- "See this? See this? Know what it is? Know where it came from? Centuries it's been in our family, that's how far back we go, and pure-blood all the way! Know how much I've been offered for this, with the Peverell coat of arms engraved on the stone?"
- —Marvolo Gaunt brandishing his ring at Bob Ogden[src]
Marvolo Gaunt's Ring was an heirloom of the House of Gaunt, descendants of Salazar Slytherin and Cadmus Peverell. It is a gold ring inset with a black stone (actually the Resurrection Stone, but neither Marvolo Gaunt nor Lord Voldemort were aware of its existence) engraved with what Marvolo Gaunt called the Peverell coat of arms (having come into the Gaunt line from an heiress of the Peverells, not the Slytherin family), which is actually the symbol of the Deathly Hallows. The signet ring passed through the male Gaunts, generation to generation, until it was stolen from Morfin Gaunt by Tom Riddle while Tom framed Morfin for the murders of the Riddle family.
While at Hogwarts, Tom openly wore the ring. He later made the ring into his second Horcrux. Tom did not enchant the ring right away, as he was seen wearing it while asking Horace Slughorn about Horcruxes, as seen through Slughorn's memories in a pensieve.
The ring's story begins (and ends) with its black stone. The stone happened to be the Resurrection Stone, one of the Deathly Hallows of legend, and had the symbol of the Deathly Hallows engraved on its surface. According to The Tale of the Three Brothers, Cadmus Peverell, the middle brother, asked Death for the power to return people from the dead. Death supposedly picked up a black stone from the nearby river bank and gave it to Cadmus, promising him that it contained the power he had requested.
Once Cadmus returned to his home, he took out the Resurrection Stone and turned it over in his hand three times. In doing so, he brought back his lover who had suffered an untimely death. While she did return from the dead, she was not truly alive and wished to go back to the world of the dead since she no longer belonged in the living world. For Cadmus, it was like being able to see her but not able to touch her or truly be with her. Seeing the stone's limitations drove Cadmus to madness, and he took his own life to truly join his love in death.
Gaunt family possession
- "Marvolo Gaunt was an ignorant old git who lived like a pig, all he cared about was his ancestry. If that ring had been passed down through the centuries, he might not have known what it really was. There were no books in that house, and trust me, he wasn't the type to read fairy tales to his kids. He'd had loved to think that scratches on the stone were a coat of arms, because as far as he was concerned, having pure-blood made you practically royal."
- —Harry Potter regarding Gaunt's ignorance of the Hallows, despite possessing one of them[src]
The stone passed down Cadmus' family line. At some point, it was placed into a gold setting and made into a ring. The ring continued to be passed down the family line, eventually ending up in the hands of the Gaunts. Marvolo Gaunt, the family's patriarch at the time, prized this ring (along with Salazar Slytherin's Locket) more than anything (even his own daughter, Merope). When the family was visited by Ministry of Magic official Bob Ogden, Marvolo waved the ring in front of his face in an attempt to impress and intimidate Ogden. When Marvolo and his son Morfin Gaunt were arrested and imprisoned for assaulting Muggles and Ministry officials, his daughter Merope Gaunt abandoned the family to escape the mental torture her father continuously employed against her, taking Salazar Slytherin's Locket with her.
When Marvolo returned home, he had foolishly expected to find his daughter dutifully awaiting his return with a hot meal ready for him. What he found however was an abandoned house covered with an inch of dust and a note from Merope explaining what she had done and why. Marvolo died shortly thereafter, either due to his inability to take care of himself or the weakening of his strength from Azkaban. The signet ring passed to Morfin when he was finally released from Azkaban, and he continued to wear it in his delusional state for several years afterward.
Tom Riddle's possession
- "Harry saw that he was wearing Marvolo's gold-and-black ring; he had already killed his father."
- —Tom Riddle wearing the Gaunt ring while at Hogwarts[src]
Some years later, Tom Marvolo Riddle returned to Little Hangleton to seek out his family. He had been expecting to meet Marvolo, but instead found the half-crazed Morfin in the Gaunt shack. Morfin remarked how Riddle looked very much like the muggle that had married his sister, Tom Riddle Snr. He told Riddle how Riddle Snr had left Merope and returned to his parents' home, the Riddle House. Upon learning of his father's escape (and thus feeling that he had caused Merope's death and him going to an orphanage), Riddle stunned Morfin and took his wand. He then proceeded to the Riddle House to confront his father. Frank Bryce, the Riddle's gardener, remarked later that he had seen Riddle ascending the hill toward the house. Riddle used a common spell to unlock the door and entered the house. Once inside, Riddle found his father, as well as his grandparents, Thomas Riddle and Mary Riddle, in the drawing room. Riddle then used the Killing Curse on his father and Muggle grandparents.
It is unknown if there were any words exchanged between them before the actual murders took place, but what is certain is that the Riddles were found dead in their drawing room, with looks of extreme fear on their faces. Riddle returned to the Gaunt shack and modified Morfin's memory to make him believe that he had killed the Riddles himself. Riddle replaced Morfin's wand on his person but absconded with the ring. When Morfin was arrested by the Ministry and found guilty of the Riddle murders, he was carted off to Azkaban for good this time. As he was being taken away, he continuously remarked that his father would kill him for losing the ring.
Riddle openly wore the ring at Hogwarts after these events, likely as a trophy, as seen on his hand in a memory provided by Potions Master Horace Slughorn. Riddle then questioned Slughorn about Horcruxes, particularly what would happen to the wizard that created more than one. By this point, Riddle had already created his first Horcrux, his childhood diary, with the murder of a fellow student named Myrtle. At some point shortly before or after his graduation from Hogwarts, Riddle used the murder of his father, Tom Riddle Snr to turn the ring into a Horcrux. After that, he lost interest in wearing it any longer and chose to return it to the very place he had stolen it from: the Gaunt shack. He placed the ring inside a golden box and hid it beneath the shack's rotting floorboards. He then set up many protective enchantments to deter outsiders from entering the shack and finding the ring. He also placed a powerful curse on the ring as well, one that would quickly lead to the death of the ring's wearer if not stemmed. The ring was left there in the ruin of the Gaunt shack for many decades to come. In his entire time of possessing the ring, Riddle either never knew its powers or status as the Resurrection Stone, or simply did not have any use for it, as he fears the dead and does not wish to bring back anyone.
Destruction by Albus Dumbledore
In 1996, Albus Dumbledore continued investigating Riddle's obsession with immortality and his fascination with Horcruxes. Dumbledore suspected that a good place to look for one of Riddle's Horcruxes would be the Gaunt shack, considering its importance to Riddle's past. Dumbledore travelled to Little Hangleton and found the remains of the shack, hidden amongst many weeds and brush. Dumbledore succeeded in passing through the enchantments protecting the shack and discovered the golden box holding the ring beneath the shack's floorboards. He brought the sword of Godric Gryffindor with him as it now had the power to destroy Horcruxes since Harry had used it to kill the Basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets, which imbued the blade with the Basilisk's venom.
However, Dumbledore recognised the symbol of the Deathly Hallows on the ring's black stone and recognised it as the Resurrection Stone, something for which Dumbledore had searched for the greater part of his life. Hoping to revive his dead family members (particularly his sister Ariana Dumbledore), he disregarded the ring's status as a Horcrux and put it on. This enacted the ring's deadly curse, and it began to quickly spread through Dumbledore's body, starting with the hand on which he had put the ring. After Dumbledore returned to Hogwarts, he used Godric Gryffindor's Sword to crack the Resurrection Stone so as to destroy it as a Horcrux. While the act did destroy the ring as one of Riddle's Horcruxes, it did not stop the fatal curse. Severus Snape managed to stop the curse in his right hand, but warned him that he had only a year to live.
After the Horcrux was destroyed, Dumbledore continued to wear the ring for several more days. Most notably, he wore it when he picked up Harry Potter from Privet Drive and took him to persuade Horace Slughorn to teach at Hogwarts. During their meeting, it is said that Dumbledore specifically displayed the ring to Slughorn, who stared at it for several seconds. This implies that he recognised the ring as having belonged to Tom Riddle. Therefore, Dumbledore may have specifically worn the ring—which would indicate his success in tracking down Voldemort's past—both to help encourage Slughorn to return to Hogwarts, and to help persuade him to turn over the correct version of the memory.
Placing the Stone within the Snitch
- "The metal shell broke open... the black stone with is jagged crack running down the centre sat in the two halves of the Snitch. The Resurrection Stone had cracked down the vertical line representing the Elder Wand. The triangle and circle representing the Cloak and the stone were still discernible."
- —Harry opens the snitch[src]
Before his death at Snape's hands, Dumbledore magically sealed the cracked Resurrection Stone inside the Snitch that Harry had caught at his first ever Quidditch match by accidentally swallowing it. Dumbledore wrote, "I open at the close", to indicate that it would only open and yield the Resurrection Stone when Harry was about to accept death at the hands of Voldemort. After Dumbledore's death, Rufus Scrimgeour delivered the snitch to Harry, along with other possessions left to Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. Immediately before he surrendered to Voldemort, Harry placed the snitch to his lips and whispered "I am about to die", and it opened.
Harry then used the Resurrection Stone to bring back the spirits of James Potter, Lily Potter, Sirius Black, and Remus Lupin. These spirits then comforted Harry as he walked toward his supposed death and shielded Harry from the effects of the Dementors guarding the Death Eaters' camp in the forest. Upon reaching Voldemort's camp in the Forbidden Forest, Harry dropped the Resurrection Stone near Aragog's lair. After having been dropped in the Forbidden Forest by Harry, the Resurrection Stone was pressed into the earth by the hoof of a centaur, and would never be found again.
- "He was standing inside a ruined stone shack, and the rotting floorboards were ripped apart at his feet, a disinterred golden box lay open and empty beside the hole, and Voldemort's scream of fury vibrated inside his head."
- —Harry witnessing Voldemort discovering his missing Horcrux[src]
After Voldemort discovered that Harry was hunting his Horcruxes, Voldemort decided to make sure that each of his Horcruxes was still safe and to increase their protection. He decided that the ring was perhaps the least safe, and thus visited the shack first. Upon discovering that the ring had in fact disappeared, Voldemort let out a scream of fury and quickly left to check the security of his other Horcruxes.
The ring is gold and set with a large, cracked, black stone, the crack appearing after Dumbledore struck the stone with Godric Gryffindor's Sword. It is, in Harry's eyes, an ugly ring that was made somewhat clumsily out of gold, probably a testament to the rudimentary skills and tools used to craft it. The ring had the sign of the Deathly Hallows on the black stone: a triangle (to represent the Cloak of Invisibility), containing a circle (to represent the Resurrection stone), bisected by a line (to represent the the Elder Wand). Marvolo Gaunt wore the ring on his middle finger, instead of on the more conventional "ring" fingers. Morfin Gaunt wore it on his right hand's ring finger, while Tom Riddle wore it on his left hand's middle finger.
To protect his Horcrux, Tom Riddle placed the ring under a very powerful curse, so much so that Albus Dumbledore himself mentioned that had it not been for his prodigious skill, he might have died in mere moments of being cursed. Severus Snape was extremely angry to find out Dumbledore had not proceeded with caution when it came to breaking open the ring. Even so, Albus Dumbledore and Severus Snape were only able to delay the curse's effects for roughly a year. Unknown to either the Gaunts or Riddle, however, the stone in it was the Resurrection Stone, one of the Deathly Hallows.
Behind the scenes
- The ring is the only item that is both a Hallow and a Horcrux.
- Though the stone was damaged from when Dumbledore destroyed the Horcrux, it still worked perfectly as the Resurrection Stone.
- Voldemort used a ring as one of his Horcruxes. This is similar to the dark lord Sauron in J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, who puts part of his power in the One Ring, which is Sauron's only container of power, whereas Voldemort had seven.
- In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Dumbledore refers to the ring as having belonged to Voldemort's mother. However, in a deleted scene in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Harry tells Ron and Hermione that the ring belonged to Voldemort's grandfather. Additionally, when Harry touches the ring, there is a flash of images as the ring reacts to him, which Dumbledore explains as an identifiable trace of lingering Dark magic.
- In the books the ring is described as being ugly and clumsily made; in the films the ring is more detailed, with a design of snakes biting the stone.
- Collectible replicas of Marvolo Gaunt's Ring are made by the Noble Collection.
- In Deathly Hallows: Part 1, there is a flashback of Dumbledore trying on the ring. However, he tries it on his middle finger instead of his ring finger, as shown in Half-Blood Prince, and instead of the ring flying from his hands, it merely glows and forces his hand away as he touches it.
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (Appears in flashback(s))
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (Appears in flashback(s))
- Harry Potter: A Pop-Up Book
- Harry Potter: The Character Vault (mentioned only)