How was Marvolo Gaunt’s ring destroyed by Dumbledore in “Half-Blood Prince”?


Destroying Lord Voldemort’s Horcruxes was a laborious task in the Harry Potter series, but dismantling the ring proved even more perilous, claiming the life of the esteemed wizard Albus Dumbledore, headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

In “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” we learn that Dumbledore had initiated the hunt for Voldemort’s seven Horcruxes long before informing Harry of their existence. The first Horcrux Harry unwittingly destroyed was Tom Riddle’s diary, using a Basilisk fang during the events of “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.” Following this, Marvolo Gaunt’s ring met its end, a process that required significant effort on Dumbledore’s part.

The ring held significance due to the Resurrection Stone set in its center. According to “The Tale of the Three Brothers,” this stone was crafted by Death himself and bestowed upon Cadmus Peverell, who used it to summon his deceased lover. However, as the stone only conjured a diminished likeness, it drove Cadmus to madness, leading him to take his own life. Dumbledore, skeptical of this tale, believed Cadmus to be a highly skilled wizard who crafted the stone, only to suffer its limitations, failing to achieve the impossible task of reviving the dead.


After Cadmus, the stone passed through generations, ultimately coming into the possession of Marvolo Gaunt. For Marvolo, the ring symbolized his pure-blood lineage and the remnants of his former wealth. Unaware of the stone’s powers, he regarded the Hallows symbol on it as the Peverell family crest.

Marvolo and his son were later imprisoned for assaulting Muggles, and upon Marvolo’s release, he discovered his daughter Merope had long departed. Meanwhile, Merope tricked the Muggle Tom Riddle Senior into marrying her through a love potion. Marvolo died alone, bequeathing the ring to his son, Morfin.

Years later, Tom Riddle, the future Lord Voldemort, found Morfin and learned of his father’s abandonment of his mother. Tom subdued Morfin and used his wand to eliminate his father and grandparents. He altered Morfin’s memories to frame him for the murders and absconded with the ring.

Though Voldemort briefly wore the ring at Hogwarts, he eventually turned it into a Horcrux after learning about it from Professor Slughorn. He then concealed the ring in the Gaunt Shack, bolstering its protection with powerful enchantments.

It remains unclear whether Voldemort knew the ring housed one of the three Hallows and that uniting them would grant mastery over death. Dumbledore speculated that Voldemort was either unaware of the Resurrection Stone or feared the dead.

Around the start of Harry Potter’s sixth year at Hogwarts, Dumbledore deduced that Marvolo Gaunt’s house held clues about the Horcruxes, given Riddle’s tendency to hide them in meaningful places. He successfully unraveled the protective spells, uncovering Marvolo Gaunt’s ring.

Dumbledore, well-versed in the Hallows, recognized the ring’s significance. Despite suspecting a curse, he couldn’t resist wearing it, hoping to use the stone to reunite with his deceased family. This decision triggered a fatal curse, consuming Dumbledore, starting with his right hand.

Using Godric Gryffindor’s sword, imbued with Basilisk venom, Dumbledore destroyed the Horcrux. While the ring returned to a regular piece of jewelry with the Resurrection Stone, the curse persisted. Despite his wisdom, Dumbledore acknowledged his fallibility.

Thanks to Snape’s timely intervention, the curse was confined to Dumbledore’s withered hand, granting him another year of life. Knowing the inevitable, Dumbledore asked Snape to end his life before the curse did. This decision served two purposes: solidifying Snape’s loyalty to Voldemort and sparing Draco Malfoy from becoming a murderer. While dismantling the remaining Horcruxes was no easy feat, the destruction of the ring came at a great cost.