There once was a small town in Ireland called Claddagh (that has since become a part of Galway) that was famous for making a specific type of ring. These Claddagh Rings feature two hands holding a crowned heart. The hands are supposed to symbolize friendship; the heart, love; and, the crown, loyalty. They’re called Claddagh rings because they were (supposedly) made famous by a man from Claddagh, Richard Joyce, who learned intricate metal working when he was a captured by the Moors and sold as a slave to a goldsmith. When King William III was crowned, he demanded the return of all English prisoners, which included Joyce. He returned home to Claddagh and gave the Claddagh ring to his lady love, who had waited for him while he was gone.
I don’t know if it’s true, but it’s a cool story. I’d heard about Claddagh Rings before I came to the UK but when I saw one, I knew I had to get it. After I got it, I was researching the history a bit when I found something else. Over time, the meaning of the rings have evolved. They still symbolize love, friendship, and loyalty, but now they also indicate the wearers romantic availability, depending on how it’s worn. If it’s on the right ring finger, pointing away from the palm, the wearer is not in a serious relationship. On the right ring finger pointing toward the palm indicates that the person is in a committed relationship. If it is worn on the left ring finger, pointing away from the palm, the wearer is engaged. On the left ring finger, pointing toward the palm means that the person is married.
After finding that out I had to fix how I was wearing it, but it’s interesting to know the history and traditions behind my ring!