Things of Middle-earth
Type: Gems & Jewelry
Other Names: Jewels of Fëanor
The three Jewels made by Fëanor, which captured the light of the Two Trees. They were stolen by Morgoth from Fëanor, which led him and his sons to swear an oath to recover them and take vengeance on any who should withhold them. This oath doomed Fëanor and his sons to battle and tragedy.
Beren rescued one of the Silmarils from Morgoth's Crown, which Eärendil used to sail to Aman to ask for aid from the Valar. The other two silmarils were recovered during the War of Wrath, then stolen from the Valar by Maedhros and Maglor. Driven by madness, they destroyed the Silmarils, Maedhros in fire, and Maglor in the sea.
In this Year Fëanor began that labour of his which is renowned above all the works of the Eldalie; for his heart conceived the Silmarils, and he made much study and many essays ere their fashioning could begin....
The Silmarilli of Fëanor are made.
Morgoth's Ring, HoME Vol 10, Part 2, The Annals of Aman
Then arose Fëanor of the Noldoli 1 and fared to the Solosimpi 2 and begged a great pearl, and he got moreover an urn full of the most luminous phosphor-light gathered of foam in dark places, and with these he came home, and he took all the other gems and did gather their glint by the light of white lamps and silver candles, and he took the sheen of pearls and the faint half-colours of opals, and he [?bathed] them in phosphorescence and the radiant dew of Silpion, 3 and but a single tiny drop of the light of Laurelin did he let fall therein, and giving all those magic lights a body to dwell in of such perfect glass as he alone could make nor even Aulë compass, so great was the slender dexterity of the fingers of Fëanor, he made a jewel — and it shone of its own [?wizardous] radiance in the uttermost dark; and he set it therein and sat a very long while and gazed at its beauty. Then he made two more, and had no more stuffs: and he fetched the others to behold his handiwork, and they were utterly amazed, and those jewels he called Silmarilli.... Wherefore though the Solosimpi held ever that none of the gems of the Noldoli, not even that majestic shimmer of diamonds, overpassed their tender pearls, yet have all held who ever saw them that the Silmarils of Fëanor were the most beautiful jewels that ever shone or [?glowed].
The Book of Lost Tales 1, HoME Vol 1, Ch 5, The Coming of the Elves and the Making of Kôr
In that time were made those things that afterwards were most renowned of all the works of the Elves. For Fëanor, being come to his full might, was filled with a new thought, or it may be that some shadow of foreknowledge came to him of the doom that drew near; and he pondered how the light of the Trees, the glory of the Blessed Realm, might be preserved imperishable. Then he began a long and secret labour, and he summoned all his lore, and his power, and his subtle skill; and at the end of all he made the Silmarils.
As three great Jewels they were in form. But not until the End, when Fëanor shall return who perished ere the Sun was made, and sits now in the Halls of Awaiting and comes no more among his kin; not until the Sun passes and the Moon falls, shall it be known of what substance they were made. Like the crystal of diamonds it appeared, and yet was more strong than adamant, so that no violence could mar it or break it within the Kingdom of Arda. Yet that crystal was to the Silmarils but as is the body to the Children of Ilúvatar: the house of its inner fire, that is within it and yet in all parts of it, and is its life. And the inner fire of the Silmarils Fëanor made of the blended light of the Trees of Valinor, which lives in them yet, though the Trees have long withered and shine no more. Therefore even in the darkness of the deepest treasury the Silmarils of their own radiance shone like the stars of Varda; and yet, as were they indeed living things, they rejoiced in light and received it and gave it back in hues more marvellous than before.
All who dwelt in Aman were filled with wonder and delight at the work of Fëanor. And Varda hallowed the Silmarils, so that thereafter no mortal flesh, nor hands unclean, nor anything of evil will might touch them, but it was scorched and withered; and Mandos foretold that the fates of Arda, earth, sea, and air, lay locked within them. The heart of Fëanor was fast bound to these things that he himself had made.
The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 7, Of the Silmarils and the Unrest of the Noldor
sil- (and variant thil-) 'shine (with white or silver light)' in Belthil, Galathilion, Silpion, 3 and in Quenya Isil, Sindarin Ithil, the Moon (whence Isildur, Narsil; Minas Ithil, Ithilien). The Quenya word Silmarilli is said to derive from the name silima that Fëanor gave to the substance from which they were made.
The Silmarillion, Appendix: Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names
ril 'brilliance' in Idril, Silmaril; also in Andúril (the sword of Aragorn) and in mithril (Moria-silver). Idril's name in Quenya form was Itarillë (or Itarildë), from a stem ita- 'sparkle'.
1 This text is from one of Tolkien's early drafts; the name is an earlier version of the proper name as published in The Silmarillion.
2 Solosimpsi: 'Shoreland Pipers', an early name for the Teleri.
Elena Tiriel 8Nov09, 30Dec12