Claddagh Rings

Claddagh Ring – What Is It, And How Do You Wear It?

There are not many fashion designs that can boast a heritage of hundreds of years and still look chic and contemporary. Celtic designs do just that.

The Claddagh Ring is a traditional Celtic ring that is beautiful, meaningful, and comes with just a hint of mystery – The perfect combination for that extra special jewelry piece.

Almost uniquely among rings, the Claddagh Ring has different meanings depending on how it is worn. To fully understand the reasons behind this, it is useful and interesting to look at the myths and history that surround the Claddagh Ring.

How do you wear a Claddagh Ring

What is a Claddagh Ring?

We all love a good story, and the myth that surrounds the Claddagh Ring is part of its appeal.

Claddagh Rings the Myth – The myth tells the tale of a young man from Claddagh in the West of Ireland. Captured by pirates, he is sold into slavery. His new master teaches him the craft of goldsmithing, an art that he soon becomes skilled at.

But the young man never forgets his roots and the one true love that he left behind. Over the years, he secrets away enough gold, and he fashions a ring for his sweetheart. Eventually, he makes his way back to his beloved Ireland to find that his sweetheart has waited for him.

Of course, he presents her with the first-ever Claddagh ring, and the myth is born.

This is a nice story, but it is likely an embellishment of the true story. The first real documented ring was designed by a goldsmith from Claddagh called Richard Joyce. The design dates back to the 17th Century when Joyce had a goldsmith shop in Claddagh.

Joyce is known to have sailed off from Ireland in his younger days, so perhaps the young man and Richard Joyce are one and the same.

The Meaning of the Claddagh Ring

Claddagh Ring

The Claddagh Ring is a design that incorporates three components, each of which adds something to the meaning of the ring.

  1. The Heart – At the center of the design, and representing love, is a heart.
  2. Two Clasped Hands – The clasped hands on the design are there to represent friendship.
  3. The Crown – The crown is a representation of loyalty.

It is this symbolism and meaning that marks the Claddagh Ring as something extra-special in the jewelry world. But there is more than just that because the ring is worn differently depending on the status of the wearer.

How do you wear a Claddagh Ring?

One of the other unique features of Claddagh rings is that the relationship status of the wearer can dictate how the ring is worn. This “status symbolism” also has the added effect of making the Claddagh Ring perfect for both engagement and wedding rings.

But single people and those in relationships can also wear a Claddagh Ring. Because as described below, the only thing you need to do is to wear the ring correctly.

Wearing a Claddagh Ring Correctly

Depending on the relationship status of the wearer, a Claddagh Ring should be worn in the following fashion:

  • Married – Married people should wear the ring on the wedding ring finger with the heart pointing inwards. This signifies that the wearer has found and married their one true love.
  • Engaged – When worn as an engagement ring, it should be won on the wedding ring finger of the left hand with the heart pointing outwards.
  • In a relationship – For those in a relationship, the proper way to wear a Claddagh ring is on the right hand. The heart should point upwards, signifying that the wearer is spoken for!
  • Single people – For single people, a Claddagh Ring should be worn on the right hand with the heart pointing downwards.

The symbolism, myth, and meaning of a Claddagh Ring are all a part of its enduring appeal. There are very few other jewelry pieces that can boast such a rich tradition and heritage.

But there is more to a Claddagh Ring than just myth and tradition. These attributes aren’t enough to account for its longevity. To have an appeal that lasts for centuries, there has to be more than a story shrouded in the mists of time.

The Final Word on the Enduring Appeal of Claddagh Rings

Claddagh Rings have endured not only because of their meaning and history but because of their beauty.

The design of a Claddagh Ring is a thing of sheer magnificence. And this is the final piece in the jigsaw puzzle that explains why Claddagh Rings have remained virtually unchanged and so popular for centuries.

Great jewelry always means more than its component pieces. And when that meaning and symbolism is shrouded in the mists of time and myth, it adds that little bit of magic and mystique to the ring on your finger.


With over 30 years of experience in the jewelry industry on behalf of Irish Jewel, Carol Clarke is a full-graduate Gemmologist from the Gemmological Institute of America and a Fellow of the National Association of Goldsmiths of Great Britain. She is also a well-known Claddagh Rings expert.