The claddagh ring is the most well known of Celtic style jewelry. It is a traditional Irish ring given as a symbol of friendship, love, promise to wed (often called a “promise ring’), engagement, or marriage. Steeped in Irish history and tradition, with a genuine way of honoring heritage, a claddagh ring has incredible depth of meaning and is a treasure frequently passed from one generation to the next.
What is a Claddagh Ring?
A classic claddagh ring depicts two hands clasping a heart, topped by a crown. The symbolism in the claddagh ring is that the heart represents love, the hands friendship, and the crown loyalty, for the ultimate depiction of commitment.
How a Claddagh Ring is Worn
In addition to its unique design attributes, there is great symbolism in how a claddagh ring is worn. Traditionally, facing out on the right hand indicates romantic availability, while facing in signifies you’re in a relationship. Facing out on the left hand means you’re engaged, and facing in lets the world know you are married.
Claddagh Ring Styles
The most traditional claddagh rings are crafted from precious metal and unadorned with diamonds or other gemstones. These more simple designs are often gifted from parent to child and can become a family heirloom.
Contemporary designs of the claddagh ring may include one or more diamonds or gemstones. Sometimes the traditional heart shape is represented with a round diamond or other gemstone, and accented with other gemstones throughout the ring design. One example of this is to represent the claddagh “hands” with deep green emeralds, to signify Irish heritage.
Claddagh rings can be as streamlined or elaborate as you want. Some prefer an understated look, while others seek out sparkle. We often see the claddagh as an inspiration to design a completely custom engagement ring. Our custom jewelry design experts have helped thousands of couples design the custom ring of their dreams, and custom claddagh rings are exceptionally popular.
History of Claddagh Rings
The claddagh ring originated in the Irish fishing village of Claddagh, located just outside the city of Galway. The name comes from the phrase “an cladach,” which means “flat stony shore.” The ring was first produced in the 17th century, although elements of its design may date back to the Roman period. There is very little native Irish writing about claddagh rings—what we know about these rings is from oral storytelling and folklore. Most legends attached to the origins of the claddagh ring point to a man named Richard Joyce, a silversmith from Galway circa 1700 who is said to have created the design.
Many different people enjoy wearing claddagh rings. Though it is the most popular Irish wedding ring and is deeply rooted in Irish tradition, the meaning and significance of claddagh rings extends far beyond Ireland. A claddagh ring is a special gift that can change in meaning over time, synchronizing with changes in a person’s romantic availability. The claddagh ring has been spotted on a number of celebrities, including Julia Roberts, Sienna Miller, and Tim Morrison.
Other Traditional Irish Jewelry
The claddagh and other Celtic inspired rings are as popular today as they ever have been. Brilliant Earth offers a variety of Celtic inspired rings that take a modern approach to classic Celtic symbolism. Inspired by legacy and tradition, our Celtic engagement rings are infused with contemporary style and a fresh sensibility. These meaningful beauties are among our most popular selections.
When incorporated into rings, Celtic love knots are associated with eternal love, making them a perfect choice for sacred, enduring vows. Our cherished Luxe Celtic Love Knot Ring represents two souls bound together by everlasting love, and makes a stunning statement.
Whether you choose a traditional claddagh ring or a Celtic inspired design with a contemporary twist, Brilliant Earth is able to help you create something that gives a nod to heritage, represents your sentiments, and is truly unique.