The lore of JRR Tolkien’s writings about the history of Middle-Earth and the different things that happen throughout the storyline is so vast that it is difficult to completely tell the stories of the things that happened. Still, the objects that were able to contribute a lot to the development of the storyline were jewels called the Silmarils, as everyone seemed to covet them. So, what are the Silmarils, and why are they important?
The Silmarils are three jewels that Fëanor created. They are capable of capturing and producing their own light, and that’s why everyone coveted them. When the evil Valar named Melkor stole them, that was when the Ñoldor went to war against him on Middle-Earth against the wishes of the Valar.
In a way, the Silmarils were the very object that allowed a good part of the events of the history of Middle-Earth to progress because, without them, the Elves wouldn’t have sailed all the way to Middle-Earth to wage war on Morgoth. That’s why a lot of the things that happened in Middle-Earth can be traced to the Silmarils. So, with that said, let’s look at what we know about these jewels.
What Are The Silmarils?
There has always been something about JRR Tolkien’s writings that focuses a lot on material objects like rings or jewels. For example, both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit talk about the One Ring and the Arkenstone. But while both of those objects are important to the history of Middle-Earth, arguably the most important are the Silmarils.
While they were only loosely mentioned during the events of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, the Silmarils became a topic, especially when connected to the Song of the Roots of Hithaeglir. That’s because the Elves believe that the mithril ore found in the Misty Mountains contains the very light of the Silmarils. But what exactly are the Silmarils?
Back in the Years of the Trees in Valinor, Fëanor, who is often regarded as the greatest of the Elves, was captivated by the light that is contained in Galadriel’s hair. That’s because her hair was nearly as bright as the Two Trees of Valinor, which provided the light that the continent of Aman needed. Fëanor asked for a strand of her hair three times, but Galadriel rejected him all three times because he could read into Fëanor’s selfish heart.
As such, Fëanor decided to create jewels that were able to capture the same light as the Two Trees. That was when he was able to complete the Silmarils, which are three jewels that shone as bright as the Two Trees of Valinor. They are indestructible jewels that capture and produce their own light.
Due to the fact that the Silmarils could produce light and were so beautiful, everyone coveted them. They were the most precious things to Fëanor, who was proud of his handiwork. And, of course, the Silmarils themselves also captured the attention of the Valar named Melkor.
Why Are The Silmarils Important?
The Silmarils are so important to the history of the writings of Tolkien because of the fact that they were able to allow the history of Middle-Earth to progress. And their importance goes back to the Two Trees of Valinor.
Back in Valinor, the reason why Fëanor believed that the Silmarils were so precious was the fact that light itself was scarce. Before the Sun and the Moon were created, only the Two Trees of Valinor provided light to the entire continent of Aman. This also explains why Galadriel, whose hair shines as bright as the Two Trees, is so beautiful.
Melkor, one of the strongest of the Valar, coveted the Silmarils for himself because he was also captivated by their beauty. That was when he sent the giant spider Ungoliant to destroy the Two Trees in Valinor. And in the cover of darkness, he stole the Silmarils and retreated to Middle-Earth.
It was the very fact that Melkor stole the Silmarils that forced Fëanor and the Ñoldor Elves to go to war against him by sailing all the way to Middle-Earth. Fëanor went on to call Melkor the name Morgoth, which means “black foe of the world.” In that regard, it was the fact that Fëanor wanted to retrieve the Silmarils from Morgoth that forced him to leave Valinor against the wishes of the Valar, who banned them from ever returning.
The Silmarils are so important because it was the fact that Morgoth stole them that started the entire First Age of Middle-Earth. As you probably already know, the First Age was a chaotic six-century part of history that was full of different battles and wars between the Elves and the forces of Morgoth. It was all the fighting that led Eärendil to sail to Valinor using by using the light of a Silmaril that he got from his wife so that he could plead with the Valar to help in the fight against Morgoth.
When the Valar finally intervened, Morgoth was defeated and bound. Meanwhile, the Valar rewarded Eärendil by allowing him to traverse the skies together with the Silmaril that he possessed. This allowed one of the Silmarils to stay in the sky, as Eärendil forever sailed with it to guide the people that needed its light.
Meanwhile, Fëanor’s surviving sons all committed suicide while in possession of the other two Silmarils as these jewels burned their hands due to the fact that they committed crimes in their quest to acquire them. The Silmarils were forever bound with the three elements of the world: the sky, the earth, and the water. As such, they were lost forever in time.
In The Rings of Power, however, the Song of the Roots of Hithaeglir states that one of the Silmarils was bound within a tree and that it was the fact that lightning struck the tree that allowed the light of the Silmaril to seep into the earth to produce mithril. Of course, this could be the very same Silmaril that was forever bound into the earth after the First Age.
So, while the Silmarils may be lost forever, it was their existence that allowed the history of Tolkien’s writings to progress. The Elves wouldn’t have sailed to Middle-Earth without them. And Morgoth wouldn’t have been defeated had he not stolen the Silmarils.