If you’ve frequented the dealer’s halls of conventions such as San Diego ComicCon, Gen Con, Dragon Con, and more, you might be familiar with Badali Jewelry. If not, well, I’m here to show you what you’ve been missing!
Badali is a geeky jewelry company owned and run by a family of…you guessed it, nerds like you and me. If you peruse their website, you’ll discover they are a licensed creator of Lord of the Rings jewelry. They also make pieces inspired by the books of some of our favorite authors, like Gail Carriger, Jim Butcher, Cherie Priest, Peter V. Brett, Patrick Rothfuss, Kevin Hearn, and more! These are not rip-off copycat pieces like some other companies (illegally) make. All Badali’s are licensed and official.
One of Badali Jewelry’s most popular pieces is the One Ring of Power from JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Here’s a look at how these rings are made:
It’s really fascinating to watch the care with which each of these pieces is made. If you follow Badali Jewelry on social media, you can also see little behind the scenes peeks at their processes as well. These are not mass produced pieces—each is made by hand and because Badali is a small business, everyone who works there seems to have something invested in every piece. It’s a joy to listen to them talk about the stories behind the different pieces of jewelry, and their unique appreciation of each. Everyone there seems to love books and nerdy pop culture, and they have made themselves a great part of the community.
One of my favorite things about Badali Jewelry is their wide range of prices. There is something there for every budget, and even individual pieces have various options to help make them affordable. For example, Nenya, Galadriel’s ring from Lord of the Rings, is available in different metals, with different stones, etc. so you can pay anywhere from $79 to $2900, depending on what options you choose. Not only that, but if there is ever anything wrong with a piece you purchase, their customer service is incomparable, and they are caring and personal with their communications.
The Badalis know their geek culture, and include the background of many of the pieces on their website. They explain why they designed pieces the way they did, and where the pieces are mentioned in a book, if they are replicas. You can tell they really care about their work.
Here is Paul J. Badali, the President and Master Jeweler, talking about his journey to creating these wonderful pieces, including the One Ring of Power:
I read "The Hobbit" for the first time in 1967 as a junior in High School. It was the first book I had ever read in its entirety on my own. I was a very poor reader and it took lots of time, effort, and commitment on my part to read the entire book. Tolkien's style and the content of The Hobbit captivated my interest and I was compelled to persevere. I now read well and could fill a large trunk with the science fiction and fantasy novels I have since read. The reading of The Hobbit that first time was a turning point in my life. I have been shaped and molded by that first experience with JRR Tolkien in very real ways.
I went on to read The Lord of the Rings™ while attending college from 1969 - 1971. Later I read The Silmarillion™. 40 years later, here I am a jeweler crafting The Ruling Ring and other officially licensed jewelry from fantasy novels. In searching for a name for our first daughter in 1975, I suggested Lothlorian. My wife liked the sound and idea, but shortened it to Loria (loth LORIA n). So even my first-born child’s name was inspired by J.R.R Tolkien, and is proud of it by the way.
Growing up I was a nature boy. In 1956, at age 5, I found my first crystal at a landfill near our house. I had never held a crystal before. I still remember the joy of holding it, the magic of discovery and the thrill of possession. The finding of that first crystal gave me a love of crystals and minerals as well as the thrill of finding treasures in the earth. I have been an avid rock hound ever since. I know exactly what Bilbo felt when first he picked up the Arkenstone. I love finding things in the earth.
In 1970, I noticed an acquaintance doing some Lapidary work, cutting and polishing gems. An hour later I had just completed cutting and polishing my first gemstone, a tigereye. In 1974, I learned to silversmith so that I could create my own settings for the stones I was cutting. I continued my study of jewelry design from 1975 through 1977. I opened my first jewelry store in 1975. I graduated in 1978 with a BS in Zoology and Botany and taught junior high science and high school biology for 7 before coming back to the jewelry business.
As a jeweler, being highly influenced by the writings of J.R.R Tolkien, it was inevitable that I would one-day craft The One Ring™ of Power. I had always wanted a replica of the ring. I probably made my earliest attempts in 1975 or so; crude attempts to be sure. I set about to make it in a serious way in 1997, with several unsatisfying results. I finally produced a flattened style I deemed good enough in 1998. In 1999, the ring was further refined to the rounded comfort fit style that we currently offer. I contacted Tolkien Enterprises, now Middle-Earth Enterprises, and negotiated licensing rights so that I could make and sell The One Ring. That license led to our other licenses with fantasy authors over the years.
Some have asked why would anyone want an object of abject evil like Sauron's Ruling Ring; created to enslave all of Middle Earth under his dark tyrannical rule. While that was the purpose for which The Ruling Ring was created, that is not what resulted, nor the only thing The One Ring represents. I feel the ring is a symbol much like that of the cross to Christians. The crucifix is in all reality a symbol of the greatest evil done in this world, but instead it has become a symbol of the greatest sacrifice ever made to rid the world of a great evil. I feel that the One Ring is a symbol of Frodo's willing sacrifice of his life to rid the world of a great evil. It is also a symbol of the bonds formed within the Fellowship's journey and their struggles to overcome evil.
Does not the struggle to overcome evil bring out the best and the worst in us all? I believe that as the central object of The Lord of The Rings series, The One Ring also represents all that is good and true in Middle Earth. To me it represents Bilbo's plain straightforward manner and pluck, Frodo's tolerance, patience, and bravery, Gandalf's wisdom and commitment, Galadriel's beauty of soul and kindness of heart, Aragorn's patience and strength, Sam's constancy, loyalty, and humility, and the good in many others who had part in the quest to unmake the evil. It represents the sacrifice each was willing to make for the greater-good, the finest of human motivations and emotions. It is a moral and ethical if not an almost religious symbol. It reminds us that right will always triumph where good people refuse to tolerate evil, and that one individual can make a difference. It is a talisman of hope and faith.
My jewelry is very much a reflection of who and what I am. Tolkien's writings have had a profound influence on my thoughts, my feelings, my likes, and my desires. I have been molded by life to be the man who would one day craft The One Ring of Power.
If you haven’t seen Badali Jewelry’s work yet, it’s the perfect time! They are currently having one of their biggest sales of the year through February 28th. Why not check them out?
Melanie R. Meadors writes about goblins, science, magic, superheroes, and other nerdy things in her short stories, novels, comics, and games. She has edited multiple anthologies, including Knaves, Hath No Fury, and the upcoming Tales of Excellent Cats: A Monarchies of Mau Anthology. She is the co-director of the Gen Con Writer’s Symposium, which takes places every August in Indianapolis, IN, and she is the lead editor and senior publicist at Mechanical Muse, the game company that produces The World of Aetaltis. She is a blogger and general b*tch monkey at The Once and Future Podcast. You can learn more at melaniermeadors.com