Antique Claddagh Ring Buying Guide

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Antique Claddagh Ring Buying Guide

An antique Claddagh ring is is a symbolic Irish ring that has a wide range of meanings. It can represent loyalty, friendship, and most commonly love. The ring looks differently depending on what symbol it represents. A crown, like royalty would wear, typically represents loyalty. Hands represent friendship. The most familiar is a heart which symbolises love and depending on which way the heart is pointing, either outwards or inwards, represents whether the wearer is engaged or seeking love.

Antique Claddagh rings got their name because they originated in the village of Claddagh, a small Irish town. Thus, it is no surprise this piece of jewellery is favoured among Irish women. It was first produced in the 17th century, and is exclusively considered to be a female accessory. Commonly an heirloom, antique Claddagh rings often have family significance and are passed down from generation to generation. Those who do not receive one as an heirloom but are still seeking to buy an antique Claddagh ring, should be familiar with the different symbolic meanings of the rings to guide their purchasing decision.

Types of Antique Claddagh Rings

The three main types of antique Claddagh rings all symbolise very different things. While some rings include all three symbols featuring two hands holding a heart that is wearing a crown, some exclude one or two of these symbols. Therefore, buyers should be familiar with the symbol's meaning, and also how the orientation of the ring affects the meaning.


Hands are used in antique Claddagh rings to symbolise friendship. Antique Claddagh rings that exclusively feature hands and no other symbols, are typically intended to be friendship rings. They can be exchanged among female friends, or passed down from mother to daughter or grandmother to granddaughter. Hands are virtually always included on an antique Claddagh ring, while the other symbols can vary a bit more.


Crowns represent loyalty on antique Claddagh rings. A specific type of antique Claddagh ring, the Fenian Claddagh ring, does not include a crown and changes the design slightly. An antique Claddagh ring that includes a crown, and even those that do not include one, denote pride in the Irish heritage. Whether a crown is included or not, antique Claddagh rings continue to be a symbol of love or marriage.


Perhaps the most significant symbol an antique Claddagh ring represents is love. In fact, they are commonly used as engagement or wedding rings. Often, family heirlooms are be retained specifically for the purpose of being used as the next generation's engagement or wedding ring. The heart is generally held by the two hands also featured on antique Claddagh rings. The thinking is that those who are engaged or married and in love are also the best of friends.

Ring Orientation

Perhaps the greatest symbolic meaning of an antique Claddagh ring is not the design of the ring itself, but rather how it is worn. The wearer has many different options for how to wear an antique Claddagh ring, and they have very different meanings. Buyers and wearers alike should be aware of the message that they are sending depending on how they choose to wear the antique Claddagh ring. The two main ways to change the meaning of the ring are the direction which the heart points, and which hand the ring is worn on.

Single and Looking for Love

The first meaning an antique Claddagh ring can convey to outsiders is that the wearer is single and looking for love. To symbolise this, a wearer should wear the ring on the right hand. The heart on the ring should also point toward the fingertips, or outwards. This is common when a young woman first receives the ring from a relative as an heirloom prior to becoming engaged.

In a Relationship

Before a woman is engaged, she may spend time in a relationship with her significant other. An antique Claddagh ring can also be worn in a manner that conveys a women is not yet engaged or married, but is not available or looking for love elsewhere. In this case, a woman should wear the ring on her right hand. However, the Claddagh ring should be oriented such that the heart points inwardly or toward the wearer's wrist. This is to suggest that although the woman is not yet engaged or married, her heart has been captured.

Engagement Status

Women who are engaged can use their antique Claddagh rings to show this. By wearing the ring on their left hand with the heart pointed outwardly, it symbolises the woman is engaged. Wearers should be familiar with all the different nuances as the ring can have a significantly different meanings depending on seemingly insignificant changes. A ring worn the exact same way, just on different hands, can convey to potential suitors that the wearer is either single and looking or engaged.

Married Status

Finally, antique Claddagh rings can be worn as wedding rings.. When the ring is worn on the left hand with the heart pointed toward inwards or toward the wrist, this indicates the wearer is married. Antique Claddagh rings can be a cost effective way to have all the requisite jewellery for the engagement process. It also typically delights family members as the importance of the ring as a family heirloom trumps the aesthetic appeal of more expensive jewellery.


Antique Claddagh rings can be made from many different materials but are mainly comprised of gold,, silver,, and other precious metals. They may also feature rare gemstones such as emerald,, topaz,, or garnet.. Buyers should be aware of how the materials that are used in the antique Claddagh ring affect the price. Some antique Claddagh rings that have been passed down for many generations, may be extremely expensive and include very rare or ornate gemstones.

Claddagh Ring Gemstones

Gemstones are a great way to personalise antique Claddagh rings, and give them a greater depth of meaning. Women can have their birthstones featured on the ring as well. Claddagh rings that are used as an engagement or wedding ring should include a diamond, as it is the gemstone traditionally associated with such an event. Emeralds and topaz are also popular choices as their green colour is symbolic of Ireland and can be used to display cultural pride.


Antique Claddagh rings come in two different designs. One is the familiar Claddagh design where the ring itself is not a solid piece of jewellery. Instead there are gaps throughout the ring where the hands and other design features are leaving space within the band itself. The other style is a solid band whereby the features of the Claddagh ring are affixed to a solid band. This eliminates the gaps and may be more appealing to some buyers as it is generally a more sturdy design.

How to Buy an Antique Claddagh Ring on eBay

Regardless of what a buyer intends to use an antique Claddagh ring for, eBay is a great place to start a search. eBay's wide range of options, features, prices, and designs allow shoppers to quickly familiarise themselves with the market, and select the best antique Claddagh ring simultaneously. A simple keyword search is often a good starting point for any potential buyer. If a person already knows that they have a desire for a certain gemstone, or for the ring to be a certain type of precious metal, they should include it specifically in their keyword search.

Keyword Searching on eBay

After the results of the keyword search are displayed, shoppers can use the categories to further refine their search. This technique sorts the results based on priority of features that the shopper has identified such as price, material, or condition. eBay also offers a variety of buying formats, so shoppers can purchase their item instantly. Additionally, buyers can try to find a favourable deal by bidding on items using eBay's standard search format. Regardless of what a buyer is seeking, eBay provides the ideal starting point for shoppers to find a product perfectly suited to their needs.


Antique Claddagh rings have been a cultural symbol since the 17th century. They are used to symbolise many different things from friendship, to loyalty, to a woman's relationship status. Claddagh rings can include other symbols such as rare gemstones or precious metals. There are different styles of antique Claddagh rings that should also be considered before a buyer makes a final purchase. Another important thing to remember is that the way the antique Claddagh ring is worn subsequently affects its meaning. Buyers and wearers should be familiar with the many different meanings that a symbolic antique Claddagh ring can convey.

Although women wear antique Claddagh rings, both men and women alike may find themselves shopping for one at some point in time. For those women who did not receive one from their mother or grandmother as an heirloom, their significant other can purchase one to be used as a symbolic ring for all stages of the relationship. Buyers should be aware of how different gemstones and precious metals affect price, as antique Claddagh rings range from very affordable to extremely expensive. eBay provides potential buyers with the widest range of options so it should be the first stop for shoppers seeking to purchase an antique Claddagh ring.

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