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Claddagh rings have a crowned heart held between two hands. The heart symbolizes love, the hands symbolize friendship, and the crown symbolizes loyalty. Claddagh Rings are a traditional gift of love. The name comes from the Irish village of Claddagh outside Galway.
Claddagh rings are often used as traditional Irish engagement rings or wedding rings. They are also a traditional friendship or promise ring.
A claddagh ring worn on the right hand, with the point of the heart worn outward toward the fingertips, signals that its wearer is single. A claddagh ring worn on the right hand with the heart pointing to the wrist means the wearer is in a relationship. A claddagh ring worn on the left ring finger means its wearer is engaged or married. In some references, the ring is worn with the heart's point facing in for engagement and out for marriage and in others the ring is worn with the point facing in for both.
The distinctive design was created in the 17th century but it is based on Fede rings which originated in Roman times. Fede rings are adorned with hands or clasped hands. Some Fede ring designs are puzzle rings, with a hand on each ring that become clasped hands when they are worn together.
Claddagh rings are traditionally worn by both men and women. Before 1840, the style was generally worn by men. Today, it's more popular for women.
"Fenian" Claddagh rings are designs without the crown, a variation created in Dublin, possibly to remove what might be considered a reference to the British monarchy.
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