The Claddagh ring is one of the most popular and well known pieces of Irish jewelry today. It can be found in virtually every Irish shop, and jewelry store in existence. No collection of Irish jewelry would really be complete without one!
The History of the Claddagh Ring
Though there are two tales regarding the origin of the Claddagh ring, the more believable of the two is the story of Richard Joyce. According to legend, Joyce was captured whilst working as a fisherman, by pirates. He was then sold into slavery, eventually becoming an assistant to a Turkish goldsmith. Joyce learned the goldsmith craft under his new master for approximately 8 years. He was then released from slavery, and returned to Ireland. He settled in the town of Claddagh (just outside what is known today as Galway city) and designed and crafted the first Claddagh ring.
The Design of the Claddagh Ring
The Claddagh ring does not contain many of the traditional Irish symbols found in other pieces of Irish jewelry. Instead, it has its own unique design of the heart, hands and crown. The heart represents love, the hands represent friendship, and the crown represents loyalty. There have been versions of the Claddagh ring produced without a crown, as some thought it too reminiscent of the British Monarchy. However, the design that includes the crown is by far the most popular today.
How to Wear the Claddagh Ring
Depending on how an individual wears the Claddagh ring, it can mean different things.
Worn on the right hand with the top of the crown pointing towards you
Means that you are open to a new relationship
Worn on the right hand with the top of the crown pointing to the tip of your finger
Means that your heart is now taken, and you are no longer available
Worn on the left hand with the top of the crown pointing to the tip of your finger
Means that you are now married and have bonded with another forever
Consider a Claddagh Ring for Your Irish Wedding
As you can tell from the section on wearing the Irish Claddagh ring, there is a way to wear this ring that denotes marriage (or permanent commitment). When you consider the meaning of the Claddagh ring, it is easy to see why this ring would make the perfect wedding band. The simplicity of its design speaks volumes, and when worn on the left hand, it has significant meaning. It is certainly a great way to remember your or your spouse’s Irish heritage. Claddagh rings are unisex in nature and are perfect for either men or women.