"Andvari's heirloom." The small golden ring owned by the dwarf Andvari. After the accidental killing of Ótr by Loki, Odin, Loki and Hœnir were captured by Ótr's father Hreiðmarr and his sons. The Æsir offered a ransom for their lives, and Odin sent Loki to the Land of the Black Elves to procure gold.
The story is told by Snorri Sturluson in Skáldskaparmál:
He came to the dwarf who is called Andvari, who was as a fish in the water. Loki caught him in his hands and required of him in ransom of his life all the gold that he had in his rock; and when they came within the rock, the dwarf brought forth all the gold he had, and it was very much wealth. Then the dwarf quickly swept under his hand one little gold ring, but Loki saw it and commanded him to give over the ring. The dwarf prayed him not to take the ring from him, saying that from this ring he could multiply wealth for himself if he might keep it. Loki answered that be should not have one penny left, and took the ring from him and went out; but the dwarf declared that that ring should be the ruin of every one who should come into possession of it. Loki replied that this seemed well enough to him, and that this condition should hold good provided that he himself brought it to the ears of them that should receive the ring and the curse.
After he returned to Hreiðmarr's dwelling, Loki showed the hoard to Odin; but when Odin saw the ring he desired it and took it for himself. The gold they gave to Hreiðmarr. Hreiðmarr filled Ótr's skin as much as he could and set it up when it was full, and Odin covered it with red gold. But Hreiðmarr looked at it searchingly and noticed that a single whisker remained uncovered and commanded that this be covered, whereupon Odin drew out Andvaranaut and covered the hair.
Before they left, Loki declared that the curse which Andvari had uttered should be fulfilled; that this ring and this gold should be the destruction of him who received it. The curse soon took effect: Fáfnir killed his father and fled with the treasure, including Andvaranaut, to Gnitaheið.
In Brot af Sigurðarkviðu, Sigurðr (in the form of Gunnarr) took the ring from Brynhildr, and gave her another that had belonged to Fáfnir. It was later shown to her by Grímhildr as proof that it was Sigurðr who had taken the ring and not Gunnarr, her husband, as she had previously thought. According to Snorri in Skáldskaparmál, Sigurðr gave her Andvaranaut as línfé (a gift paid by the bridegroom to the bride after marriage was consummated) and took another from her hand for remembrance. In the short prose section Dráp Niflunga, king Atli invited Gunnarr and Högni to his residence. His wife Guðrún suspected treachery and sent her brothers word in runes not to come; and to Högni, as a token, she sent the ring Andvaranaut, in which she had tied some wolf's hair.
- Brot af Sigurðarkviðu,
- Skáldskaparmál, 39, 41.