The Elessar is the stone from which Aragorn
his name. This great gift came to him from the hand of Galadriel,
shortly after the loss of Gandalf the Grey. Set in a silver brooch
shaped as an eagle
with outstretched wings, the large stone was of the clear green of
coming through spring leaves. Galadriel said that it was left in her
to give to Aragorn, as had been foretold. Galadriel said that she
given the stone to her daughter, Celebrian, and she to her daughter
and that now it was to go to Aragorn as a token of hope.
Hope was all that the opponents of Sauron had, so this was a more significant symbol than was apparent. Also, it held a special hope which Gandalf told to Galadriel. Other hopes of a more personal nature also hung to the stone, such as the hope that he would become the High King and that would give him Elrond's permission to marry Arwen. Aragorn's name among the Elves was Estel, meaning "hope". At that time of gifting, Aragorn took on the name of Elessar, the elfstone of the house of Elendil.
Tolkien gives several versions of the origin of the Elessar stone, and of its properties, as he worked with the idea. The final statement is that from the "Farewell to Lorien" in the Lord of the Rings, above, yet it leaves out much that was not required by the story, such as its origin and properties. "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn" in Unfinished Tales has some of these early versions, parts of which were retained.
Who made the Elessar?
In the earliest version, the Elessar was made by the greatest jewel-smith of the Noldorian elves, Enerdhil. Later, Tolkien dropped Enerdhil and used Celebrimbor in this role, he who also made the three elven-rings. Enerdhil of Gondolin wished to show his greatest joy: the beauty of sunlight coming through green leaves, and finally captured his vision in the making of this stone.
It was said that it also held unusual properties. Looking through it, the viewer could see an injured or aged thing or person as in the original state of beauty and youth. Also, the wearer's hands could bring healing from injury. In a later version, this power extends over the land as well. In yet other versions, this power over the land lies instead in the Silmaril or in the three Elven Rings. This idea of healing may have been involved when it was said that the hands of the king would be the hands of a healer - the power may have been augmented by or derived from the Elessar.
Another version has two Elessar stones.
Enerdhil made the first Elessar, but it was lost, passed away into
Valinor. However, Celebrimbor, who lived at the same time as Enerdhil,
made another, more subtle
and clear than the original. This one was lesser only because by that
Melkor had dimmed the light of the sun.
In yet another version, Enerdhil never existed, and Celebrimbor made both the original and the second, lesser Elessar. The only greater work that Celebrimbor did was in the making of the Three Elven Rings.
In what may be the final version only one Elessar is made, and that by Celebrimbor.
The Elessar stones in all versions were never around the One Ring, since their making was before the rise of Sauron.
How did the Elessar come to Galadriel?
Having made this marvel, Enerdhil gave it to the
beautiful Princess Idril, daughter of his own king and queen, Turgon
and Elenwe, as
the one best fit to wear it. She was wearing it when Gondolin was
attacked and destroyed, after Turgon chose to ignore Ulmo's warning.
Before sailing away in the escape, she passed the brooch to her and
Tuor's son, Earendil, to heal the hurts of Middle-earth. She escaped
with Tuor to the mouths of
the River Sirion and then sailed on the straight path to Valinor. As
as Earendil lived in Sirion's Haven, the people, many of whom were
healed and prospered. Earendil wore it at sea, including on his journey
ask for aid from the Valar in Valinor, but never returned from this
voyage. Thus was the stone believed lost to Middle-earth.
In early versions, Celebrimbor loved Galadriel, even though she loved and had chosen Celeborn. Since he could not give her himself, he gave her the Elessar. Later, this unrequited love seems to have been dropped.
In this one, Galadriel of Lothlorien and Celebrimbor, the chief of the elven-smiths, were in conversation, when she sorrowed that in Middle-earth, unlike her old home of Valinor, the plants withered and no springtime could redress the hurt. She wished her land to have them undying, and asked what had become of the skill of the Eldar. They knew the Elessar could do such things, but had been lost in Valinor, and Celebrimbor's friend Enerdhil had passed on as well. For the love he held for Galadriel, Celebrimbor made a new version of the Elessar, granting her heart's desire. She used it well, until she had the mightier Nenya to use, then she gave the Elessar into her daughter's, Celebrian's, keeping, who in time passed it to her daughter, Arwen, who intended that it be given to her beloved Aragorn.
In another version, Enerdhil is dropped, and Celebrimbor gives her the second Elessar which he makes for her.
In the final version and the one which shows
Tolkien's highest vision, Celebrimbor's feelings for Galadriel are
dropped, as is the
lesser stone. Celebrimbor makes the original Elessar to make something
as in the first Enerdhil story. The stone follows the old path, going
Idril, to Earendil, and then to the Maiar, Olorin, who becomes the
In a midway version, we see how the stone would have reached Galadriel, if we substitute Celebrimbor's name for Enerdhil's:
During Gandalf's travels, he came to Galadriel. She was then probably in the Greenwood (which became Mirkwood), which she may have been visiting. She wished to hear news of her kin still in Valinor, and remembered the Undying Lands longingly, for the way the forest, grass and flowers never perished. She knew perfectly well that Gandalf was Olorin, a Maiar from Valinor. He asked if she was wishing for the Elessar, but she said that it and Enerdhil had passed into Valinor, and all fair things must fade and perish. Gandalf agreed, yet said that such a fate could be amended before the Days of Men, if the Elessar should come.
Galadriel said, "...surely the Valar are now removed and Middle-earth is far from their thought, and all who cling to it are under a shadow."
"It is not so," said Olorin. "Their eyes are not dimmed nor their hearts hardened. In token of which look upon this!"
And he held before her the Elessar, and she looked on it and wondered.
And Olorin said, "This I bring to you from Yavanna. Use it as you may, and for a while you shall make the land of your dwelling the fairest place in Middle-earth. But it is not for you to possess. You shall hand it on when the time comes. For before you grow weary, and at last forsake Middle-earth one shall come who is to receive it, and his name shall be that of the stone; Elessar he shall be called."