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Everything You Need to Know About the Claddagh Ring

Paisley Hansen Jan 18, 2020
Deeply embraced by the Irish heritage is the Claddagh ring, a unique piece of tradition, art and symbolism all tucked into a small package. These rings are a planted in Irish tradition and history. Whether purchased as a signifier of love, a keepsake or gifted as a family token, these mementos are an important component of Irish culture and tradition.

What are Claddagh Rings?

The traditional Claddagh ring embodies love and relationships, featuring a heart in the center of the ring adorned with a crown, and the heart is being embraced by two hands. This unique design is said to have originated from Richard Joyce during the 17th Century.

History and Origin

The ring’s history and origin are attributed to its namesake village, Claddagh Village outside of Galway City. Legend has it that the ring originated in this village after Richard Joyce was enslaved and sold to a local goldsmith. The goldsmith is said to have taught Joyce how to craft jewelry, where Joyce was able to create his design as a sign of love.
Claddagh Village was often noted for its resistance of British control and effect, helping to ensure that their own culture and customs flourished. The resistance is thought to have established a love for their way of life and cultivated their allegiance. This fishing village became independent, declaring their loyalty with their Claddagh rings.
The rings symbolized a sense of fidelity to the area, so fishermen would often be adorned with men’s claddagh rings and would find trouble quickly without one.

The Symbolism of the Claddagh Ring

The symbolism of the Claddagh Ring has been interpreted to embody love, but also include friendship and loyalty. The ring’s heart that is embraced by two hands is meant to symbolize love, with the hands depicting friendship and the crown as loyalty. These important symbols lend themselves to mottos like, “Let love and friendship reign.”

Today’s Use

While not restrictive to the Irish culture, Claddagh rings are most frequently adorning those of Irish heritage. The importance of the symbolism of love both romantically and amicably can be embraced by anyone who adorns the beautiful piece of jewelry. The Claddagh symbol has also been used in other types of jewelry, more commonly in necklaces and brooches.
Claddagh rings have even been spotted adorning the fingers of many, including celebrities and famous individuals such as Julia Roberts, Jim Morrison, Jennifer Aniston, Sarah Michelle Gellar and even Walt Disney.

Claddagh Ring Wearer Etiquette

While this ring and its messaging have long been embraced by cultures that are non-Irish, it is important to understand the symbols that the Claddagh Ring can present to the world. By adjusting the placement of the ring on a particular hand and its position, it can send a very distinct message to the world.

A few of the Claddagh’s rings meanings:

  • Left hand, heart faces toward you: You are considered to be in a committed relationship.
  • Right hand, heart faces toward you: You have someone special in your life, but not necessarily in a committed relationship (potentially a non-romantic relationship).
  • Left hand, heart facing outward away from you: You are looking for your future life partner.
Claddagh rings are full of Irish tradition and history that is depicted beautifully this piece of jewelry. While you do not have to be Irish to purchase this marvelous message, it is important to understand the power of its history and its potential messaging to the world.