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The tradition of wearing rings really became popular in Europe during the Middle Ages when rings were constructed of gold, silver or copper which also served to show what social class the person wearing the ring belonged to. The rarer and more precious the material, the higher the class of the person wearing the ring. By the end of the 13th century, the practice of adding faceted gemstones was integrated into ring making.

Wedding rings are one of the most worn of all rings and have an interesting story behind their beginning. According to Irish lore, a fisherman named Richard Joyce from the Irish fishing village of Claddagh was captured and taken prisoner the very week he was due to marry his beloved. While enslaved Richard was taught the trade of a goldsmith and while enslaved neither he nor his wife married and he made a ring to show his love and devotion which featured a heart to represent love, for loyalty a crown, and then two indicate their friendship, two joined hands.

Richard Joyce escaped from the place where he had been enslaved and returned to his village where he found his beloved waiting, for she had never married another. She said that she had known in her heart all along that he would return, she was overjoyed and quickly gave him the ring that she made, which is now called the Claddagh ring. The ring has important symbolism and must be worn correctly. Worn on the right hand with the crown towards the wrist means that the person is single. If the crown is facing out, it means the person is engaged or in a committed relationship. A Claddagh ring on the left hand with the crown pointing outward signifies marriage. According to the original custom it says: “May our love and our friendship reign forever, so that they are never separated.” If you want to show your partner how romantic you are, he may consider getting Claddagh rings and telling them the story.

Wearing rings is also used to show achievement in certain endeavors, such as class rings for graduating from high school or college, or for winning a certain sporting event, such as the Super Bowl or NCAA championship. Of course, many people also wear rings simply as decoration without any meaning, but for many people the rings they wear mean something. For example, some parents may wear rings with their children’s birthstones. One thing is for sure: rings are more popular than ever.

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