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The Claddagh ring is a traditional Irish ring that represents love, loyalty and friendship. The design depicts two hands clasping a heart surmounted by a crown, the heart for love, the hands for friendship and the crown for loyalty.
The ring was first produced in the 17th century in the fishing village of Claddagh, then situated outside the old city walls of Galway on the shore of Galway Bay, but was not referred to as a Claddagh ring until circa 1830. Richard Joyce is thought to have been the craftsman who designed and made the ring for his sweetheart, whom he subsequently married, and went on to become a most successful goldsmith.
The popularity of the ring spread throughout the British Isles during the Victorian era when it was given as a friendship, engagement and/or wedding ring. It was the only ring made in Ireland that was ever worn by Queen Victoria and also her son Edward VII and his Queen, Alexandra, wore Irish Claddagh rings.
Sometimes the family rings were passed down from mother to daughter or from grandmother to granddaughter. There was renewed interest in the symbolic ring in the late 20th century as an icon of Irish identity when renewed economic prosperity allowed the Irish people to enjoy their proud traditions.
The Claddagh was worn in the following different ways to convey the status of the wearer.
1) On the right hand with the point of the heart toward the fingertip indicated that the wearer was single and may be looking for love.
2) On the right hand with the point of the heart toward the wrist indicated that the wearer was in a relationship.
3) On the left hand with the point of the heart toward the fingertip indicated that the wearer was engaged.
4) On the left hand with the point of the heart toward the wrist indicated that the wearer was married.
There are no ancient writings to indicate the symbolism of the Claddagh and the myths that we understand today have been derived from fairly recent folklore, but it certainly is a good Irish tale.
“LET LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP REIGN”
Always wanted to give that special person a Claddagh ring?
With the assistance of La Vogue Vintage's dedicated team of designers, silver and goldsmiths we can custom make that special ring for you. Email us and we can have a chat over a coffee to create your vision.