Traditionally, the Claddagh ring was passed from mother to first daughter and was worn as a symbol of friendship and as a wedding ring. The distinctive design is associated with one of the Tribes of Galway, the Joyce family. The Claddagh Ring dates from the 17th century and originated in the little village of Claddagh in County Galway, Ireland.
How the Claddagh ring was worn
When it was worn with the heart nearest the finger nail on the right hand, it indicated that the wearer was single and suitors were open to consideration.
Placed the same way on the left hand indicated that although the wearer was still single she had an occupied heart.
Finally, when the ring was worn with the crown nearest the finger nail on the left hand, the wearer was married.
The ring motif
The ring motif is explained in the phrase: “Let Love and Friendship reign”, an ideal poesy for a wedding ring used by a small community for over four hundred years.
The elements of the ring’s symbol are often said to correspond to the qualities of love (the heart), friendship (the hands), and loyalty (the crown).