This unique claddagh jewelry design symbolizes “Love in the form of the heart, the hands of friendship cradling it, and the crown of fidelity.” This motify is explained in the phrase “Let Love and Friendship Reign”, making it ideal for a wedding ring used by a small community for over 400 years. The Claddagh is a unique and distinctive Irish love symbol. The traditional Claddagh jewelry or friendship ring is worn by both men and women all over Ireland and is probably the most widely known of Irish jewelry designs. The Claddagh Ring became popular outside the Claddagh about the middle of the last century, especially as it was the only ring made in Ireland worn by Queen Victoria and later by Queen Alexandra and King Edward VII. This design, that of the heart held between two hands, with a crown on the top is reputed to be of a tradition handed down for many generations in the Irish fishing village of Claddagh, adjacent to the city walls of Galway. Traditionally this ring was an heirloom of the family, handed down firstly as an engagement ring, then as a wedding ring. The Claddagh, outside the City walls, and further separated by the River Corrib, was an exclusive community of fisher-folk forbidden to use spade or hoe and ruled by a periodically-elected “King” whose sole distinguishing mark was his right to use a white sail on his fishing boat. There are many legends as to the origin of the Ring, the most likely is the story of Richard Joyce, or Ioyes. While en route to the West Indies, he was captured by Algerian corsairs and sold as a slave to a Moorish goldsmith who trained him. Later at the demand of King William III of England he was released, he returned to Galway and set up as a goldsmith. He marked his work with an anchor signifying ‘hope’ and the initials R.I. A form of this design (without the crown) was uncovered in a sunken Spanish galleon, divers having found it on the hand of a sailor of the unlucky ship foundered on the Irish coastline centuries ago. Inscribed on the inside was the saying in Spanish: “No tengo nada, porque darte.” Roughly this translates to: ‘I have nothing, for it is given unto you. ‘ Some say that the crown was added much later to this traditional style by none other than Queen Elizabeth. How to wear the Claddagh Worn on the right hand, crown turned inwards, your heart is yet unoccupied. Worn on the right hand, crown turned outwards, shows a special commitment to someone. Worn on the left hand, crown outwards, let our love and friendship reign forever – never to be separated.