Claddagh rings date all the way back to the 17th century and their meaning hasn’t changed much since then. More than just a pretty piece of Celtic jewelry, there isn’t just significance to wearing a Claddagh, there is meaning to giving one too. Read on to learn about the importance behind the popular ring and how to properly give and/or wear one.
The most popular and generally accepted legend regarding how the first Claddagh ring came to be is a pretty romantic story involving Richard Joyce and his true love. Richard Joyce was a fisherman from Galway who was kidnapped by pirates and sold as a slave to a Moorish goldsmith. While imprisoned, Joyce learned how to make jewelry from the goldsmith and crafted a beautiful Celtic ring featuring a heart topped by a crown being clasped by two hands.
After the accession of William III to the throne, all British prisoners were set free and Joyce was allowed to return to Galway. Upon reuniting with his beloved, he gave her what is now known as the Claddagh ring, hence this piece of Claddagh jewelry became a symbol of his undying love for her. Most people now agree that the hands symbolize friendship; the heart symbolizes love; and the crown symbolizes loyalty.
Later on, the rings began to serve as Celtic wedding bands worn on the left hand ring finger, with the following saying attached: With my Hands I give you my Heart and Crown it with my Love. Generations of Irish families have handed down their Claddagh wedding rings as treasured heirlooms, and although each ring may vary in appearance, the design always includes the hands, heart and crown.
While still used as wedding rings, the Claddagh ring can now be worn as a sign of friendship or loyalty. The ring’s meaning generally depends on how it is being worn. If you’re single and ready to mingle, you would wear your Claddagh ring on your right ring finger with the heart pointed away from you. If you’re in a relationship, you would wear it turned around with the heart pointed towards you, thereby letting others know you’re taken.
Whether a gift between friends, a boyfriend and girlfriend, or husband and wife, the Claddagh’s meaning makes it a gift that will be truly appreciated by any recipient. A silver or gold Claddagh ring is always an appropriate gift to a loved one or friend, but is especially significant when given to a person who is somehow attached to Ireland, its heritage and people.
For a truly meaningful gift, consider giving a Claddagh ring to your friend or loved one today!