The fantasy series, The Rings of Power, makes plenty of references to JRR Tolkien’s original work, but to varying degrees. Some details, such as the Lord of the Rings character Elrond’s history, go into detail. However, other Easter eggs in the show, such as Morgoth, are only briefly mentioned. Suppose you are only familiar with Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies, and haven’t read The Silmarillion. In that case, you may be pretty confused, especially at the Rings of Power episode 5’s latest mention of the ancient gems – the Silmarils.
The Silmarils are some of the most important items in Middle-Earth history, and pretty much were the cause of the majority of bloodshed and wars that defined the First Age. Although they have fallen into the realm of legend by the time of Lord of the Rings, as Amazon’s The Rings of Power is set in the Second Age, their impact is still on the minds of many an elf who literally killed each other in order to possess them.
But you may still be asking yourself: what are the Silmarils? What do they really mean to the elves of Middle-earth? And why does The Rings of Power even bring them up? Well, we’ve got all the sparkly light-filled answers below
What are the Silmarils?
The Silmarils are three ancient gems crafted in the Years of the Trees, so long before the events of the Rings of Power which takes place in the Second Age. Made by the elven King of the Noldor, Fëanor, the jewels held the light of the Two Trees of Valinor, Laurelin and Telperion.
It is said that Fëanor was inspired by the light of Galadriel’s hair ( yes, she was around before the First Age, too), which resembled the gold and silver appearances of the two trees. The Silmarils basically were made to preserve this light and embody the Trees’ majesty. It was an impressive feat previously thought impossible, but Fëanor managed to bring the Silmarils into existence with the new material, Silma – which was thought to be unbreakable.
The Silmarils were coveted by many – which unfortunately worked into Melkor’s (aka Morgoth) plan. Morgoth, being Sauron’s master and the original big bad of Tolkien’s work, was pretty much as evil as you can get. And he ultimately wanted to cause friction between the Noldor and the rest of the Valar, as well as take the Silmarils for himself.
Are the Silmarils weapons?
Unlike the One Ring, the Silmarils weren’t so much designed to be weapons. Their light did burn the majority of evil forces who touched them, but otherwise, they were built for nonviolent purposes. However, their very existence did cause plenty of war and bloodshed.
The Silmarils had a habit of causing obsession; even Morgoth began to covet them. In an effort to obtain them, Morgoth attacked the Valinor with the help of the giant spider Ungoliant. Together the duo destroyed the Trees of Valinor, killed Fëanor’s father, and, surprise surprise, stole the Silmarils before fleeing to Middle-earth.
Fëanor was obviously pretty angry at this development and went on to lead his people to Middle-earth in order to reclaim the gems. So serious was he about this mission that he and his sons swore an oath that they would fight anyone who dared withhold the Silmarils from them. This oath would be the driver for many of the events that would define The First Age and even led to the Noldor killing their fellow elves during the Kinslaying at Alqualondë.
After many deaths and wars, the Silmarils had many owners but were eventually removed from the world. The first Silmaril was stolen from Morgoth, who had placed the three jewels in his iron crown. The thief was none other than a human hero, Beren, whose granddaughter’s husband Eärendil would eventually offer the Silmaril to the Gods and sky. The gem then became ‘The Star of Eärendil’.
The second was cast into the ocean, and the other into fire by the two sons of Fëanor, Maedhros and Maglor, who were still alive at the end of The War of Wrath after Morgoth’s defeat. So, in summary, the Silmarils ended up in the three domains, the sky, the sea and to the earth – in the possession of no being. The Valar recognised that the light of the Trees was pretty much good and gone, and went on to salvage what they could to create the moon and sun instead.
Are the Silmarils in The Rings of Power?
The Silmarils aren’t in The Rings of Power, but they have been mentioned a couple of times. In episode 5, ‘Partings’, Gil-Galad reminds Elrond of a legend that implies that Mithril is a type of ore that holds the essence of the Silmarils.
We will likely hear more about them, too, considering the fact that they are a legendary item that shaped the history of Middle-earth and the elves’ relationship with it all the way up to the events of the Third Age.
You can watch The Rings of Power now on Amazon’s streaming service, Prime Video. If you want to sign up for a Prime membership, be sure to click our link here. Or, if you want to know more about the people of the Second Age, check out our guide to the best Rings of Power characters and then why not read our breakdown of the Rings of Power cast?