Claddagh wedding ring sets are being used across the world by couples pledging their love. The Claddagh ring has been the traditional wedding ring of the Irish since the 17th century and has become a universal symbol of love, loyalty, friendship, and fidelity.
The traditional ring is made up of two hands holding a heart that wears a crown. The heart is worn for love, the hands are worn for friendship, and the crown is worn for loyalty and lasting fidelity.
The phrase associated with the giving of the ring is: "With my hands I give you my heart, and crown it with my love."
The marital status of the person wearing the Irish Claddagh ring is shown by the way it is worn. When it is worn on the right hand with the crown and heart facing outward and away from the body, the wearer's heart is yet to be won. When it is worn on the right hand with the heart and crown facing inward, the wearer is "under love's spell"; they are in a relationship. When the ring is worn on the left hand with the crown and heart facing outward away from the body, the wearer is engaged. When the ring is worn on the left hand facing inward, the person's heart is happily taken in marriage.
The history of the Claddagh ring begins in a small fishing village outside Galway in western Ireland. One legend has it that the town of Claddagh developed the ring to be worn by the fisherman and sailors so they could be identified in case of shipwreck or other fatal accident.
Another version of the Claddagh ring's origin is the story about the sixteenth century philanthropist named Margaret Joyce. She inherited money from her first husband and used it to build bridges from Galway to Sligo in Ireland. Because of Margaret's generosity, an eagle flew over and dropped the original Claddagh ring into her lap.
The most romantic Claddagh ring story is that Richard Joyce from Claddagh was captured by pirates on his way to the West Indies. He was taken into slavery and worked as a goldsmith. He became a master at the trade and made a ring for the woman he loved back in County Galway. When William III became king of England, he released Joyce and others from slavery. When Richard Joyce went home, he found that the woman he loved was still waiting for him. They married and she wore the Claddagh ring as her wedding band.
The Claddagh ring left Ireland on the hands of many who emigrated during the Irish famine. The rings were kept as heirlooms and were passed with pride from mother to daughter to use as Irish wedding rings.
There are many types of Claddagh wedding ring sets today. The traditional Claddagh ring has developed into a "ladies" version and a "gents" version. Some couples use the simple ring on its own as a wedding ring.
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In more elaborate Claddagh rings, diamonds, emeralds, and other precious stones are inlaid in many beautiful combinations.
Some Claddagh wedding ring sets are shaped as a wedding band with the Claddagh emblem set into the band. Some versions include celtic scroll patterns as well. Diamonds have been inlaid in some of the sets.
Some of the most excusive Claddagh wedding ring sets combine the traditional rings with corresponding bands, often with inlaid diamonds and other gems on both rings.
Claddagh Jewellers is a retail store based in Galway, Ireland since 1967. The have been trading online since 1996. I have visited their store in Galway and have been impressed with their quality and service. You can find their online store at the Claddagh Jewellers website.
You may want to show your Irish heritage or your appreciation of the ideals of love, loyalty, friendship, and fidelity by proudly joining those who wear the Irish Claddagh ring.