The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Dates
Made in Valinor during the Years of the Trees. Two were cast away in I 587. The last of the three still survives in the West.
Origins
Created by Fëanor
Family
Pursued by the Sons of Fëanor
Other names

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  • Updated 1 August 2012
  • This entry is complete

Great Jewels

Greatest of the works of Fëanor

Encyclopedia of Arda Timeline
Years of the Trees First Age Second Age Third Age Fourth Age and Beyond

A name for the Silmarils, the three Jewels of Fëanor. Made while the Two Trees still shone in Aman, the Great Jewels captured the light of those Trees, and they were hallowed by Varda to resist the touch of any evil being. When the Trees were destroyed, the Silmarils held the power to bring them back to life, but Fëanor refused to break them. When it was discovered that Melkor had stolen the Jewels, Fëanor and his sons swore a devastating Oath to recover them, and gave chase from Valinor into Middle-earth.

The Great Jewels, and Fëanor's Oath of vengeance against their thief, drove the fate of the centuries to come. For that reason, the long Wars of Beleriand that followed, in which Elves and Men fought a long struggle against Morgoth, were known as the War of the Jewels. Morgoth kept his hold on two of the three Silmarils until the end of the First Age, but one was recovered from his Iron Crown by Beren and Lúthien. The desperate acts of Fëanor's sons against their fellow Elves in pursuit of that Jewel were among the most bloody of that Age.

The Sons of Fëanor failed, and the Silmaril was borne across the Great Sea by Eärendil, who later carried it into the sky to create the morning and evening star. His plea to the Valar brought about the War of Wrath and the defeat of Morgoth, and so the two remaining Silmarils were recovered. Maedhros and Maglor, Fëanor's only surviving sons, stole the two Jewels, but found that their evil acts caused the hallowed Silmarils to reject them. A despairing Maedhros threw himself into a fiery chasm with one of the Jewels, while Maglor cast his into the ocean. So each of the three Great Jewels found its final resting place: one in the sky, one in the ocean, and one in the heart of the Earth.


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