The Claddagh ring is a traditional Irish symbol consisting of 2 hands holding a heart with a crown representing love, friendship, and loyalty.
The way that the ring is worn ports a meaning. If worn on the right hand with the heart facing outward, the person is single. When worn on the right hand with the heart facing inward, the person is in a relationship. If worn on the left hand ring finger facing outward, the wearer is engaged. On the left hand ring finger facing inward, the person is married.
There are a few different stories about how the Claddagh came to be.
One story tells of a prince who fell in love with a maid. To convince her father that his intentions were pure, he designed a ring representing love, loyalty and friendship. When the father learned of this, he gave his blessing.
A second story interviews Margaret Joyce, who married a Spanish merchant and moved to Spain. He soon died leaving her a large sum of money. Upon her return to Ireland, she married the mayor of Galway, and funded the construction of bridges in Connacht. As a reward for her charity, an eagle dropped a Claddagh ring into her lap.
A third, and possibly more realistic story, involved Robert Joyce from Galway. He headed to the West Indies to work, intending to marry upon his return. His ship was captured and he was sold as a slave to a Moorish goldsmith. His new master trained him in his craft. When William III became king and demanded that all British prisoners be released, Joyce was set free. The goldsmith offered Joyce his daughter and half of his wealth if he would stay. Joyce refused and returned home. During his time with the Moors, he had forged a ring as a symbol of his love. He gave the ring to his love and they were married.
If you're looking for something special for a friend or loved one, why not give jewelery with meaning.