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Claddagh ring


In the world there is a huge amount of jewelry. People from ancient times put on various beads, rings, amulets. Earlier, jewelry had its own significance, but today it’s just trinkets that give an extra sparkle and charm to the exterior. Few people know that some modern jewelry has a story, they can tell something about the owner. For example, the Claddagh rings, it is about them that we decided today to tell. What is it, how to wear it, the history of origin - we will consider everything in this publication.

Claddagh Rings: Legend of Origin

In fact, there are many versions of the origin of this jewelry. But we all love love stories, so we offer to get acquainted with the most romantic and popular.

Many years ago an extraordinary story happened. In Ireland there lived a young man who was madly in love with one girl. He was not a rich man and wanted his wife and future children to know nothing of the need after the wedding. The young man decided to go to the West Indies, where you could earn a fortune. In order to realize his idea, he had to say goodbye to all his family people, to the regions where he had grown up, and to the bride, who promised to wait for him, no matter how much time passed.

This young man is Richard Joyce, and, going to unfamiliar places, he did not yet know what fate had in store for him. The ship on which he set sail did not reach Kladdah, as he was attacked by Algerian sea robbers. In those days, pirates ruled the blue expanses, and many people died in the battle, thousands of merchants lost everything they had earned. The robbers did not kill Richard, but were captured, and then sold into slavery.

Joyce became the master of the Moor - a jeweler. The young man did not understand anything in jewelry, did not know about jewelry, but his hands were skillful, and soon Richard was able to master the craft, became a real master.

Happy ending story

Richard Joyce perfectly mastered the jewelry business, he lived well, but the longing for his homeland and the bride was sometimes crazy. Once he decided to express all his feelings by creating a ring. It was an incredibly beautiful decoration: in the center there was a heart decorated with a crown, it was carefully held by two hands. So the first gold ring of Kladdakh appeared.

In 1689, a treaty was concluded between King William the Third of Orange and the Moors. The ruler was able to ensure that all the inhabitants of his country, who fell into slavery and survived, were able to return home, were released.

The jeweler did not want to lose the beautiful master in the person of Richard Joyce, he begged him to stay, even offered to marry him to his daughter, to leave the jewelry workshop as a dowry. But the young man could not forget about his homeland, the girl dear to his heart, and sailed home.

As it turned out, the bride was waiting for him, as promised. Soon, lovers were able to get married, they had a strong family. Richard continued to engage in his beloved and profitable business - he opened his own jewelry workshop. Since then, Claddagh rings have become popular in Ireland.

Is this legend true or not? There is reliable evidence that Richard Joyce actually existed, he was a jeweler and lived in the small village of Kladdah, in western Ireland.


Kladdakh rings are worn as a sign of friendship or engagement. There are the following nuances:

  • If the ring is worn on the right hand and the heart is turned in the direction from its owner (that is, to the tips of the fingers), then this suggests that the owner of the Kladda ring is in search of his love.
  • If the ring is worn on the right hand and the heart is turned to the owner of the ring, then this indicates that the owner of the ring is in a love relationship.
  • A ring on his left hand with a heart turned to its owner is considered to be engagement. [L 4]

Later, a fourth way of wearing the ring appeared - on the left hand, with the heart from the wearer. So they wear it, according to various sources, during the wedding ceremony (as a sign that the hearts of the bride and groom are directed to each other), the engaged widows and divorced.

By tradition, the Claddagh ring is passed from generation to generation from grandmother to granddaughter [L 5] or from mother to daughter.

Kladdach is a small fishing village in the west of Ireland (now a suburb of Galway), where a certain Richard Joyce lived in 1660-1737.

He left his homeland, going to work in the West Indies. Upon his return, Richard was going to marry his lover, but on the way to Kladdy his ship was captured by Algerian pirates, Richard Joyce himself was captured and sold into slavery to the Moor jeweler. The slave quickly mastered the craft of his master and soon mastered it perfectly. Longing for his distant bride, he created a ring in the shape of two hands holding a heart under a crown. This ring later became known as the Claddagh ring. In the end, Richard Joyce was lucky: in 1689, William III of Orange soon after his coronation agreed with the Moors to free all British slaves.

Despite the fact that the former owner invited Richard to marry his only daughter and become a co-owner of his jewelry workshop, Richard returned to his homeland. All this time, Richard's bride was waiting for him faithfully and did not marry. They got married, and Richard went into jewelry at home.

Like any other legend, the story of the origin of the Claddagh ring is subject to reasonable doubts about its veracity. The fact remains that the oldest surviving rings have the inscription “R.I.”, and a jeweler named Richard Ioyes really existed. It is also noteworthy that the stigma of this jeweler includes an anchor - a symbol of hope.

It is believed that after the closure of Richard Joyce's jewelry workshop in the 1730s, the production of the Claddagh rings ceased and was resumed after a generation by George Robinson. Later, other Galway jewelers began to make such rings.

Below are several options for marking Kladdach rings made in the late XVII - early XVIII centuries:

MarkingName and city of the jeweler
RiRichard Joyce (Richard Joyce), Galway
GRGeorge Robinson (George Robinson), Galway
ARAndrew Robinson (Andrew Robinson), Galway
NBNicholas Burge (Nicholas burdge), Galway
FAustin French (Austin french), Galway
JD RD WDDillon (Dillon)
JsJohn Shadwell (?John shadwell)

Other versions Edit

According to the second version of the origin of the Claddagh ring, a certain Margaret Joyce married Domingo de Rhone, a wealthy Spanish merchant in Galway. After the sudden death of her husband, she inherited a large inheritance. Then, in 1596, Margaret married Oliver Og French, the ruler of Galway. Margaret spent her fortune on the construction of several bridges in Connaught and charity, for which she was rewarded: an eagle dropped a golden ring on her lap.

There are other versions that insist that the ring is older than previous legends.

  • Version based on Celtic mythology: The crown on the ring symbolizes Byaha Ile (Beathauile), the left hand is Dana, the mother of the Irish people, and the right hand is Dagdu (Dagda mór), the almighty father of the gods. By heart is meant humanity.
  • Fisherman's version: The image on the Claddagh ring is a kind of “logo” of the fishermen of this region. He was portrayed on boats and sails, every fisherman wore it as a sign of belonging to the profession. If local fishermen met a boat whose team could not present such a ring, then they could destroy it. Of course, this version has legends about the kings of fishermen of Galway (Eng. The Fishing Kings Of Galway). Currently, there are few supporters in the Kladda region.
  • The church gives its own interpretation of symbols, and even in two versions. The first version speaks of love, friendship and fidelity as the qualities of Christ, the second sees in the ring a symbol of the Trinity (a crown and two hands) protecting humanity (heart).
  • Another popular version of the origin of the Claddagh ring, referring to ancient Irish traditions, is particularly tragic and bloody. According to this legend, the king, in love with a commoner, committed suicide from hopelessness. The king lost his honor by making an unequal marriage, according to Irish beliefs, this would adversely affect the fertility of his lands. The king was buried by putting his own heart in his hands. The ring, according to this legend, is a symbol of "love to the grave."

According to the legend of the kings of fishermen of Galway, the claddagh ring symbolizes the motto of the rulers:

We want to rule in the spirit of love and friendship.

The Kladdakh ring was worn by some English rulers (for example, Victoria and Edward VII). Rings for them were made by the jewelry company of Thomas Dillon (English Dillons of Galway), founded in 1750, the holder of the Royal Patent for the production of Kladd’s rings. Among the clients of this company were Prince of Monaco Rainier III and his wife Grace Kelly, Walt Disney, Winston Churchill, King George V and other celebrities.

In 1984, during the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the acquisition of city status by Galway, its residents, in response to congratulations from U.S. President Ronald Reagan, presented him with a custom-made 18-karat gold ring.

An American of Scottish descent, singer and frontman of The Doors band Jim Morrison and an American of Irish descent, writer Patricia Kenneli-Morrison exchanged Claddagh rings at their pagan wedding. The image of the rings is on the cover of Kenneli-Morrison’s memoirs “Strange Days: My Life with and without Jim Morrison” (English Strange Days: My Life With and Without Jim Morrison), the claddagh ring is visible on Patricia’s hand in many of her photographs.

Dublin version Edit

In the Dublin version, the ring consists of two hands and two hearts, but without a crown. It is popular among the Irish who favor the independence of Ireland from Great Britain (that is why there is no crown in the Dublin ring of Cladd, there is also a version that in this version the first ring from the crashed Spanish ship was found on the coast of Ireland, and the crown appeared on it later by order of Queen Elizabeth). This ring became known as the "Fenian Clan" (Eng. Fenian Claddagh).

The Fed Ring Edit

Possibly, the Kladdakh ring is a type of the Fede ring (ital. Fede - faith) in the form of hands joined in a handshake, known from the Romans and Greeks, which received the modern look of the Kladda ring in the Middle Ages. Several copies of this ring of gold, silver and bronze, dating from the XV-XVI centuries, are stored in the National Museum of Ireland.

A similar type of ring was found on the Aran Islands and in Connemara. The name was given to them by collectors in the 19th century. [L 6]

Gimmel Ring Edit

The Fede rings are, in turn, a variation of the Gimmel Rings, joint ring), a subspecies of “puzzle rings” (English puzzle rings). Such rings have been used at engagements and weddings since the beginning of the 15th century. Their distinctive feature is that a pair or three of these rings can form one (in this case one ring belongs to the husband, the second to the wife, the third to the witness). [L 7] [L 8] The name of the ring comes from the third letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

Others Edit

Thomas Dillon also mentions some early “versions” - for example, with a miter crown, or melted from coins, a similar ring from Brittany, the “Munster” ring, and even some Spanish rings that have certain similarities with what is considered to be a Claddaghian standard.

The Kladdach rings are still popular today, especially to indicate their Irish descent, their affiliation with Celtic culture, and also as a decoration. [L 4] After September 11, 2001, about 200 of Kladd’s rings were found on the ruins of the twin towers in New York.

There is the Kladda Museum of the Rings, known as the "smallest museum in Europe with the largest gift shop." It stores rings made in the workshops of Nicholas Burge, Richard Joyce and George Robinson. It also has the smallest of the existing Claddagh rings that fits on the little finger pad. The rings for the exposition are partly in the process of archaeological excavations, one of the ten rings of Dillon’s company found in archaeological debris cost a total of more than 6,000 euros.

In London there is a well-known Irish pub The claddach ring, founded in 1991, made in medieval wooden surroundings and using the symbolism of the Claddagh rings in the decor. The symbolism is also used in jewelry such as earrings, necklaces, tiaras, and is reproduced on souvenirs. There is a known case when the ring was modified as a weapon that could injure the face of the attacker.

Mention in fiction Edit

Kladd’s rings sometimes appear in films, such as the movie directed by Oliver Stone, The Doors, the movie Team 49: The Fire Ladder (Ladder 49), and the Irish. In the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, an angel presents a Buffy ring as a sign of love, he also wears such a ring [L 9]. The ring is sung in a song The gold claddagh ring Andy Stuart and The old claddagh ringperformed by artists such as Margot and Dermot O’Brien. In addition, mentions of the ring are found in James Joyce's novel Ulysses [L 2], Spells for Special Agent Robert Asprin and Jody Lynn Nye [L 10], The Kingdom of the Possible (David) Levitan, in Vampires. Demons of the Ocean ”(English) by Justin Somper, in“ Late Dinner with Clode La Badarian ”(English) by William Monahan, in the novel“ The Hound: A Ghost Ship ”by Irina Nechaeva and other works of art. The hero of the film “How to Get Married in Three Days” (Leap Year) Declan says that he would save his mother’s wedding ring during a fire (“So that thing I'd grab if I had 60 seconds, it's my mother's Claddagh ring”) .

History of the Claddagh ring in gold and silver

The world first saw this ring in the distant XVIII century. Its design was created in a small fishing village located near the city of Galway in Ireland. The man who inspired his creation was Richard Joyce, a fisherman from Kladdakh. According to legend, he worked in the West Indies, planned to earn a certain amount of money and return to his beloved village. He was not destined to get home: on the way to Kladdy, his ship was captured by pirates, and the guy himself was sold into slavery to one of the famous jewelers of Mauritania. There, the young man needed to work day and night in the sweat of his face, creating incredible beauty of jewelry, and once, in longing for his beloved, he created a ring, which we now know as a Claddagh engagement ring.

Richard Joyce proved himself to be a very talented journeyman. When William III came to power, all British slaves were freed and the young jeweler was no exception. Upon returning home, he was infinitely glad to see that his future wife waited for her knight. In a sign of eternal love, she was presented with a gift in the form of a ring of Kladdakh.

Symbolism, or how to wear a Claddagh ring?

  1. Actively searching for your soulmate? Then wear the jewelry on your right hand. The sharp part of the heart should “look” at the fingers.
  2. Are you in a love relationship? Put the ring in your heart to you (the sharp part “looks” at you, not at your fingers).
  3. If the Claddagh ring became engagement, then let the ring finger of your left hand adorn your heart. Your spouse and you can wear rings in such a way that the hearts of the rings are symbolically directed towards each other.

Spread around the world

Kladdakh rings became known all over the world many years after the death of the master who created the design. For the first time they came across the borders of Ireland in the period from 1845 to 1849. At this time, many residents began to sail away in search of a better life in other states. This time was a potato famine in Ireland, and everyone who had the opportunity left their native lands. Most people went to America, which then flourished, and everyone believed that there would be an ideal life. Thus, the Claddagh rings became very popular. Basically, they served for wedding ceremonies, and even now some newlyweds choose them.

Kladdakh rings: meaning

The center of the decoration is the heart. It has always been associated with the most wonderful feeling that a person can know - love. The crown on top of the symbol of love personifies fidelity, loyalty. Hands holding the heart symbolize support, true friendship.

Today, there are many design variations of the Claddagh rings, some of which have their own meanings. We offer to consider the most common types.


This is the most important purpose of the described jewelry. Engagement Claddagh rings are usually engraved in Irish, these are: Gra, Dilseacht agus Cairdeas. Translated into Russian, it sounds like "love, loyalty, friendship." Mostly such rings are made of white gold.

Имеются настоящие обрядные колечки-головоломки. Такие кладдахские символы любви и брака состоят из трех отдельных частей, которые только совместно способны отобразить полную картину. В момент обмена кольцами одно надевает невеста, второе - жених, а третье достается свидетелю. Между владельцами колец образовывалась самая крепкая связь и поддерживалась до самой смерти. Издавна считалось, что с такими кольцами браки создаются самыми благополучными и крепкими. Previously, such Claddagh rings were very popular.

For friends

These are Fede rings - a popular variation of the Claddagh ones. Some are sure that it was they who first appeared, and then those that we describe today.

The decoration is made in the form of two hands, which are connected by a handshake. Most often they are decorated with a crown, but are also found without it.

These kind of rings are usually exchanged by good old friends who have gone hand in hand over the years, have encountered difficulties, and have always supported each other. Such people have many common memories - joyful and sad. If you have such a friend, exchange such Claddagh rings. Silver is the most popular material for making friendship rings. Firstly, this metal is much cheaper than gold and platinum. Secondly, many associate silver with silver coins, for which Judas sold his Master. Cladd’s silver ring is a symbol of the fact that this friendship is forever, it can neither be bought nor sold, and betrayal will never be.

Dublin option

It is also called the Ring of the Fenians. Most Irish who advocate independence choose this variation. The ring itself is very similar to the original design of the Claddagh ring. There are two hands, only two hearts too. There are no crowns in such rings.

This decoration suggests that a person is independent, has the right to choose, no one can force him to do something against his will, to abandon the desired.

Of course, this is far from all design variations. There are many types of Claddagh rings, they can be seen in the museum dedicated to these jewelry. There really can scatter your eyes from the magnificence of jewelry masterpieces.

Interesting ideas

Jewelery craftsmen tirelessly offer many fresh types of jewelry. Sometimes the popular design is improved a bit, and amazing products are obtained. So, the newlyweds are offered rings of white gold, where a gemstone flaunts in the center of the heart. Most often, the insert is a diamond or ruby.

There are claddagh rings where the whole heart is made of solid gem. The most popular options are rubies, emeralds, sapphires and diamonds.

How to wear a claddagh jewelry on your finger?

Most Irish people do not even suspect that there are any rules for wearing the ring. The thing is that there are no rules as such, they were invented recently, but they have already spread quite well, and many people adhere to them. So, if you want to get a Claddagh ring, you need to remember what it can mean in individual cases.

If on the right hand:

  • if the sharp tip of the heart is directed upwards, that is, to the nail, then we can judge that the heart of the holder of the jewelry is completely free,
  • if the tip of the heart is directed down to the base of the finger, then the owner of the ring has a lot of love, it does not matter whether it is mutual or not.

If on the left hand:

  • point to nail - the owner of the ring is divorced or widowed, he does not have a pair,
  • point down - this indicates that the person is happy in marriage, he found his soul mate.

Product price

Kladdakh rings can be presented as a sign of friendship or eternal love and fidelity. The cost of jewelry directly depends on the material from which it is made, on the sample, if it is gold, on the weight, the work of the master and on the inserts (if any). It’s not customary to talk about the price of the Claddagh ring, much less to ask about it. If you have been presented with such a product, then be sure that you are really dear to a person, he will never betray you, your friendship or love (maybe both together, which will be just wonderful) will remain forever. It doesn’t matter if the ring is worth a thousand or three hundred dollars - it should become priceless for the owner.