Everything you need to know about the Claddagh ring
The chances are that members of your family wear Claddagh rings, either as wedding bands or as symbols of their love and commitment to their partners. But unless you’re an expert in traditional Irish jewelry, you’ll know little about what the ring actually means, other than that is has a pretty design. Below, we’ve put together some interesting facts to help you learn…
Fishing village origins
The Claddagh ring reportedly originates from a small fishing village just near Galway city. Its design showcases a heart that has been encircled by a pair of hands and a crown above it, a design known as the “Fishing Kings of Claddagh” in ancient times. By the 17th Century, the symbol became a fashionable choice amongst lovers and friends, and the symbol quickly was used for wedding rings and ceremonies to represent love, loyalty, and friendship.
Worn two ways
What’s particularly interesting is that the Claddagh ring can be worn in two ways, one way for when you’re in a relationship or married, and another for when you’re single. The idea is that, if your heart has been taken by somebody, you’ll wear the ring with the heart symbol facing towards you. If you’re available, the heart symbol faces away from you, towards the fingertips, helping Irish men know that you’re on the market and that they can make a move.
Richard Joyce designed the ring
It’s thought that the original Claddagh ring was designed by Richard Joyce. One day, he set sail towards the West Indies. However, the week he was due to be married, his ship was captured by Mediterranean Algerian pirates and the crew was sold as a slaves. Richard Joyce was sold to a Moorish goldsmith who trained him in his craft, and he became a master craftsman, crafting the Claddagh ring for his bride-to-be at home. Richard eventually worked his way up, and was offered the daughter of his capture, but he decided to return home to Claddagh to find his girlfriend. They were married, and he then set up a goldsmith shop.
It’s grown in popularity
Over the past century, the ring has exploded in popularity following the vast exodus from the West during the Great Famine in 1847-49. During this time, the rings were kept as heirlooms and were passed from mother to daughter. In modern times, the ring continues to be popular in Ireland, though those elsewhere with Irish heritage or indeed enjoy the story and tradition of the ring buy them online for their weddings, engagements, and as a fashion statement.
There’s so much to learn about the Claddagh ring and we’ve barely scratched the surface with this article, but we think our introductory piece will give you enough food for thought if you’re considering buying or wearing one. If you’re looking for jewelry that tells the story of love and commitment, and sports a stunning design to boot, then you need look no further.