The task of choosing an item that is very meaningful to me was a lot more difficult than I imagined. Upon hearing the assignment, just like everyone else in the class, a particular object immediately popped into my head. However, as I continued to think about which objects in my life are important to me, the list grew from one to around five. My Moroccan lanterns that symbolize my eye-opening experience there this past spring, a doodle my friend gave me on one of the days I just needed a pick-me-up. After careful consideration, the object I have chosen is my claddagh ring.

Claddagh rings are easily recognizable, especially since they have become increasingly popular in recent years. It can be identified by the symbol of two hands holding a heart with a crown on top of the heart. This symbol can be broken down into three parts, each of which stands for something. The hands represent friendship, the heart represents love, and the crown represents loyalty. Together, this symbols has become to mean a meeting of these three, and has thus been translated into an overall symbol for love. In a healthy relationship, all three are necessary, and equally balanced, just as the symbol is.

The reason that my claddagh ring is so important to me is because my father gave it to me a few years ago. In the tradition of the ring, no one is allowed to purchase it for themselves (although in recent years with its commercialization, many people ignore this rule), someone that loves you must purchase it for you. Whether it be a significant other or a family member, it must be someone else expressing their love for you, and wishing you well in finding love in the world. My dad giving this ring, and communicating his love for me, means everything to me. He is my confidant, my best friend, and I don’t know where I would be without him. It’s a small token, but this ring embodies everything that our relationship is.

Whenever I remember to put it on rushing out the door, I wear my ring in public. In addition to other rules about the ring, there is a set of guidelines for wearing it. The wearer cannot abide by them if he/she doesn’t wish to, but these guidelines turn the ring into a communicator as well as a piece of jewelry. The wearer wears in on their left hand, crown facing in, heart facing out, if they are not in a serious relationship or single. Their heart is open. They are to wear the heart facing in, crown facing out, if they are in a relationship; their heart has been caught. When the wearer is engaged, the ring is to be worn on the left hand, heart facing out. When he/she is married, they are to wear it on their left hand, heart facing in. By the very nature of the ring and the wear guidelines that come with it, if it is worn in public, it is meant to communicate relationship status. Thus, others are meant and lead to form an impression of the wearer. It is no longer just the possession that drives this formulation, but how it is possessed and displayed by the owner.

Currently, I am single, so when I do wear my ring it is facing out on my right hand. If a person who knows the guidelines for wear who sees me wearing the ring, they will be able to make an accurate assumption about me, at least as far as my relationship status. Any assumptions that stem from this, for example that there is a reason I don’t have a significant other , may or may not be correct. Assumptions by nature are subjective to the opinions of many, even though they may be rooted in truth. They are made through lenses of different people’s world and idea of what is correct and incorrect. Thus, the assumptions that follow the initial assumption based on their observation may or may not be correct depending upon who you speak with. Of course, they will not know the background behind who gave me the ring, or that that importance is why I wear it, not to communicate to the world that I am single. On a very shallow level of just knowing my relationship status, they will be able to make this initial accurate assumption about me.

In addition, I believe that the claddagh ring falls into a category of consumer goods that has become popular in recent years. These objects are not necessarily bought for the brand name, but more for the appeal of the significant, important message behind it. Being seen as someone who values and takes part in deep, meaningful tradition seems to have become an increasingly popular trend these days. Disregarding the tradition, many buy it for themselves, and then profess a profound understanding of what it stands for when, in reality, it is just a fad that will soon pass for them. It is the commodification of meaningful symbols.