Creating interesting pieces of jewellery doesn't have to be left to the masters. With a little bit of work, you can craft beautiful silver and copper rings out of simple old coins. Coin rings with writing retain the original designs along the outside and inside of the ring, including the date or national motto. These rings can serve as unique souvenirs of international trips or simple works of handmade art that spark conversation. With a little bit of practice and the right tools these rings serve as wearable pieces of history.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Table-mounted clamp
- Leather scraps
- Electric drill with multiple bits
- Dremel tool with burring bit, sanding drum, polishing head
- Steel or iron ring mandrel
- Plastic mallet
- Light grit sandpaper
- Tripoli compound
- Jeweller's rouge
Find the centre of the coin by using a jig and mark it with a pencil or marker.
Hold the coin between pliers or a clamp, using leather scraps between the clamp and coin to prevent scratching. Drill out the centre of the coin using the smallest drill bit. Widen the hole using progressively larger drill bits until the hole is wide enough to fit a burring bit.
Widen the hole evenly using a Dremel tool and burring bit until the coin takes on the appearance of a washer. This may take 20 to 30 minutes The coin may also get very hot. If the leather starts to smoke, spray the coin with water, allow it to cool and continue until the coin is hollowed.
Sand the interior of the circle with a sanding drum.
Slide the coin onto the ring mandrel and hammer down the sides with a plastic mallet. Tap the metal on the outside of the washer rapidly three to four times and then turn the coin. After three or four rotations, tap the coin farther down the mandrel. This process may take a few hours depending on the pliability of the metal. Do not rush or the metal may warp or become dented by the mallet.
Remove the ring from the mandrel when it has become flush with the mandrel's side. It should now hold the shape of a ring. Flip the ring upside down and put it back on the mandrel and continue tapping downward until the metal is completely flush with the mandrel. Tap out any imperfections in the shape.
Smooth the interior and exterior edges of the ring with a sanding drum or light grit sandpaper to remove any dents caused by the plastic mallet. Use Tripoli compound and jeweller's rouge along with a rag or Dremel polishing head to remove tarnish. The ring should now appear smooth and round. It is ready to be worn.
Tips and warnings
- Do not use a coin that is made of nickel, which is hard to work with and may pose health risks. Large Canadian copper pennies and American silver quarters made before 1964 work best. These may be found for as little as a dollar at a coin or antique shop.
- When using a drill, Dremel too, or sandpaper, wear protective eye wear at all times.
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