What are Celtic Engagement Rings?

Matt Brady

Celtic engagement rings incorporate designs and symbolism originating with the ancient Celtic race, whose traditions and language primarily live on in Ireland as well as Scotland. Celtic designs often incorporate an array of endless knots, symbolizing eternity. Variations of Celtic knots are popular on engagement rings for their beauty and symbolic nature. The Claddagh ring is another popular Celtic design, featuring a band designed as two hands holding a heart. Although the original symbolism behind many Celtic designs isn’t known, that hasn’t stopped brides and grooms from seeing these designs as an apt symbol for their love.

Celtic knots are designed to seem endless.
Celtic knots are designed to seem endless.

One design has clearly been meant, from its inception, to function as a symbol of both budding and flourishing love: the Claddagh. It is perhaps the most authentic of Celtic engagement rings. Originating from the tiny fishing village of Claddagh, close to the Irish city of Galway, this ring features a band with two hands holding a heart. In most cases, the heart is topped with a crown. This ring has many symbolic meanings. For example, if one is available and searching for a match, the ring may be worn on the right hand with the heart facing out. If someone is attached but not engaged, the heart may face inward on the right hand. After a marriage proposal, the ring is traditionally switched to the left hand. The design and function of a Claddagh ring make for a beautiful illustration of the transition from friendship to marital romance. This has made it a popular choice among couples for hundreds of years.

A Celtic cross on an engagement ring is a symbol of never ending love.
A Celtic cross on an engagement ring is a symbol of never ending love.

Many other Celtic engagement rings feature variations on the endless knot. The most general of these designs being the eternal knot. This knot is simply one that interweaves with itself and has no beginning or end. Eternal knots are popular symbols of betrothed couples' enduring love for one another.

The triquetra, a variation on the eternal knot, can also be featured on Celtic engagement rings. It has three points and resembles a rounded-out triangle. Triquetras are often seen as a symbol of the Christian trinity, even though this may not be what the predominantly pagan Celtics intended. Triquetras are sometimes designed on the band of a ring as one endless knot weaved into multiple designs. These rings can function as Celtic engagement rings, with symbolism decided upon by the wearer.

The Celtic cross also is sometimes seen on engagement rings. It features a cross and a circle that are interconnected with one another. Although Christian groups have sometimes adopted this cross as a symbol, its original meaning is also uncertain. On a Celtic engagement ring, this elegant design can function much like the triquetra: a symbol of a never-ending love, with any further meaning decided upon by the one giving or wearing the ring.

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