COMMON QUESTIONS PEOPLE ASK
This is the most common question and the most difficult to answer. Each person is a little different in what they want to make and the tools that fit their style. The four main steps though are:
- Punch a hole.
- Fold it
- Stretch it
- Reduce it.
The best way to find out what you need is to get as much information as possible before committing to tools. My manual is a great way to learn a lot of information quickly. Many years of trial and error can be found in the manual. If you can understand the concept, that will show you what you will need pending on your goals with the craft. Here is a link to the manual.
Also Youtube videos found here:
Coin Ring Crafters is also a great resource for people to learn old and new techniques from an amazing group of folks:
The starter kit I offer is a great way to get started in tools. It has the “meat and potatoes” of tools and will allow you to make the majority of popular coin rings and the most common sizes. The must haves are the 17 degree dies, punch, folding cones, and the steel starter cone. Here is a link to the starter kits.
The other main tool needed to get started is a ring stretcher/machine. Here is my favorite one: https://www.riogrande.com/Product/Durston-Ring- Stretcher-and- Reducer/112066
From there, you can build up your tools and expand your options for making coin rings and other jewelry.I grew my business small and let the sales of the rings pay for new tools and for research and development. Each coin smith has their own way of making coin rings so it is best to learn from many smiths and find your own technique. You’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish!
No. It is not illegal. Here is an excerpt from my manual discussing this:
There is always the question of “Isn’t that illegal, to deface coins?” The law states:
Federal statute 18 USC 331 “whoever fraudulently alters, defaces, mutilates, impairs, diminishes, falsifies, scales, or lightens any of the coins coined at the mints of the United States … shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.”
The key word is fraudulent. Because we are not defacing to defraud, there is no concern of legality. We are merely making jewelry, not gold plating a nickel and trying to pass it off as a five dollar gold piece, that is illegal (if gold and silver were still considered money by the Government). Also, by using pre 1965 U.S. silver coins, or foreign coins, there is not a concern due to the ability of melting down these coins for their metal value. An immeasurable amount of U.S. silver coins have been melted down in the past few decades to get to their silver content.
I recommend using clad quarters first and then clad half dollars. Clad coinage is the coins we use today. Their metal value is much less than their face value (except nickels). Most are made of nickel cladded copper or copper cladded zinc. (NOTE: Clad coinage will turn fingers green due to copper reacting with skin. Also, some people have a reaction to nickel). These are inexpensive and the best to learn on. When you can make a consistent clad quarter ring, move up to a clad half dollar. once you have that figured out, move up to a clad dollar like an Eisenhower dollar.
Once you have these coin rings under your belt, then move to the silver quarter, silver half dollar, and finally the silver dollar in that order. Once you have silver figured out, then move into gold and then finally platinum. The risks increase as you move up in the value and rarity of these metals but so do the rewards.
There are a few aspects of coins that make them difficult to work with. These are:
1. Thick and thin coins. This causes the coin to wobble and distort while being made. These coins include silver quarters, Ben Franklin Half dollars, mercury dimes, and any high relief coin. The Swedish Wrap tools and technique is a great way to get around this issue. The 17 degree dies are still need though to start the fold and final shaping.
2. Reticulation. This is when silver gets too hot when annealed and can cause a bubbly skin on the coin. I have noticed a few coins that this can happen too easier than others. These are JFK half dollars, Ben Franklin half dollars, and silver Mexican Pesos. The trick here is to anneal in a dark room and only take them to a dull red.
3. Difficulty in getting money back from scrap and mistake coins. Silver and gold coins are the easiest to sell to a refiner or gold and silver scrapper. Platinum can be difficult, as well as palladium. If you can find a local refiner or scraper that takes these metals for a fair price, that is a great way to go. You can also barter with me for tools as well. I like precious metals. Honestly though, I see it as money in the bank. Actually, better than money in the bank, especially silver. Hold on to it as an investment if you can but if you need to sell it, find a place before you invest in a roll of platinum coins.
So the easiest coins are the clad coins we use today, silver Barber coins, and any other coin of a common metal and without a high relief.
This will depend on several factors. The first factor is do you want to sell quantity or quality?
If it is quantity, then you should be near the lower end of the market. Say $5 for a clad quarter. That is pretty low, but you’ll sell a lot. Do some research though and see what the market is showing. $19.95 for a silver half dollar is common. $30 an hour is a respectable earning for a skilled artisan. See if your work and price come close to that amount after material costs.
If you are going for quality, then you need to bump the price up but make sure you are worth the cost. The quality has to be high, Also, do not make clad coin rings if going for quality. The “green finger” will come back to bite you with unhappy customers. I started with silver coinage at relatively low prices and worked my way into gold and platinum. As my name got out and demand increased, I raised my prices to lower demand. The other option would be to hire employees. I didn’t want to do that, but you might?
The second factor is where are you going to be selling them? Internet, jewelry stores, coin shops? If selling in stores, is it a tourist location? The internet is great. It allows everybody with a computer to be a possible customer. Coin shops and jewelry shops are good as well. Offer them a wholesale price or barter for coins if they have them. Offer a deal for every five coins, you’ll make them one to sell.