This Irish symbol of love, loyalty and friendship has many stories of its origin. No one really knows where or how it came into being. Our favorite goes something like this:
“There once was a handsome Irish king, who fell in love with a beautiful princess of a nearby kingdom. To show his love and devotion, he created a gold ring for her. He told her that the heart represented their undying love. The hands were for the friendship they shared. The crown showed his unyielding loyalty.
With such romantic sentiment the beautiful princess could not deny the king. The couple became engaged, eventually married and lived happily ever after.”
In reality the Claddagh ring can only be traced back to about 1700 to an area of Galway called Claddagh. They have been produced there consistently ever since. The designation “Claddagh ring” did not start until over half a century later, around 1840.
The Claddagh is a variation on what are known as “fede rings.” These rings are cast metal of clasped hands meant to symbolize a pledged vow. Fede rings date back to the Romans and were used throughout Medieval Europe as engagement rings.
If you own a Claddagh ring, there are 4 ways in which to wear it. Each one has a different meaning.
If the heart is pointing out toward the fingertips, it means that the wearer is single or their heart is open to love.
To wear the heart pointed inwards, towards the heart, it means that you are taken or your heart has been captured.
If the heart is pointing towards the fingertips, the wearer is engaged.
To have the heart pointing in means that the wearer is married.
Like many traditional symbols, you can now find the Claddagh in many forms and not just as jewelry. It also gained popularity outside the Irish community due to its appearance on the popular show Buffy the Vampire Slayer.