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The History and Traditions of Irish Engagement Rings

Irish Engagement Rings


You don’t have to be from the Emerald Isle to love Irish engagement rings. These beautiful, detailed rings are overflowing with history and symbolism, making them highly sought after for their enchanting appeal.

Irish engagement rings encompass a wide array of designs, from the knots and braids of the ancient Celts to the more recent style of Claddagh rings. If you are looking for a ring that symbolizes enduring love, these Irish rings are the perfect choice.

There are two main styles of Irish engagement rings. The first is the ever popular Claddagh ring. This ring can be worn four different ways throughout a lifetime, and they make beautiful family heirlooms. The second style features mesmerizing Celtic knots. These knots are looping and infinite, representing an endless path or never-ending love. These styles are beloved as engagement rings because of their romantic symbolism and charming designs.

Claddagh Engagement Rings

Though rings with Claddagh-type elements have reportedly been in existence for thousands of years, the traditional Claddagh ring was rumored to be created in 1700 by a young Irish man by the name of Richard Joyce. Joyce supposedly learned his trade of crafting fine jewelry overseas, but returned home to Ireland to marry his sweetheart and set up a jewelry shop selling the first Claddagh rings.

There are quite a few legends such as this, so jewelry experts continue to disagree on the Claddagh ring’s true origin. For the foreseeable future it will remain shrouded in mystery, making Claddagh rings even more desirable.

Claddagh rings follow a simple style guide. At the top of the band, two hands clasp a heart, and on top of that heart is a crown. Once again, what these three images symbolize is not official, but this ambiguity allows you and your partner to create your own meaning.

Claddagh Ring Styles

Simple Claddagh rings are made of precious metal and commonly include milgrain detailing around the crown. Both men and women opt to wear Claddagh rings, though the style is most popular among women.  If you want a bit of sparkle added to the ring, you can incorporate diamonds and gemstones in a variety of ways. Turn your Claddagh into an elegant solitaire diamond ring by replacing the heart with a round or heart shaped diamond or colored gemstone.

How to Wear a Claddagh Ring

Those who understand how Claddagh rings work will glance at your finger and make assumptions based on how you are wearing your ring. There are four options: single, in a relationship, engaged, and married. There’s no “it’s complicated” option, so you’ll have to leave that for Facebook! As can be expected, wearing the ring on your right hand indicates that you are either single or in a relationship. If the crown is pointing toward you, it means you are single. If it is pointing away from you, it means you are in a relationship. When the ring is worn on the left hand, the crown pointing toward you means that you are engaged, and away from you means that you are married.

If you are going to give or receive a Claddagh engagement ring, make sure that you are in the know!

Celtic Knot Engagement Rings

Used primarily as decoration by the ancient Celts in Insular Art (the art produced in the British Isles in the centuries following the fall of the Roman Empire), these endless knots were typically used as adornments in Christian books and statues, such as the Book of Kells. These symbols have come to represent the nation of Ireland, and they have made their way into the hearts (and onto the rings) of millions worldwide.

Simple Celtic Knots

A beloved Celtic knot called the trinity knot is a simple looping pattern that comes to three points and forms a triangular shape in the middle. Those three points have been said to represent a variety of things, such as earth, air, and water; life, death, and rebirth; and the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Like the Claddagh ring, you can allow the three points to stand for whatever forces are most meaningful to you. For your engagement, they could possibly represent the past, present, and future of your relationship.

Braided Celtic Knots

Beautiful and complex, braided knots are perfect for the shank (the band) of the ring. They take the traditional eternity ring—a ring with a design that continues around the ring’s entire circumference—and take it to the next level by making the design itself represent infinity. If you choose a strand from the braid and follow it around the ring, you will never encounter an end.


The History and Tradition of Celtic Knots

The Celtic knot symbolizes the union of two people in love. It’s believed that people used the knot as decoration on wedding bands in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales during the 17th century. The design became popular by Queen Victoria when she had her wedding rings engraved with intertwined knots.

Types of Celtic Knot

There are many types of Celtic knots, including single interwoven lines and three-dimensional forms. The most widely known today has no beginning or end; it’s repeated in both directions until the ends meet. A Celtic knot is known as a “love knot,” and it symbolizes eternal love — two forever intertwined together, no matter what happens in life.

Cultures that Embrace the Celtic Knot

The Celtic knot is common today in many cultures, such as India, which signifies the connection between male and female deities. In Africa, it represents unity and balance between man and woman. People also refer to Celtic Knots as trinity knots, a common symbol of Christians and pagan heritage.

Custom Irish Engagement Rings


If you have a unique vision of your perfect Irish engagement ring, you may want to work with a custom jewelry design expert to bring that vision to life! For Claddagh rings, a popular option is adding a heart shaped diamond or colored gemstone to the center. You can line the entire ring with diamonds, or put very small ones in the crown. A beautiful option would be to create a pave heart, the small diamonds creating a solid expanse of sparkle. Many pay homage to Ireland by including stunning green emeralds in the ring, representing the island’s beautiful green pastures.
If you prefer Celtic knots, try drawing your own knot that we can wrap around the band or highlight at the top. This is a great way to express your creativity! Brilliant Earth’s custom design experts will be happy to make your dreams a reality.

Alongside the shamrock and the harp, Celtic knots and Claddagh rings have become representative of Ireland. If you are looking for a way to express fidelity and eternal love, Irish engagement rings are the way to go!

Final Thoughts

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Comments (53)

Kelli barrett Says:
November 21st, 2019 at 11:02 am

Simply beautiful

robin pittis Says:
March 26th, 2019 at 4:07 am


Mary H Says:
September 8th, 2017 at 2:32 pm

Thank you for the article, I am 75% Irish so this article is wonderful to read, and it gives me some good ideas.

sss Says:
August 21st, 2017 at 8:54 pm


Delia Says:
August 8th, 2017 at 12:14 am

While I like the Celtic knot design, I have a very firm dislike for heart-shaped stones.

Modestine Fullilove Says:
March 3rd, 2017 at 5:20 pm

I watch a lot of documentries /informative programs and just saw the above info on Iris rings.They discussed the one with the hands and crown. I was so touched. They mentioned other traditions and things that go along with it… I’m not Iris but it made me want one.. They are very beautiful.

ashok mogre Says:
December 19th, 2016 at 11:59 pm

Its very fascinating, I want to gift any one from given rings to my finance. Please suggest which one

Lisa Patton-Kosiba Says:
November 6th, 2016 at 8:19 am

You make beautiful jewelry!

Christa Nolan-Kiel Says:
July 12th, 2016 at 2:29 pm

I love these rings, I am Irish well part and have always wanted to see Ireland, maybe someday when I get enough money, I may just have to get an Irish ring instead they are gorgeous, I Love the first one on this listing the best, it is the celtic claddadh ring it is just the most beautiful ring I think I have ever seen in my life.

Sheree Sullivan-Danaher Says:
June 20th, 2016 at 11:21 am

Simply elegant and beautiful!

Tom & Alexis Says:
February 13th, 2016 at 11:01 am

To honor our Irish heritage our beautiful wedding rings are both engraved with the old Irish saying: ‘Cuirle mo croide’ meaning “Pulse of My Heart”.

Lindsa Says:
February 4th, 2016 at 6:55 pm


Molly Fahey Says:
February 23rd, 2015 at 9:19 am

My grandfather emigrated from Galway in 1917. He wore a Claddagh ring given to him by his parents. When he died, in New Zealand, my mother inherited it. When my mother died, I inherited it. And when I die, my son will inherit it. Not waiting for relatives to die, many of my grandfathers children, grandchildren, and great grand children have purchased or have been gifted their own Claddagh ring, purchased in Galway, of course, in memory of him.

Maeve Broadhurst Says:
February 18th, 2015 at 12:25 pm

My heritage is my family history. Some of us cannot get enough of it. Some really do not care to pursue it. It is as individual as we are. I have much pride for my three grandparents from county Kerry and for my grandfather from Budapest. They began our family many years ago. They all arrived on Ellis Island and worked very hard to become American citizens. Because of their hard work we respect their heritage but honor them for becoming American citizens. I could not be prouder to be an American. When that is added to my Irish and Hungarian heritage my heart swells with pride.
I love all the cultural decorations, stories, jewelry and clothing. They are amass in my home. They are my family history.

irishlassred Says:
February 5th, 2015 at 12:14 pm

I love being Irish on all four sides of my family and I must own 4 or 5 claddagh rings. My husband had one made for our anniversary one year and I have to say, I just don’t like wearing any of them with the crown out. And I’ve been married 35 years!

anjela Says:
February 1st, 2015 at 9:17 pm

Yes, lovely rings though, I don’t know of one person here in Ireland who would wear a claddagh ring.I think they are more for the second and third generation Irish American market. I would rather wear no ring at all than a claddagh ring and as I am born and grew up here in Ireland hope I am allowed to say that. But good luck to those that love them.

Terri Yolanda Says:
January 18th, 2015 at 7:15 pm

The rings are Absolutely gorgeous

Micheal Says:
January 14th, 2015 at 9:06 am

We “Irish” are nt just the ethnic “Irishry” in the Republic of Ireland. True, our tribal and clannish nature enabled us to survive as people against the predations of history. However today we are a big and spread out family now. The “Emmons'” of the world should have a big enough heart to welcoming to all our cousins.

Articles 2. Of the Irish Constitution. “It is the entitlement and birthright of every person born in the island of Ireland, which includes its islands and seas, to be part of the Irish nation. That is also the entitlement of all persons otherwise qualified in accordance with law to be citizens of Ireland. Furthermore, the Irish nation cherishes its special affinity with people of Irish ancestry living abroad who share its cultural identity and heritage.”

Theresa Worley Says:
July 3rd, 2014 at 3:07 am

I love the Celtic design of these rings. I am of Celtic descent ( Irish, Scot, English and German ), red hair, blue eyes, fair skin. I wish they would have had these designs available when I became engaged 47 years. My husband passed away in April. I have my wedding rings and I eventually want to transform the into a beautiful Celtic design engagement ring to pass on to a grandson for his love that he wants to marry. Luckily we have a jeweler in town that can do just about any design you could want.

Rebecca Lee Says:
June 17th, 2014 at 3:11 pm

We are not just a nation of immigrants. There are many Indigenous Native Americans. Three of my grand parents are part Native. One was part Irish and one day I hope to visit there and other parts of the globe where my ancestors came from. Nice jewelry.

Shaunessey Says:
January 30th, 2014 at 7:17 pm

On my last visit to Ireland I was also told that the Irish get “a good laugh” when Americans come over “and say they’re Irish.” It took me aback, and was offensive to me I have to say. I explained to my learned friend that since America is such a young country, we Americans are akin to adopted children looking for our ancestors. After much conversation what it actually boiled down to was that the Irish who stayed during the famine and survived had no use for the Irish who fled to America. The emigrating Irish were seen as deserters. Strange, and a lonnng time to hold that grudge.

Anon Says:
January 29th, 2014 at 8:34 pm

Someone told me that it was irish tradition to give wedding rings to the children of the prospective wife when marriage takes place. Caan anyone tell me if this is true?

Moon Says:
January 10th, 2014 at 7:50 am

You lot are giving me a laugh. You obviously have never been in the boroughs of Chicago in which generations of Americans of Irish descent live and speak with an Irish accent because of how alive the culture is kept alive in their neighborhoods.

In the history of this county of immigrants people have stated “I’m _______” with pride of their heritage and yet they have held a delight in coming to America to create a better life. I find it ridiculous that someone wants to say “you’re an American” and then ignore how these statements came to be.

It is a purely American thing, and those who share their heritage in this way are exhibiting their pride and enthusiasm for their heritage, no matter where in the world they came from.

A little love and tolerance goes a long way. But then again, the absence of said things are why many people came to America.

shannon Says:
December 31st, 2013 at 7:18 pm

I had one one when I was engaged it was silver and gold and really beautiful, unfortunately I don’t have it anymore (that’s a whole nother story) I thought it was only for engaged and married ’cause that’s what he told me, but he also got the hands wrong, I love that it can be for singles as well.

Ruthe Says:
November 13th, 2013 at 10:28 am

I was born in America. My family is a mix of many nationalities. But my heart and soul feel pulled to Celtic music and culture. My visit to Ireland only strengthened that feeling for me, and it had nothing to do with how friendly or unfriendly people were. I love these rings, too!

Lynn Says:
November 3rd, 2013 at 7:34 pm

People can call themselves what ever they want.
You are what you are………

Frank Says:
October 26th, 2013 at 9:41 am

I am an American. I am of Irish descent. My parents and grandparents both sides are “Irish”; naturalized American citizens. I have/had Irish/EU passports. The Irish governmanent considers me Irish. (My mother was actually born in England on a brief trip to London by her parents. The English government claims her – and me – too). Would you say I wasn’t “Irish”? Whenever I go, the customs agents say “Welcome home”…

Susan C. Says:
October 18th, 2013 at 12:44 pm

Michael Dowling, you say you have been to Ireland twice and you will never go back. I have only been there once but can’t wait to go back. I have trace my roots to Antrim In Northern Ireland hence I actually can trace back further to Wales. Having said all of that I feel Ireland is one on the most wonderful countries to be found. I never had any issues with the people of Ireland when my husband and I were there. They went out of there way to make us feel comfortable and welcome. The only time we had any problem in Ireland was when a Frenchman at the Cliffs of Mohor decided to be arrogant and rude to everyone around him because he thought he was better than us. At which time an Irish caretaker suggested we should “Throw the bloody Frenchman of the cliff” We all would have loved to do so. Maybe you just expected too much of your experience when you went back for your second visit. Or perhaps as a child you were more open minded and not so worldly with an attitude.

Sharon Ingram Says:
October 17th, 2013 at 8:51 am

Teresa C., You are an American, half Irish, half ? If you were born ON a military base in W. Germany, you were born on “American” soil. Two of my children were born in Europe, one in Italy, one in Germany. Both on military bases.

Michael Dowling Says:
October 9th, 2013 at 5:48 pm

America is different than other countries, we’re all recent immigrants, there isn’t any “American culture”, it isn’t a nationality just a hodge podge of people. Most Irish Americans ancestors endured a lot to wind up in America, they were the poorest of the poor, probably came over on famine ships during the great famine, they were treated like garbage for about 100 years so they prided themselves on clinging to their Irish Catholic heritage and rejecting English/German Protestant culture which dominated America and represented their oppression. I can understand Americans being proud of their Irish heritage, what I can’t understand is why that seems to bother Irish people so much?

I’ve been to Ireland twice, once when I was 15, once when I was 30. When I 15 it was a great experience, when I was 30 the Irish seemed to be overall unfriendly and a bit arrogant, I’ll never go back.

Teresa C. Says:
October 8th, 2013 at 9:34 am

What am I since my mom was born and reared in Ireland, my father was born and reared in the US, but I was born at a military base in West Germany? Your help is appreciated.

Mary Says:
September 14th, 2013 at 2:14 pm

I was taught the symbolism for the claddagh ring is “my heart and hands I give to you, crowned with all my love”. I think that sums it up.

Froggy Alley Says:
September 14th, 2013 at 12:07 pm

It should be carved from a potato. Authentic!

Judith S Says:
September 13th, 2013 at 8:57 am

My mother was born in Ireland, and my father was born in Italy. I was born in America. I am American. It always annoys me when Americans call themselves something they truly are not. I have never lived in a country where they are a “nationality” when it suits them – to justify bad behavior. And I have lived in Ireland and Italy as well. Ugh. Your drink because you can. Your have a bad temper because you chose to. Oh, and the rings on this site are pretty. 😉

Pat Donovan Says:
September 13th, 2013 at 7:49 am

I know that the article says the meaning for the elements on the claddagh are ambiguous. But as an Irish-American, I’ve never heard any other than the basic three…the crown for loyalty, the heart for love, and the hands for friendship. I checked with some folks I know who are in different parts of Ireland and they say the same. The rings are lovely, by the way.

Morgan Says:
September 11th, 2013 at 3:39 pm

I guess the gal in the photo was so deliriously happy with hers she fell right down and died

Merry O’Callahan Says:
September 5th, 2013 at 10:27 am

When Shawn Patrick O’Callahan and I were engaged and married, we did it in the Anam Cara ceremony and with Irish made bands that said “Mo Anam Cara” – my soul mate.
The too had the Cladaugh in between the words.
Such a beautiful heritiage. It was a beautiful love and marriage too. He died 7 1/2 months after we married, from surgery complications, but it was a wonderful 21 months we had together. The ring is still on my right hand, and he asked to be buried with his if he did not make it. He was.
These rings are so beautiful, and have such meaning! Thanks for sharing them.

Damon Sullivan Says:
August 29th, 2013 at 10:08 am

My great grandparents on my paternal side came over from Ireland many years ago, I still feel a pull towards that side of my family. I’m intrigued by the Cladaugh rings, however my wife and I have been married for 13 years so we already have wedding bands. I like the history that goes along with the Cladaugh rings though. I’ll do some more exploring :). Thank you, Damon Sullivan

maramerce Says:
August 26th, 2013 at 6:06 pm

Wow, this is weird. I actually had a dream about that Cladaugh ring except it had a pink pearl in the middle and four leaf clovers etched into the sides of the sleeves. I love it! That’s definitely going to be my ring someday. I’ve already envisioned it in my dreams.

Sheila Scanlan Moore Says:
August 21st, 2013 at 1:08 pm

My name, obviously, is Irish. I am an American, of German (1/2), English (1/4) and Irish (1/4) descent. I tell people “I am German, English and Irish, but my soul dances to Irish music.”

Alan Seeger Says:
August 21st, 2013 at 10:49 am

My wife and I just celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary, and still wear the simple silver Claddagh rings that we presented each other upon our engagement. Glad to know that we understood the custom correctly as to which way they were to be worn at each stage of our lives together! 😉

Owen Says:
August 12th, 2013 at 9:40 am

Heritage/nationality is a funny one. It is very debatable what it means to be “irish” especially these days since 20% of those in Ireland were born from foreign parents (Polish, Ukrainian, Blacks). If you grew up in a country, i’d say you are that nationality. I just wish people could pick ONE these days …

Willie Jay Says:
August 8th, 2013 at 10:27 pm

RE: Karen’s comment. You are wrong. I was born in the Philippines, but my mother was born in Finland and Dad is Finnish, too, but born in the U.P., Michigan! I am a US citizen by birth, but am proud of my FINNISH heritage, not my Filipino birth place!

Patricia Connor Says:
August 8th, 2013 at 1:18 pm

Aman… I agree! I am an Irish-American, as I term it – meaning the ‘of Irish descent”. Yes, I am first and foremost an American. But I’ve come to call myself and others, if they like, “OF” their lineages’ bloodlines. Because our country was meant to be a melting pot, and I call it all now, the RAINBOW RACES… (recall Pete Seeger’s song?) NOTE how rainbows – photos of them, artwork, even saw one depicting “how to say the rosary” around Our Lady – instead of a halo! We all come together, all colors of the rainbows, so to speak – but our hearts and bodies are “of” America! But celebrate our heritages and symbols and customs, as we blend and share them. Gives the richness To American culture

B. Earth Says:
July 12th, 2013 at 12:16 pm

Hi Patrick,

Traditionally no ring needs to be worn with the Claddagh ring once married. When you Claddagh ring is worn on the left hand, the crown pointing toward you means that you are engaged, and away from you means that you are married. You can read more about Claddagh rings in particular here:

Thanks for your interest!

Patrick Says:
July 11th, 2013 at 11:24 pm

reading this, I am still a little confused. Is there a specific ring used as an engagement ring to be worn with the Claddagh ring once married? I intend to use my Claddagh ring’s given to me by my parents as wedding rings and would like to have a special ring for my fiancée to be worn untill we are married

Karen Wiley Says:
July 8th, 2013 at 9:02 am

I’m an American of Scots-Irish descent and I don’t call myself anything but American. You are of where you are born.

Peggy Donovan Says:
July 2nd, 2013 at 10:13 am

Yep, I was told the same thing when I was visiting Ireland w my alma mater in 1982. Kind of hurt my feelings.

Eamon Says:
June 20th, 2013 at 7:12 am

As touching as your story is, ( and I truly mean that ) please keep in mind that you are NOT an Irishman. You are an American of Irish descent/heritage.
I point this out because I AM a born and raised feller from Caragaline in eastern Contae Chorcaí. I have been living here in the USA for 3 years but would NEVER call myself anything other than an Irishman.

ádh ór ort!

B. Earth Says:
June 7th, 2013 at 9:28 am

Hi Margaret,

We don’t currently offer a print catalog, but our jewelry specialists would be more than happy to provide more photos of our rings. You can reach them with any questions via email ( or at 800.691.0952. Thanks for your interest!

Margaret Howland Says:
June 7th, 2013 at 8:51 am

These are absolutely beautiful. Can I get a catalog?

B. Earth Says:
April 30th, 2013 at 10:13 am

Hi John,

It’s great to hear your story; we absolutely agree that Irish rings can be a wonderful way to honor your heritage. The rings above are designed for women, but we do offer a more masculine men’s wedding ring: Thanks for your interest!

John Kelly Sullivan Says:
April 30th, 2013 at 7:35 am

Being an Irishman is a source of great pride for me. I was born here in Saint Louis Missouri. All of my grandparents came to Saint Louis because of the 1904 World’s Fair. (meet me in Saint Louie etc)They all had an opportunity to work,as a maid,cook, Hod carrier (bricks) and as a laborer.I have been to Dingle, Bally Bunion and the places where they were married and my great grandparents graves. My older sister marriede a Chinese man and their invitations etc. included a claddagh ring and Chinese writing (ideaograms). I think your rings are fabulous and what a delight for those trying to honor their heritage. Could you make a more masculine ring? One that a man would wear daily? I don’t think diamonds would be apropriate, but like the ring above the black stones may be very attractive. As an Irishman, and a shop owner, I would love to carry a lesser end line of Irish rings. My shop is a florist/antiques/home accessories/ jewelry. Phone 314 989 1486.