Hands symbolize friendship,
the crown loyalty, and the
heart, eternal love.
The beautiful and meaningful claddagh ring!
There's romance in this promise of eternal love and loyalty.
It was legendary Irish goldsmith Richard Joyce who who took the ancient signifiers of hands (friendship), crown (loyalty), and heart (true love) and forged them into the romantic symbol of love that we know today.
As much as anything, Joyce's own love story remains wrapped up in the legend of the claddagh ring as solidly as the gold from which it is made.
The story of the claddagh ring - a tale of adventure and romance
The modern symbol we now know today as the claddagh ring was said to have been first lovingly cast by Richard Joyce some 400 years ago in the Irish fishing village off Claddagh in County Galway.
As a young and adventurous lad, Joyce promised his sweetheart that he would return to Claddagh after first ensuring his fortune in the West Indies.
Along the way, Joyce was captured by pirates on the high seas, and then sold to a Moorish goldsmith who taught him the art of jewelry making. Obtaining his freedom, Joyce later made the arduous journey home to Ireland to find his sweetheart still waiting for him! Shortly thereafter, he famously fashioned the ring that would symbolize his everlasting love and fidelity.
The story of their romance soon spread throughout Galway and the whole of Ireland. Centuries past when as a result of the Irish potato famine, a great wave of immigration lovingly introduced the claddagh ring tradition to America.
How to wear the Claddagh ring
In association with the legend, socially acceptable rules about the claddagh ring and the wearer's "availability" have been handed down through generations as well:
• For those who are "going-a-courting" the Claddagh ring is worn on the right hand, with the heart facing outwards -- to show that their heart has not yet been taken.
• For those who are promised to one person alone, the ring is worn on the right hand, with the heart facing inwards -- to show someone has captured their hearts.
• For those who are betrothed in marriage, the ring is worn with the heart facing inwards as a wedding ring and transfered to the left hand.