Some of the most beloved styles of Irish jewelry are the Claddagh rings. It is said that the heart on the ring is representative of love, while the hands are for friendship and the crown shows loyalty. The quote that goes along with the symbols is “In my hands I hold your heart, crowning it with all my love”. This particular style of ring is often given to a loved one as a promise ring, an engagement ring or a wedding ring. It is said that the proper way to wear this ring is with the symbols facing inward for those who are in a relationship.
There are a couple of stories passed down through the years of the origin of the Claddagh rings. Both of these stories date back well over three hundred years ago and originate from the tiny village of Claddagh in Ireland. This village was a fishing village and the name itself meant a flat stony shore. One thought is that a woman by the name of Margaret Joyce used a great deal of her inherited wealth to build necessary bridges in Connacht. It is believed that the ring was a gift and a reward to her for her generosity and that it dropped in her lap from a passing eagle.
Another possible explanation for the history and development of the Claddagh rings was that they came from a man named Richard Joyce. It is thought that this man was kidnapped by Algerians who then sold the man as a slave to a goldsmith. Some say that in 1689 William III demanded that all British subjects be released including Richard Joyce. The goldsmith that purchased Richard Joyce wanted him to stay so badly that he offered the many a substantial amount of wealth and his daughter’s hand in marriage to do so. The many refused and returned home with the Claddagh ring.
Whatever story you believe about the origin of the Claddagh rings it is easy to see why they are so popular. These rings are filled with history and symbolization like few others making them a much sought after and regularly worn style of ring. These rings have even become extremely popular in the United States. Many individuals find them to be both beautiful and meaningful. The rings typically are made in both silver and gold and are worn by both men and women. The rings can be enhanced by adding such things as gems to reflect birth stones and diamonds.