Frome Wikipedia:Silmaril

  • "In agony, Maedhros threw himself and his Silmaril into a fiery pit..."

From LotR fandom

  • "The Arkenstone also known as the "Heart of the Mountain" of Thrain was a wondrous gem sought by Thorin Oakenshield in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. It was discovered beneath the Lonely Mountain (Erebor)..."

It isn't mentioned what fiery pit, but the Arkenstone was found deep in the mountain which most likely could have a fiery origin.

Are they the same stone?

If so, why wasn't this leveraged in The Lord of the Rings?


There's a few things I think I need to add to support this question.

  • The Arkenstone is larger. The explanation for the dimmer light and the cutting of the stone is the fact that more weaker gemstone has formed around the Silmaril.
  • The Arkenstone emits its own light. Only Silmarils were known to be able to do this. The reason is because life essence was placed into the stone and it held light from the two trees. A gem formed in the Earth wouldn't have essence.
  • Things can travel large distances through the core of the Earth.

Ultimately, I think this is a weak connection that Tolkien may have thought to add, but either changed his mind or didn't think was important enough to cross-check and ensure equivalency. In other words, it was a forgotten implication.

  • 14
    It's most probably not. Two strong arguments: it shines far too weakly, the dwarves cut it, which no Power on Arda could do with the Silmarils. Two weaker arguments: it would have been worth far more than an 14th of the treasure, and it would have started a world war to recover it.
    – user8252
    Dec 20, 2012 at 20:23
  • 2
    Your edit is incorrect. Feanor was able to do as many shining stones he wanted. So there was far more than three stones emitting light.
    – user8252
    Dec 21, 2012 at 0:04
  • 2
    @ALS So it's likely this is a stone that Feanor created that was able to shine on its own, just not necessarily a Silmaril. Jan 4, 2013 at 21:26
  • 1
    The only thing I can add is that had the Arkenstone been a Silmaril, nobody would have cared about some tatty old Ring. The Arkenstone would have been the greater McGuffin.
    – Spencer
    Apr 7, 2018 at 20:43
  • 1
    Comment for the question and some answers: Don't bring geology/plate tectonics/modern science into this. There is No Possibility Whatsoever that natural geological processes could have moved a Silmaril from Beleriand to the Lonely Mountain in only six thousand years without utterly ripping up the landscape right up to and including the LM. Say it was done by magic if you like, but please don't call it science.
    – Mark Olson
    Apr 22, 2022 at 14:38

11 Answers 11



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.

(The Silmarillion, my emphasis).

Not only the Dwarves, but also Bilbo, would have been looking for some burn ointment beyond the capabilities of Middle-earth technology.


After having done some further research, I'm prepared to accept that Tolkien definitely left the matter more ambiguous than we would like. The relevant references are to be found in HoME 4, specifically:

This third part is also called Silmarillion, that is the history of the Eorclanstanas [Silmarils]


There are several different forms of this Old English word: eorclan-, eorcnan-, earcnan-, and eorcan- from which is derived the 'Arkenstone' of the Lonely Mountain.

I personally don't consider this conclusive in any way; it definitely establishes that Tolkien used a specific Old English name for the Silmarils, and that he reused (and slightly modernized) the same name for the Arkenstone, but I don't feel that it establishes anything more. The "no mortal flesh" line is still a clincher for me (coupled with Beren's destiny being the will of Ilúvatar thereby making him an exception), but it's certainly open enough that each can draw his/her own conclusion.

Update - 24th November 2014

The following text from The Hobbit, Chapter 13 (Not At Home) removes all ambiguity:

It was the Arkenstone, the Heart of the Mountain. So Bilbo guessed from Thorin's description; but indeed there could not be two such gems, even in so marvellous a hoard, even in all the world.

(My emphasis)

Since there were three Silmarils, the Arkenstone is therefore definitely not a Silmaril.

  • 9
    And yet Beren had no problem touching them.
    – user8252
    Dec 22, 2012 at 0:02
  • 6
    I think we can safely assume that Beren was a special case. Design of Illuvatar/etc would definitely override Varda's hallowing.
    – user8719
    Mar 6, 2013 at 20:46
  • 8
    I wonder. There's definitely an implied effect in the world that becomes less magical over time. Which is mirrored with our world which appears less miraculous over time. Is it that the world is better understood, or is it that we've driven out magic by logic? Jul 9, 2013 at 14:38
  • 8
    The reason I bring it up, is that maybe, the silmarils have become less of themselves over time due to the weakening of "magic" in the world. The elves leave, immorality is more rare. Powerful creates disappear. Treants die off. The world is preparing for the age of man, and man is vulnerable, they need a world they can understand. Maybe this was part of that weakening of the world. The secularization of the world. Jul 9, 2013 at 14:39
  • 4
    Could you not have a large cluster of natural diamond form around the Silmarill, which would result in a lessened light output and also provide a handy barrier to allow you to handle it?
    – Nick
    Jan 8, 2014 at 15:23

As much as they're kinda sorta similar, I don't think that the Arkenstone was a Silmaril.

All the Silmarilli were lost (except one which was removed from Middle-earth) and would never be recovered except by the reforming of the earth.

in addition to that, In order for it to be Maedhros's Silmaril, it would have had to travel roughly 500 miles under the earth to where the dwarves found it.

  • 1
    Was Middle-Earth tectonically active?
    – John O
    Dec 20, 2012 at 20:45
  • @JohnO it had one volcano and no earthquakes, as far as we see in the book. That doesn't sound that active to me.
    – Kevin
    Dec 20, 2012 at 20:49
  • 2
    500 miles isn't very far, geologically speaking. Less than 2 million years on Earth, I think. And with deities re-creating the world every so often, it could easily be sped up, one would think.
    – John O
    Dec 20, 2012 at 21:06
  • destruction and reformation of the Earth is a very vague statement in there. What constitutes reforming. A completely new planet? Or just a remolding, because by this point lots of changes have occurred. Dec 20, 2012 at 22:12
  • 2
    @Kevin In chapter two of the Fellowship of the Ring (The Shadow of the Past), Frodo remarks: ''I should like to save the Shire, if I could — though there have been times when I thought the inhabitants too stupid and dull for words, and have felt that an earthquake or an invasion of dragons might be good for them." - This shows that earthquakes have happened in the past in Middle-earth, even though it might be a rare event. Dec 20, 2015 at 7:28

Traits that match a Silmaril:

  • Shines with its own light
  • Great Beauty to the point of causing Discord among allies
  • Found in the earth as one of the Silmarils was lost in the earth

Traits that do not match:

  • Handled by mortals/impure/imperfect
  • Too large
  • Not bright enough
  • Was cut by the Dwarves
  • Geography of discovery does not match where the Silmaril was lost
  • The Silmaril(s) were not to be found until the Earth was remade
  • The Descendants of Fëanor (Galadriel), the Noldor, and the Valinor did not pursue it.

The greatest argument for the Arkenstone in my mind is the property of light. Ungoliant devoured all the other jewels of Fëanor stolen by Morgoth. Any other gems in Middle-earth would not have this property.

As for the things that don't match, most are explained easily by assuming that a crust of other gems formed about the Silmaril when it was dropped into the earth. This deals with the first four issues because it: allows mortals to handle the outer crust, not the actual Silmaril; the total size would have increased; the crust would diminish the intensity of the light; and the outer crust, not the Silmaril, was cut by the Dwarves of the Lonely Mountain.

The next two issues are explained by Eru folding the world in the destruction of Númenor. This was definitely a reshaping of the earth and would be a massive geological event. When you are folding an entire plane of existence, what is a few hundred miles of space?

Finally, the seeming indifference of Fëanor's line (Galadriel), the Noldor, a Wizard, and the Valinor. It is entirely possible that, just as we are debating the issue, the Arkenstone was not recognized by the powers of Middle-earth for a Silmaril even if it was.

My opinion is that the Arkenstone is indeed a Silmaril.

  • 7
    Galadriel isn't a descendent of Feanor.
    – user8719
    Dec 23, 2013 at 22:20
  • 1
    When you fold a page the letters on it don't move relative to the surface.
    – Oldcat
    Dec 23, 2014 at 23:03
  • 1
    "Geography of discovery does not match where the Silmaril was lost" AFAIK, this is an unsupported claim. The actual location that the Simaril was lost does not seem to be indicated by Tolkein, so it could very well be exactly where the Arkenstone was found. Mar 17, 2015 at 14:21
  • "The greatest argument for the Arkenstone in my mind is the property of light. Ungoliant devoured all the other jewels of Feanor stolen by Morgoth. Any other gems in middle-earth would not have this property." - This is incorrect. The Elessar is a green gem (certainly not a Silmaril) that exists in the Lord of the Rings and has its own light. Feanor was not the only one who could make such jewels.
    – Nolimon
    Feb 2, 2018 at 19:14
  • A crust would not allow evil to handle a Simaril. From The Silmarillion: "In his right hand Morgoth held close the Silmarils, and though they were locked in a crystal casket, they had begun to burn him, and his hand was clenched in pain" Jun 16, 2023 at 14:04

The Arkenstone:

The great jewel shone before his feet of its own inner light, and yet, cut and fashioned by the dwarves, who had dug it from the heart of the mountain long ago, it took all light that fell upon it and changed it into ten thousand sparks of white radiance shot with glints of the rainbow.

The Hobbit, Chapter 13

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

Silmarillion, Chapter 7

I think the bolded quotes make it conclusive in canon that the Arkenstone cannot be a Silmaril. You cannot "cut and fashion" something that is indestructible.


The Arkenstone may have been a gem created by Fëanor, but as he says, the Silmarils were a one-time creation that not even he would be able to duplicate. Which is part of the reason why he went bonkers when the Valar asked for them to rekindle the Two Trees. For as their creator, he had fallen to the lust of the gems and could not bear the thought of their destruction.

I lean towards the idea that the Arkenstone was a natural gem, discovered by the Dwarves themselves.


It might be, because the Silmaril that was placed in the heavens was part of the Nauglamir necklace crafted by the dwarves from the Blue Mountains. If the dwarves were able to handle the Silmaril to set it in a necklace then the Arkenstone may be it.

Also the size of the Silmaril was not small as it was held in Beren's hand — it was found in the stomach of the great wolf as they cut it out and the light was shining through his hand, and the hand of a man is larger than the hand of a dwarf.

All of Fëanor's stones were devoured by Ungoliant, none remain. Galadriel is not a descendant of Fëanor, although she may have seen the Silmarils before, and the wizards have never seen them, they came to Middle-earth afterwards.

  • Good point about the Nauglamir, but you're wrong about the wizards - they came from Valinor and are Maiar, so of course they could have seen them.
    – user8719
    Jan 8, 2014 at 8:10
  • It may also have been poetic license for ALL of Fëanor's gems to have been eaten by Ungoliant. What if some weren't in the lockbox, for example? Jun 15, 2023 at 18:33

Although Beren was mortal, he had a purpose to take a Silmaril from Morgoth. His greed led him to attempt at taking the other Silmarils from the crown as well — which resulted in him losing a hand. Beren wasn't perfect and was not free from any negative influence but he still was able to handle the Silmaril. Therefore, if the Arkenstone was a Silmaril then Bilbo may be able to hold it as well since he was not completely perfect as well. He had a purpose to end conflict between the Dwarves under the mountain and those outside of the mountain.

It would make sense that the Silmaril would end up deep in a mountain since Ilúvatar reconfigured Arda during the downfall of the Númenor.

I like to think that Arkenstone was a Silmaril. Makes the lore more interesting...

BTW there are many contradictions in the lore since it was never finished so any text claiming the Silmarils would never be found again maybe be subject to error.

  • It's still not one because the Dwarves were able to handle it safely.
    – user8719
    May 19, 2013 at 18:05
  • yes this is true . . . the king under the mountain was full of greed and he was able to hold it. however, beren and Thingol had a hint of greed as well and were still able to handle the Silmarils. I see your point tho but who knows maybe Iluvatar had a purpose for the Arkenstone/'Silmaril' to be discovered once more
    – O.rka
    May 20, 2013 at 18:38
  • 1
    Can't disagree with that - after all, the Quest of Erebor led to the Ring being found which led to the downfall of Sauron, so it is all concievable.
    – user8719
    May 20, 2013 at 19:23

I think it is a Silmaril. It doesn't say that Maedhros was in Beleriand when he cast himself into the fiery chasm. Also when the dwarves would have found it it would have been crusted and covered with lava. So they would have had to cut off the crust so that could account for the cutting and shaping.

  • 1
    Welcome to SFF! This post seems to be primarily opinion based and speculation with limited detail. You will also note that there are plenty of other answers with one already accepted. This would do better as a comment than an answer! Thanks for your enthusiasm though May 3, 2014 at 4:29

I have seen many points mentioned about the Arkenstone, that it has great beauty and it shines with its own light. But the beauty of the Arkenstone which was much to dwarves was not much if compared to the Silmarils, the gems which were accursed, and any who bore them died except Eärendil. The light of a Silmaril was too much for mortal men to bear, except the Númenóreans; they may have endured by virtue of their great ancestry. Also, Gandalf could have known it very well, and given it to the keeping of the Valar.

So, the Arkenstone cannot be really a Silmaril, if it had been the Halls of Erebor would have shined like in the Elder days, such beauty was not in the stone.

But still Arkenstone is a mystery, it is still beautiful, it may have been one of the many gems Fëanor had made.


I don't think it's a Silmaril, but it might be related in some way; since a Silmaril was lost in the earth, it could have transferred some of its properties to the surrounding stones. Since nothing is known about the magic Fëanor used in creating it, this can't be dismissed completely, but it's a long shot.

Also, it could be something completely different but related — a creation by Aulë, some kind of blessing given to the Dwarves of the mountain, containing magic similar to Fëanor's.


It could very well be if for no other purpose than to provide some allegory to the bygone era. Perhaps its discovery in its own right heralded the return of ancient things, (i.e. the One and Sauron himself) a precursor or foreboding of some type.

And did not Ungoliant eat all the other gems of Fëanor save the Silmarils whom Morgoth did not relinquish to her?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.