All that glitters is sometimes electroplated with gold
For about a year the merchandising frenzy for Lord Of The Rings has built up unabated from the usual suspects such as action figures, movie posters and t-shirts to games, figurines and reproduction jewelry. Even if LOTR had not been a box office success, New Line Cinema was sure to recoup their original layout in official merchandising sales alone.
In a fantasy, sci-fi film release one expects (especially if you ever worked at Forbidden Planet like me) a certain amount of merchandising usually in the form of the afore mentioned action figures, games, t-shirts and posters. However a large part of the Tolkien created universe involves the mystical power of certain articles of jewelry. It isn’t called Lord of The Rings for naught.
One of the more famous companies reproducing the One Ring is Badali jewelry. For those not familiar with the term One Ring, it is the gold band which Frodo the Hobbit must somehow return to the fires of Mount Doom. It bares an inscription that, in the story, can only be seen with the aid of fire.
Badali has attempted to reproduce not only the gold band but also the inscription. Obviously, not possessing the power of Sauron, creator of the ring, it is not possible to create an inscription that can only be seen with flame therefore they have simply etched it into the gold band for permanent viewing.
Starting at about $100 US for a sterling silver version, and $500 for 10k gold you can own your own “interpretation” of “The One Ring”. I call it an “interpretation” because it does not entirely capture the clean, pure band and elegant characters of the ring as it is portrayed in the film. However, it should be noted that Badali is licensed by Tolkien Enterprises to reproduce the ring and it has been in production long before the film. They do offer several versions of the ring in silver and gold with yellow, red, black or same-color lettering. I do not own a ring produced by Badali so I can only base my opinion of their work on the pictures available on the web site. I am not entirely impressed. If you own a Badali created One Ring please feel free to respond to this commentary in the forum link below.
Now, if you want something that looks a little more enchanting that is to say as to how you may have envisioned it from the books or how it was interpreted in the film then you should look at Harmony Gold. This is a South African based company licensed by New Line to reproduce the One Ring with the Tengwar script. This is the most authentic comparison to the ring in the film complete with slightly ethereal inscription in 18K gold and perfectly matched height for lettering edge to edge.
Starting at about $225.00 US (2,499.00 Rand) you can purchase this elegant reproduction. Don’t forget though you have to figure in shipping, duty and possible VAT.
You can also purchase a One Ring directly from New Line in their Lord Of The Rings shop (and if you do by clicking the link your purchase helps support this site) it is isn’t clear whether this is the same ring as produced by Harmony Gold however it does look very similar (though how much difference can there be between gold bands with inscriptions?) theirs is $295.00 US and comes in a beautiful wooden jewelry box with certificate of authenticity and is done in 10K gold.
For those more budget conscious collectors far cheaper reproductions of the One Ring as well as the other prominent rings worn by the characters Galadriel, Elrond, Aragorn, Gandalf and the Witch King can also be purchased. Made by Applause these licensed replicas come with individual jewelry boxes and also light up for effect. These run about $25.00 US and really only for collecting i.e. wearing them or letting children play with them will probably ruin their gold or silver finish and the fake glass used to represent gems might pop out and cause unsuspecting tikes to choke.
For my money though if you were really after a fairly decent, cheap replica of the One Ring your best bet would be to purchase a One Ring bookmark. Under license from New Line and Tolkien Enterprises to Antioch these $3.00 US book marks sold at chains such as Barnes & Noble and B. Dalton in the US (also available world wide) are a very decent collectible. They come in the current major characters of the film with a replica ring attached. Granted it isn’t real gold but as a cheap replica they’ve done a fairly decent job. It’s just the right size for a ring finger (like mine about size 6-7) and the Tengwar script is probably on par if not a little better in some cases as the Badali replicas. A word of caution however these are definitely not for small children.
Beyond the One Ring, however, there is far more jewelry available for your consumption. Not satisfied with merely playing Hobbit on a mission to mount doom perhaps you feel more in tune with the elves. Original designer Jasmine Watson must have felt the same way and therefore created for the film her own unique interpretations of some of the costume pieces the elf lords and ladies may have worn. Along with the costume designer and conceptual artist on the film production Jasmine created Arwen’s pendant, Galadriel’s crown, the leaf broaches and rings among others. However, Jasmine does not sell reproductions of her jewelry though several pieces are licensed to other manufactures.
For instance if you are need of an Arwen Evenstar pendant you can purchase it directly from New Line for about $75.00.
From Noble Collection also Licensed by New line you can purchase replicas of the Elven leaf broach $59.00 US given to the fellowship after their visit to LothLorien, Galadriel’s or Aragorn’s ring $129.00 US complete with payment plans for you poorer elf cousins.
If you fancy yourself more of a lordly elf and need to prove it, how about a crown to adorn your lofty head? From Todd Alan Studios you can purchase crowns inspired by the great elf lords and ladies of Tolkien’s universe. For $225.00 US you can purchase a silver and gold “Elfin Priestess” crown and for $185.00 US a simpler silver crown. All are hand crafter and personalized for size. You are not required to have Elven ears as Alan does.
Most of the jewelry reproductions border on so-so and for my money I would rather design my own and have it made for the prices that some of these places charge for not so esthetically pleasing pieces of jewelry.
Of course as P.T. Barnum has been repeatedly miss-quoted for over a century “a sucker is born every minute” and people in need of connecting to their beloved characters and this wonderful story and film may find that $100 is not so high a price to pay for a little piece of history factual or fictional.
In my estimation if you are willing to shell out a few dollars or pounds or euros your best bet is the One Ring from Harmony Gold or New Line with it’s pretty box and certificate. The “Elfin Crowns” make nice wearable art especially if you happen to go to allot of Elf gatherings or belong to a medieval re-creationist society.
If not stick with a One Ring bookmark as it has triple functionality, 1. Hey it’s a bookmark and if you read Tolkien it’s perfect, 2. Pick your favourite character and always have their lovely face with you, 3. You get a ring, not gold but still kind of pretty and wearable.
If you would like to respond to my comments and suggestions in the article please feel free to click on the link to our forum below.
The Council Of Elrond