There's always something new happening on the workbench here at Silver State Foundry: ringing out a rare and valuable coins; exploring new coin jewelry designs; inventing new techniques that help the industry evolve.
Here's a sneak peek behind the scenes here in our Reno, NV studio.
Announcing Our New 'Cut Coin' Collection!
We’re proud to announce an exclusive partnership with Stuart Richards, the internationally renowned cut coin artist.
Stuart takes rare coins showcasing incredible designs and further highlights their beauty by cutting away the background, leaving only the detail and unencumbered vision of the original engraver.
It is a painstaking process to ‘cut’ a coin. Each tiny area of the background must be pierced with a tiny drill bit. Then a jeweler’s saw blade is inserted into each hole, one at a time, attached to the jeweler’s saw frame, and the background meticulously sawed away.
Without the background for the detail to get lost in, these ‘cut coins’ allow the natural environment to show through where the background used to be. This contrast between the coin’s detail and the now bright background transforms the common coin into an awe-inspiring creation.
Opening Up a World of New Possibilities
How a coin’s imagery is laid out limits which ones make great coin rings. Detail placed in the center of the coin is lost during the ringing process, so coins with designs on the outer half of the coin work best for rings.
This has always been a limiting factor in choosing which coins to turn into rings.
But ‘cut coins’ make use of the whole coin and open up a world of possibilities, allowing the use of amazing coins that simply don’t work as coin rings.
The best part is that cut coins show off the symbols, culture, and heritage incorporated into the coin’s design in a way other jewelry simply can’t.
Wear It Your Way
Here at Silver State Foundry, we present you with Stuart’s cut coins and allow you to choose the way you want to wear them. Once you order, we’ll finish the piece on our jewelry bench to match your particular needs.
- As a necklace or charm, we’ll add a sterling silver bale and a sterling silver ball chain.
- As a tie tack of lapel pin, we’ll add a sterling silver pin and catch.
- As cuff links, we’ll add sterling silver cuff link swivels.
Don't Wait, It’ll Likely Disappear
Many of Stuart’s most intricate creations are completely unique. The piece you see offered on the website is the only one in existence, a true ‘one-of-one’ creation. If you see one you like, you better snap it up quickly because once it’s gone, it’s gone for good.
Others, like the Buffalo/Indian Head Nickels, are just as striking but slightly less intricate. These will be available as an ongoing offering.
Unique Pieces for a Unique Customer
“How dare you! I’m a coin collector and I’m appalled at what you’re doing!”
I hear sentiments like this every so often and am always like, “Um… okay, that’s cool, everyone is entitled to their own opinion.”
But when the owner and creator of the “Greatest Coin Collection of All Time” needed a few pieces of coin jewelry, guess who got the call?
That’s right, Silver State Foundry.
A few years ago D. L. Hansen, successful businessman and owner of the Salt Lake Real soccer team, set out to create the most complete collection of US coins ever assembled. He wanted one of everything. Every strike from every mint for every year since 1782.
And while the collection is still a work-in-progress, it is the largest, most complete, and most famous coin collection of all time and is worth millions of dollars.
So I was incredibly honored to be commissioned to create a few pieces for Mr. Hansen and his wife.
One of Mr. Hansen’s favorite coin images is Saint Gaudens as she appears on the obverse of the American Gold Eagle. Luckily, we found a circulated but high quality ungraded 1908 “No Motto” Gold Eagle for this ring.
For the uninitiated, “No Motto” refers to the missing placement of “In God We Trust” that is found on the obverse of most other US coins, especially Gold Eagles. Only a small number of these coins were ever produced.
The other thing that makes this coin special is that rather than a reeded edge, like the edge of the quarter in your pocket, this coin has “E Pluribus Unum” stamped on its edge. It made ringing out the coin a little more complicated, but the finished effect is stunning!
During the ringing process of the St. Gaudens ring, it just made sense to add a Morgan Silver Dollar coin ring, making it a pair of classic rings. Gold and silver, one of each, both with a high polished finish.
For the Morgan, we chose an 1892 Carson City coin.
Some may scoff at the use a CC mint mark coin for this ring, due to their rarity. But here’s the thing: for the owner of the world’s greatest coin collection, no other Morgan makes sense.
I mean, you wouldn’t have given Richard Petty or Dale Earnhardt a Ford Pinto to drive home, right?
Individually, these rings hold their own as bold pieces of American history and art, transformed into wearables Mr. Hansen will enjoy for the rest of his life before passing them to the next generation.
But together, they represent an utterly unique pair of rings reflecting America’s storied heritage, befitting the owner of the Greatest Coin Collection of All Time.
However, the story doesn’t end there.
In fact, we took it to a whole other level with a handcrafted cuff bracelet for his wife.
To follow the theme of Saint Gaudens on D.L.’s ring, we decided to use 14 one-tenth ounce Gold Eagle coin as the body of the cuff. You read that right – fourteen tiny images of Saint Gaudens laid out to fall away from the focal point of the piece in a scalloped pattern.
And for the centerpiece of the cuff? How about an 1878 $3 Gold Piece, with Lady Liberty wearing a Native American crown. WOW!
As Mr. Hansen unboxed the cuff and studied it in detail with his trained collector’s eye, his wife eagerly and repeatedly requested he hand it over. She was dying to try it on.
And once he passed it to her and she slipped it on, she exclaimed it made her feel like Wonder Woman.
It is those types of comments that make everything I do worthwhile!
I take great pride in everything I create, whether it is one of our American Classics coin rings, a custom design for the most discerning of clients, or anything in between.
So please shop my collections with confidence, and if you have an idea for something you don’t see on the website, send me email and let’s discuss the possibilities.
You know how opals shimmer and transform colors? I came across a handful of various colored crushed opals and began thinking about how to incorporate them into my rings.
The initial idea involved inlaying them into a Morgan silver dollar.
To start, I removed outside detail on a fully formed Morgan coin ring on the lathe. While all the detail, including the date and Lady Liberty, are intact on the inside, smoothing the outside detail gives me a blank canvas for the inlay.
Next, I created a channel in the face of the ring, again using the lathe. This provides the bed for the colored epoxy resin and the opals.
From there I apply a layer of resin, hand place the opal pieces, and add another layer of resin. This is an iterative process until the level of the resin and opal is higher than the channel carved into the Morgan ring face.
Once the resin has fully cured, it's ground down to flush with the top of the channel, followed by sanding and polishing, revealing the shimmering opals against a deep obsidian background.
The results were incredible, adding a whole new effect to the Morgan coin ring!
And then it hit me - I could easily add cremation ashes to the resin, along with a touch of obsidian powder, to create a Remembrance Ring.
This incredible ring allows you to honor your loved one in a way that is as unique and beautiful as they were in life.
And Now For Something Completely Different
Besides being a jewelry studio, a portion of our space is dedicated to leather work. You see, my wife, Christina, makes custom leather bags, belts, and various other items.
So a quarter of the studio is set up for fine leather work - hand tooling, cutting and stitching, dying and finishing, etc.
And when our new pup, Donovan, was ready to graduate from a choke chain to a "big boy's collar", it only made sense to make him a custom collar here in house.
Now you have to realize, Donovan isn't your typical 'shop dog'. He is a little bit of a prima donna. As a Golden Doodle (more Doodle than Golden), he is a bit of a metrosexual. Fancy 'lion cut' coiffure. A regal prance.
I've even gone so far as to occasionally call him 'Versace' as a joke. So the design of this collar had to match his personality.
Then when I came across a set of vintage Versace coat buttons from the 1980s on Etsy, the die was cast.
Christina started by cutting the band out of top grain black cowhide. We then stitched in the buttons and added a black suede backing, all held together with cream colored tiger thread.
The hardware is all solid, polished brass, except for the keeper, which I fashioned out of sterling silver that I cast here in the studio, then plated with a gold vermielle.
As you can see in the pics below, Donovan rocks it like a champ - no shame in his game! The other dogs at the dog park may snicker behind his back, but they're just jealous.
Introducing Spiral Coin Rings with Gems
One comment I get a lot is, "Most of your rings seem like men's rings. What do you have for the ladies?"
And I admit it has been a struggle to find US-minted coins that make great ladies rings. Most US coins that make great coin rings are half dollar sized or larger.
The half dollar coins (Walking Liberty and JFK) make incredible unisex rings, but due to their size, I cannot be below about a size 7 with them. And the dollar sized coins start at 9 and go up from there.
There simply isn't a way to make large coins into smaller sized, traditionally shaped rings.
(All that said, some of my most beautiful coin rings do come in ladies sizes, they just aren't US coins. The India Rupee, the Canadian Half Dollar, the Newfoundland Half Dollar, and the Swiss Fran coins are dazzling in smaller sizes!)
But this week I started playing around with Ben Franklin half dollar coins using a new technique, and voila! - a new design that has been incredibly well received right out of the gate.
Basically, I make a traditionally shaped coin ring, then cut it and form it into a spiral. This allows me to get the size down as small as a 4.5, smaller than most women need.
Then, by easing apart the overlapping sections apart, I have a place to set a gemstone.
The ring below is a 1958 Ben Franklin half dollar, set with a Kashmiri Blue Topaz in a sterling silver prong setting. The lettering on the coin reads Liberty on one side of the stone and In God We Trust on the other - forever reminding you of God and Country.
I have numerous round stones to choose from - topaz, aquamarine, citrine, sapphire, emerald, ruby, diamond, and just about any color CZ you can think of. And sizes are anywhere from 4.5 to 9, and everything in between.
So if you're looking for a custom made, one-of-a-kind coin ring, send me email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let's get started co-designing the ring of your dreams.
Outer Space On Your Finger
I usually stick with making rings out of coins, but I came across a few ring blanks taken from the Gibeon Meteorite in Namibia, Africa and had to give them a shot!
Unlike coin rings, which require a process of heat and pressure to change the shape of the metal, meteorites are more like sculpting from a block of stone, removing the unwanted parts until all that is left is a ring.
So this required firing up the lathe.
Starting with a pilot hole, I gradually used larger and larger bits, removing all the inside material to make a size 9.25 ring. A series of face cuts then removed the outer material. Finally, a few shaping cuts rounded out the edges.
With the lathe work out of the way, a series of sandpaper grits took care of the final shaping and gave the ring a bright polished finish.
The interesting thing about meteorites is that they are basically a mix of various metals - iron and nickel, predominantly, but also traces of a few others. Formed in comets and asteroids as a boiling mix of molten rock and metals, there is no uniformity to their content.
In other words, there are streaks and veins of the different metals throughout the each piece, all intertwined.
And herein lies the cool part. By placing the ring in a strong acid, the surface layers of the iron are dissolved and reveal the matrix of other metals, creating a completely unique and natural design.
I'll certainly be making more of these in the future, so stay tuned if you might be interested in one for yourself or a loved one.
What an Honor! Editor's Pick in Hook & Barrel Magazine!
It is quite the honor to be selected as the Editor's Pick in the latest issue of Hook & Barrel Magazine!
If you aren't familiar, Hook & Barrel is the premier lifestyle magazine for modern outdoorsmen. It covers gear, food, music and entertainment, trends, and a whole lot more. This latest issue coincides with their third anniversary.
On page 26, John Radzwilla (the magazine's Editor-In-Chief), wrote an article about the Silver State Foundry ring he wears - a Morgan Silver Dollar coin ring.
What makes this ring so special for him is that he originally received a Morgan as a gift form a friend. This friend had carried the coin for many years as a good luck charm, including through a battle with cancer. Then John carried it for many years while serving in the military.
Unfortunately, it was eventually lost. But John asked us to replace it with a ring, which we were more than happy to do. Now John wears this replacement daily, both as a reminder of his friend, as well as a touchstone to his faith.
To read the full article online, visit the digital version of the magazine here.
An 1890 English Crown, .925 Sterling Silver, Size 9, Patina Finish
This beautiful coin depicts Saint George Slaying The Dragon on one side and Queen Victoria on the other. Most of these coins are very worn, but I came across this nearly uncirculated example and paid a premium for it before it disappeared.
To preserve as much detail as possible, I punched a 1/2" hole in it. Typically, a coin this size calls for a 5/8" or 3/4" hole. While a 1/2" hole creates a wider band, in this case it was worth it to show as much of the image as possible.
Luckily, all three heads are situated on it so that they are perfectly preserved when turned into a ring - Saint George, his horse, and of course, the dragon.
Given the rarity of this coin, I won't be offering them for sale on the website, but if you have one or want me to source one for you, send email to email@example.com.
Silver Quarters Locket, .90 Silver, .925 Sterling Ball Chain Necklace, Polished Finish
Playing around with a similar design I saw from Stacey Lee Webber, we decided to use silver quarters to create a locket.
Made from three silver proof quarters commemorating US national parks and other historic locations, the center coin is punched to 3/4". With both the front and back domed, this leaves a perfect gap between the center and back coins to hold a picture of a loved one.
The hinge is hand fashioned using .925 sterling tube and a sterling pin we smelted here in the studio from scrap silver. The chain is also sterling and comes in multiple lengths.
We decided to keep the design simple, and with gravity keeping the cover closed we decided the piece doesn't need a bottom clasp.
Starting in 1999 the US Mint decided to issue 'statehood quarters', five per year for ten years, commemorating some unique feature of each state. The mint followed up with a series of similar quarters featuring national parks and historic places.
Besides the common nickel/copper clad versions of these quarters released for circulation, they also issued silver proof versions to collections in .90 silver - perfect for coin jewelry.
We offer these lockets with your choice of state on the cover.
Peace Dollar Stash Box, 1923 Peace Dollars, Brass Chamber
Using Peace Dollars for the cap and base, this fun little box is great for stashing all sorts of things - use it as a pill box, a holder for small keepsakes, a 'God box' for paper prayers, or even to store a little bud (if that's your thing).
Given the time it takes to make them, we are not offering them on for sale on the website. But if you are interested in a special order, let us know - we can make different sizes and use different coins for the cap and base, as you wish.
Pricing on a special order like this starts at $250 and goes up from there based on the coins you want to use.
Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire.
Domed State Quarter Ring w/Rope Bezel, .90 Silver Nevada State Quarter, .925 Sterling Findings
Here's a different take on the the 'traditional' silver statehood quarter ring. Rather than turning the coin itself into a band, we domed the coin, added a sterling backing and a sterling rope bezel.
It's for when you want something a little more eye-popping than a the subtle sophistication of a band. This one says, "look at ME!"
Personally, we think the Nevada state silver quarter is the most beautiful of all the state quarters, with it's herd or galloping Virginia Range Mustangs. But then again, we're a little biased.
We'd be happy to make one for you with the state of your choice. Just send email to email@example.com to inquire - they're not for sale on the website.
All the sterling components were smelted and formed here is our studio - the ring shank, the rope bezel, and the coin backing. American made from silver mined from the Comstock Load, just a few miles away from the studio.