The use of symbolism has been an important part of adornment back to our earliest ancestors. Many symbols continue to be used in jewellery today. One of our favourites is the Irish Claddagh.
What is a Claddagh ring?
The ring has a design of a heart with a crown encircled by a pair of hands. By tradition the ring is taken to signify the wish that love and friendship should reign supreme.
The hands signify friendship,
the crown symbolises loyalty,
and the heart is love.
Today, the Claddagh ring is popular both as a friendship ring or wedding ring.
How will you wear your Cladddagh?
Worn on the right hand with the heart turned outwards shows the wearer is "fancy free", worn on the left hand with the heart turned inwards denotes the wearer is "spoken for".
But where did it all begin?
The original Claddagh ring is generally attributed to Richard Joyce of Galway, Ireland. Joyce departed from Claddagh, a small fishing village, on a ship enroute to the plantations in the West Indies. His ship was captured by pirates and the crew were sold as slaves; Richard Joyce was sold to a goldsmith who trained him in the craft.
Ricard soon became a master in his trade and crafted a ring for his true love at home who he could not forget. In 1689 William III came to the throne and negotiated the release of his subjects held in slavery. The goldsmith offered Richard his only daughter and half of his wealth if he would stay in Algiers. Richard declined and returned home to seek the woman of his heart. She had waited for his return. Richard gave her the ring and they were married.
Richard set up a goldsmith shop in the town of Claddagh. The earliest Claddagh rings bear his mark and the initial letters of his name RI.
There are many other legends about the Claddagh ring...