Do you wear an Irish Claddagh Ring? Considering purchasing one for yourself or as a gift?
Read on to find out all you need to know about the Irish Claddagh Ring. You’ll also discover the 4 different ways to wear one of the world’s most iconic designs.
The Story Behind the Irish Claddagh Ring
The Claddagh is a traditional Irish ring. It can be worn as a symbol of heritage or simply as a symbol of commitment to three beautiful sentiments.
For centuries couples have exchanged the famous Claddagh ring as an engagement or wedding ring. The three beautiful symbols make the perfect rings to offer your loved one. The symbols for love, loyalty & friendship are represented in the heart, the crown, and the hands.
The original Claddagh Rings have been dated back to the 17th century. It originated in the little village of Claddagh in County Galway, Ireland. There are a number of stories that claim the origin of the Claddagh ring.
The most plausible being that of the Joyce family. It is said that Richard Joyce was a silversmith working in the 1700’s. His initials (maker’s mark) are on the earliest known surviving Claddagh ring.
The story goes that Joyce was captured by Algerians and sold on as a slave to a Moorish goldsmith. The goldsmith needed an apprentice. Noticing Joyce’s talent, he taught him the trade.
In 1689, Joyce was released when William III sent an ambassador to Algeria to demand the release of all British subjects. Upon hearing this, his captor offered Joyce half of his wealth and his only daughter in marriage to remain in Algeria.
Joyce declined the offer, eager to return to his native Galway. On returning to Galway, Joyce was quick to establish himself as a goldsmith. It was during this time, it is believed he created one of the world’s most famous designs, the Irish Claddagh ring.
Browse our collection of Handcrafted Irish Claddagh Rings
Another popular story also links the Claddagh to the Joyce name. Native Galway woman Margaret Joyce is thought to have inherited her wealth from her husband Domingo de Rona.
Her husband was a wealthy Spanish merchant who traded with the city of Galway. After her husband’s died, she returned to Galway and used her fortune to build bridges in Galway and Sligo.
She later went on to marry the Mayor of Galway, Oliver Og French, in 1596. It is said the first Irish Claddagh ring was dropped into her lap by an eagle in reward for her good work and charity.
21st Century Claddagh Ring
In the 21st century, the Irish Claddagh Ring design has evolved and changed. Various interpretations of the original design allow men and women.
They are exchanged as a ring of meaning and sentiment. They signify a special connection to these three sentiments, to the island of Ireland and mark special occasions.
The enduring symbols of love, loyalty, and friendship are as important today as they were to the original goldsmith that crafted the very first Claddagh ring.
Whether you are a fan of the classic or prefer a more contemporary take, these gorgeous heirlooms can be worn, enjoyed and loved by everyone.
What is the correct way to wear an Irish Claddagh Ring?
Whatever history you believe to be true, the fact remains that the Claddagh is the ultimate symbol of love and unity.
Long before social media updates, people wore the famous Claddagh design to express relationship status. Updating whether you are in a relationship was even quicker and easier with the Claddagh ring.
4 Ways to Wear your Claddagh
Here’s our easy four-step guide on how to wear your Claddagh ring to show your relationship status.
- Right hand with the point of the heart facing towards the hand: The heart is turned in towards the wearer meaning their heart is taken and they are in a relationship.
- Right hand with the point of the heart away from the hand: The heart is turned out away from the wearer meaning their heart is open to love and they are not in a relationship.
- Left hand with the point of the heart pointing away from hand: the wearer is engaged or in a lifelong partnership.
- Left hand with the point of the heart pointing to the hand: the wearer is married!
No one really knows when and where this tradition emerged. Many are not even aware of the ways to wear your ring.
And so to end with a gentle word of caution, the four rules on how to wear your Claddagh ring should be taken with a grain of salt.
About us: Claddagh Design was founded by award-winning silversmith Eileen Moylan. The Claddagh Design collection offers classic and contemporary Claddagh rings, all handcrafted in Ireland.
What does the Irish Claddagh Ring mean to you?
Let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear!