Can Guys Wear Claddagh Rings?
Although the legendary story of the Claddagh ring’s roots tells us that the very first one was created for a woman, the Irish jewelry’s iconic design featuring a crown, heart, and pair of hands is not exclusively for female wearers. The symbolic representation of love, loyalty, and friendship has made the ring a popular unisex design choice for wedding bands, and for men and women that have promised their love to another.
What Is A Claddagh?
The word Claddagh itself comes from an Irish term meaning “An Cladach” which translates to a “flat stony shore”, a reference to the Irish fishing village of Galway, where the story began.
It’s believed that the very first Claddagh was created in the 17th century by Richard Joyce in Galway. While captured and enslaved by Algerian Corsairs in the 1600s, Joyce learned the craft of goldsmith by his master, but never forgot his sweetheart back home in Ireland. At some point during his 14 years in captivity, he designed the first Claddagh ring. When he and all British slaves were ordered released, he returned to Galway to marry his beloved, presenting her with his lovingly designed ring as a symbol of his devotion.
Famous Men Who Have Worn the Claddagh
The ring design really started to take off during the Victorian era and by the 20th century was being worn by men as well as women in the U.S. and Ireland. In fact, many male celebrities have sported these unique rings. John F. Kennedy wore one to celebrate his family’s Irish roots. So didn’t one of golden Hollywood’s most masculine leading men, John Wayne. Jim Morrison, front man for ’60s rock group The Doors, exchanged Claddagh bands with his girlfriend as part of a Celtic style commitment ceremony (he wore a gold one.) Another rocker, Liam Gallagher, has been known to wear one and his brother Noel’s is studded with rubies.
Even the statue of Walt Disney at Disneyland depicts the creator of Mickey Mouse, despite being married, sporting the Claddagh ring on his right hand with the heart symbol curiously pointing outwards! (Perhaps he simply didn’t know the correct way to wear it.)
Is There A Right Way To Wear It?
How you wear your ring is meant to send a message to the world that you’re available or spoken for. Breaking down the design, the heart represents love, the hands represent friendship, and the crown stands for loyalty. There are three ways to wear it:
1. On the right hand with the heart facing outwards.
This means you’re single but interested in attracting love.
2. On the right hand with the heart facing towards you.
This means you’re in a relationship and your heart is currently taken.
3. On the left hand with the heart facing towards you.
The switch to the left hand indicates that you’re married and you’re devoted to another in matrimony.
As Wedding Rings
Modern Claddagh jewelry comes in a variety of designs from the basic and bold to the ornate for couples getting ready to walk down the aisle. Popular materials used to make these and other traditional Irish jewelry include white gold, yellow gold, and sterling silver. The rings may also be two-toned, consisting of two different materials, and are often available in various widths and set with a stone as the heart.
If you’re not married, an Irish Claddagh ring serves as an ideal promise ring or engagement ring. Just be certain to wear it with the heart facing towards you. It makes the perfect promise ring as it represents the promise of love, loyalty, and friendship towards a significant other. It may also be given from one lover to another, with the instruction to “wear my Claddagh” as a symbol of commitment.
They’re also not just about professing love for another. For men and women of Irish heritage, they often wear the Claddagh to represent the pride and loyalty one has for their Irish roots. They also come in a variety of designs and materials to suit everyone’s taste and may be adorned with gems and birthstones or used in other styles of jewelry such as tie pins or necklaces. It was during the 20th century that they grew in popularity among Irish-Americans, although it’s a mystery as to who brought the first one to the United States.
Many Celtic rings and forms of Celtic jewelry have been designed with men in mind as well. Celtic jewelry often depicts traditional symbols such as the Celtic knot, shield, spiral, and weave, to name a few. The Celtic knot is a popular choice for wedding bands and rings, since the design represents an unending knot, or commitment, that can never be broken.
So gentlemen, wear your Claddagh ring with pride! No matter your taste and budget, you’re sure to find a masculine ring design that resonates with your personal style while telling the world that your heart is open, or betrothed to another.