmother's engagement ring when they get engaged. He gives it to Joey for safekeeping only for it to go missing when Joey and Chandler's duck eats it. In the extended cut of the episode Monica gets jealous that their mother gave Ross the ring instead of her and tells Emily about the whole "passed through a duck's colon" incident to try and get her to give it up.
- General Hospital: When they decide to have a quick wedding prior to Wiley’s trial, Michael gives Willow his great-grandmother Lila Quartermaine’s sapphire ring as an engagement ring. Though initially hesitant to accept the precious bauble, Willow accepts it after Michael points out the similarities she has to Lila.
- In Gilmore Girls, Mrs. Kim shows she's finally gotten over the worst of her My Beloved Smother behavior by not only approving of Lane's engagement to Zack but also giving her her grandmother's wedding ring to wear.
- Subverted in the 1991 TV movie Ring of Scorpio, about a smuggler who seduces three women whom he tricks into acting as drug couriers, leading to them ending up in prison. He gives each one a ring that he says belonged to his mother. After they team up to get revenge on him, the police find a briefcase in his car that's full of similar rings, implying he pulls this scam regularly.
- NCIS: Los Angeles: Gender Inverted. Kensi gives Deeks her late father's wedding ring to wear, because the ring was a symbol of her father's love and commitment to her and he made her feel safe. After his death, she didn't feel that way again until Deeks came into her life.
- Shadow and Bone: Invoked. Nikolai gives Alina the Lantsov emerald ring, one of his family's crown jewels, to make their engagement look more legitimate.
Nikolai: Console yourself knowing that, should you ever punch me while wearing it, you'll probably take my eye out.
- Veronica Mars:
- In season 4, one of the subplots involves two families disputing over and looking for a priceless antique engagement ring, an heirloom from the groom's side. Because the groom and bride were both killed, this led to arguing over which family kept the ring and whether or not one of them stole it, escalating into attempted assault/assassination of one of the two families, and more.
- In ''The Quick and the Wed'', Jane's sister Heidi disappears and Jane suspects she might've been kidnapped or hurt to prevent her from attending the wedding. In fact, it was Heidi's fiance and his family who worked to sidetrack her because he no longer wanted to marry her and, if she stood him up at the wedding (even by accident), he'd have grounds to claim back the heirloom engagement ring he'd given her.
- In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Byleth inherits their mother's ring after their father is killed and may use it to propose.
- King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow: While Alexander doesn't use it when proposing to Cassima, his beloved royal insignia ring, which is a family heirloom as well as an identifier, ends up being the wing she wears during their end of game wedding.
- Family Guy: Parodied. In one episode, Carter amends his will so that Chris will inherit all his fortune. Wanting to get his hands on the money, Peter proposes to him. He claims that the engagement ring is a family heirloom, having belonged to Chris's mother.
- In King of the Hill, Boomhauer gets his grandma's ring when he wants to propose to his newest fling. She says that she started to think that she'd be buried in it. (Or something like that.) The woman turns him down, though.
- Tangled Ever After: When Maximus loses the wedding rings, he has an Imagine Spot of Queen Arianna leaping to her feet and shrieking that they had been her grandmother's rings. Whether this is true or only exists in Maximus' imagination is never established