The Rings of Power isn’t the first time we’ve seen mithril either – the chainmail shirt worn by Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, respectively is made of the material. The mithril shirt is given to Bilbo by his friend Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), who later passes it on to his nephew Frodo. Mithril chainmail is strong enough to save Frodo from being fatally stabbed by a spear – a bruise is all that is left behind by the weapon.
Although Tolkien didn’t write much on the origins of mithril during the Second Age, and therefore we don’t have much to go on regarding how this metal will factor into The Rings of Power moving forward, we do know that the metal was used to forge at least one of the Rings of Power. Galadriel’s ring, Nenya, is the only ring we know for sure is forged from mithril, but given the lack of background on some of the other rings made, the series could decide to have more than one ring forged from this powerful metal.
The Elves also have an affinity for the glittering quality mithril has, using its alloy ithildin to create elaborate gateways and etching that can only be seen in starlight or moonlight. Before the downfall of Khazad-Dûm, mithril is worth ten times its weight in gold, so it’s hard to blame the Dwarves for pushing to mine this metal against Durin III’s wishes to take things more cautiously. After the fall of the kingdom, mithril mining ceases, causing it to be nearly impossible to find and increasing its worth exponentially. That’s why Thorin giving the chainmail to Bilbo is a big deal – not only does the mithril have symbolic value connecting to his heritage as a Dwarf, but it has great monetary value as well.