Early on in The Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf tells Bilbo, “There are many magic rings in this world... and none of them should be used lightly." If Gandalf is to be believed, then Middle-earth is riddled with rings, yet only a select few are detailed in Tolkien’s extensive body of work.
Along with a few notable "lesser" rings, the series focuses primarily on the 20 Rings of Power. These 20 rings were divided up, with three going to the elves, seven to the dwarves, nine to the world of men, and one to the Dark Lord Sauron.
Not all the rings from The Lord of the Rings are as volatile as the One Ring To Rule Them All. While some rings were made to be used as weapons (when wielded properly, of course), others, like the elven rings, were created with preservation and protection in mind.
Let’s take a closer look at every ring from The Lord of the Rings, so that the distinctions between each can be thoroughly understood.
Not much is known about the nine rings, or who their bearers were prior to receiving the cursed gifts. What we do know is that all the recipients were powerful men who – unlike the dwarves – were easily corrupted by Sauron’s influence. The rings gave these men even more power and wealth, and extended their lifespans.
However, this power came at a cost, as the rings eroded these once-great leaders, morphing them into the fearsome Ringwraiths.
The One Ring
The One Ring is a master ring, forged by Sauron to control the other Rings of Power. While it affects each bearer differently, it will eventually corrupt anyone who holds it. The more powerful the owner, the more swiftly the One Ring will be consume and corrupt them.
Rather than being tied to a specific element, the One Ring's primary power is power itself; it magnifies the user’s preexisting power. The One Ring can also transport its bearer to the Wraith-world, where the Ringwraiths wait hungrily. While many characters obtain possession of it throughout the trilogy, the One Ring was made specifically for Sauron, so only the Dark Lord can access its true power.
The Ring Of Barahir
Aragorn’s ring is not a Ring of Power, but it’s still noteworthy within Tolkien’s canon. Originally owned by the elves, the Ring of Barahir eventually became an heirloom passed down by the Kings of Númenor.
The Ring of Barahir is presented to Aragorn — along with the Shards of the broken sword Narsil — by Elrond as he reveals the truth about Aragorn's noble lineage. In the books, Aragorn gives the ring to Arwen as a symbol of their betrothal.
The Lesser Rings
Early on in The Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf references the Lesser Rings: elven rings made in the elvish realm of Eregion. According to Gandalf, these are mere practice rings — or “trifles,” as he calls them – that are nowhere near as impressive as the Rings of Power.
We can assume that Gandalf was hoping Bilbo’s ring would turn out to be one of these lesser rings, as his initial lack of urgency with regards to the One Ring seems to suggest that he did not instantly recognize it as such.