Legacy of the rings lives on
When the late Jens Hansen started working on preliminary designs of the first Lord of the Rings rings in 1999, he could never have foreseen the legacy it would leave behind.
Mr Hansen died from cancer in August that year, but his designs provided the groundwork for an unexpected journey for the Jens Hansen Gold and Silversmith workshop.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey premieres in Wellington tonight, more than 10 years after Peter Jackson first introduced the Lord of the Rings film trilogy to the world.
Jens Hansen Gold and Silversmith made the rings that appear in The Hobbit for production company 3 Foot 7, and is now also producing rings for Weta Workshop to sell as movie merchandise.
Halfdan Hansen, who now owns Jens Hansen Gold and Silversmith, said his father would be amused at his popular legacy.
"I think he'd just sort of laugh. It was one of the last things that he did. None of us really knew how big it was going to be," he said.
Jens Hansen Gold and Silversmith has until now been unable to sell replicas using the The One Ring name, despite being the makers of it for the movies.
They had to instead use the phrase The Jens Hansen Movie Ring, but a new partnership with Weta has changed things.
Weta obtained a licence to sell The One Ring from Warner Bros, and is getting Jens Hansen Gold and Silversmith to create them.
Mr Hansen said Weta had been marketing five different pieces of merchandise jewellery worldwide for about a month already - from gold-plated tungsten carbide The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings rings - at $149 - to a 10-carat gold replica version of The One Ring at $1800.
"We have been working on this for Weta since the beginning of this year. They could have gone to someone else, but they wanted our name associated with it. It took quite a while to set it all up. Weta put them on their website, and they sold out in 24 hours. They have been incredibly popular," he said.
Mr Hansen said most of Jens Hansen Gold and Silversmith's "bread and butter" work was diamond engagement and wedding rings, but the link to Jackson was a good selling point as potential buyers "know that if we have worked for Peter Jackson that we can be trusted to do a good job".
"I took an order from someone in Dubai today, so we are literally shipping them all around the world," he said.
Jens Hansen Gold and Silversmith is hosting a themed evening for 100 fans of The Hobbit at the World of WearableArt and Classic Cars museum tomorrow night, as part of a Red Carpet Tours event.
It marks the start of Nelson being a regular visit site for the tours, founded by Vic and Raewyn James in 2001.
Fans will be greeted with a glass of wine by Middle-Earth Wines, produced by Brightwater-based Winelord vineyard, and will get a chance to meet the ringmakers.
Mr Hansen said he expected quite a few tourists to come to the workshop this summer.
"But next summer will be huge."
The Nelson Mail