Movie News / Tolkien News

Forging The One Ring: An Interview with Halfdan Hansen

The Jens Hansen Gold and Silversmith workshop opened in Nelson, New Zealand in 1968. It’s owner and founder, Jens Hansen, was classically trained in gold and silversmithing in New Zealand and Denmark, but he made his mark with creative pieces that drew inspiration from other art forms.

In 1999, Jens Hansen was approached by the Art Direction team on The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. “My father knew and loved The Lord of the Rings and was very excited when he heard that Peter Jackson was going to film it in New Zealand,” said Jen’s Hansen’s son and fellow goldsmith Thorkild Hansen. “Then came a phone call asking if he would make The One Ring, and he was thrilled and honoured.”

Thorkild and Halfdan Hansen show off a large ring used for closeups.

Father and son created 15 different prototypes of the ring with different finishes and weights. Peter Jackson picked the final design. Once the decision was made, they had to create over forty versions of the ring for the films. Some were large scale for close-ups, some were worn on necklaces, and each ring had to be fit to the character that wore it. Every version of the ring they created was the simple and elegant ring without the elvish inscription; the appearance of the writing was a computer generated effect.

They also created Vilya, the Ring of Elrond, based on the descriptions by Tolkien.

Sadly, Jens Hansen passed away in 1999 before he could see how beautiful his rings looked onscreen. His sons Thorkild and Halfdan continued his legacy, finishing the rings for the films.

Today, the studio is a whirlwind of excitement. They have recently announced two new collaborations with Weta Workshop. “It’s been a busy time in the Jens Hansen workshop!” Halfdan Hansen said. “We’re really pleased to have had the opportunity to work with Weta to create a new official One Ring in gold-plated Tungsten Carbide with elvish Black Speech script, and the unmarked Gollum’s Precious Ring.” Both rings are now for sale at the Weta Online Store. “And just in time – The Hobbit premiere is coming up fast!”

Halfdan took some time away from the bustle of activity to answer some of my questions.

Q: Can you describe the creative process of designing the One Ring and Vilya? How much input was from the Lord of the Rings filmmakers and how much creative control did you have?

Halfdan: We give J.R.R Tolkien and his descriptive writing most of the credit, of course! The Ring is described in The Lord of the Rings books as a perfectly smooth, round and unmarked ring. My father Jens wanted to stay true to these original descriptions. What he then did was capture the overpowering presence and gravitas of the legendary One Ring through the weight of 18ct gold, and the generousness of line and proportion. We provided several prototype designs to the filmmakers, and they selected the design that became the One Ring.

Vilya was designed by my brother Thorkild Hansen later on in the filming. It stays true to the description in The Lord of the Rings books of a gold ring featuring a ‘great blue stone’ – but the design has the hallmarks of a classic Jens Hansen approach.

Q: Can you give us a brief description of your process of creating a ring or piece of jewelry from beginning to end?

Halfdan: Most of our pieces are evolutions of my father’s original designs, which span over 40 years since he first established the Jens Hansen workshop in the 1960s. Some new designs start from a well defined brief – when a customer will come to us and describe what they’re looking for. We love the opportunity to custom make unique pieces. We’ll work with the customer to choose a metal and a stone that suits their needs and desires, and then create the piece.

We try to ensure that all our jewellery is functional as well as beautiful. What often sets us apart from many other designers is our use of heavier gauge materials – our jewellery weighs more than usual and often contains more precious metal. The advantage of this is that Jens Hansen pieces tend to be very smooth, comfortable and last a lifetime.

Q: What is your most popular or best selling item?

Halfdan: Diamond engagement rings are probably our most popular selling item, but since they are created in many different designs, then we would say that the Movie Ring – our replica of the original Ring we made for the Lord of the Rings – is our single most popular individual design.

 

Jens Hansen offers a number of different versions of The One Ring, in a range of prices and styles. Visit JensHansen.com for more information.

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One Comment

  1. Great interview! I want that larger ring! lol