What is a Claddagh Ring and how to wear it?

What is a Claddagh Ring

Even if you haven’t heard the term “Claddagh ring” before, you’ve almost certainly seen one.

The Claddagh ring is one of the most recognizable symbols of Ireland. But even if you aren’t Irish, you just might find that the history and meaning of this design capture your heart!

What is a Claddagh Ring?

A Claddagh ring comes in silver or gold, and it’s in the shape of two hands holding the sides of a heart. The heart is topped with a crown. Traditionally, the rings have been used as wedding rings or gifted in the spirit of love or friendship.

Typical Designs and Materials

What is a Claddagh Ring and how to wear it?

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Most Claddagh rings have the same hands/heart/crown design, but the materials used vary greatly. Many Claddagh rings have a basic all-metal design, but some are inlaid with precious stones like diamond, sapphire, ruby, and opal. 

The bands themselves can be made of sterling silver or gold, although gold is the traditional material. If you’re looking for a more valuable ring, you can choose one that’s been inlaid with precious stones.

One common inlay is emerald. This is a common choice of wedding ring for couples of Irish descent. The inlay signifies that the wearer is descended from Ireland, also sometimes called the Emerald Isle.

Or if you’re looking for a more traditional wedding ring, you might prefer a ring with a diamond inlay instead.

You may also be able to find other gemstones used as inlays. Sapphires, opals, and rubies are a few examples. The stones are usually inlaid in the heart. But in some cases, the crown of the ring is made of jewels instead.

Claddagh Ring History

Like many centuries-old symbols, the Claddagh ring doesn’t have a clear origin story. But the most likely story involves a man from the village of Claddagh (now a part of Galway).

The man, Richard Joyce, was kidnapped by Algerian pirates in the 1600s and forced to be a slave.

While in captivity, Joyce became a skilled goldsmith. He made a ring to present to his lover when they were reunited. The ring included three symbols:  clasped hands (friendship), heart (love), and crown (loyalty).

Joyce was released in 1698 and gave his lover the ring. She later wore it as a wedding ring.

It’s also likely that the design of the Claddagh ring was inspired by the fede ring, a design that originated with the ancient Greeks and Romans.

The name of this ring comes from the Italian “mani in fede” or “hands clasped in faith.” It’s a simple design featuring two clasped hands.

Claddagh Ring Curse

Some people claim that it’s bad luck to purchase your own Claddagh ring, as the ring has traditionally been given as a sign of love or friendship.

However, plenty of other people claim that this “Claddagh ring curse” is simply a myth, as people around the world purchase the ring and wear it as a sign of Irish pride.

Claddagh Ring Meaning

What does the Claddagh ring mean? We already saw that the three symbols on the Claddagh ring stand for love, friendship, and loyalty. Nowadays people around the world also purchase the ring and wear it as a sign of Irish pride.

  • Clasped hands: Friendship
  • Heart: Love
  • Crown: Loyalty

But what does it mean to flip a Claddagh ring?

Flipping the ring has its own meaning as well. When the ring is worn with the heart facing outward (with the crown facing toward the wearer), it signals that the wearer is romantically unattached.

On the other hand, if the ring is flipped so the crown faces out and the heart faces inward, it indicates that the wearer is romantically attached or even engaged.

But as we’ll see in a moment, there are a few other rules and meanings behind this ring.

How to Wear a Claddagh Ring?

If you already have a Claddagh ring or are thinking of buying one, you probably want to make sure you wear it correctly according to the Claddagh ring rules.

What finger do you wear a Claddagh ring on?

There are no specific guidelines as to what finger you wear it on. However, many people opt to wear it on the ring finger.

Here are the 4 main ways to wear it:

Claddagh ring rulesHeart facing outwardHeart facing inward
The right handRomantically availableIn a relationship
The left handEngagedMarried

1. On the right hand with the heart facing outward:

This indicates that the wearer is romantically available. This shows the world that you’re open to finding love and that your heart is available to give to another person.

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2. On the right hand with the heart facing inward:

This indicates the wearer is in a relationship or otherwise romantically unavailable. When you’ve found someone special and made a commitment to date them, turn the ring around so that the heart points toward the center of your hand. 

3. On the ring finger of the left hand with the heart facing outward:

This indicates that the wearer is engaged. Facing the heart out shows that you’re committed, but you still haven’t tied the knot.

4. On the ring finger of the left hand with the heart facing inward:

This indicates the wearer is married. The heart faces in to show that you are in a permanent relationship and that your heart has been captured. The ring is reversed during the wedding ceremony.

Bride or groom? Or both?

Interestingly enough, both brides and grooms wear Claddagh rings. Some couples even shop for Claddagh rings together and then exchange them!

How to wear a Claddagh ring if married?

If you are married, according to the rules you are supposed to wear the ring on the ring finger of the left hand with the heart facing inward.

How Much is a Claddagh Ring?

Claddagh rings come in virtually every price range. Sterling silver rings can be found for $50 or less. Solid gold rings usually cost a few hundred dollars. But once you start adding precious gems like diamonds, emeralds, and rubies, the price can reach tens of thousands! If you’re curious about how much a typical ring will cost you, explore this Claddagh Ring collection from experienced designers and jewelers.

Where to Buy a Claddagh Ring?

If you want to buy a Claddagh ring ranging from $20-$300, you can check Etsy. You can buy handmade gold or silver Claddagh rings with diamond, sapphire, ruby, or opal that are affordable and of high quality, and have them delivered to your house fast.

If you want to go fully authentic, you can find a Claddagh ring from the original maker, Thomas Dillon. Authentic Thomas Dillon Claddagh rings have “original” stamped on the inside. And since the company is the original manufacturer of the rings, they are the only ones with the right to that stamp.

However, jewelers all over the world offer their own takes on this classic design. Nearly every jeweler is likely to have one. Shopping for one online or in person is quite simple!

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This article is originally published on Rosery Poetry.

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