In its original version, the Claddagh ring has a heart held by two hands. A crown is shown on the top of the heart. The first Claddagh ring was made as a show of love between two hearts that were oceans apart. The heart denotes love, the hands show friendship and togetherness. Finally, the crown signifies loyalty.
If your Claddagh ring is worn on the right hand with the heart facing your finger nail (outwards) it shows that your heart is open or available But, wearing your Claddagh on your right hand with the heart facing your wrist (inwards), is a sign of friendship prior to the wedding. It thus shows that your heart is taken. How you wear your Claddagh ring on your right hand can send different messages about your relationship status.
I wear mine on my left hand, middle finger because that’s where it fits best. I wear it with the heart facing me as I want to be able to look at my ring and enjoy it.
For me the Claddagh is a link to others: first of all to my grandmother back in Dublin.
I can’t remember my first one but I do remember that as children my sister, Sandra, and I would receive small silver Claddgahs through the post from my grandmother. Sandra remembers them coming with the boxes of shamrock for St. Patrick’s day. There’s no way we would have had a new one each year but we both remember always having one to wear, even if it meant moving them on to smaller fingers till the new one came!
Those early Claddaghs were silver and getting a gold one was a step towards adulthood. Sandra bought her first gold one out of her 21st birthday money. A partner bought mine for me and I gave them my silver one to wear. My niece wears my Mum’s.
Although I knew something of the rules about how to wear the Claddagh, for me it always simply meant that I belonged. It was something special amongst us all that the English kids and their parents didn’t understand. Like a secret handshake (without the sinister connotations) spotting a Claddagh on someone’s hand told you something about them without ever having to say a word. I always especially loved the fact that men wore them too: somehow it went way beyond jewellery and is still a powerful symbol of belonging for us all.
What does wearing the Claddagh mean to you?
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