Claddagh Jewelry

While every gemstone and precious metal has folklore or mystical meanings beyond what can be seen by the eye, there are layers upon layers of lore in Claddagh jewelry. To anyone but an Irishman, Claddagh may not mean much. In fact, the average person may not even know that this tradition in jewelry is hundreds of years old and has more meaning than a leprechaun has gold.

The 16th Century Claddagh Ring
Most common of all Claddagh jewelry is the Claddagh ring which is said to have originated in the 16th century in a scenic fishing village on the shores of Ireland. There are two stories as to how the ring came into being, neither of which can be historically validated. But to the Irish, that only adds to the allure and mystery of the ring. It is designed as a heart with two hands reaching toward it from either direction with a crown topping the heart. How the ring is worn tells of the availability of the wearer. When used as an engagement or wedding band, the ring is worn on the left hand with the crown facing up and toward the wearer’s heart. If available, the ring is worn on the right hand with the crown facing down and away.

Claddagh Jewelry in Silver or Gold
Traditionally Claddagh jewelry was fashioned from gold, but newer trends are now crafting the Claddagh in both yellow and white gold as well as in platinum and silver. Quite often Claddagh is also seen in two tone or tri colored gold with or without gemstones. Most often those stones are emeralds, but that is only fitting since this is the most famous of Celtic designs. When given as an engagement ring it is most often set with diamonds, but may also have emeralds for tradition’s sake. Both men and women can wear Claddagh jewelry with equal grace. Everything from cufflinks to earrings is fashioned with the Claddagh, and although it is most familiar to the Irish, it is trendy around the world as well.

Claddagh Jewelry for Men
It is possible to find a great number of cufflink designs fashioned with the Claddagh. Some handsome sets are set in 14k gold with emeralds and diamonds. While the Claddagh when fashioned into cufflinks isn’t a sign of whether or not a man is available, you can be almost certain that the gentleman sporting Claddagh cufflinks is probably Irish or of Irish descent. Men’s rings, not necessarily wedding rings, also are crafted with the Claddagh and gold crosses can also be seen with the Celtic Claddagh at the point where the beams intersect. For men there are even Claddagh tie clips and money clips in 14k gold, sterling silver or platinum.

Claddagh Jewelry for Ladies
Actually there are more choices in Claddagh jewelry available for ladies as there are earrings, pendants, charms for bracelets, belly rings, toe rings, brooches and hair adornments. Literally any piece of jewelry that an Irish woman could wear can be crafted with the Claddagh which is why this particular fashion is so trendy. Tradition has the mother passing down her Claddagh engagement ring to the eldest daughter, and to this day it is a tradition that is still honored on the Galway Coast.

For anyone of Irish descent, Claddagh jewelry is a great way to stay in touch with your Celtic heritage. Not as common as the Celtic cross, the Claddagh is just as rich in history. From the shores of Galway to lands around the world, every self respecting Irish man or woman should own at least one piece of Claddagh jewelry.

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