I wear a silver ring at Rendevous. It is of ancient Irish design and it is a replica of a North American fur trade artifact. My ring looks like this:
An original symbol of the “Fisher Kings” of the Galway town of Claddagh, Ireland, (pronounced clada) the design was first fashioned into the traditional ring back in the 17th Century during the reign of Mary II.
Legend has it that a young Irishman, Richard Joyce, bound for the West Indian slave plantations – no doubt the Irish Caribbean island of Montserrat – was kidnapped in rough seas by a band of Mediterranean pirates and sold to a Moorish goldsmith who over the many long years of his exile helped him perfect the skills of a master craftsman.
When in 1689 King William III negotiated the return of the slaves, Joyce returned to Galway – despite, it’s said, the Moor’s offer of his daughter’s hand in marriage and a princely dowry of half of all his wealth.
Back in Ireland, a young woman had never stopped faithfully waiting for her true love to return. Upon which time he presented her with the now famous Royal Claddagh gold ring – a symbol of their enduring love. Two hands to represent their friendship, the crown to signify their loyalty and lasting fidelity, and the sign of the heart to symbolize their eternal love for each other. It is widely known as a symbol for great friendship. This ancient Gaelic design is also used in engagement rings and in traditional wedding rings for the Irish. If worn on the right hand with the heart facing out it means you are single, facing in means you are dating someone. If worn on the left hand with the heart facing out it means you are engaged and facing in you are married.
A ring just like mine was found at an ancient Indian campsite along the Minnesota/Canadian border. This campsite was probably used as a seasonal camp for fishing and trading with the Hudson’s Bay Company post nearby.
You can clearly see the heart and hands of the Claddagh symbol. The crown has been broken off and lost. From the same site was found a British coin, it is dated in the 1770’s. This confirms the time frame and the presence of British traders.
Hence, I have a very nice piece of Irish jewelry that was available here in the North American fur trade.