Frequently Asked Questions about Coin Rings in 2020
What is a coin ring?
Coin Rings are finger rings hand forged primarily from gold, silver, brass, or copper coins. Usually they result in rings that preserve and display the detail from the original coin, both inside the ring's band, and the outside of the band which faces the world.
How are coin rings made?
First, based on the target size of the ring, a hole is carefully punched in the center of the coin.
Second, using a complex combination of heat, pressure, and specialty tools, the coin is 'folded' into the desired ring shape, carefully protecting all the coin's detail.
Third, a ring stretcher and special tools are use to dial in the final size and shape of the ring.
Finally, the ring's edges are sanded and the ring is finished with either a rich patina that makes the ring's details 'pop', or a lustrous polish that shines brightly.
Is it illegal to turn a coin into a ring?
No. US laws state that it is illegal to deface or alter currency 'with the intention to defraud'. For instance, it is illegal to alter a one dollar bill with the intent to pass it off as a ten dollar bill.
Coin rings are different in that there is no intention to present the ring as legal tender to purchase products or services. There is no intent to defraud or counterfeit by creating the ring.
In this way, similar to the 'souvenir penny stretcher' machines found at tourist attractions and amusement parks - turning a coin into an object other than currency.
Which coins make the best coin rings?
Silver coins typically make the best coin rings. Silver coins respond best to the heat and pressure forging techniques required to create coin rings.
Since few coins minted today are made of silver, vintage coins containing 50-92.5% silver are usually chosen.
For US coins, these would include Morgan Silver Dollars, Walking Liberty Half Dollars, older Washington Quarters, Franklin Half Dollars, and certain JFK Half Dollars, amount others.
There are other, more recently minted coins which contain 90%+ silver, called Silver Proofs, Gems, or Bullion. These coins were never released for circulation as currency because their value in silver or gold is worth many times the face value of the coin, but they make great coin rings.
And there are a lot of vintage foreign coins with sufficient silver content to make good quality coin rings.
Which coins do not make good coin rings?
Many non-silver metals, such as copper, brass, and nickel, irritate and cause discoloration of the skin. Since most recently issued coins use a combination of these metals (known as 'clad' coins), they do not make good coin rings.
Why should I buy from you instead of the other guys/gals?
Grandpa said, "quality endures, but it isn't free!"
In other words, you get what you pay for.
Some makers use less than ideal coins to save a few bucks.
Some sell you pre-made, off-the-shelf rings that are 'meh' at best.
And some just make ugly rings - they're cone shaped or wobbly or the details are smeared.
That's not what you'll get with Silver State Foundry.
We'll hand select your coin from reputable dealers and make your ring to order, playing close attention to all the details.
And we'll ensure the shape and detail of your ring is perfect - nothing leaves our studio unless we'd be proud to wear it ourselves!
Simply put, we are not the 'low cost provider' and and don't aim to be. Like Grandpa said, "quality endures, but it isn't free!"
What do I need to know about a coin ring's shape?
In terms of shape, there is one thing you should know.
All coins are thicker on the outside (or 'reeded') edge than they are in the center of the coin.
This means that to get a uniform shape on the outside of the ring, so it looks great on your hand, there is a slight taper to the inside of the ring.
The result is that the reeded edge is often roughly 1/2 size smaller than the 'punched' edge.
It doesn't make the ring loose and it isn't uncomfortable, but you should know this up front so you aren't surprised.
FYI, we size your ring to the smaller, reeded edge - you do not have to take this into account when ordering your ring.
Tell me about the silver in these coins.
Coins minted over the last 40 years or so rarely have any silver in them. They are a combination of nickel and copper and other common metals.
The common term for many of these coins' composition is "clad". Look at the edge of a recently minted US Quarter and you will see that it is copper on the inside and 'clad' with nickel on the outside.
The reason is pretty straight forward - the silver used to make a coin today would be worth more than the face value of the coin. And that's because silver is worth more today than ever before.
Just imagine what would happen if you could melt a new quarter down for two dollars worth of silver - very quickly there'd be no quarters left!
But older coins made with silver have what is called 'numismatic value'.
If you want to buy a silver coin from back in the day, such as a quarter or half dollar, at a minimum you will pay for the silver's value by weight, but often pay even more because the coins are becoming more and more scarce.
However, silver is the perfect metal for making jewelry, especially rings. It is durable, yet with the right techniques it is easily forged into many shapes.
Silver also provides options for finishes - it can be polished to a bright shine, chemically treated to produce a rich patina, and/or coated to protect against tarnishing.
Finally, silver is also hypoallergenic, meaning people with sensitive skin can wear silver without irritation.
And that's why we work almost exclusively with vintage silver coins - the vast majority contain anywhere from 81.7% to 99.9% pure silver, with most made up of 90%+ pure silver.
That, and there are so many absolutely beautiful vintage coins, capturing the art and culture of our past, which make incredible rings!
You may be wondering why many vintage coins are less than 100% silver.
Basically, silver is a relatively soft metal, and completely pure silver coins just didn't stand up to the wear and tare of being in circulation.
Pure silver coins are great for rings, but as currency they didn't last long before wearing out.
By adding just a bit of copper or nickel to the silver, though, the silver becomes many times more durable, much more suitable for use as currency.
There are a couple of exceptions to these rules. For instance, between 1965 and 1970, JFK Half Dollars were made with only 40% silver.
Alternatively, since 1996 the American Silver Eagle has been minted exclusively as 99.99% pure sterling silver. It is the world standard for silver bullion.
And at least for the US coins, the US Mint has offered collectors pure silver versions of many common clad coins, not for circulation. These are often called 'silver proof' or 'gem' coins and they make great rings.
It is important to note that while most of our rings are silver, a few are not. For example, the New Your City Subway Token Ring is brass. And we also make a few copper rings our of 1800s Canadian pennies.
In these instances, we clearly tell you these rings are not silver. Moreover, we coat them with a special epoxy to protect your skin from these non-hypoallergenic metals.