Irish Claddagh Rings
Eighteenth century Irish Claddagh rings and the Great Famine
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Irish Claddagh Rings :: 18th Century Claddagh Rings

18th Century Irish Claddagh Rings

The eighteenth century saw a great increase in the growth of Claddagh rings, while simultaneously witnessing the loss of a great trove of Claddagh creations.  The early manufacture of Claddagh rings was performed via the lost wax method through the middle of the nineteenth century.  This was accomplished most commonly through mould castings made of cuttle bone.  This great production period of Claddagh rings, though was halted and many of the rings that were created by Goldsmiths in this area were destroyed during the Great Famine of the 1840s.

The Great Famine undoubtedly caused the migration of many Irish people to America, taking their inheritance and possessions with them, which in many cases included a Claddagh ring.  Unfortunately, though many people of Ireland at the time were pawned for food, and many of the pawnbrokers of the time smelted the rings in an effort to help relieve the starvation and suffering associated with the famine.  It is for this reason that the work of many of the great commercial goldsmiths of the eighteenth century, such as George Robinson, have been lost and the few of these pieces of jewelry that remain are of such great value.

It was not until the mid 18th century that an Englishman, George Robinson a Goldsmith in Galway began to manufacture Claddagh Rings in quantity. Tragically, during the Great Famine 1846, Galway Pawnbrokers were obliged to smelt down hundreds of Rings and resultant gold was used to purchase food for members of the starving Claddagh Community. The Creative Craftspeople of Celtic Crystal were the first to introduce the symbol of the Claddagh Ring into their hand cut Crystal and are still leaders in this field.