When people think of Irish traditions, they often think of the four-leaf clovers, leprechaun’s standing with a pot of gold or maybe even people having a few too many whiskeys on St. Patrick’s day. One Irish tradition that doesn’t immediately come to mind is Claddagh rings. Traditionally given as a wedding or engagement ring, claddagh rings are named after a Celtic Fishing Village right outside Galway, Ireland. There are many tales of how the claddagh ring originated, but perhaps the most believable is the tale of a young man named Richard Joyce, whom was captured from his fishing village weeks before his wedding. Joyce was sold as a slave to a Turkish goldsmith. He stole a tiny piece of gold each day and after 14 years, he had enough gold to make a ring for the young lady he was in love with from home. Finally, he was able to return home and present his estranged fiancé, who never wed and was waiting for his return, with the first claddagh ring. There’s no way to tell exactly how he chose the design of the claddagh ring, but all of the new rings today remain reminiscent of the traditional design Joyce alledgedly came up with centuries ago.
Today, the claddagh ring symbolizes three things: friendship, love and loality.
The heart is central to the ring and represents love.
The crown sitting on top of the heart is the traditional symbol of royalty. In many claddagh rings today, it represents loyalty.
The hands come together on each side of the heart and crown to represent friendship.
HOW TO WEAR YOUR CLADDAGH RING
Although traditionally used in Ireland as an engagement or wedding ring, the claddagh ring can be worn by anyone, no matter their relationship status. If you’re married, the proper way to wear this ring would be on your left hand with the bottom of the heart pointing toward you. Engaged? Make sure the crown is closest to your wrist and the bottom of the heart is pointing outward.
If you’re not married or engaged, there are different ways you can wear your claddagh ring to represent your relationship status. If you’re open to relationships, you wear the ring on your right hand’s ring finger with the heart pointing outwards. If your heart is spoken for by somebody, you would wear your ring with the heart pointing inwards, towards you.
POPULARIZATION OF THE CLADDAGH RING
The Claddagh rings first started popping up in America in the 18th century when many Irish people began migrating here, bringing their culture with them. Since then, Claddagh rings have been sported by many people in American pop culture.
• John and Jackie Kennedy were gifted a pair of Claddagh rings to honor their Irish heritage during a visit to Ireland.
• Julia Roberts has been spotted wearing a claddagh ring for years. Although there’s no certainty where it came from, rumors point to her relationship with Daniel Day Lewis as the source of her Claddagh ring.
• Tate Donovan and Jennifer Aniston exchanged Claddagh rings during their relationship.
• Walt Disney purchased two claddagh rings and is even sporting his ring in a statue of his hand at Disneyland.
• Kanye West and Kim Kardashian spent part of their honeymoon in Ireland, where Kanye purchased a Claddagh ring for his new wife. Kim has yet to be seen wearing her Claddagh ring, although I’m sure the media will alert us when she does.
As you can see, Claddagh rings are very versatile and an appealing piece of jewelry no matter your age, culture or relationship status. To learn more about our Claddagh ring collection, or to inquire about working with our store to design a custom claddagh ring of your own, you can visit our wesbite here.