Claddagh jewelry is part of a tradition that started in Ireland just over 300 years ago. The Claddagh ring has three components to it: the hands that circle the ring holding the heart, the heart shape at the center front of the ring, and the crown that sits atop the heart. The hands represent friendship and being together. The heart is the universal symbol of love and hope. The crown in the design represents loyalty. These three things togetther are very powerful.
Claddagh, Ireland was an old fishing town since the beginning of Christianity. During the past ten years the town of Claddagh has become a part of the city of Galway. There are two predominant theories about how the design was originated. The first theory is that Margaret Joyce inherited a grand amount of wealth from her late husband. She then later became married to the mayor of Galway. The money that she had inherited was spent to build bridges through Connacht. As a reward for her investments, it is said that the Claddagh Ring was dropped in her lap by an eagle. The second prevailing theory is that Richard Joyce, a resident of Galway was taken by the Algerians as a slave to a goldsmith. When William the III demanded release of all Brittish citizens, the goldsmith offered Richard Joyce a portion of his wealth and his daughters hand in marriage if he would stay. He refused the offer and went home with the Claddagh ring in hand.
The Claddagh ring takes on a different meaning depending upon how it is worn. If one is married or engaged the ring is worn on the left hand with the crown facing away from the wearers heart to show openness. If the ring is worn on the right hand, it symbolizes the desire to be in a relationship if the crown faces away from the heart. If the wearer does not desire a relationship, then the ring on the right hand would have the crown facing their own heart.
The nice thing about the Claddagh jewelry is that is is versatile in usage. It is good for weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, or any other celebration that honers love, friendship, togetherness, and loyalty. The basic design is the same, but the Claddagh jewelry can be customized with birthstones or adorned with other stones. It is the perfect jewelry to give for any occasion.