Ireland's traditional wedding ring is called the Claddagh. It is named after a fishing village in Galway. "The Quiet Man" fans may remember Maureen O'Hara singing:
If you ever go across the sea to Ireland,
then maybe at the end of the day
you could sit and watch the moon rise over Claddagh
and watch the sun go down on Galway Bay.
The Claddagh ring has a very particular style and tradition. The design is two hands holding a heart, topped with a crown. Both men and women wear the ring. The hands symbolize friendship. The heart is for love. The crown means loyalty.
Claddagh rings are quite common among the married and unmarried alike.When it is worn with the heart pointing toward the wearer's heart, it means the person is taken, married or otherwise unavailable. When the heart points outward, with the crown closest to the wrist, the person is available.
I found this tradition quite handy when I was in the clubs over there. The Claddagh I wear today, though, is my wedding ring set. In the heart is a sapphire, my birthstone. It is white gold, with a diamond band. It is exactly what I wanted.
Here in Shorewood, Spencer's Jewelers carries different styles of Claddaghs, too. The owner, Susan Spencer Adrian, said they can order just about anything a customer wanted.
Another common March jewelry purchase is the emerald. It is not necessarily Irish. But for most people's purposes, the green works.
Adrian said that the emerald is actually the birthstone for May. The green gemstone looks especially good with white gold.
Emeralds are one of the softer stones, like opals or pearls, she explained.
"Emeralds can be one of the most expensive gemstones, believe it or not," she said.
The lighter colors are the least expensive. Darker colors with more depth can become very expensive.
Now through St. Patrick's Day on March 17, Spencer's Jewelers is offering 50 percent off an entire section of green jewelry. That includes jade, charms, and yes, even some emeralds. If they are out of Claddaghs, don't worry, they will order more.
Spencer's is located in the Park Place Plaza at 805 W. Jefferson Street. Their hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the week and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. For more information, call 815-744-6000.
You don't have to be Irish. You don't need to be engaged. You don't even have to be a Maureen O'Hara fan. Anyway you wear it, Spencer's has a nice piece of Irish tradition right here at home.