Symbols of Love - Celtic and Claddagh Rings
By: Amy Cunningham
Choosing just the right ring for that special someone in your life is something we all look forward to. At first the task at hand may seem a bit overwhelming as there are so many different styles and designs. Consider something a bit more meaningful: an Irish Claddagh or Celtic ring. Of all the gifts with which the Emerald Isle has blessed us, none are more precious than these ring designs. Rings bearing these uniquely Irish symbols have sanctified unions across the Western world for centuries, and even today offer a rare and tasteful way for you to add a little zing to your couplehood.
If you have no idea what we're talking about, you're not alone; that's why we've put together this nifty guide, to teach you a little about a lovely tradition that deserves more press.
Tied in knots
Most of us have seen the cleverly interlaced Celtic knot, which is one of the few things left behind by the long-vanished Celts (pronounced "kelts," not "selts". The three- or four-pointed knots appear in woven cloth, on woodcarvings, in paintings -- and in metal jewelry. Although it's uncertain when Celtic wedding rings and their matrimonial equivalents first came into use, by the 15th century they and their cousins, the Claddagh rings, were popular as betrothal and wedding bands throughout the British Isles and Western Europe. A Celtic ring may consist of a solid band with a single knot on its face, showing your inviolable commitment to the world, or the knot may be wrought in an unending filigree.
Claddagh rings are said to be named after Claddagh, a fishing village near Galway. As they exist today, these striking rings display a pair of hands reaching toward each other, both clutching a single heart in the center -- and what better way to represent true love? The origins of these rings can be traced far back before the origin of the village they're named for, however. Back in Roman times, the Fede or "hands of love" ring was popular: it showed two hands clasping in the middle, in a sign of fidelity and devotion. It seems but a hop, skip, and a jump from there to modern Claddagh wedding rings, but for some reason it took more than 1,000 years for the evolution to occur. Be that as it may, you can be sure that a Claddagh ring will elicit interested conversation from all who see it. They are very popular choices and are nice alternatives to the usual men's wedding bands.
With this ring...
Given the modern tendency toward gaudy rings with big stones, you might have a hard time finding a Claddagh or Celtic ring in a standard brick-and-mortar jewelry store. You'll be better off haunting online jewelry stores, where you'll find a wide selection of Celtic and Claddagh rings, and even a few bearing both designs. You'll also find them in a wide price range, so you'll almost certainly find a ring fitting your budget. Whether you're Irish or not, a Celtic or Claddagh ring is an ideal way to celebrate your relationship, as you head out together on that road to the future.