Dating back to the 1800s, Irish Claddagh rings have been crafted and worn as a symbol of lasting love. Early Irish laws mandated that all jewelry, including the rings that were made of precious metals, be stamped with an official government seal. Although laws have changed over the years, some ring makers continue to place a stamp on each ring they craft. Irish Claddagh rings deep love connection Other marks of authenticity on Irish Claddagh rings are the heart and crown. The heart on the ring is used to represent love, while the crown serves to represent loyalty. Although nowhere near the size of the great Taj Mahal, the rings were initially designed for a similar purpose, to express deep friendship and love.
Belonging to feed European finger rings, the rings are used during wedding ceremonies. They are also worn as engagement rings. Their history dates back to medieval days when joined hands represented a joining of hearts and trust. Stories around the rings’ initial design vary. Many stories attribute the silver and goldsmith, Richard Joyce, as the rings first designer. Joyce lived in Galway during the late 1600s and early 1700s. In addition to being a silver and goldsmith, Joyce was also a member of the Tribes of Galway. After he was forced into slavery in Tangiers, he learned the goldsmith trade. His initials can still be found on the oldest Irish Claddagh rings.
After King William III negotiated for the release of the European slaves in 1689, Joyce returned home. He had become a changed man in more ways than one. His return home also gave him a surprising jolt. A woman he’d come to love before his departure was said to have been waiting for him when he returned. The story brings up memories of the popular Tom Hanks’ movie “Castaway,” except this time the woman actually waited for the man as long he may have waited for her.
Deeply moved by the woman’s display of love, affection and loyalty toward him, Richard Joyce went to work. He combined his acquired silver and goldsmith skills with his love for the woman and made the first Irish Claddagh ring. He graciously bestowed the ring upon the woman he loved. Whether the story is fiction or fact, remains a mystery. What isn’t a mystery being how many Irish couples exchange these very rings with each other as a way to say, “I love you.”
The design of the rings has expanded over centuries. Types of Irish Claddagh rings on the market today include sterling silver Claddagh kiss rings, stainless steel Claddagh spinner rings and woven band Claddagh rings. In addition, there are rings designed specifically for women as well as rings designed specifically for men.
Birthstone, wishbone and wide band rings are also available. Emerald rings are capped with a green Irish stone. Not only do these rings hold a wealth of history, they also serve as reminders of how love endures, even down through generations and centuries. In addition to wearing the rings as an expression of romantic love, people also wear them as a show of lasting friendship.