Fr. Ed Eherer, C.Ss.R.
Coin rings have been around for centuries. Long ago, coins were often the only precious metal available to ordinary people to create jewellery. Coins were often turned into earrings, pendants, bracelets, and yes, even rings. Unfortunately, modern coins tend to be made of alloys or metal sandwiches which can be hard to work, so the ideal source material for these rings are silver coins. And before anyone raises any questions about the legality, the answer is, yes, it is legal to alter coins, provided the purpose is not fraudulent. The basic tools necessary to make coin rings are: metal punch or drill; dapping block with punches; blowtorch; various files; ring mandrel; vinyl mallet; sanding blocks.
The process begins by cutting a hole in the centre of the coin, either with a drill or with a metal punch. You will end up with a coin that looks like a washer. To greatly assist in the forming process the washer needs to be “dished” – formed into a cone-shape in the dapping block with one of the punches.
Next, the coin is placed on a ring mandrel, which is a tapered metal stick, often marked with ring sizes. A vinyl mallet is used to gradually shape the ring. As the ring is struck, it begins to deform around the mandrel, going from a cone-shape to a ring. It’s important to anneal the coin regularly (heat it up with the blowtorch and quench it in water). This rearranges the molecules and makes the ring easier to work. Another important step is to flip the coin over from time to time to get a more even shape. Finally, when your arm is ready to fall off, the ring is finished. And here is the result.