It is often the case where the magnitude of marriage does not dawn on the happy couple until the moment they exchange wedding rings. These rings have a deep symbolic meaning and are seen as a means of ‘connecting’ the couple and sealing the marriage.
Few rings possess a greater symbolic virtue than Claddagh wedding rings which are known to represent loyalty, friendship and above all, love. This is seen in the Claddagh ring design where the crown equates to loyalty, the hands mean friendship and the heart of course represents love.
This ring gets its name from the small fishing village of Claddagh in Galway.
History of Claddagh Rings
First, we briefly discuss one legend associated with Claddagh rings. It is said that a goldsmith called Richard Joyce fell in love with a young woman in his village during the 17th century. They were to be married but he was captured by Moor pirates en-route to the West Indies.
Joyce was sold into slavery to an Algerian goldsmith but managed to gain his freedom through diplomacy. Before leaving, Joyce’s former master offered his daughter and a huge sum of money in return for the Irishman remaining and creating more Claddagh rings.
However, Joyce followed his heart and returned home to marry his beloved. The ring he crafted for their wedding ceremony was the Claddagh ring we know today.
Whatever tales there may be, the reality is that Claddagh rings were created in Galway in the 17th century. They belong to European ‘fede rings’ which comes from the phrase ‘mani in fede’, Italian for ‘hands joined in faith (or loyalty)’. Bartholomew Fallon was one of the earliest known makers of Claddagh rings.
Claddagh Ring Symbolism
While Claddagh rings are often used to symbolize friendship, they are becoming one of the most popular wedding rings available. You may not be aware of it but there are four different methods of wearing a Claddagh ring, each of which displays your availability or lack of. This means you better be careful when wearing one! If the Claddagh ring is on:
The right hand and the heart faces outwards, it means the wearer is single and looking for a mate
The right hand with the heart turned inwards, it means the wearer’s heart has been captured because they are in a relationship
The left hand with the heart turned out, this means that the wearer is unavailable because they are engaged
The left hand with the heart facing in, this means the wearer is married
There is only one true form of Claddagh ring so beware imitations! Jewellery makers around the world are trying to create new designs while still keeping the meaning and tradition intact. One such variation involves two hearts on the ring instead of one while another type of ring is lacking a crown. These may be chic and fashionable but do not mistake them for the real thing.
Remember, Claddagh rings are worn because of their significance rather than as a display of wealth. Therefore, you can purchase beautiful rings in silver instead of spending a small fortune on gold.
Above all, Claddagh rings help to create a close bond between two people regardless of their geographic location. They are a wonderful example of Irish spiritualism and are the perfect wedding rings for devoted couples.