The Meaning of Claddagh Ring: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the meaning of the claddagh ring? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the claddagh ring, including its meaning, history, usage, and more!

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What is a claddagh ring?

According to Claddagh Design and Mountz Jewelers, a claddagh ring is a traditional Irish piece of jewelry. In Gaelic, this is known as the fáinne Chladaigh, and can also be known as a cladach or fede rings from the Italian phrase. The claddagh ring has three distinctive symbols on it: the band, which has two clasped hands that come together to hold the crown. These represent friendship. Second, there is the crown, which represents royalty and loyalty. The crown rests upon a heart, which is the central feature of the ring, representing love. This ring originated in the 17th century in Galway, Ireland.

Claddagh rings can be used for a variety of different uses. People can even use claddagh rings for an engagement or wedding ring. The claddagh ring can be worn in four different ways, which all represent different relationship statuses by the wearer. These are determined by the direction the point of the heart is facing, and which hand it is worn on.

If you wear your claddagh ring on the ring finger of your left hand with the heart facing you and the crown on the outside, this means that you are married. If you wear the claddagh on the ring finger of your left hand, but with the heart facing away from you and the crown closest to the base of the finger, this means you are engaged. If you wear the claddagh ring on the ring finger of your right hand with the heart facing you and closest to the base of the finger, this means that you are in a relationship, or dating someone casually or seriously. Finally, if you wear the claddagh on the ring finger of  your right hand with the heart pointing outward and the crown closest to the base of the finger, this means you are single and open to a relationship. The direction of the ring is the most important, but it can be worn on any finger depending on how you think it looks or which finger it fits the best. There is no wrong or right way when it comes to the finger you wear the claddagh on.

This piece of Celtic jewelry has been worn by many celebrities, royalty, politicians, and featured in film and television series. This ring was featured in the 1990s cult television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The titular character received a claddagh from her vampire boyfriend Angel. Soon after, the couple said I love you. This ring was also featured in the soap opera Days of Our Lives. It has been worn by  Queen Victoria of England, King Edward VII and his wife Queen Alexandra, Grace Kelly, the princess of Monaco, and her husband Prince Rainier, President John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Winston Churchill, Julia Roberts, Tate Donovan, Jennifer Aniston, and Sienna Miller have all worn claddagh rings. Someone might choose to give their only daughter a claddagh ring that the daughter’s hand can wear forever, or opt for claddagh wedding rings if they have a special meaning in the relationship. 

What is the history of the claddagh ring?

According to Mountz Jewelers and Thomas Dillon’s Claddagh Gold, the claddagh originated in the fishing village by the shore, or Claddagh, of Galway Bay. The ancient village of Claddagh was outside the city walls and separated by the River Corrib. This was home to an exclusive community of  fisherfolk who were forbidden to use spades or hoes. They were ruled by a king of sorts, who was the only one allowed to use a white sail on his fishing hooker. The design of the claddagh ring is associated with the Joyce family, one of the Tribes of Galway. 

The Joyces were a prominent fishing family in the 1600s. One of the most famous was Margaret Joyce who married a wealthy Spaniard named Domingo de Rona, a Spanish merchant. When he died, she used his fortune to build bridges in the Province of Connacht. She later married the Mayor of Galway Oliver of French. Legend has it, an eagle dropped a gold ring into her lap.  In actuality, Richard Joyce was captured by Algerian corsairs and pirates and sold as a slave on his way to the West Indies. The Moorish goldsmith who bought him as a slave trained him in jewelry making. When he returned to Galway after being rescued by King William III who sent an ambassador to Algeria to release the slaves, he became a goldsmith and silversmith, and the claddagh motif is attributed to him. 

The ring has evolved in design over time. They were largely traditionally used for engagement and wedding rings in Renaissance Europe. Now, various interpretations of the design are made for men and women. There are now more classic designs as well as modern ones with stones. Irish superstition says it is bad luck to purchase a Claddagh ring for oneself, but people today largely do not bother with this tradition. 

Overall, a claddagh ring is a traditional Irish ring that can be used as an engagement ring, wedding ring, or worn generally. These are mostly worn by people or Irish heritage, but are worn by people of other cultures as well. These originated in the fishing village of Claddagh in Galway, Ireland. The Irish claddagh ring is a symbol of a person’s relationship status depending on the point of the heart facing in toward the wrist or out toward the fingertips, and by being worn on the right or left ring finger.

Sources:

  1. Everything You Need to Know About the Claddagh Ring | Mountz Jewelers 
  2. History of The Claddagh Ring | Thomas Dillon Galway