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Irish wedding culture: Choosing the wedding rings

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Many residents of Delaware that are of Irish descent search for ways to include their heritage into their wedding. The first to take on the Irish flair are the wedding rings.

Wedding rings are the couple’s pledge of commitment to each other and their love. The ring is placed on the fourth finger of the left hand. This tradition is based on the thought that the blood line in this finger is connected to the heart.

The betrothal ritual begins with the exchange of property between the groom and the bride's family. The gold ring is a part of the property exchange. The ring is an unbroken circle, considered to be a symbol of perfection. Choosing a ring that represents your Irish heritage will be a daily reminder of your promise of commitment to each other and a tribute to your family and its heritage.

There are several styles of Irish wedding rings that can be used as wedding rings: the Claddagh, Celtic knot bands and emerald rings.

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The Claddagh ring
The Claddagh ring Kimberley O'Dea and Google Images

The Claddagh ring

This ring is the most popular and well known of Irish rings.  Its design is of two hands holding a heart wearing a crown. The rings meaning is of love, friendship, and loyalty or in a phrase – let Love and Friendship reign.  The hands symbolizes friendship, the heart is the symbol of love.  The crown represents loyalty.  The Claddagh ring is considered to be faith rings have been kept as heirlooms to be passed down from mothers to daughters. The ring is named for a small fishing village outside Galway and there are various legends surrounding the ring.  One romantic legend is of a Richard Joyce, who was captured by pirates on his way to the West Indies.  He became a master craftsman and handcrafted the ring for his sweetheart back in Ireland.  When Joyce was released and returned to Claddagh, he found his sweetheart had never married.  He gave the ring to her and she used it as a wedding band when they were married. 

The Emerald Ring
The Emerald Ring Kimberley O'Dea and Google Images

The Emerald Ring

Many Irish-American couples have opted to use emeralds instead of the traditional diamond in their engagement rings. The emerald in the ring acknowledges the fact that one or both of the couple are descendants of Ireland or the “Emerald Isle”.  An emeralds green color is a symbol of spring or love and rebirth.  Emeralds are thought to quicken the intelligence as well as the heart.  Legend has it that an emerald bestows a gift of eloquence. The emerald stone is considered a magical stone by forest spirits and Irish fairies.   

The Celtic Knot Bands
The Celtic Knot Bands Kimberley O'Dea and Google Images

The Celtic Knot Bands

Rings with Celtic knot art are also popular wedding bands.  Throughout Celtic history, Irish artisans have incorporated the knot artwork into their homes, churches, clothing, tools and burial tombs.  The Celtic knot wedding rings are often known as love knots.  It is a pattern that is created by using continuous unending lines.  The intertwined designs symbolized eternity, unity and fidelity.  The wearing of such rings signifies that a bond between a man and woman has been formed.  The lines of the Celtic love knot are forever intertwined as the two lives become one in marriage. Those couples choosing a Celtic Knot band for a wedding ring honor the most ancient aspect of their Irish heritage.