The Meaning Behind Claddagh Jewelry (and how to pronounce it!)

Claddagh jewelry has a rich and beautiful history. Many people will recognize the traditional design without knowing it has a name or the story behind it. Let's take a closer look at this timeless design!

First thing first, how do you pronounce Claddagh? According to MyIrishJeweler.com, "The gaelic spelling of the word tells us that ‘Cladach’ was originally pronounced [klad-ukh] and sounded out with a hard, guttural ending common to Irish words.The word is now more commonly pronounced without the ‘gaelic touch’ as [klad-uh]."

So what does the Claddagh design look like? Classically, it features two hands clasping a heart with crown. Each element is said to symbolize one of the key qualities of true and everlasting partners: love (the heart), friendship (the hands), and loyalty (the crown). A slightly less popular version of this is the Fenian Claddagh, which feature the hands and heart without a crown. 

While Claddagh jewelry, such as earrings or pendants, are sometimes used as a sign of friendship, more commonly a Claddagh ring is used as a promise, engagement, or wedding ring. There are a few deviations to this - mothers sometimes give these rings to their daughters as they come of age. There is also a tradition of these rings being passed down from mother to eldest daughter or grandmother to grandaughter. No matter how it is shared, Claddagh jewelry holds a special place in the hearts of both the giver and the receiver.