If you have come across a ring that has the symbol of two hands holding a crowned heart, then you have interacted with a Claddagh ring.
Claddagh ring has increased in popularity over generations due to its unique and beautiful meaning.
Maybe your Irish roots have you well-versed on what the ring is, its history, meaning, and usage, or you have no idea what the hype concerning this ring is all about.
Either way, if you are interested in knowing more about this unique jewelry, this article will provide you with the little-known Claddagh ring story that might interest you.
What is a Claddagh Ring?
A Claddagh ring, or fáinne Chladaigh in Irish, is a ring that dates back to the 16th century in Irish traditions.
The ring comprises the simple marriage of three symbols, the heart, a crown, and hands, with the two hands holding a crowned heart, making the design unique and timeless.
The ring symbolizes love, patience, and endurance and can be used as a promise ring, friendship ring, engagement, or wedding ring, depending on how the accessory is worn.
The Claddagh ring can be classified under the fede rings, a category of European finger rings. This name comes from an Italian term, mani in fede, which means hands that are put together in faith or loyalty.
The Claddagh ring is classified under this group of finger rings due to the two hands that hold the crowned heart.
Origins and history
There are different tales and stories about the origin of the Claddagh ring. However, it is almost certain that it is rooted in Claddagh, a small fishing village in Galway.
The most popular origin story which has been passed down through generations is a romantic story that involves Richard Joyce, a fisherman from Claddagh.
Legend has it that Richard Joyce was about to get married but was captured by Algerian pirates when fishing and sold as a slave. A renowned goldsmith from Morocco bought Richard Joyce. He portrayed his passion and potential to become a goldsmith, and his enslaver trained him in the craft.
With time, Richard Joyce gained craftsman skills and became proficient in jewelry-making. He did not forget the girl he was about to marry before being captured, and with her in his mind and wishing that she would wait for him, he crafted a ring that became the first Claddagh ring.
The ring features a heart that signified his love for the woman he left behind, two hands holding the heart that portray friendship, and a crown on the heart to symbolize his loyalty to his lover and his lover’s loyalty to waiting for him when he was in slavery.
Richard Joyce soon became a free man after King William III declared the release of all enslaved people. His Moorish master, impressed by his skills, did not want to let him go and asked him to marry his daughter and get half of his wealth if he did not return to his country.
Richard Joyce declined the proposition and returned to his country. When he found that his lover had waited for him all that time, he gave her the Claddagh ring he had specially fashioned for her, and they got married.
Today, the Claddagh ring has become popular worldwide, and its simplicity and the meaning it conveys make it a worthy and perfect gift for a loved one. Although it is rooted in Irish heritage, the Claddagh ring is now recognized worldwide, and people still attach the original meaning to it.
The Meaning of the Claddagh Ring
The meaning of the Claddagh ring is summarized in the phrase Love, Loyalty, and Friendship. The ring’s one-of-a-kind design combines three symbols.
The first is the heart which represents love; the second is the crown which represents loyalty; and the last is the hands which stand for friendship.
The Claddagh ring’s versatility allows its one-of-a-kind design to achieve a worldwide fan base as a symbol of love and friendship.
The ring is mainly given to a partner in celebration of romantic love. For instance, it can be offered to you, or you can offer it to the love of your life as an engagement, a wedding, or a promise ring.
In addition, you can wear a Claddagh ring to symbolize enduring friendship. Many people also wear the ring to remember their trip to Ireland or to remind them of their Irish heritage.
Undoubtedly, the Claddagh ring’s creator drew his inspiration from the Roman “Fede” or “Gimmel” rings. The two ancient ring designs have the heart and hand features; however, the crown feature present in the Irish Claddagh ring is absent on the Fede and Gimmel rings.
Usage and symbolism in fashion and jewelry
The Claddagh ring’s unique and mesmerizing design boasts two hands holding a heart. A crown surmounts the latter. As was mentioned earlier, the heart symbolizes love, the hands friendship, and the crown loyalty.
The jeweler may at times omit the crown feature when crafting a “Fenian” Claddagh ring, a different take on the ring’s design. However, the crownless design is yet to achieve the worldwide popularity that its predecessor (the crowned version) boasts.
Many Irish people or those with an Irish heritage own or wear Claddagh rings as a cultural symbol as well as an engagement, wedding, or friendship ring.
Sometimes people use Claddagh rings as friendship rings; however, most of them are used as engagement or wedding rings. The rings are also inherited by daughters from their mothers when the former is mature enough to get married.
The ring is associated with some wishes and mottos, the most popular being “Let love and friendship reign.” In Ireland and the Irish diaspora, the ring may sometimes be passed down from grandma to granddaughter or mother to the oldest daughter.
The Claddagh ring is worn to convey a certain message about a person’s relationship status or stage in the marriage process, as detailed below;
- When the wearer is single and looking for love, the Claddagh ring is worn on the right hand, with the heart’s lower side facing the tip of the finger.
- When someone has captured the wearer’s heart, the Claddagh ring is worn on the right hand with the heart’s lower side facing the wrist to symbolize that they are in a relationship.
- When the Claddagh ring’s wearer, the ring is worn on the left hand’s ring finger with the heart’s lower side facing the finger’s tip.
- When the Claddagh ring’s wearer is married, the ring is worn on the left hand’s ring finger with the lower side of the heart facing the wrist.
However, there are some variations in Ireland and the Irish diaspora concerning the hand or finger on which you should wear the Claddagh ring.
Folklore on the Claddagh ring is contemporary; there is little ancient and native Irish writing on the renowned ring.
Therefore, it is difficult to find a source that gives a good explanation of how you should wear the ring traditionally.
The Claddagh ring is a traditional Irish ring that dates many years back. It is a family heirloom in Ireland as it holds significant history.
While some people wear the ring to honor their Irish heritage, others attach different meanings to it; for instance, it is used to symbolize relationship status.
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