Having researched and written a recent blog post on the Claddagh ring and it's history in Ireland, I thought it would be nice to share one of the many Claddagh ring commissions I have worked on. These were truly unique and little different in style from the norm. Over the years, I thought I had designed and created every Claddagh design imaginable. I've received orders from all over the world for everything from diamond Claddagh engagement rings to Claddagh rings set with unique gemstones. This lovely couple got in touch with me from the US. They'd searched everywhere and couldn't find exactly what they were looking for. They wanted their rings to be made in Ireland, a special pair of Claddagh rings custom made to their specifications. I love the personal touches. These were so totally unique and a true one-of-a-kind set made just for them!
They had pictured their rings to be Celtic bands but also wanted to incorporate the Claddagh symbolism. They described and sent images of the style of knotwork they liked. Celtic knots are never-ending and go on for eternity. Their rings were also a nod to their shared Irish heritage. Using the Turk's head knot as our inspiration, we began working on designs to hand engrave on to the contemporary Claddagh rings they'd chosen.
Crafting Custom Made Claddagh Rings
Initially, I did some early tests by hand engraving this knot design onto strips cut from a sheet of sterling silver. I then cut around it to create the curves on the band. Once I was happy with the design, I began work on the real thing in white gold.
I outlined the design of the rings on to the sheet before beginning to cut out the shape. Both rings were being cut from the same sheet of white gold so carefully and precisely, I used my piercing frame to around the engraved lines.
When the ring was beginning to take shape, it was time to form it on a tool called a ring mandrel. This involves shaping the precious metal around the cone shaped mandrel with a raw hide mallet. Once formed into a ring shape, I then adjust the length to the correct size. They were then soldered to form the solid rings. At this stage, it was just a matter of refining my engraving by hand. The sharp edges were cleaned and filed. The finished rings were then polished to create the reflective polish you will see below.
The final stage of the process when working on custom Claddagh rings is the hallmarking. I stamp the inside of the rings with my registered maker's mark and send them off the Irish Assay Office in Dublin Castle. Here, they are independently tested and stamped with the Irish hallmark of quality. Below you can see this couples totally bespoke Claddagh rings.
Please feel free to get in touch with me if you would like to discuss commissioning your own piece of Custom Handmade Irish Jewelry