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 - or Amazon's big-budget adaptation The Rings of Power- 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.
- Photo: The Fellowship of the Ring / New Line Cinema
Nenya, also known as the Ring of Water, is one of the three elven rings. Nenya gives its bearer the power to preserve, protect, and conceal. The ring belongs to Galadriel, the Lady of Lothlórien, who uses Nenya to enrich the land surrounding the elvish settlement, and to keep it hidden from Sauron’s piercing gaze.
Apart from the One Ring, Nenya is the only other ring that’s heavily featured in the novels. Like the other two elven rings, Nenya loses its power once Frodo destroys the One Ring.
- Photo: The Two Towers / New Line Cinema
One of the three elven Rings of Power, Narya, the Ring of Fire, gives its wearer the ability to inspire hope in others, particularly in times of great despair. Narya's original owner was an elf, but it was later given to Gandalf. He wields it during the second fight against Sauron.
Unlike the nine rings given to men and the seven given to dwarves, Narya and the other elven rings were not made by Sauron. Consequently, the bearers of the elven rings do not fall under Sauron's control.
- Photo: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey / New Line Cinema
Vilya, also known as the Ring of Air, is considered to be the strongest of the elven Rings of Power. Though its exact powers are unknown, it’s believed that — like the other elven rings — Vilya protects its wielder and gives them control over the elements.
In The Fellowship of the Ring, it’s implied that Vilya gives its bearer, Elrond, the power to preserve Rivendell, as well as the ability to summon the water horses that consume the Nazgûl (Ringwraiths) chasing Frodo.
- Photo: The Lord of the Rings / New Line Cinema
Seven of the 20 Rings of Power were given to the heads of notable dwarvish clans. There’s some debate over what powers these rings hold, but it’s believed that they are similar in make to the nine rings given to men, meaning that they elongate the lifespans of those who wear them.
Since these rings were forged by Sauron, they can potentially corrupt their owners (unlike the elven rings). Not much is known about the seven dwarvish rings, but several were said to have been destroyed by dragon fire, and the others were retrieved by Sauron.