Coin rings – how were these made?

Ed writes –

Phil, For years I have been making coin rings using the traditional method of tapping the rim of a coin until it’s flat, drilling out the center, filing etc.. Recently I came across some coin rings that appear to be made using an alternate method and possibly specialized equipment. I’ve searched the web and I haven’t been able to find any info on technique or tools used to make these rings. Could you please ask the readers of Makezine blog if they have any knowledge of how these are made and what tools might have been used to make them.

Post up suggestions and more in the comments!

60 thoughts on “Coin rings – how were these made?

  1. Did anyone actually touch these rings to make sure they were real coins and not silver? I am wondering, because someone could possibly mold the coin and cast it in wax, then modify the way copy easily into that form. Then make their own rings?

  2. my guess is cut, brazed/welded together and bent into a ring and rebrazed to close the loop.

    One truly seamless way you could do it is to fabricate your own wax molds by using casts of the coins in wax. You could then make a rubber mold to fabricate more wax mold versions. then using the lost-wax method to createa a plaster cast and finally pour in your silver.

    this of course, is a professional’s method of jewelery making and requires a lot of specialized tools..

  3. There is a guy that has a booth on Saturdays at the San Francisco Ferry Building, on the Market Street side of the plaza. It’s been a few years since I had mine made, but if I recall, he has a press with special, umm, dies that cause this affect. I believe it’s less than $15 for a ring, and he has huge collection of coins so you can choose your birth year, etc. He presses and polishes the coin into a ring before your very eyes. It’s fun and kinda amazing. I really like my ring, but trace copper in the coin turns my finger green.

  4. I think you could do this by driving the coin (with hole in center drilled out down a tapered shaft. I believe this is how rings are sized. The top would be forced out, and the bottom in. If you look at the photo you can see that the letters are wider at the top than the bottom.

  5. I am in possession of these rings and being a coin collector since I was 10 (I’m 47 now). I can tell you they are real coins and not produced by the lost wax method nor do they have any visible seams or breaks in the coins pattern. My gut feeling is that they were made by drilling the appropriate size hole in the middle of the coin and then pushing it through a die. These rings aren’t uncommon so the method must be easily reproduced…I Guess. Thanks for everybody’s help!


  6. @ wer2chosen : “make sure they were real coins and not silver?”

    Look at the dates; the real coins of those years *were* silver.

  7. If these were WWII era rings, perhaps they were made in a munitions plant? It seems like they were extruded and rolled, somehow. Maybe an industrial punch for tarp grommets or something?

    I would think that the pure silver coins would be more malleable than modern day coins too, so the effect here may not be entirely possible to reproduce.

  8. Anyway, I just tried this a couple of weeks ago with a brass washer – I put it on a ring mandrel and hammered it into a tube that closely fit the ring mandrel at that diameter (the mandrel being tapered), then hammered more to even it up.

    You could also use a bezel block or bezel die:

    Which is probably similar to what the die that one poster said they saw was like, although maybe optimized for coin rings. In either case you need to start with a washer, so drill or punch out the coin.

  9. My father used to make rings like these from coins. They were popular fake wedding rings for couples “sharing” an hotel room :-)

    His method:
    Put the coin over a large Nut and with a ball pane hammer dome the centre into the nut. Once you have a reasonable dome you can file off the raised hump to leave the hole in the centre.

    After that slip it over a bit of round steel bar and hammer with a soft faced hammer until the ring is formed. file to clean up.

    If you do not want the writing then you can use a hard hammer and file it smooth after ready to polish.

    the modern version of these tools would be a doming block and a triblett to form the ring.

    I would have thought a press would distort or damage the writing – My guess is these were hammered with a soft hammer.

  10. I have a ring that was made by a guy in San Francisco. He made it before my eyes. I had a quarter with me that my mother gave me. It is for my birth year. He had a press and a lot of steel balls of different sizes. He put the quarter I gave him in the press and put the smallest steel ball on it and pressed it. Then he used a bigger one and so forth. In total he used 4 steel balls. Which eventually made the center part of the quarter give out. So on the outside of the ring you have the front part of the quarter with the date and “Liberty,” the inside had the back part of the quarter with “United States of America” and the “Quarter Dolar.” The guy also has a large collection of quarters, organized by year and by state. He made one for my husband, we never take them off. When I go back I will have some more made.

  11. I don’t know how they did this. My guess is they drilled out the center of the coins first. But What I do is take a spoon and rest the quarter on a hard flat surface. Then you just tap the edge and move the coin around so it keeps it even. After just drill out the center and finish it off. I made one out a silver quarter. They are cool.

  12. the coin is heated then it is pressed over a piece of steel shaped somewhat like a finger tip. it is hammered to conform to the steel then it is cut on one side. The side with the edges is done by forcing the ring into a specialty press that defined the ridged edge while making the ring more of a ring.

  13. It Goes like this…..with no hammers,no mandrels,dies,heating,specialty press,brazing,extruding,rolling,wax mold, and oh yea munitions plant? And yes…they are real coins.

    Half dollar rings sizes 8.5–12.5

    Barber half ——-1892-1916 $40.00
    Walking liberty—-1916-1947 $35.00
    Franklin half——1948-1963 $33.00
    Kennedy half——-1964 $31.00

    Quarter dollar ring sizes 4.5–8.25

    Barber quarter——–1892-1916 $30.00
    Liberty quarter——-1917-1931 $28.00–30.00
    Washington quarter—-1932-1964 $25.00

  14. Your coin rings are beautiful! You said how you didn’t make them…would you give any hints on how you DO make them?

  15. I have one of these rings but on mine, the writing is on the INSIDE. It was made with a 1949 Half Crown. Not really sure if it was Irish or British. Mine was made in the very early 1950s in Ireland by my uncle, and sent to America for my aunt. I got my hands on it right before my uncle died and he confirmed that he did make it. I never thought to ask him how. Anyway, I did some searching and found this information.

  16.  There’s a gent who works periodically at the east end of Market in SF who does these.  He has an arbor press and a selection of ring-sized balls….he cuts a small hole in the center of the coin and then presses successively larger balls through the ring until he reaches the ring size that his customers want.  My wife gave me one of this gent’s pieces of work, a Franklin half-dollar ring from 1963 that has amazing detailing.  I don’t wear it often because it’s 90% silver, which is really way too soft for daily wear.  Still, it’s impressive, and I wear it when I dress up. 

  17. Greetings everyone
    The formula used for creating coinrings has been a well guarded secret ever since the first samples were produced many years ago. The process however is really quite straight forward but takes time, patience and a lot of craftmanship which really is the essence and the key I want to point out in the documentation i will share with you on following link adress:

    Regards Morten

  18. Hi Ed,
    I just started making these coin rings myself. They are made by drilling/punching a hole into the coin, then pounding the coin downward on a ring mandrel. as you hammer the coin it folds over into a ring shape. Every few minutes you flip the coin over and continue hammering.
    Once the coins ends are fairly even you take the coin off the mandrel and sand the top and bottom even. Notes:
    -You must use a plastic or leather hammer to not mark up the coin design.
    -Coins will be slightly tapered at one end.
    -This can be minimized by making larger sizes or sanding down reeded edge.
    -Heating the coin(annealing) will make hammering go faster
    You can use a metal puch to speed up hole making.
    -Check youTube for Video D.I.Y.’s

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