Ireland on a Working Visa #9

May 3rd
From Claddagh rings to wedding bands, gold bracelets to silver chains, amethyst to blue zircon, I’m your man.

Well, okay, I will be once I figure out all these different types of chains, finishes, metals, stones, cuts, lengths, etc, etc. Do you know the difference between an emerald-cut and a square-cut diamond? Or the difference between aquamarine and blue zircon? A snake chain and a Prince Albert? No? Damn… I was hoping you could tell me. I don’t know either, but it is only my first day at Kinney’s Jewelers & Goldsmiths, in the Eyre Square Centre.

Sean Carroll and his daughter, Mary, run the two shops that comprise Kinney’s. The main shop stocks the more formal engagement rings, eternity rings, gold jewelry and all that sort of thing; the second shop, Kaytoo, is where to find silver, Celtic designs, watches, etc, and it’s also where you’ll usually find me. My co-workers are all pretty nice, and so far this is a cool job, with lots to learn about metallurgy and the jewelry business (which sound pretty fascinating to me). I kinda hate to admit it, but it’s even nice to wear a suit again.

But that’s the j-o-b. Just with learning the rudiments of the biz, I’m sure I’ll have plenty to keep me occupied; all I’ve ever known about jewelry before is that it sparkles in the light but, given a little bit of time, I’ll be able to tell you more about diamond rings than you probably want your girlfriend to know. Don’t worry, though, for the right price, I won’t tell her a thing.
The Claddagh Ring
Galway is the home of the Claddagh Ring, a 300-year-old design created by goldsmith Richard Joyce, and is named after the Claddagh fishing village that lay just outside Galway’s walls. The ring itself – a pair of hands holding a heart topped with a crown – symbolizes friendship, love and loyalty.

There are two main different designs of the Claddagh: one with the hands, heart and an English crown (from the time, of course, where Irish culture was considered an oxymoron that should be eliminated), and another, more traditional design where the hands have been replaced by Celtic Trinity Knots and the English crown by the three-pronged Irish crown.

How you wear the Claddagh shows your, ahem, status: on the right hand with the heart outwards, means you are unattached; on the right hand with the heart inwards, means you are with or at least considering someone; and on the left hand with the heart inwards, means that you and your love are together (hopefully) permanently.