I think that the One Ring's power got its power from Sauron - that he basically put some of his power in it.

But where did the other Rings of Power get their powers from?

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    Actually Sauron made the other rings, right? So maybe he put a smaller bit of his power in them? Jul 26, 2021 at 20:49
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    @PaulD.Waite He did not make or help with the Elven rings (other than Celebrimbor using techniques learned from Sauron), and only contributed to the making of the Human/Dwarven rings, it is only said he put power into the One. Jul 26, 2021 at 20:52
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    Out of universe, the idea that Sauron could control the wearers of the other rings by adding his own power to his Ring is an example of the concept of sympathetic magic. Don't take that to mean that all the rings required a similar "charging" to work as intended. Remember that Elvin "magic" is closer to an understanding of how the world really works than it is an overt force that can be used to manipulate the world. The other rings might be no more magical, in some sense, than a computer. You just have to know how to use one.
    – chepner
    Jul 26, 2021 at 21:20
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    I'm sure there's a good quote somewhere along the lines of Elves being confused about Men calling their stuff "magic". Like "we just made it like that so you can't be seen when you're wearing it, what's the big deal"?
    – OrangeDog
    Jul 26, 2021 at 21:41
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    @just_happen_to_know Sauron made the One Ring to control the others, including the Three, but the other Rings of Power were made first so their powers can't be directly derived from the One. Jul 26, 2021 at 23:22

1 Answer 1


TL;DR: At least for the Three, and probably the Seven and Nine: from the skill of the Elves that made them

Much about the Rings and the "backstory" of LOTR is explained in "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age" at the end of the published Silmarillion.

All the Rings except the One were made by the Elves, though they used knowledge given by Sauron.

Therefore they hearkened to Sauron, and they learned of him many things, for his knowledge was great. In those days the smiths of Ost-in-Edhil surpassed all that they had contrived before, and they took thought, and they made Rings of Power.

As for the Three specifically:

of all the Elven-rings Sauron most desired to possess them, for those who had them in their keeping could ward off the decays of time and postpone the weariness of the world [...] Therefore the Three remained unsullied, for they were forged by Celebrimbor alone, and the hand of Sauron had never touched them; yet they also were subject to the One.

So Sauron specifically was not directly involved in the creation of the Three, and their power cannot derive from his as the One's does.

It is never suggested that the Three affect the choices/will of their bearers as the One Ring clearly does all through LOTR, or that Celebrimbor put his "will and strength" into the Three as Sauron did into the One.

The Three are a particularly dramatic example of Elvish "craft" that is called "magic" by mortals.

The introduction to the published Silmarillion ("From a letter by J. R. R. Tolkien to Milton Waldman, 1951") states about this Elvish 'magic':

Their 'magic' is Art, delivered from many of its human limitations: more effortless, more quick, more complete (product, and vision in unflawed correspondence). And its object is Art not Power, sub-creation not domination and tyrannous reforming of Creation.

From that same letter:

The chief power of all the Rings alike was the prevention or slowing of decay (i.e. 'change' viewed as a regrettable thing), the preservation of what is desired or loved, or its semblance - this is more or less an Elvish motive. But also they enhanced the natural powers of a possessor - thus approaching 'magic', a motive easily corruptible into evil, a lust for domination.

On the Three specifically:

The Elves of Eregion made Three supremely beautiful and powerful rings, almost solely of their own imagination, and directed to the preservation of beauty: they did not confer invisibility.

EDIT to add more about the Seven and Nine in response to the OP's request in comments:

From the same letter:

And finally they had other powers, more directly derived from Sauron ('the Necromancer': so he is called as he casts a fleeting shadow and presage on the pages of 'The Hobbit'): such as rendering invisible the material body, and making things of the invisible world visible.

Unfortunately it is not entirely clear what "more directly derived from Sauron" means - do the Seven and Nine actually contain a bit of his being, or does it just mean that the powers are Sauron's design, or derived from Sauron's magic but not his personal essence? The reference to his title as "the Necromancer" may suggest the latter - that the invisibility/wraith-transformation powers come from Sauron's evil magic - but it is not stated exactly.

Of the Third Age and the Rings of Power states that the Three were the most powerful of the Elven-made Rings - "Now these were the Three that had last been made, and they possessed the greatest powers" - which may also argue against the Seven and Nine containing Sauron's actual being/power.

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    Very well-thought-out! My only quibble (and it is a quibble, as it does not affect your conclusions) is that Sauron did have a part in the making of the lesser rings. It was only the Three that the "hand of Sauron had never touched".
    – Mark Olson
    Jul 27, 2021 at 1:03
  • This is true, but I don't think it really contradicts what I said. The power of conferring invisibility (which the 7 and 9 had but not the 3) was "derived from Sauron"; the 3 were 'unsullied' both in that they lacked this, and in that Sauron never handled them - they were made after he left Eregion and he never captured them. But the invisibility power of the 7 and 9 being "derived from Sauron" doesn't require that they contained the power of Sauron himself -- an actual piece of Sauron's being -- as the One did. Sauron was "the Necromancer" and I think his magic is involved here. Jul 27, 2021 at 6:15
  • However, I probably should have been clearer about the 7 and 9 in the answer. But I think the 3 are the best case to show that the power of "Rings of Power in general" isn't directly drawn from Sauron or the One. Jul 27, 2021 at 6:17
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    @Wade ok, I will edit in some more about that. Unfortunately the 7 and 9 are less clear: they are more influenced by Sauron than the 3, but not purely of Sauron like the One. I don't think they have any of Sauron's actual being in them, but I don't think that is actually completely excluded by the text the way it is for the 3. Jul 27, 2021 at 7:25
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    @Amarth similar, but that question refers to the "put one's own essence into it" One Ring principle, not the "Elvish craft" nature the Three (and probably Seven and Nine) appear to have. Also, that question also deals with Gandalf's own skills (which do not really appear to run to "craft", except fireworks - he's not a Maia of Aule like Saruman/Curumo and Sauron). Jul 28, 2021 at 0:39

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