Is the Arkenstone a Silmaril?

by AnnaEstel and various
Is the Arkenstone a Silmaril?

Ok, this is for you other nitpickers out there. I'm sure we all have an immediately resounding response to this one, probably "NO, of course not!!", but I beg you hear (or read?) me out on this one. It is an interesting question. Sorry for the long windedness.

First lets look directly at the descriptions of both, as found in The Silmarillion and The Hobbit.

Silmaril: "In the darkness.... of their own radience shown like the stars of Varda.....they rejoiced in light and received it and gave it back in hues more marvelous than before."
Arkenstone: "It was like a globe with a thousand facets, it shone like silver in the firelight, like water in the sun, like snow under the stars, like rain upon the moon." And when Bilbo finds it in the utter darkness of Smaug's lair "there was not a gleam of light, unless.....there was a pale white glint" and then "the same white gleam had shone before was tinged with a flickering sparkle of many colours at the surface, reflected and splinered from the wavering light of his torch." and "The great jewel shone before his feet of its own inner light, and took all light that fell upon it and changed it into then thousand sparks of white radience shot with glints of the rainbow.

So they are described similarly. Both glow of their own inner light, and both accept light that falls upon them and reflects it back more incredible than ever. So on the surface at least, it seems the two could be the same.

And now the arguments against.
Silmaril: "They returned without the Silmarils....and they knew that those jewels could not be found or brought together again unless the world be broken and remade."
Arkenstone: " cut and fashioned by the dwarves, who had dug it from the heart of the mountain long ago..."
The line from the Silmarillion implies that the last two will never be found again. The line from the Hobbit implys that the Arkenstone was made by the dwarves in the first place.

But is that really what is implied? The Silmarillion says "not be found or brought together again", but we already know where one is for sure, so it it lost? I am refering of course to the one Earendil has. So perhaps we could read this line as meaing that all three will not be brought together again. And indeed, the one that fell into the ocean remains unfound. And it is vaugely reasonable to think that the Arkenstone could be the Silmaril claimed by Maedhros. He "cast himself into a gaping chasm filled with fire, and so ended", but it never tells us exatly where. What we do know is that by this time, Beleriand had sunk so it MUST be somewhere in Middle Earth as it was at the time of LOTR. Also , the world was fresh off its breaking, and we are never really told what changes occured in the land that is left, so it is remotely possible that Maedhros' chasm later became a part of the Lonely Mountain.
Which brings us to the line from the Hobbit, that the dwarves "cut and fashioned" the Arkenstone. Again, I don't believe this necessarily implies that they 'created' it, any more than they 'create' the other gems that the fashion and cut, or the metals and stone they carve and mold for that matter. We know that at one time the Valar intended to break the Silmarils to regain their light. If they can be broken, why not altered? Nothing ever says that what Feanor made could not be changed a bit without total destruction. And is it so unreasonable to think the dwarves could do such a thing? After all, they were taught in the deeps of time by Aule, just as Feanor was.

I don't intend to say what I believe. I can't decide, as obviously I can argue both for and against. But I'd be curious to know if anyone else picked up on the similarities, and what you all think.

Response from Linaewen:

You present a compelling argument here!

My suggestion is that the Arkenstone, though similar to the Silmarils, is NOT the same as those stones. I believe the Arkenstone was fairly large, was it not? And the Silmaril was something that was small enough to be enclosed in a person's hand? Boy, I suppose I should check my facts, but this is what I remember from my reading.

The material from which they were both made did come from the earth itself, however, and there could have been a similar enough makeup to establish an actual relationship -- but I believe the Silmarils were unique in that they contained the light of the two trees of Valinor.

The land of Beleriand that sunk after the changing of the world is still considerable west of the the Shire, and so even with changes in the earth's structure I'm not sure you could make a case for the Arkenstone being the same as Maedhros' Silmaril. And I would suggest that wherever those stones finally ended up, they would remain there inviolate. It is somehow fitting that one should be visible in the air as a star, and one in the earth, and one in the sea.

Reply by AnnaEstel:

My point is that by the time Maedhros got the Silmaril, Beleriand was ALREADY gone, and he could have gone no where else except to the lands we know.
Another thought I had was this-I don't know when in Tolkien's life he was writing about the Silmarils and fleshing out his ideas of how he wanted them, but if he was still developing his ideas for them while writing the Hobbit, it could simply be that those ideas flowed into the tale he was telling, sort of a practice run. And we are never really give the details on exactly how large either stone is. Remember that Bilbo concealed the Arkenstone in his pocket at one time, and his pockets can't be that large!
Nevertheless, it is nice to think of one in each 'element', to the ending of the world.

Response by Rogorn:

Interesting quarrying of facts. However, I don't think we need to link these two jewels, any more than we need to equal Anduril with Turin's sword or Barahir's ring with any other before it. As Linaewen has said, the Silmarils already have their fixed place in folklore. Besides this would rob the dwarves of part of their merit, if the Heart of the Mountain was something already made by someone else, not mined and polished 100 per cent by them. Nice try, though.

Response by Earrme:

This is a fascinating question!

I've never considered this before so I'll need to take a little time and do some reading. I seem to recall some information about the Arkenstone in the appendices of Lord of the Rings. Or perhaps I am remembering something else.

Did Smaug have the Arkenstone? I can't remember. All I can remember is the Arkenstone being given by Bilbo to Thranduil, then being buried with Thorin. I can't remember how it came into the story before that. I also remember that when Carcharoth swallowed the Silmaril (along with Beren's hand) it burned him terribly. I'm thinking that Smaug could not have handled the Arkenstone if it was a Silmaril.

Response from suzie sheelf:

You have a pretty good argument here. As we know the last 2 Silmarils were lost, one in the sea, and the other in the earth.
Is the Arkenstone then the Silmaril lost to the earth, dug up by the dwarves?
Could it be that their love it it, also managed to cause a war?