Claddagh Engagement Rings

Claddagh Engagement Rings

Ever wondered about the significance of those distinctive rings featuring two hands clasping a heart, crowned at the top?

That’s the Claddagh ring, steeped in heritage and symbolism, originating from the Irish village of Claddagh in the 17th century.

Beyond its aesthetic appeal, the Claddagh ring serves as a meaningful symbol of love, loyalty, and friendship.

What’s the History Behind the Claddagh Ring?

Before we jump into looking at claddagh rings and their suitability for engagement rings, we can’t not look at where they came from.

The story goes that the Claddagh style was first created by Richard Joyce, a silversmith from Claddagh who had been captured by pirates, and then returned to Ireland. The ring was his creation upon his return and he included three key elements:

  • hands representing friendship
  • a heart for love
  • a crown for loyalty.

Escaping from pirates is a pretty fantastical story, but there’s even a museum in Galway dedicated to the the legend!

The Symbolism of Claddagh Rings

Diving deeper into the Claddagh ring’s design, each element—the hands, the heart, and the crown—all carry symbolism that makes this ring not just a piece of jewelry, but a comment on the values you may hold in your relatioship.

Understanding what each component represents can shed light on why Claddagh rings are such a meaningful choice for engagements.

  • Friendship: The two hands of the ring are a representation of friendship, the foundation upon which every strong relationship is built. In the context of an engagement, it signifies the importance of being best friends with your partner, highlighting the value of mutual support and companionship.
  • Love: At the center of the Claddagh ring is a heart, a universal symbol of love. This heart reminds us that love is at the core of every engagement and marriage, representing the emotional bond and affection that couples share.
  • Loyalty: Topping the heart is a crown, symbolizing loyalty. This element underscores the commitment to stay true to one another, a pledge of fidelity and unwavering support through life’s ups and downs.

Choosing a Claddagh Ring for Engagement

The composite symbolism of the Claddagh ring—encompassing friendship, love, and loyalty—makes it exceptionally suited for engagements.

It’s not just about the promise to marry; it’s about committing to these three foundational principles in your relationship. Choosing a Claddagh ring as an engagement ring is a profound way to signify that your relationship is built on a deep friendship, centered around love, and sealed with a promise of loyalty.

This symbolism resonates deeply with many couples who see their engagement not just as a romantic gesture, but as a commitment to a partnership that embodies these enduring values. The Claddagh ring, therefore, becomes more than an ornament; it’s a tangible representation of the promises you make to each other.

If this resonates with you, then you there are some things to consider when choosing your claddagh engagement ring.

Material Choices: Gold, Silver, Platinum, and More

  • Gold: A classic choice, gold offers warmth and tradition. It’s available in various hues, including yellow, white, and rose, each bringing its own aesthetic to the Claddagh design.
  • Silver: Silver is a popular option for its bright, reflective appearance and affordability. It’s ideal for a more understated look.
  • Platinum: For those seeking durability and a premium feel, platinum is unmatched. It’s hypoallergenic and maintains its luster without tarnishing.

Diamonds in Claddagh engagement rings

Diamonds are obviously the most common choice for engagement rings, and for good reason – they’re extremely hard which makes them a great choice for a ring that is going to be worn every day.

G color heart diamond

We have a whole blog post about selecting a heart-shaped diamond, but many Claddagh ring sellers won’t allow you to choose your own heart-shaped diamond.

If that’s the case, here are some key things to look out for:

  1. Symmetry is Key: Given the heart symbol’s prominence in a Claddagh ring, the heart-shaped diamond must have excellent symmetry – if either of the ‘lobes’ at the top of the heart is larger than the other, this will be very obvious.
  2. Optimal Cut for Sparkle: The cut quality is vital for maximizing the diamond’s brilliance and sparkle. Heart diamonds aren’t awarded a cut grade like a lab-grown diamond, so the best way to judge cut quality can be to see a diamond in real life.
  3. Proportion Matters: In a Claddagh ring, the heart-shaped diamond should have a balanced length-to-width ratio, ideally between 0.85 and 1.00, to maintain a classic heart silhouette. This proportion ensures the diamond fits harmoniously within the ring’s design, enhancing its overall appearance.
  4. Keep and eye on clarity : Given the open and prominent placement of the diamond in a Claddagh ring, it’s smart to choose a slightly higher clarity grade to ensure that the table (the top part of the diamond) doesn’t show any obvious flaws or blemishes.

Tips for Ensuring Authenticity and Quality

Look for Hallmarks – genuine Claddagh rings often have hallmarks indicating their authenticity and metal quality. These can include marks from the Assay Office certifying the purity of the metal e.g. 750 means that the ring is 75% gold, so 18 karat gold.


As claddagh rings are so indelibly tied to Ireland, it can be a good idea to purchase from jewelers, especially that specialize in Irish or Celtic jewelry, to ensure the authenticity and quality of the ring. They’re likely to have the widest selection and be the most discerning about the quality design. The precision with which Claddagh rings are made can be variable, so if you are buying an engagement ring to symbolize your lasting commitment, its likely you want one with clear, precise detailing in the design elements.

How to Wear a Claddagh Ring: A Guide for Couples

For couples considering a Claddagh ring as an engagement symbol, understanding the traditional ways to wear this meaningful piece is essential.

The Claddagh ring’s unique design not only signifies love, loyalty, and friendship but also communicates the wearer’s relationship status through its orientation. Here’s how you can wear a Claddagh ring to reflect your journey from courtship to marriage.

Wearing the Claddagh Ring: From Single to Married

A quick timeline on how claddagh rings can be worn throught the different stages of a relationship:

  • Single and Searching: If you’re not currently in a relationship but open to love, the Claddagh ring is worn on your right hand with the heart pointing outwards. This position signals that your heart is open to finding love. If you’re reading this, you’re obviously well-past this stage!
  • In a Relationship: Once you’ve found someone special, you can signify your commitment by flipping the ring on your right hand so the heart points towards you. This subtle change indicates that your heart has been captured but you’re not yet engaged.
  • Engaged to Be Married: The engagement phase is uniquely symbolized by moving the Claddagh ring to your left hand, still with the heart pointing inward. This shows a deeper commitment, indicating that you’re engaged and your heart is fully taken.
  • Married: After the wedding, you continue to wear the Claddagh ring on your left hand with the heart facing inward. This maintains the message of full commitment and love, now signifying your status as a married individual.