Rings have been adorning people’s fingers since ancient Egyptian times. They are generally made of gold, silver or other precious material and have functioned as symbols of authority, fidelity, and social status. Throughout history, rings have been used to seal documents by the Pope; used as a memorial reminder for a deceased loved one; thought to have magical powers and even have been made to carry poison.
Like rings, the history of coins date back to ancient times with the earliest minting dating back to the eighth century BCE. Coins have been made of electrum – an alloy of gold and silver – nickel, copper, gold, and silver. Today, coins made in the U.S. are composed of little silver due to the Coin Act passed in the 1950s and are mostly made of nickel plated copper. Finding a coin dated before 1964 is very important to hobbyist ring maker Kevin King. These coins are mostly made of silver and are easier to manipulate into coin rings. Although, coins made before 1964 are a prized find, Kevin is able to make a ring out of any coin that is the size of a quarter or larger.
If you have been following my Creative Crafter articles, you have probably figured out that Kevin was my fiancée and now my husband. He got into his hobby about 6-8 months ago as he wanted to make our wedding rings instead of buying them and also follow in his father’s footsteps by making the ring out of a coin. Kevin’s father made his mom’s wedding ring out of a silver quarter by tapping it repetitively with a spoon. This method destroys all the decoration on the coin so that you don’t know it was a coin before becoming a ring. Kevin wanted to be able to keep the coin decoration for our rings. After researching on the Internet and YouTube, he found The Mint: Change You Can Wear (http://changeyoucanwear.net) out of McMinnville, OR with very easy to follow tutorial videos on how to make coin rings.
The first step in the coin making process is getting all the right tools for the job. Initially, Kevin purchased a hydraulic press, a ring stretcher and reducer, a punch and die set, doming block set, torch, folding and reduction dies, folding cones and a few other miscellaneous tools like sandpaper. After practicing and perfecting the rings he makes, Kevin found that he rarely needs the press and the doming block set and mainly uses the folding reduction dies, stabilizing cones and the ring stretcher/reducer with the die set to punch the hole in the coin.
One of the things he likes to stress is that each coin has it’s own personality and will change with each ring he makes. To start out, he decides on how wide the band should be and chooses the punch that will preserve the best detail of the coin. For example, if he wants “In God We Trust” to appear on the ring then he makes sure that this area is not punched out of the coin. After punching a hole dead-center in the coin using the punch set, he anneals the coin with a torch until the coin turns a dull red and then quenches it in water. This process softens the metal and makes it easier to work with unless the material is iron or steel. After quenching the coin in water, he places it in the folding die with the proper folding cone and uses the press or the ring reducer to make the coin into a cone shape; annealing as often as needed keeping the metal soft.
Once the coin is in a cone shape, Kevin takes the ring to the stretcher and stretches it until the ring completely touches the stretcher top and bottom or until he gets to the desired ring size. From then, he stretches or reduces the ring until he achieves the desired ring size and shape. Reducing the ring can be achieved by placing the larger side into the folding cone and pressing. This also straightens the ring to be more parallel.
Kevin chose to purchase two 1909 and two 1907 Japanese 50 Sen coins (before Japan changed to the Yen) to make our wedding rings. My ring has a dome shape to it and he achieved this by using a special reduction die that has a 25 degree angle which avoids damage to the detail of the coin. By flipping the coin and reducing the size evenly, the “Fat Tire” look can be accomplished.
As Kevin learns more and more about coin ring making, one of the techniques he would really like to explore further is called “Swedish Wrapping”. This technique allows using larger coins like Silver Dollars to be made into smaller wearable rings. Always on the look out for different coins that can be made into rings, Kevin thoroughly enjoys learning each coins’ personality and making rings that are special to the wearer.'
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