The Legend of Claddagh Rings

Published: 08th May 2009
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The Claddagh ring is known worldwide as a traditional symbol of love and friendship. Claddagh rings are given as gifts of friendship, love, or worn as wedding rings. These rings are also passed from parent to child as family heirlooms.





The Claddagh ring originated from the Irish fishing village of Claddagh. The first Claddagh ring was created during the reign of Queen Mary II in the 17th century, though the three symbols involved in the design have a much deeper history. The tradition of the Claddagh ring spread worldwide when the Irish fled their country due to the Irish Potato Famine.





The design of the Claddagh ring is two hands holding a heart. The heart is usually adorned with a jeweled crown, often made with precious gems, best value diamonds, or EGL loose diamonds. The heart symbolizes love, the hands symbolize friendship, and the crown represents loyalty.





In the times of the Ancient Romans, two hands clasped together also symbolized marriage. The phrase usually associated with Claddagh rings is "With my hands, I give you my heart, and crown it with my love." The Claddagh ring belongs in a category of rings called "Fede Rings" which are molded or cut to imitate the shape of clasped hands.





The location of the Claddagh ring as well as the position that it is facing is also used to display information about the romantic availability of the wearer. When the ring is placed on the right hand with the heart pointing towards the fingertips, the wearer is single or their relationship isn't serious. Their heart has not been won over, but they are still open to love.





If the Claddagh ring is worn on the right hand with the heart pointing away from the fingertips, the wearer is not available to be in a relationship. Someone has captured their heart, or they are simply not interested in romance, even if it included gems or jewelry such as a non conflict diamond engagement ring.





When the Claddagh ring is located on the left hand ring finger, with the heart pointing towards the fingertips, the wearer is engaged. The ring is turned around to face towards the wearer's body when they become married. A more superstitious legend about the ring states that if it breaks while on the wearer's right hand, then the person that they are currently with is their true love and soul mate.





There are a few myths associated with the origin of the Claddagh ring. One of them features an Irish woman named Margaret Joyce. The legend says that she married a wealthy Spanish merchant and traveled to Spain with him. He left her a fortune when he died.





Upon returning to her homeland, Joyce married a mayor and charitably funded the construction of local bridges using her newfound wealth. As a reward for her actions, an eagle flew by and dropped a Claddagh ring into her lap-a ring that any IGI appraisals diamond experts would find to be flawless.





The second legend bears more resemblance to a traditional fairy tale. A prince fell in love with a common-as-dirt maid. Her father didn't believe that his intentions were pure, so the prince designed a ring with the heart, hand, and crown symbols and presented it to the maid. When the father learned the meaning of the symbols, he consented and gave the happy couple his blessing.





The most realistic story is about a man named Richard Joyce who left his sweetheart in order to work in the West Indies. He planned to marry her when he returned home, but he was captured and sold into slavery to a Moorish goldsmith. He was a quick learner, and soon became very skilled at the craft. His master valued and respected him.





Richard Joyce was emancipated when William III became king and declared the release of all British prisoners. Joyce's master asked him not to return to Ireland and offered his daughter and half of his wealth in return for Joyce's partnership. Joyce declined, and returned home to present the Claddagh ring that he has crafted during his servitude to his loved one.








Allison Ryan is a freelance marketing writer from San Diego, CA. She specializes in the history of best value diamonds and IGI appraisals for precious gems and jewelry. For a non conflict diamond or to design your own jewelry, check out http://www.diamondwave.com/.







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