St. Patrick’s Day is almost here and few symbols are as connected with St. Patrick’s homeland as the claddagh. But, while this motif has a strong Irish connotation, the ideas that it communicates transcend nationality and culture, making claddagh jewelry a meaningful pick regardless of whether the Emerald Isle is a part of your heritage.
While there are several variations of the story of the claddagh, most versions agree that the claddagh ring originated in the 17th century in the fishing village of Claddagh, just outside Galway on Ireland’s western coast. One common tale tells how an Irishman by the name of Richard Joyce ventured out to seek his fortune, leaving behind his sweetheart. However, he never reached his destination: his ship was captured by pirates and Joyce was sold as a slave.
Joyce found himself in the service of a Moorish goldsmith and throughout his many years a slave he earned his master’s respect. Joyce also learned the goldsmith’s craft, a skill which would one day enable him to create a ring that’s been worn for over 300 years.
Although Joyce was eventually offered his master’s daughter’s hand in marriage, he refused, as his heart still belonged to the women he’d left at home. His patience would pay off: when King William III negotiated freedom for slaves, Joyce returned home and found that his beloved had also waited many years with the hope that her true love would one day return.
When two were married, Joyce presented his bride with a ring of his own creation: a claddagh ring. This wasn’t just a good-looking design; it was also meaningful: the hands represented friendship, the heart between them stood for love and the crown on top was a symbol of loyalty.
The symbolism of the claddagh is just as relevant today as it was a few centuries ago, and a ring isn’t the only way to wear it! Apples of Gold’s collection of claddagh jewelry includes a number of pendants and pairs of earrings that give you a range of ways to add this meaningful symbol to your look.
The Claddagh Heart Locket in 14K Gold emphasizes the claddagh’s ability to communicate love while allowing you to keep a picture of someone near and dear close to your heart. This gleaming heart-shaped locket is adorned with the timeless hands, heart and crown, and at ¾” high including the bale, it’s wearable just about any day.
Claddagh earrings are also incredibly wearable, and the 14K Yellow Gold Claddagh Hoop Earrings are a classy way to work this emblem into any outfit. This polished pair is just a versatile as a pair of classic hoops, but its unique twist makes it more interesting—and more meaningful.
If you’d like to add a message of faith to the symbolism of the claddagh, try the Claddagh Cross Pendant in 14K Yellow Gold. This unique piece uses a claddagh to form the upper portion of a warmly gleaming cross, seamlessly combining emblems of friendship, love and loyalty with a reminder of the Savior.
Of course, if you’d like to wear the claddagh in its original form, our collection of claddagh wedding bands delivers! The Celtic Claddagh Wedding Band Ring in 14K Two-Tone Gold is surrounded with a repeating claddagh motif that allows it to convey its message from any angle. This three-dimensional design is crafted in 14K yellow gold and framed by polished white gold edges, creating a look with eye-catching contrast.
The claddagh isn’t just for rings, though it’s certainly lovely when worn on your finger! Choose this motif whenever you want to communicate friendship, love and loyalty.