Irish wedding rings meaning


How to Wear A Claddagh Ring

Imagine what it would be like to experience every stage of love, loyalty and friendship. The claddagh story is an Irish folklore steeped in romantic tradition.

What is the claddagh ring saying?

As you might have heard there is an old Irish saying about the claddagh ring. “With These hands, I give you my heart and crown it with my love.”

How do you wear a claddagh ring?

  • To wear a Claddagh ring on the right hand with the crown turned outwards, away from you indicates that the wearer is single.
  • To wear a Claddagh ring on the right hand with the crown turned inward, towards you symbolizes that the wearer is being courted in a relationship.
  • To wear a Claddagh ring on the left hand with the crown turned outwards, away from you indicates a romantic engagement.
  • To wear a Claddagh ring on the left hand with the crown turned inward, towards you on the left hand indicates marriage.

How should I wear my Claddagh Ring?

If you are single wear your Claddagh Ring on the right hand with the crown turned outwards. If you are dating wear your Claddagh Ring on the right hand with the crown turned inward. If you are engaged wear your Claddagh Ring on the left hand with the crown turned outwards. If you are married wear your Claddagh Ring on the left hand with the crown turned inward.

What are is claddagh tradition?

There is a claddagh tradition in Ireland. In Ireland it is traditional for mothers to hand down claddagh rings to their daughters.

How is Claddagh pronounce?

The Irish word Claddagh is pronounced . It is also called a fáinne Chladaigh in Irish or in gaelic the Cladach pronounced . Pronouncing the word Claddagh is now more commonly pronounced without the gaelic accent as simply .

What does the Claddagh Ring mean?

The traditional Irish Claddagh ring is a symbol of friendship, love and loyalty. The hands of the claddagh ring stand for friendship. The heart of the claddadgh ring stands for love and the crown is a symbol of loyalty.

The Claddagh has actually been worn since Roman times! The beautiful meaning of the claddagh ring has made the claddagh ring a celebrated romantic gift for people of all nationalities. But none can argue that the claddagh ring holds a rather special meaning to those romantics of Irish heritage.

Is it bad luck to buy your own Claddagh Ring?

You probably know Irish superstition says it is bad luck to purchase a Claddagh ring for your self. Everyone knows Irish tradition says a Claddagh Ring must given as a token of love or receieved as a gift. But to heck with Iris superstition. What if you made your own Irish family tradition?

Is the Claddagh Ring Celtic?

The Claddagh Ring is Celtic. It is an Irish Celtic symbol of love. Celtic or celt refers to the people, language and traditions of the Celtic Nations of Indo-Europe including Ireland, Scottland, Wales, the Isle of Man, Cornwall, and Brittany.

Can you buy your on Claddagh Ring?

As you know Irish Claddagh Ringsare traditional given by a loved one as a symbol of love, loyalty and freindship.

What is the story behind the Claddagh Ring?

As you know The Claddagh Ring story is a wonderful Irish folklore. Imagine Ireland in the days long ago when a young man was captured and sold into slavery from the fishing village of Claddagh. Can you imagine how many years passed while he wondered if his true love waited. As the years wore on he stole tiny bits of gold from his master to make her a ring. He fashioned a heart for love, a crown for loyalty and hands as a symbol of friendship. Can you just picture the tiny first claddagh ring being made? After many years he returned home to the village of Claddagh Ireland. To his magical delight he discovered his true love had waited for him. He gave her the ring as a symbol of love, loyalty and friendship forever known now as the Claddagh Ring.

Can you wear a Claddagh Ring if you are not Irish?

Yes you can absolutely wear a Claddagh Ring if you are not Irish. The Claddagh Ring has become known a token of love around the world worn by Irish and those of non Irish heritage.

Can you wear a Claddagh Ring if you are single?

Yes you can wear a Claddagh Ring if you are single. Claddagh Rings are often passed down from mothers to their daughters.

Do guys wear Claddagh Rings?

Claddagh Rings are a universal token of love for lads and lassies. Claddagh Rings are worn by both men and women as promise rings, egagement rings and as wedding bands as a symbol of friendship, love and loyalty.

Shop at The Irish Jewelry Company for your Claddagh Ring today!

What are the different types of Claddaghs and Claddagh Rings?

Traditional Irish Claddagh Ring: with Dublin Assay Office Hallmark dipicting the tradional heart, hands and crown design … Shop Now>

Fenian Claddagh Ring: The Fenian Claddagh, also known as the Dublin Claddagh Ring. This version of the Claddagh Ring with two hands holding a heart and no crown was made in Dublin in the 1800’s. It became known as the Fenian Claddagh Ring or the Dublin Claddagh Ring. The Fenian Claddagh Ring belongs to a style of European finger rings called fede rings used as engagement rings in medieval and Renaissance Europe. The name fede comes from the Italian phrase “mani fede” meaning hands joined in faith…. Shop Now>
Birthstone Claddagh Rings: Our Birthstone Claddagh Ring is brilliant. Be inspired. Choose a birthstone to mark a birthday or a special occasion like a graduation or anniversary or to express your personal philosophy….. Shop Now>

Mothers Claddagh: The mothers claddagh is an unassuming stylized mother and child embrace representative of the Madonna and child. Combined with a traditional Irish claddagh it is a testament to the enduring bond between a mother, her child, faith and their Irish heritage…. Shop Now>

Aran Claddagh: This designer claddagh rope ring is inspired by the warmth of the Irish wool fibers twisted into the beautiful and strong yarn that is knitted into traditional Aran sweaters. The Aran sweater is a symbol of Irish heritage and traditional Irish customs. The claddagh ring is a symbol of friendship, love and loyalty as inscribed inside the Aran Claddagh Ring…. Shop Now>

Claddagh Stackable Ring: Our Claddagh Stackable Ring Set is a brilliant blend of an ancient Irish claddagh tradition with a fresh modern design. Our three piece stack claddagh ring set is sterling silver and has real diamond accents in the crown and pave heart. This Stack Claddagh Ring set is a true symbol of eternal Irish friendship, love and loyalty…. Shop Now>

Trinity Claddagh Ring: Our Trinity Claddagh Ring is beautiful and graceful. This modern new twist on the combination of the traditional claddagh ring and trinity knot takes Irish jewelry to a new level of great design. The Irish claddagh ring is the symbol of friendship, love and loyalty. The trinity knot is the modern Irish love knot. Combining the two Irish symbols is simply brilliant…. Shop Now>
Celtic Couples Claddagh: Our Celtic Couples Claddagh Pendant pledges your eternal love. The Claddagh is a traditional Irish symbol representing loyalty, friendship, and love. The Celtic Couples Claddagh Pendant is the perfect gift for that special someone in your life…. Shop Now>
Family Claddagh Birthstone Necklace: This Claddagh Family Birthstone Necklace is perfect to wear alone to represent your own birthstone or in multiples to signify your children. The Claddagh Family Birthstone necklace is completely customizable. You can personalize each family necklace in your choice of birthstone charms and in your choice of chain lengths as an original Mothers necklace. Each birthstone charm can represent a family member, child or grandchild. Either way, no matter the number of claddagh birthstone charms, this Irish family necklace is beautiful. Family & Mothers Jewelry is the perfect way to say thank you mom…. Shop Now>

I think you’ll agree, the intricate harmonious design of the timeless Celtic Knot is beautiful. Very few understand the meaning of these distinctive designs. As many of our most popular handmade pieces of Irish jewellery include Celtic knot work, we wanted to share what we have learned about the meaning of Celtic Knots. Here we’ve listed 8 of the most well know Celtic Knots and their meaning.

Original Celtic knot designs can be dated back to the 3rd-4th century. Abtract in composition, each design is believed to have held special significance. When it comes to interpreting their meaning, we do face some challenges. Without written records, the meaning of some of these unique symbols will inevitably have been lost in the mists of time.

Today, our understanding of Celtic knots can only be based on the facts that we do know for sure. This information is used to some shed light on their interpretation and allows us to make educated guesses on what they may have represented.

Experts study the locations of where celtic knots are found. Added to this, we can use what we know about the people that the artwork, used and wore these designs to interpret their meaning. Celtic Knots were often engraved into stone in burial sites for example. They are believed to have represented faith, declare unity between people and in some cases, to protect against evil spirits.

Most commonly though, these continuous patterns are thought to have referenced eternity and eternal life especially the knots found at burial sites such as Newgrange Passage Tomb, Co.Meath. Celtic knots famously comprise of one continuous line, with no beginning and no end and so are often regarded as a symbol of infinity.

8 Popular Celtic Knots & What they Mean

Celtic Cross

1. The Celtic Cross was a religious or spiritual symbol. The circle being a reference to the Sun God in ancient times. For Christians, the circle surrounding the head of the cross represents God’s eternal love. Wonderful examples of stone Celtic high crosses have survived down through the centuries. These distinctive crosses have been adapted and passed between cultures and religions over time.

Trinity Knot

2. The Trinity Knot or triquetra was used to symbolize and honor the Mother, Maiden and Crone of the neo-pagan triple goddess. It signifies the three life-cycles of a woman in relation to the phases of the moon.

In more recent times, it has come to be recognized as a symbol for ‘The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit’. This famous design has recently seen somewhat of a revival with Irish jewelry designers and silversmiths reintroducing this Celtic design into jewelry pieces. Today, it is commonly worn as a symbol of Irish ancestry or everlasting love.

Browse our Handcrafted Celtic Jewelry Collection

Tree of Life

3. The third most common Celtic knot is the Tree Of Life. This knot symbolizes the Irish and Celts’ affinity with nature. The flowing form of the Celtic tree represents how the natural world is inherently balanced and harmonious. The Celts had a fascinating and insightful perspective on nature. Their understanding and respect of the natural world is one to be revered and importance of nature to life is reflected in their use of this symbol.

Celtic Love Knot

4. The Celtic Love knot, sometimes referred to as the Anam Cara Knot (Deriving from the Irish words for soul friend from Celtic wisdom) is a modern addition to the Celtic knot family. Two Celtic knot hearts intertwine to form one. This is a contemporary adaption of the classic Celtic knot. Again the pattern is infinite, it is used to represent a relationship of everlasting love.

Custom Irish Jewelry – Celtic Love Knot

Sailor’s Knot

5. The Sailor’s Knot comprises of two ropes woven together to create endless loops. The story behind this design is that Celtic sailors would weave ropes in memory of the loves ones left behind as they embarked on treacherous voyages on open seas. These knots also signify eternal love. A love that will never break because these knots are the most durable of all the Celtic knots.

Shield Knot

6. To protect and ward away evil spirits from their homes and on the battlefield, Celts used the Shield Knot. Typically, these knots contain four corners and can be either circular or square. There are two spiral knots, including the Spiral Knot and the Triple Spiral Knot. The meaning behind these Celtic knots is very different, despite the similarity in design.

Spiral Knot

7. The Spiral Knot is thought to represent the journey from the physical life to the spiritual life. This is based on the location of where these engravings have been found at and around grave sites, burial and passage tombs.

Triple Spiral

8. The Triple Spiral is another trinity style design and is represented by three connecting spirals. It is thought that they were used to representing the natural world land, sea and sky.

Here at Claddagh Design Irish Jewellery, we are passionate about Irish art. Inspired by the thousands of examples of beautiful Irish artwork of our past, jewellery designer Eileen Moylan designs and handcrafts her unique pieces in her workshop in County Cork, Ireland. Find out more about what we do

You may also enjoy reading Celtic Symbols & What they Mean

6 Celtic wedding rings and the meaning behind them

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Celtic wedding rings are only growing in popularity, and the meaning behind them is just one reason why

As more and more couples personalise their wedding ceremonies, whether they’re having civil wedding ceremonies or adding humanist rituals into them, one thing that’s remained constant is the exchange of rings as a symbol of unity. However, plenty of couples are delving a little deeper into their wedding ring choices, and seeking out the meaning behind them – which their celebrant can then discuss as part of their ring ceremony, making it a little bit extra special.

Where better to look for lovely meaning than in Celtic wedding rings? Besides the connection to our rich heritage, these ring designs are usually centred on symbols of love, honesty and family, so there are tonnes of lovely sentiments attached to Celtic wedding rings. With that in mind, we spoke to the team at Celtic Wedding Rings to get the low down on the meanings behind each design.

1. Celtic Knot wedding ring

Complete loops with no obvious start or end, they are said to represent eternity, whether that means loyalty, faith, friendship or love to you. Only one thread is used in each design, which symbolises how life and eternity are interconnected. The famous Book of Kells has many Celtic knot examples throughout its illustrious pages.

2. Trinity Knot wedding ring

For the Celts, the Trinity knot was symbolic of the threefold nature of the Goddess as mother, maiden and crone – the mother as a goddess is representative of creation, the maiden for innocence and the crone for wisdom.It is also representative of the forces of nature (earth, fire and water) and the three interlocking circles are symbolic of female fertility. Christianity adopted the symbol to represent the Holy Trinity.

3. Newgrange wedding ring

The unique spiral stone carvings at Newgrange are thought to be at least 5000 years old. The Passage Tomb at Newgrange is a richly decorated megalithic mound, and archaeologists estimate that a team of approximately 300 men took more than 20 years to complete the structure. Its dedicated builders graced the entrance with a triple spiral pattern, which can be seen in many Celtic wedding rings. The symbolism isn’t fully known, but there’s a lot of belief in the symbolism of three – the trinity, the three realms, etc.

4. Ogham Soulmate ring

Ogham is the earliest form of writing in Ireland, it dates to around 4th century A.D. and was in use for around 500 years. The Ogham alphabet is made up of a series of strokes along or across a line. The alphabet was carved on standing stones to commemorate someone, using the edge of the stone as the centre line. They usually read from the left hand side bottom up, across the top and, if need be, down the other side. We use this alphabet to inscribe the word ‘Soulmate’ on this wedding band.

6. Infinity Knot wedding ring

Simple, but elegant, the Infinity Knot ring represents togetherness in the true style of the endless Celtic-styled infinity knot. Two never-ending lines that cross each other on occasion, intrinsically linked together a perfect representation of the union of marriage.

7. Claddagh wedding rings

The Claddagh design represents love, loyalty and friendship. The centre heart for love, the crown on top for loyalty and the hands for friendship. These three important values build the basis of any good relationship, particularly a marriage. With this in mind, we have designed a full range of Claddagh wedding rings to celebrate this wonderful, thoughtful design.

Celtic Wedding Rings

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Trinity Knot Wedding Rings: Their Meaning And History

Celtic jewelry uses many symbols that evoke the history of the Celtic people, but none carry as much meaning as the classic Trinity Knot. Trinity Knots add depth and spirit to Celtic wedding rings, by bringing the touching faith and loyalty of the Celtic people to life. Within the intricate, curving lines of the Trinity Knot, faith in God is illustrated, as the three points symbolize the Father, the Son, and The Holy Spirit.

Also known as the Triquetra, the Trinity Knot is well suited to modern Celtic wedding bands. If the bride and groom choose to honor their heritage through their wedding jewelry, the addition of a classic Trinity Knot will add a touch of grace and beauty to a traditional engagement ring or wedding band. For men or women of Celtic ancestry, a ring that echoes the art, history, and rich, spiritual traditions of their people will allow them to get in touch with the past, as they embark on a new journey into the future, side by side.

In ancient times, the Irish people were world-renowned for their mastery in working with precious metals. All over the world, the prized metalwork of Irish artisans was valued and desired. From stunning art treasures like the Ardagh Chalice, an Irish war treasure, encrusted with jewels and symbols, to the modern day jewelry designs found in Irish wedding rings, the tradition continues.

Irish craftspeople are devoted to keeping the spirit of the past alive, and they train and study for years, before they are permitted to craft the stunning pieces you will find today. Choosing a Trinity Knot engagement ring, or wedding band, will allow you to experience the exquisite design and intricacy of Celtic knot work, in a very modern way.

Celtic engagement rings have everything a bride could want, including stunning solitaire diamonds, but they are brought to a new level of refinement with the addition of curving knot work along each side of the central stone. The knot work adds dimension, richness, and visual impact, creating rings of great beauty and individuality. A Trinity Knot ring will become a treasured heirloom that can be passed down through the family for generations.

The Trinity Knot appears often in Celtic lore and mythology, and in the artwork and treasures of the Celtic people. The Book of Kells, which now rests at Trinity University in Dublin, is considered the most valued art treasure of the Irish people, and it is adorned with stunning examples of traditional Celtic knot work. This illuminated text is a fine example of the way modern Celtic jewelry, featuring Trinity Knots, is directly linked to the ancient works of the great Irish masters.

The first examples of the Triquetra were found during the Insular Art movement in Ireland, dating back to 600 AD, and many rune stones and stone crosses were adorned with the classic trefoil (three-point) design. The true roots of the Trinity Knot may be Pagan, but they evolved over time. The Celtic people embraced Christianity, and the Trinity Knot was viewed as a symbol of the Holy Trinity.

As you can see, the deeper meaning of the Celtic Trinity Knot has remained an important facet of Celtic culture, year after year. By choosing engagement and wedding rings that utilize this strong, enduring symbol of faith and love, modern couples honor the past and continue the ancient traditions in the modern world.

Make that wedding proposal uniquely cultured with any of the wide variety of Celtic engagement rings available online.

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© 2017-2018 The Irish Jewelry Company. All Rights Reserved. Are you shopping online for authentic Irish Jewelry? At The Irish Jewelry Company our designer Irish jewelry and Celtic jewelry are steeped in tradition and heritage. Our inspiring collections beautifully crafted Irish wedding rings, Irish Claddagh rings and necklaces, Irish earrings, pendants, Mo Anam Cara jewelry, Celtic jewelry and more for both women and men. The Irish have a proud tradition of jewelry making. Often Irish jewelry symbols come from unique elements of Irish and Celtic culture. Symbols like the shamrock, Celtic knot and harp to the wonderful Claddagh ring which has gained fame around the world. The claddagh ring is a symbol of love, loyalty and friendship. At The Irish Jewelry Company’s online Irish jewelry store, we are proud of this Irish heritage. On our website you will find a unique designer collection of Irish jewelry and Celtic jewelry like the traditional Celtic knot jewelry and claddagh ring designs, in Silver and Gold. As Irish jewelry designers we make sure every piece of Irish jewelry and Celtic jewelry is authentic and beautifully crafted. We ship our Irish jewelry and Celtic jewelry worldwide. Shop The Irish Jewelry Company, the best Irish jewelry and Celtic jewelry store online today and carry on tradition one gift at a time.

All You Need to Know About Irish Claddagh Rings

Hi everyone. I hope I find you all well this week. So no prizes for guessing what comes top of the list when it comes to Celtic jewelry here at The Irish Store? Yes, everyone is crazy about Irish Claddagh rings! Read on to find out all you need to know about the Claddagh symbol and it’s enduring message of love, loyalty and friendship.

1.Claddagh Ring Meaning

Irish Claddagh rings feature two hands joined together clasping a heart. A crown tops the heart. The hands symbolize friendship, the single heart symbolizes love and the crown is a symbol of loyalty.

2. How to wear a Claddagh Ring

So how to wear your Claddagh ring? Wear your ring on your right ring finger with the crown pointing away from your heart to signify that you are open to love. Wearing your ring on the left ring finger with the crown pointing towards the heart announces to the world that you are engaged or married.

3. Faith Rings

So it turns out that parts of the Claddagh design actually date back to Roman times! The clasped hands design was often used as an official Roman pledging symbol. Later, rings adorned with clasped hands, known as “fede rings” or faith rings, became popular in Europe and were exchanged as symbols of affection. 17th-century Irish craftsmen contributed their own distinctive variations which we recognize as the Irish Claddagh ring to this day.

4.The Ancient Fishing Village of Claddagh

The Claddagh is one of the oldest Celtic fishing villages in Ireland, dating
back to the 5th century. The word Claddagh is derived from the Irish word Cladach, which means “the stony beach.” The small community of fisherman distrusted outsiders, fishing the waters off Galway Bay for centuries, keeping to themselves. They even elected their own king while ruling the community of thatched cottages according to ancient customs. The now-famous Claddagh design has long been part of the cultural heritage of the Claddagh kinfolk. The Claddagh fishermen, known as the Fisher Kings marked their ships and sails with the Claddagh crest.

4. A Swashbuckling Love Story

Mystery surrounds the origins of the traditional Claddagh ring. There are two competing tales and both feature a member of the Joyce family, one of the famous “Tribes of Galway.” Of course we will be covering both stories!

The first tale involves a certain Richard Joyce. He set sail from Galway for the West Indies only to be captured by Algerian pirates and sold into slavery to a Moorish goldsmith. Joyce toiled away for fourteen-years under the tutelage of his master. During this time he was to become an expert craftsman. He was set free in 1689 after William III of England demanded the release of British subjects. The goldsmith was sorry to see Joyce leave so he offered his daughter and half of his riches to induce Joyce to stay. Joyce refused.

Returning home to Galway, Joyce was overjoyed to find that his one true love still waiting for him. He created the Claddagh ring to honour his everlasting love and presented it to her as a marriage ring. Joyce went on to live a healthy and happy life in Galway and became a successful goldsmith.
The earliest existing Claddagh rings are marked with Joyce’s initials. So it is indeed likely the origins of the Claddagh ring design can be attributed to Joyce.

5. A Gift From an Eagle

So the competing tale is predictably the stuff of legend but makes for a great story! The story concerns Margaret Joyce, known as Margaret of the Bridges on account of her using her substantial inheritance from her first marriage to a wealthy Spanish merchant to build the bridges of Connacht. In 1596, Joyce married Oliver Ogffrench, the mayor of Galway. One fine day, an eagle dropped a ring that fell right into her lap! Margaret believed this was a gift for her kindness and generosity. The legend goes that the ring from the eagle was the very first Claddagh ring.

So now you know all you need to know why not shop our stunning collection of Claddagh rings and if you’re tying the knot then check out our collection of beautifully crafted Claddagh engagement rings and Claddagh Wedding Rings.

Slán go fóill!


Legendary Claddagh Rings: What are the True Origins of these Symbolic Irish Wedding Rings?

The Claddagh ring design of two hands holding a crowned heart is a recognizable symbol of Ireland and enduring love. It is hugely popular as a fashion accessory and a symbolic gesture. While everyone seems to know the rules of the Claddagh ring that lead up to it being worn as a wedding ring, few people know its history.

The Claddagh ring is, in fact, just one of the more popular iterations of a design used for pledges, vows, and wedding rings that goes all the way back to the ancient Romans.

Specific Symbolism of a Claddagh Wedding Ring

A Claddagh wedding ring represents friendship (the two hands), love (the heart), and loyalty (the crown). The earliest appearance of this design dates back to the early 1700s in an Irish fishing village called Claddagh (thus the name). Since that time, the village has been incorporated into the city of Galway.

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The Claddagh ring is a particular example of the much broader ring category called fede or faith rings. The classification is shorthand for the Italian phrase mani in fede which means ‘hands joined in fidelity.’ Like modern wedding rings, these were considered tangible symbols of promises of friendship or love.

Claddagh Ring Design Sign. ( CC BY 2.0 )

The Historic Power of Wedding Rings

The power and symbolism of rings dates back to the ancient Egyptians, who saw the circular object as a powerful symbol : “the band with no end representing eternal life and love, and its opening representing a gateway to worlds unknown” (With These Rings, 2017). Egyptians exchanged rings as signs of loyalty and similarly Greeks exchanged them as signs of endless love.

But it was the Romans who first linked the symbolism of the ring with matrimony. The most common wedding ring was a fede ring, showing two hands clasped together in an agreement to love and honor one another. The gesture is known as dextrarum iunctio in Latin. These types of rings were popular throughout Europe in the Middle Ages .

Byzantine Empire Wedding Ring. The motif of the clasped hands, signifying love, betrothal, and marriage, was first introduced in the Roman period and remained a popular symbol until the 19th century. ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )

The Modern Claddagh Wedding Ring

Fashions changed with time and the obvious imagery of the shaking hands gave way to wedding rings depicting images of the married couple or, after the rise of Christianity, crosses and other holy symbols to show that Jesus blessed the union .

However, the fede wedding ring would eventually make a comeback starting in the 1100s and lasting up until today. Interestingly, it was not until the 18th century that marriages began to take place predominantly in churches.


The design of a traditional Irish Claddagh ring symbol on a banner. ( CC BY-AT 3.0 )

The British Museum explains how weddings were often held:

“Until Lord Hardwicke’s 1753 Act of Marriage there was no clearly defined process for a marriage ceremony and entering the state of matrimony was governed by local customs and rituals. With the introduction of the Book of Common Prayer in 1549 by Edward VI (r.1547-53), there was a clear attempt to encourage people to marry within a church. Nevertheless, canon law prevailed and for this all that was required was the mutual consent of both parties. In addition to uttering words expressing this consent, there were certain signs and symbols that could indicate consent; the holding of hands and the giving of a ring were two of these visible (though not necessary) signs.” (The British Museum, 2017)

Legendary Stories of the First Claddagh Ring – the Wedding Ring of Richard Joyce

It is generally accepted that the Claddagh was made as a wedding ring. Although there is no question that the first Claddagh ring appeared in Claddagh in Ireland around the year 1700, who made it and why is subject to many different theories.

One claims an eagle dropped a completed Claddagh ring into the lap of a very charitable woman to reward her for her good deeds. Another tells how the ring was designed by a prince who fell in love with a commoner and had to prove to his father that he really wanted to marry her.

Yet, the most widely told story involves Richard Joyce and his patiently waiting love, Margaret. Richard was a fisherman from Claddagh, a dangerous profession in the 17th century. One day, Spanish pirates captured the Claddagh boat and sold its whole crew, including Richard, into slavery in Algeria on the North African Coast.

“Richard, the youngest of those captured, was the most distraught. All men had left loved ones behind, but Richard had just met his true love and now feared that he would not live to see her again. Years passed and several of the men died. Others accepted their fate. Richard worked as a slave, but continued to long for a return to his village and to his beloved.” (Irish Indeed, 2017)

Swans in the Claddagh. ( CC BY SA 3.0 ) Legends say Richard Joyce, of Claddagh, created the first Claddagh wedding ring for his beloved.

Richard became the property of a Moorish goldsmith. The goldsmith was sufficiently impressed by Richard as to teach him the trade and help him to become a master goldsmith.

“To keep his spirits up and to keep hope in his heart, each day Richard stole a tiny speck of gold from his slave masters in the goldsmith shop where he tended the fires. Years passed and, with his tiny pieces of gold, he was finally able to fashion a ring. It was his hope that, despite what seemed nearly impossible, he would return to his village and present the ring to his true love.” (Irish Indeed, 2017)

Meanwhile, an ambassador of King William III had been to Algeria and was horrified to discover good Christian Britons were being kept as slaves. He demanded the Moorish king release all British subjects who were currently enslaved. If Richard was really enslaved to an Algerian goldsmith, this could have been how he regained his freedom. However, other accounts say that he made a daring escape and stealthily made his way from Algeria to Ireland. Still others argue that the Moorish goldsmith offered Richard a partnership and his daughter’s hand in marriage but Richard refused. The goldsmith was so impressed by the young man’s loyalty to his love that he released him from bondage. In any event, Richard Joyce eventually made it back to his village in Ireland.

“At his journey’s end, Richard was overcome with joy when he learned that his beloved had remained true to him in his long absence, waiting faithfully for him to return. It was on that day that Richard gave his beloved the ring he created that is now known worldwide as the Claddagh Ring.” (Irish Indeed, 2017)

The long-established Claddagh Ring Goldsmiths and Museum, containing examples of Richard Joyce’s wedding rings. ( CC BY-SA 2.0 )

Keeping Claddagh Rings in the Family

The Claddagh wedding ring gained popularity as it developed a tradition of being an investment for poor fishing families. A mother would pass her wedding ring down to her daughter or daughter-in-law and so on and so on. This tradition became especially poignant during the awful years of the 19th century when millions of Irish people fled the country hoping for a better life in America or Australia.

Wedding Rings for the Rich and Famous

Some famous people who have worn Claddagh rings include Queen Victoria and Princess Grace of Monaco. But perhaps the most iconic Claddagh ring wearer of this generation is Buffy the Vampire Slayer , though she did not wear it as a wedding ring. “A present to her on her 17th birthday from her vampire lover, Angel, the ring was to symbolize their enduring love for each other – in spite of the obvious difficulties and even one day call Angel back from Hell” (Royal Claddagh, 2014).

Even more recently, there are also rumors that Kanye West bought his wife Kim Kardashian a solid silver Claddagh ring when they visited Ireland.

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Two silver Claddagh Rings on flowers. ( Public Domain )

Today, Claddagh rings are popular not only for their aesthetic and symbolic appeal, but they are also sometimes used as an identification with Irish identity. This aspect is also apparent with newer additions to Claddagh ring designs that include other Celtic or Irish symbols , such as Celtic knots or interlacing around the band.

How Should I Wear My Claddagh Ring?

In case you are unfamiliar with them, the most commonly recognized Claddagh ring rules are:

  • On the right hand with the point of the heart toward the fingertips: the wearer is single and may be looking for love.
  • On the right hand with the point of the heart toward the wrist: the wearer is in a relationship.
  • On the left hand with the point of the heart toward the fingertips: the wearer is engaged.
  • On the left hand with the point of the heart toward the wrist: the wearer is married.

Top Image: A gold Claddagh wedding ring. Source: Royalcladdagh/CC BY SA 3.0

By Kerry Sullivan

The origins of the ring come from a humble Galway fishing village but it is now one of the most recognizable pieces of jewelry in the world as men and women from dozens of nations eagerly look for the ideal ring to suit their status. The Claddagh ring meaning is all about love, loyalty, and friendship. The two hands represent friendship, a heart symbolizes love and the crown on top is for loyalty. The ring can be worn on different fingers or hands, depending on status. Let’s take a closer look at this traditional Irish ring:

  • – Two Hands: These are clasped around a heart, the heart hands are a representation of friendship.
  • – Heart: A representation of love.
  • – A Crown: A representation of loyalty/fidelity.

The two hands represent friendship, a heart symbolizes love and the crown on top is for loyalty.

How To Wear a Claddagh Ring

The Claddagh Ring has been the traditional wedding ring in Irish culture since the 17th century. There are four basic meanings depending on how the ring is worn:

Single: You should wear the ring on your right hand with the heart facing outwards.
Relationship: You should wear it on your right hand with the heart pointed inwards.
Engaged: You wear it on your left hand with the heart pointing outwards.
Married: You wear it on your left hand with the heart facing inward.

History of the Calddagh

The Claddagh ring is associated with fidelity, love and romance in Irish culture and unsurprisingly, one of the main legends of the ring comes from a classic love story although there are several different tales attributed to it. We recount the two main ones below:

Richard Joyce

This was the name of a sailor from the fishing village of Claddagh in Galway who set sail for the plantations of the West Indies in the 17th Century. Unfortunately, the entire crew was kidnapped by pirates and brought to Algeria where they were sold into slavery. Richard was purchased by a goldsmith who trained him in the craft and in 1689, an amnesty was declared as William II, King of England, demanded the release of all slaves who were part of his kingdom.

For Richard’s part, he had sufficiently charmed and impressed his master to the point where he was offered half the goldsmith’s wealth and his daughter’s hand in marriage. Alas, Richard’s true love was waiting for him back in Galway and he asked to be sent home so he could be with her.

Richard returned to Galway and was delighted to find his beloved waiting for him; it is not known whether he was released or escaped. Unbeknownst to the goldsmith, Richard had stolen specks of gold from the workshop each day which he fashioned into a ring. This was given to his sweetheart whom he married. He set up a goldsmith shop and is said to have created more Claddagh rings with the initials ‘RI’ on them.

Margaret Joyce

The other main tale associated with the Claddagh relates to a young woman who was part of the Joyce family, one of the Tribes of Galway. She married a wealthy Spaniard called Domingo de Rona in the 16th century; when he died she was left half his fortune.

This money was used to build a host of bridges in the Connacht province and it’s said that an eagle dropped a Claddagh into her lap as a reward for her good deeds. Margaret is said to have later married the Mayor of Galway, Oliver Oge French.

Be proud of your Irish heritage.

Many couples choose engagement rings to represent not only their love for one another but also their cultural heritage, and Irish engagement rings are increasingly popular as more people rediscover their relationship with the Emerald Isle. Furthermore, the bittersweet history of the country is appealing to many romantics, giving these culturally-based rings even more significance.

Types of Irish Engagement Rings

Every culture embraces particular symbols that come to be associated with its history and society. Those symbols are often integrated into clothing and jewelry, including engagement rings. Irish culture, in particular, offers many unique and beautiful symbols, from traditional Claddagh rings and Celtic knots to the beauty of a sparkling emerald.

Claddagh Rings

Claddagh ring.

Claddagh rings are some of the most heavily symbolic and traditional rings associated with Ireland. With the heart to represent love, the hands to represent friendship, and the crown to represent fidelity, every piece of the ring is directly related to a couple’s relationship and marriage. Furthermore, Claddagh rings are quite unique outside of Ireland, giving a couple a very personal and intimate sentiment with a rich cultural tradition. Claddagh rings are typically found in gold or silver to highlight their simplicity, but more elaborate Claddagh designs are available that may use multiple metals or integrate diamonds or other gems into the design.

Celtic Rings

Celtic knot rings are another popular style of Irish engagement rings. The knots may be a simple twist of metal or more elaborately intertwined strands, perhaps representative of a particular family’s heritage. The knots symbolize the interconnectedness of all life, as well as the unending love that binds two people together in marriage.Depending on the intricacy of the ring, gemstones may or may not be included as embellishments. Multi-tone Celtic rings are especially popular because the contrasting metals highlight the weave within the ring, and platinum, titanium, and gold are frequently combined to create a distinctive ring.

Emerald ring.

Emerald Rings

Emeralds are closely associated with Ireland, particularly stones with a rich green color and deep sparkle. If a couple wants an Irish engagement ring without the overt symbolism of different cultural traditions, choosing a quality emerald is the perfect way to maintain that connection. An emerald can easily be mounted as a solitaire for stunning simplicity, or it can be accented by small diamonds or other gems to create an individualized design. Emeralds are generally less expensive than diamonds (though a low-quality diamond may be cheaper than a high-quality emerald) and are more affordable for couples on a budget.

Combination Rings

Depending on the couple’s tastes, it is possible to design a ring that includes multiple layers of Irish symbolism. A simple Claddagh symbol may be woven into a Celtic design, for example, or small emeralds may be held in place at the vertices of a Celtic knot. An emerald could be mounted in a Claddagh, perhaps even cut into a heart shape and used as that main component of the ring. By creating a customized combination ring rich with Irish symbolism, a couple can truly honor their heritage while still expressing their individuality.

Finding Irish Engagement Rings

Naturally, a trip to Ireland would result in a plentiful selection of Irish engagement rings, but many couples cannot afford international travel simply to purchase a piece of jewelry. Alternative ways of procuring an Irish ring include visiting pawn shops in Irish neighborhoods, frequenting estate sales (especially from someone of Irish descent), and searching online merchants and auctions. Because technology has allowed the world to become more interconnected, finding engagement rings from other lands is not as difficult as it would have been decades ago.

Many couples today seek engagement rings that symbolize their unique relationship with one another as well as their personal cultural heritage and beliefs. Irish engagement rings are particularly popular because of the vast numbers of Irish immigrants who entered the United States in the past 150 years, as well as the beautiful and romantic traditions associated with the Emerald Isle. From Claddagh rings and Celtic knots to simple emerald settings, Irish engagement rings are treasured icons of history, culture, and romance, perfect for a couple that values those characteristics in themselves as well as their family.

The Claddagh Ring: Meaning & History

My Irish Jeweler Blog

Written by Ciaran Vipond on October 4, 2017

The unique symbolism of the Claddagh Ring makes this historic Irish design a real conversation starter. What does the Claddagh mean? Do you wear it with the heart turned in, or out? And who created this beautiful design in the first place?

The Claddagh ring / An Fáinne Cladach

The Claddagh ring is an Irish symbol of love, loyalty, and friendship. The Gaelic word, “Cladach”, means rocky beach or shore.
How to Pronounce the Word “Claddagh” (audio)

The History of the Claddagh Ring

The first Claddagh Ring was made in Galway over 400 years ago in a small fishing village called Claddagh. The identity of the original designer is a matter of some debate, with Richard Joyce held to be the most likely candidate. What is not in doubt is that the design was inspired by Roman “Fede” or “Gimmel” rings. These rings featured the hand & heart symbols, but lacked the ‘Crowning characteristic’ of the Irish Claddagh ring.
See an example of a gold fede or gimmel ring the British Museum website.

A fishing boat bearing the name “Claddagh” at the docks in Galway city

The Meaning of the Claddagh Ring

Love, Loyalty & Friendship / Grá, Dílseacht agus Cairdeas (Gaelic)

The meaning of the Claddagh is perfectly encapsulated in the phrase “Love, Loyalty & Friendship”, or if you prefer to speak gaelic, “Grá, Dílseacht, Cairdeas” (pronounced “Graw, Deal-shocked, Core-jass”). The unique design is a combination of three symbols:

The Heart represents Love
The Crown represents Loyalty
The Hands represent Friendship

The versatility of the Claddagh has allowed this design to achieve worldwide fame as a token of love and friendship. The ring is often offered in celebration of romantic love, such as a promise ring, engagement or wedding ring or band. Equally, the ring can be worn as an emblem of an enduring friendship. Many more wear the Claddagh as a memento of a trip to Ireland, or as a beautiful reminder of their Irish heritage.

How to Wear a Claddagh Ring

Over the centuries a number of myths and legends have built up around the Claddagh ring. One of the most enduring stories surrounds how to wear the Claddagh ring to signify whether or not your heart is taken.

To show that your heart is taken, wear your Claddagh ring with the heart pointing towards your body

If you are free, single or looking for love, wear your ring with the heart pointing outward

Traditional Claddagh rings by My Irish Jeweler

At My Irish Jeweler, we have over 50 years experience handcrafting and sourcing the very finest Irish jewelry. Since 1963, our Claddagh rings have delighted customers around Ireland. In the last 10 years, we’ve brought the same care and attention to our website and we now have the pleasure of delivering our carefully crafted Claddagh rings worldwide.

Browse our Claddagh Rings

We have an extensive range of Claddagh rings to suit any occasion including beautiful Claddagh wedding bands and stunning Claddagh engagement rings.

Our 14K White Gold Emerald set Claddagh Ring. A lovely gift or promise ring for someone special.

We would be delighted to help if you have any questions about our extensive Claddagh ring range. Just call Peter at 1888-620-3449 Toll free from the USA & Canada or +353-1-2130719 from elsewhere in the world.

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