The Claddagh ring and its meaning haven’t changed much over many hundreds of years. In fact, as far back as Roman times, the clasped hands (which form part of the Claddagh motif of hands, heart and crown) existed in jewelry design. The hands were worn as signs of good faith and loyalty, and remain to this day part of the Irish Claddagh ring meaning.
The design that has ultimately evolved over time is attributed to the Irish, as is the Claddagh ring’s meaning. Legend has it that, sometime after the Crusades, William Joyce of Galway City in Ireland designed the symbol as we know it today. Traditionally, Claddagh rings served as Celtic wedding bands, worn on the left hand ring finger, with the following saying attached: With my Hands I give you my Heart and Crown it with my Love.
As popular as they are as wedding rings, the meaning of a Claddagh ring touches on other aspects of relationships as well. For example, friendship and loyalty are celebrated within the meaning of a Claddagh ring as follows: Let Love and Friendship Reign Forever!
The Claddagh ring’s meaning is altered by how the ring is worn. For example, if you’re single or available, you’ll let others know of your status by wearing your Claddagh ring on your right ring finger with the heart pointed away from you. By turning the ring around, you change the Irish Claddagh ring meaning to “unavailable”.
Whether a gift between friends or lovers, or simply as a nod to the recipient’s Irish heritage, the Claddagh ring’s meaning makes it a gift that’s deeply appreciated. Generations of Irish families handed down their Claddagh wedding rings as treasured heirlooms, and although each ring might vary greatly in appearance, the touchstone is always the hands, heart and crown.
No matter the Celtic ring’s style, or the precious metal or ornamentation used in its creation, it’s the meaning of a Claddagh ring that makes it so universally beloved: The Hands are for Friendship; The Heart is for Love; And Loyalty is shown with the Crown up above.