Claddagh ring meaning and how to wear

Do you wish to purchase an Irish Claddagh ring, or do you wear one daily? This article seeks to provide you with all the information on Claddagh rings, including their history, meaning, and how to wear it.

Celtic jewelry has a wide array of beautiful pieces, each with its own distinctive meaning. One of the most recognizable Celtic symbols is the Claddagh ring. Its design consists of a pair of hands clasping a crowned heart. Also known as fáinne Chladaigh in Gaelic, this symbol has a connection to Ireland and its people but can have different meanings to people with different customs and cultures. Essentially, many people recognize the Claddagh ring from its three distinctive symbols; the crown, the heart, and the band. Let us delve into the history and meaning of the Claddagh ring.

What does a Claddagh mean?

The Claddagh ring is a traditional Irish design that belongs to a group of European finger rings known as ‘fede‘ or faith rings. The elements of a Claddagh ring represent the qualities of love (the heart), loyalty (the crown), and friendship (the hands). The three motifs included in the Claddagh ring are a cohesive representation of commitment and enduring love. As a result, it is one of the most popular designs for wedding, engagement, pledges, and vow rings since they are tangible symbols of promises of love and friendship.

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Ancient Egyptians believed in the power and symbolism of the ring. They interpreted the circular object with no end as symbolizing love and eternal love, while the space at the center representing a doorway to worlds unknown. Similarly, Greeks exchanged these rings as a sign of loyalty and endless love.

However, ancient Romans are the first to link rings to matrimony, with the most popular wedding ring being the fede ring. It had two hands clutched together to show the commitment to honor and love each other. In Latin, the act of exchanging rings is known as dextrarum iunctio. Over time, these matrimonial rings became quite common throughout Europe in the Middle Ages.

As times changed, the designs and shapes of wedding rings also changed over time. After the rise of Christianity, crosses and other holy symbols were used to show that Jesus has blessed the union. The Claddagh ring is one of the many variations of wedding rings, with its first appearance dating back to the 17th century in Claddagh in Count Galway, Ireland.

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Several stories explain the discovery of the Claddagh ring. One of the most memorable ones is that of the Joyce family. Richard Joyce, a silversmith in the 1700s, is said to have his initials marked on the oldest dated Claddagh ring.  The story goes that Algerians captured Joyce and sold to a Moorish goldsmith, who was looking for an apprentice. He noticed Joyce’s skills and began teaching him his craft.

In 1689 and after 14 years of slavery, Joyce was freed after William III dispatched an ambassador to Algeria to urge the release of all British subjects. Joyce’s owner offered Joyce his only daughter in marriage and half of his wealth if only he would remain in Algeria. Joyce declined the offer as he was quite eager to return to his home in Galway. Upon his return, he set up a jewelry business, where he created his most famous design, the Claddagh ring.

Another popular version of the story linked to the name Joyce revolves around Margaret Joyce, a woman from the Joyce clan. According to the tale, she married Domingo de Rona, a Spanish merchant, and they went to live together in Spain. After a while, her husband passed on and left her a large sum of money. She returned to Ireland and married the mayor of Galway, Oliver Ogffrench, in 1596. With her inheritance money, she funded various projects in Galway, like the construction of the bridges in Connacht. It is said that one day, the Claddagh ring landed on her lap after it was dropped by an eagle as a reward for all her charitable deeds.

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The tale of a prince who fell madly in love with an ordinary maid is also told to explain the Claddagh ring’s origin. The prince had to convince his father that his feelings for the maid were genuine, and he had no intention to use the girl. He opted to design a ring with two hands clasping together to show friendship, a heart to represent love, and a crown representing loyalty. He proposed to the common maid with this ring, and when his father heard the meaning behind the ring, he gave his blessing. Regardless of the story, you hear about the origin of the Claddagh ring, there is no doubt that the Claddagh ring is the ultimate symbol of eternal love.  

How are you supposed to wear a Claddagh ring?

There are several variations on how to wear the Claddagh ring, mainly intending to convey the wearer’s relationship status. By learning how to wear the Claddagh ring correctly, you can avoid giving off mixed signals and any unwarranted stares from people who understand the meaning of the ring. Here are four ways to wear the Claddagh ring properly.

  • If you wear it on your right hand with the heart facing inwards towards the wearer, it shows that the wearer is in a relationship
  • If you wear it on your right hand with the heart’s point directed away from the wearer, it shows the wearer is not in a relationship
  • If you wear it on your left hand with the point of the heart facing the wearer’s hand, it means the wearer is married
  • If you wear the ring on your left hand with the point of the heart facing away from the wearer, it shows that the wearer is engaged in a long-lasting partnership

How do I know if my Claddagh ring is real?

The Claddagh ring is a timeless symbol of endless love, loyalty, and friendship. The ring has grown in popularity over the years due to its unique design, sentimental appeal, peculiar history, and close connection with the little ancient fishing village of Claddagh in Galway.

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The ring has distinctive features that set it apart from other ring Designs and styles. It has two hands clutching a heart with a surmounted crown on it. There may also exist a more modern design of the ring that exists without the crown. However, it has not reached the level of popularity of the crowned Claddagh ring. Claddagh rings are common among the Irish, Irish Americans, and other people who enjoy the Irish heritage and culture.

Conclusion

Now that you know the history, meaning, and origin of Claddagh rings, you can now look forward to wearing them with pride and confidence. Do not forget how to wear them appropriately. Many celebrities, including Princess Grace of Monaco, Queen Victoria, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, have worn these rings. Similarly, many people also pass these rings down from one generation to the next, usually from a mother to her daughter or her daughter-in-law.

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