“Fede” rings, which were worn in many European countries in medieval and even Roman times, are inspiration for what we now call Claddagh Rings.

Fede rings are the original Claddagh ringsThe word “fede” is derived from the Italian “mani in fede,” which translates either as “hands joined in loyalty” or “hands joined together in faith.” As the name would suggest, this type of ring features a design showing two hands clasped together. They were given as engagement rings for hundreds of years across the continent.

The Claddagh Ring we know today ads a heart with a crown on top to the old fede design. When this more complex mofit came into being, or even when this type of ring appeared in Ireland at all, isn’t something historians agree on. What they do know is that Claddagh Rings were being made in the old Claddagh village in Galway as far back as 1740. Curiously enough though, nobody actually started calling them Claddagh Rings until about 1830.

Although people tend to view these Claddagh Rings as a classic Irish icon, the truth is that they did not become widely popular until just a few decades ago, near the end of the 20th century. There are almost no old folklore stories are writings in Ireland about Claddagh Rings, because they’re a recent phenomenon.

But in a relatively short time, their popularity has exploded. Irish people, Irish Americans and even people who have no connection to Ireland at all now wear Claddagh Rings. They’re a favorite gift from one newlywed to another or between friends as a symbol of loyalty, and they’re every bit as popular with men as they are with women. Many Irish jewelers will tell you that the Claddagh Ring is absolutely their most popular product.

By the way, there is a variation known as a “Fenian” ring, which is a Claddagh design with the crown removed from the hands. The Fenians wanted to remove anything that might be seen as symbolizing loyalty to the British Crown. Fenian rings do not enjoy quite the popularity of the Claddagh motif.gimmel fede ring

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