One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor (or Eureka, maybe) where the Shadows lie

— J.R.R. Tolkien (amended)

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In March 2004, a delegation from Nelson, New Zealand, visited Eureka to further solidify the two cities’ sister city relationship. During their stay with us, the Times-Standard reported at the time, the kindly Kiwis boogied down at the Redwood Coast Dixieland Jazz Festival, inhaled some of Humboldt’s natural beauty along with tour guide and then-mayor Peter La Vallee, and exchanged gifts with city officials. At a friendly ceremony Mayor La Vallee presented Nelson Mayor Paul Matheson with a few souvenir’s, most notably a plaque welcoming him and his posse to the city. Matheson, in turn, totally one-upped us with a most precious token. 

“We don’t mind reminding you and the United States that the Lord of the Rings won 11 Oscars,” Matheson gloated, referring to The Return of the King’s record haul at that year’s Academy Awards ceremony a month earlier.

Matheson then presented La Vallee with One Ring replica — just like in the moovee! — forged not in Mordor, but in Nelson, by the same jewelry maker who made the rings used in the film. You win, Nelson.   


The Ring was accompanied with a certificate of authenticity which tells the story of how it came to be. We’ll paraphrase: Back in March 1999 reps from Peter Jackson’s production company, Three Foot Six, contacted Jens Hansen, a New Zealand-based jewelry maker, to put together some designs to be featured in the upcoming LOTR trilogy. The eventual design was chosen over 14 others and scale replicas were forged for different scenes in the films based on the sizes of their various wearers. Some were made with to fit smallish Hobbit fingers, another — measuring eight inches in diameter and made of gold plated steel — can be seen spinning in the movie’s opening scenes. 

True to Tolkien’s books, the rings used in the films bore no real-life inscriptions — Elvish writing appearing on the One Ring when it was subjected to heat was added digitally in post production. The replica gifted to the City of Eureka, however, bears the Jens Hansen insignia as well as its limited edition numbering — the ring of similar size used in the film was 1/100; Eureka’s precious is 2/100. 

Bone up on your One Ring history in the clip above.

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So where is Eureka’s Ring of Power now? Well, except for a brief tenure on exhibition at the Morris Graves Museum just after its gifting, the ring has been kept secret (and safe) in an undisclosed location within Eureka City Hall. Eureka City Clerk Pam Powell was kind enough to retrieve the ring for LoCO to gawk at. (She even let us try it on!)

“We love showing it off,” Powell said. She recalled a few years back some traveler from the Midwest visited and inquired if he could see the ring — she wasn’t sure how he’d heard about it. While City Hall lacks a secure location to publicly display the ring, Powell said that they’re happy to pull it out for anyone who wants to come up and gaze upon its beauty.  

Nelson, New Zealand, is still officially Eureka’s sister city, but the siblings relationship has been quiet in recent years. There’s currently no local group actively working with anyone in Nelson. (Sometimes families drift apart.) 

However Eureka expects a boss present from its other sister in the not-too-distant future. According to Powell, Kamisu, Japan, a sister to Eureka since the 1990s, has offered Eureka 50 of its native cherry trees to be planted somewhere in the city. 

“We’re still looking for a location,” Powell said, adding that Eureka’s parks and recreation director has been in talks with officials from Kamisu on the project. “They want them in a location where they’re really going to make an impact.”

Which is cooler: Fifty cherry trees or a geek-tastic Tolkien token? Depends on your nerd level, probably. 

Eureka City Clerk Pam Powell is more powerful than we thought.