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A perennially popular ring (especially in the spring and especially for young people) is the Claddagh ring (pronounced CLAH-dugkh with a hard “gkh” from the back of your throat). This is a traditional Irish ring that’s supposed to be given as a symbol of friendship, love, or marriage. The tradition of giving a ring like this dates back to the 17th century inGalway,Ireland, and certain aspects of the design can be traced back to the late Roman period.
They are distinctive for their romantic design – two hands clasping a heart from either end, topped with a regal crown. The heart corresponds to love, the hands correspond to friendship, and the crown corresponds to loyalty – all qualities of any great relationship. Sometimes you’ll see them without the crown, but normally, it’ll be there. The older the ring, the more likely the presence of a crown. Many are handed down through generations from grandmother to great-great-grandchildren, but they can also be bought new online or in many jewelry stores. The most interesting thing about them is that wearing one in different ways denotes different things about you. If you wear it on your right hand with the point of the heart facing away from you, it generally means that you are single and looking for love. If you wear it with the point facing you (but still on your right hand), then it means you are in a relationship. Switch to the left hand and it means that you’re engaged if you direct the point toward your fingertips, and if you switch it so it’s facing your body, you are supposed to be married. Though they are usually given as gift to symbolize a relationship, it’s also common to give the gift as a ring to someone in the spirit of well-wishing. Say your daughter is graduating and moving to the big city; a ring like this can symbolize letting go and wishing her happy companionship. Sometimes you’ll find people who just like the design, but usually these individuals are Irish and proud of their heritage. Often, people get inscriptions in Gaelic on the inside of the ring, too. Though you can easily find some in brick and mortar stores (or anywhere in Ireland or in locations of Irish diasporas), you can also visit websites like www.claddaghring.com and www.claddghringking.com for rings of all sizes, budgets, and purposes. The second website is actually run inDublin, which is definitely a safe bet.