The Claddagh Ring Tradition
What IS a Claddagh Ring?
A Claddagh ring is a traditional Irish ring, representing love, loyalty, and friendship. It is made up of three key parts: hands symbolizing friendship, a heart symbolizing love, and the crown representing loyalty above all. As you can see, the hands hold the heart between them, and the crown sits atop the heart. This is the distinct style that makes up a Claddagh Ring.
Claddagh Ring History
The Claddagh ring is a variant on the traditional European ‘fede’ rings. A fede ring is made to look like two hands clasping together, representing love, betrothal, or even just friendship. This style dates all the way back to Roman times!
It wasn’t until the Middle Ages, around the 12th century, that this style was brought back into popularity and has steadily increased in usages since. It wasn’t for another 500 years until the modern claddagh was made.
Beginning in the early 18th century, jewelers in England and Ireland began to create fede rings with the hands, heart, and crown symbols in them. This became particularly popular in a small fishing town in Galway, Ireland – Claddagh. While these rings were consistently made and popular in this area, it wasn’t until 1830 that the name Claddagh was applied to the style of rings.
The rings have seen considerable popularity amongst the Irish and those of Irish heritage like many Irish Americans.
How to Wear a Claddagh Ring
Along with its distinct design and structure, Claddagh rings also have traditional meanings behind the way it is worn. Depending on finger, hand, and orientation of the ring, the relationship status of the one wearing it is represented. Traditionally, those are as follows:
- If worn on the left hand, ring finger with the point of the heart pointing toward the fingertip, the wearer is engaged.
- If worn on the left hand, ring finger with the point of the heart toward the wrist, the wearer is already married.
- If worn on the right hand with the point of the heard facing toward the fingertips, the wearer is denoting that they are single and just might be looking for love!
- If worn on the right hand, but this time with the point of the heart toward the wrist, they are in a relationship.
The traditions surrounding a claddagh ring can vary from family to family. For instance, some will pass down the same ring from mother to daughter, or grandmother to granddaughter, while others it is seen as a gift to be given by their love.
Some may make a note that the ‘tradition’ is a modern day one, and that there is very little folklore behind the ring. The truth of the matter is that it is a style of ring meaning friendship, love, and loyalty dating back thousands of years, gaining new meaning and new styles as it has evolved through the years.
If you are in the market for an engagement ring but would rather have something a bit unconventional while still traditional, (and if you happen to have Irish blood!) a Claddagh ring might be just what you are looking for. If the intricacies and detail of the symbols in the ring speak to you, then making a custom piece is what you are after. Either way, contact us at Stewart Kuper Jewelers and together we can help find your perfect treasure.