Perhaps one of the most common pieces of jewelry to come out of Ireland is the Claddagh ring. Irish Claddagh rings are commonly used as engagement rings and wedding rings. The Claddagh is an Irish traditional ring that represents love, loyalty, and friendship. This is depicted in its design that features hands for friendship, a heart for love, and a crown for loyalty. The ring derives its name from the fishing village of Claddagh where it is believed to have originated. This ever-popular piece of jewelry was first produced in the 17th century.
History & Origins
The Claddagh ring is part of a group referred to as “fede rings”. These rings are European finger rings. The term “fede” comes from the Italian for hands joined in faith as well as hands joined in loyalty. The fede rings are believed to date back to the Roman era when the emblem of clasped hands was also a symbol of vows. These rings were used as engagement and wedding rings during medieval and Renaissance Europe. The term Claddagh refers to a town that is now part of Galway. Galway has produced the rings steadily since the 1700′s. It is interesting to note that the name “Claddagh” was not used until the 1840′s. Although there is a rich history and it is considered a traditional Irish ring, it is not particularly ancient.
The designs of Irish Claddagh rings can differ. Most commonly the ring features a crown, however, as of late, there have been designs that do not have a crown depicted. There are also ways to play around with the style. Of course, gold and silver are popular, but marcasite has also been used for Claddagh designs. Many people will often add a stone to the ring such as Emerald, but any stone can be added to ensure a unique look and feel.
How The Ring Is Worn
Claddagh rings are often handed down from mother to daughter or grandmother to granddaughter. There are also certain actions that convey what the relationship status is the individual wearing the ring. For those who wear the ring on their right hand with the heart pointing towards their fingertips, it represents that the wearer is single and is looking for love. If the ring is worn on the right hand with the heart facing the wrist then the person wearing the ring is in a relationship. This conveys that the heart is “captured”. If the Claddagh is worn on the left hand with the heart pointing towards the fingertips, then the wearer is engaged. Lastly, if the ring is worn on the left hand with the heart facing the wrist then the wearer is married as her heart is captured.
Irish Claddagh rings are popular among those of the Irish heritage, especially Irish-Americans. They are traditional Irish rings that symbolize love, friendship, and loyalty. This makes them perfect engagement rings or wedding rings. Although the exact origins aren’t known the Claddagh ring is one of the most popular designs of Irish jewelry.