One of the early collections I started with was Celtic, as there was a lack of Celtic jewellery in my area, and one of the most popular designs was claddagh rings. But what's the history behind them? Here's some fun facts about them! And no, it's not just from Buffy!
The Claddagh ring (Irish: fáinne Chladaigh) is a traditional Irish ring given which represents love, loyalty, and friendship (the hands represent friendship; the heart represents love; and the crown represents loyalty). The design and customs associated with it originated in the Irish fishing village of Claddagh, located just outside the old city walls of Galway, now part of Galway City. The ring, as currently known, was first produced in the 17th century.
And important note is how you wear the ring traditionally helped to identify a woman's marital status. Though there are claddaghs for both men and women, and worn as wedding ring sets for many Irish couples.
The tradition in Ireland, the United States, and other places, is the Claddagh is handed down mother-to-eldest daughter or grandmother-to-granddaughter. According to Irish author Colin Murphy, the way in which a Claddagh ring was worn with the intention of conveying the wearer's relationship status:
On the right hand with the point of the heart toward the fingertips, the wearer is single and may be looking for love. (This is most commonly the case when a young woman has first received the ring from a relative, unless she is already engaged. On the right hand with the point of the heart toward the wrist, the wearer is in a relationship. (This suggests that the wearer's heart has been "captured".) On the left hand with the point of the heart toward the fingertips, the wearer is engaged. On the left hand with the point of the heart toward the wrist, the wearer is married.