When Christina Williams Schombs, 30, tried on her engagement ring, she was speechless.

"Do you like it?" asked her future mother-in-law, excitedly.

While the round 1-carat stone was gorgeous, "the setting was obscenely big," says Schombs. "My fiancé's mom wanted me to wear her late mother's ring. I didn't want to seem ungrateful, but I hated it," she says.

When Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton with his late mother's 18-carat sapphire ring, everyone wondered: Was the ring cursed since Prince Charles cheated on Di? Would wearing it ensure a failed marriage? Couldn't William have chosen something else from the royal treasure chest?

After eight years, "Waity Katie" may be relieved to have any ring, but plenty of women who receive hand-me-downs are less than pleased. "Many women come in unhappy with their heirloom rings," says Yale Zoland, president of Leon, Zoland & Son, a New York City jeweler. "These rings may not be the best choice for women with specific tastes."

Erykah Hussey, 30, had luck on her side when confronted with her future mother-in-law's tiny ring. "She offered me her ring—but she'd gotten divorced," she says. "Thank God it didn't fit. I took the diamond and got a new setting that was more me."

A future hand-me-down? "I'll pass it to my daughter," she says.

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