The tradition of wearing rings really became popular in Europe during the Middle Ages when the rings were constructed of gold, silver, or copper which also served to show what social class the person belonged to who was wearing the ring. The more rare and precious the material, the higher in class the person wearing the ring was. By the late 1300s the practice of adding faceted gems was integrated into ring making.
Wedding rings are one of the most worn of all rings and they have an interesting story behind their beginning. According to Irish tradition, a fisherman by the name of Richard Joyce from the Irish fishing village of Claddagh was caught and taken prisoner the very week that he was to be wed to his sweetheart. While enslaved Richard was taught the goldsmith trade and while he was enslaved neither he nor his wife to be married and he made a ring to show his love and devotion that featured a heart to represent love, for loyalty a crown, and then two indicate their friendship, two hands joined together.
Richard Joyce escaped from the place where he had been enslaved and returned to his village where he found his sweetheart waiting, for she had never married another. She said that she had known in her heart the entire time that he would come back, he was overjoyed and he promptly gave her the ring he 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 toward the wrist it means the person is single. If the crown is turned outward it means the person is engaged or in a committed relationship. A Claddagh ring on the left hand with the crown pointed away signifies marriage. According to the original custom it states “Let our love and friendship reign forever, never to be separated.” If you want to show your significant other how romantic you are you may want to consider getting Claddagh rings and telling them of the story.
The wearing of rings is also used to show accomplishment in certain endeavors such as class rings for graduating from high school or college or for winning a certain sport event such as the Super Bowl or NCAA championship. Of course rings are also worn simply as decoration with no meaning at all by many people but for a lot of people the rings they wear mean something. For example some parents may wear rings with the birthstones of their children in them. One thing for sure is that rings are more popular than ever before.