If you love vintage jewelry or accessories with a romantic flair, you’re probably already familiar with Claddagh-themed jewelry. You might even own a Claddagh ring. In recent years, Claddagh rings have become tremendously popular — so much so, you might be tempted to think that they’re a modern creation. But as with many popular fashion trends, the Claddagh ring is rooted in ancient history and a tradition that goes back centuries.
What is a Claddagh Ring?
Claddagh rings are part of the European tradition of “fede” rings, named for the Italian phrase “mani in fede” (“hands joined in faith”). The tradition, however, is uniquely Irish and dates back to at least the 1700s.
The Claddagh symbol features a heart that’s held in place with one hand on either side and topped with a crown. Claddagh rings are typically made of base metal, gold or sterling silver, with a molded or carved design. Some rings even feature gemstones, such as diamonds or emeralds, set within the heart.
History of the Claddagh Ring
Over the years, a good number of stories and legends have arisen from the mists of time, ranging from Hallmark-Channel-romantic to downright far-fetched.
The most plausible story concerns a jeweler named Richard Joyce, who hailed from the village of Claddagh during the 1600s. While sailing in the West Indies, Joyce was captured by pirates, sold into slavery in Algeria, and apprenticed to a master goldsmith who taught him his trade. Once Joyce gained his freedom, he returned to Galway, started his own jewelry business, and created the Claddagh ring, which became popular throughout Ireland. Since Richard Joyce’s initials have been discovered on the earliest existing Claddagh rings, it’s a good bet that he must have had something to do with their creation, however he happened to achieve it.
In the most romantic versions of this story, Richard Joyce left a sweetheart behind in Claddagh when he was captured. As a token of his love, he designed and created the world’s first Claddagh ring when he was apprenticed to the goldsmith. Once he was freed, he returned to Claddagh, found that she had waited faithfully for him, and presented her with the ring. And of course, they got married and lived happily ever after, because what’s a Celtic legend without a bit of romance?
Who Wears Claddagh Rings?
As a love token, Claddagh rings really began to take off in Victorian England when Queen Victoria began wearing one after an 1849 visit to Ireland. In modern history, John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline, both wore Claddagh rings they had purchased in Galway in 1963. Other celebrity wearers include Walt Disney, Jim Morrison, Gabriel Byrne, Mia Farrow, Peter O’Toole and Maureen O’Hara.
While these rings are often presented as sweetheart, engagement or wedding rings, they’re also given as friendship rings. Likewise, it’s also acceptable to simply wear them as a fashion statement, without any particular romantic symbolism.
How to Wear a Claddagh Ring
According to romantic tradition, there are certain rules for wearing a Claddagh ring correctly. If you wear it with the tip of the heart pointing toward your hand (inward), it means that you’re in a relationship. If you’re married or engaged, you should wear it on your left hand (with the heart pointing inward if you’re married, or pointing outward if you’re engaged).
So if you’re single and looking for romance, be sure to wear your Claddagh ring on your right hand, with the heart pointing outward!
Where to Buy Claddagh Rings
In the U.S. and Canada, the internet is the best resource for buying Claddagh rings because of the infinite variety you’ll find. And to save money, millions of jewelry lovers prefer to buy secondhand jewelry on sites like Facebook Marketplace and Etsy, or through online auction sites like eBay and MaxSold, where you can often win a coveted item at an astonishingly low price.
When it comes to buying secondhand jewelry, you’re not just saving money, you’re also purchasing a piece of history that comes with its own romantic story. For that reason alone, many people prefer vintage and secondhand jewelry to new, regardless of the cost.
Benefits of Buying Secondhand Jewelry at Online Auctions
Online auctions offer you the chance to get what you want, at a price you can afford. And if the timing is right, you can get an amazing deal on a lucky find. Plus, online auctions provide an incredibly exciting way to shop. There’s something about an auction that gets your heart pumping and your adrenalin racing, especially if you love getting a bargain.
Online auctions also provide a huge wealth of treasures to choose from. With sites like eBay and MaxSold, you’ll find thousands of gorgeous secondhand jewelry pieces, including artisan-made Claddagh rings (with or without gemstones) that you’ll never find on the retail market. Online auctions give you the opportunity to buy distinctive, rare and even one-of-a-kind jewelry items that you’ll never see again, so you can build up a jewelry wardrobe of stunning signature pieces, all at well below retail prices.
One of the best ways to find unique vintage and secondhand jewelry, including Claddagh rings, is through a local online auction service. As one of the leading online estate auction companies in North America, MaxSold allows you to bid on items from local sellers where you live. If you win, you don’t have to worry about costly delivery charges or shipping delays — you just pick up your treasure at a location nearby. Best of all, everything at MaxSold starts at one dollar with absolutely no reserve. This makes MaxSold one of the most exciting (and cost-effective!) auction sites on the internet.
Whether you’re a confirmed treasure hunter or looking to downsize your household by selling locally, MaxSold is the ideal place for buying and selling secondhand items online. If you’re looking for Claddagh rings, unique jewelry, household furnishings or cherished antiques, visit MaxSold and register for free so you can start bidding right away!