History of Rings

Rings first became popular during the medieval years. Rings were typically made of iron, copper, silver, or gold. The material of the ring worn usually indicated the class of the wearer. It wasn’t until around the 14th century that faceted jewels appeared in rings.

The start of wedding rings has an interesting story. Richard Joyce was among the crew of a fishing boat from the village of Claddagh, Ireland that was captured, he was to have been married that very same week. During slavery Richard Joyce was put to learning the trade of the goldsmith. Through the years of capture neither married. Richard Joyce created a ring for his love with a heart for love, a crown for loyalty, and two hands indicating friendship.

After Joyce escaped capture, he returned to the village of Claddagh and was overjoyed to see his love again and to know she had never married. She always knew he would return to her. He gave her the ring that has become known as the Claddagh ring. If the Claddagh is worn on the right hand with the crown inward (toward the wrist) the heart is not yet committed. If it is worn on the right hand with the crown turned outward the wearer is committed to someone. Finally if it is worn on the left hand with the crown outward it means “Let our love and friendship reign forever, never to be separated.”

Rings are worn for a variety of reasons including adornment. There are rings given as a reward for a job well done such as the Super Bowl victory. They are given to represent commitment as in engagements and marriages. Class rings are traditional for high school and college seniors.  Parents and grandparents have rings with their children’s or grandchildren’s birthstones in them. These are but a few of the many rings today.


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