What types of coins make the best coin rings?

There are several factors to consider when selecting a coin to make into a coin ring; here are some main points to keep in mind:


Condition:
The main point to keep in mind is that the overall condition of the coin that you start out with will be the condition of your coin ring once you’ve finished the forging process. You want to make sure that the coin you’re using has as much detail intact on both the obverse (front) side and reverse (back) side as possible.

Worn US Quarter

A well-worn US Quarter

In the photo above, you would end up with a coin ring that was excessively worn on both sides of your coin ring.

In contrast, the particular Walking Liberty Half Dollar coin (shown below), has really good detail and would make a great coin ring. These coins were minted between 1916-1947 and contain 90% silver.

A Walking Liberty Half Dollar in good condition.

A Walking Liberty Half Dollar in good condition.

 

Silver or Clad Coin Rings?
As far as US coin currency goes, Quarters and Half Dollars minted prior to 1965 contain 90% pure silver; (the remaining 10% of the metal is mostly copper). These coins are very desirable to make into coin rings, as silver is fairly easy to work with once heated; and they are relatively easy to obtain in great condition. Your local coin store or online sites such as eBay are good places to go to pick some up at a reasonable price.

To Note: starting with the 1965 JFK Half Dollars, the percentage of silver content in the coin was reduced to 40% (also known as silver clad), and in 1971, silver was eliminated entirely from the half dollar coins.

1965 JFK

A 1965 JFK Half Dollar contains 40% silver content

 

The “Clad” Factor:
Another option for people is to use the everyday change that’s in their pocket or at home in a jar. A great coin to begin practicing making coin rings are the Washington Quarters minted from 1965-present. This main benefit to using these types of coins is because there is no silver content in the coin. and if you ruin it in the process, you’re only out the 25 cents. Practice really does make perfect, and this is why I highly recommend that people who are just beginning to make coin rings use these clad-type of coins until they get comfortable with the process.

Using “Junk Silver” (and not rare) Coins:
You also want to make sure that the coin you are planning on using does not have any “numismatic” value; meaning that it is not a rare coin (with a low amount minted for example), that can be worth a lot of money.

Some great coins to use to make coin rings are called “junk silver” coins; a term for coins that are made of 90% silver that have no numismatic value. Rather, their value is mainly based on the coin’s silver content and not its condition or rarity.

If you are unsure as to the value of a particular coin, one resource you can go to is called: THE OFFICIAL RED BOOK: A Guide Book of United States Coins. There you can find the relative value of a particular coin based on factors such as condition and rarity. They have an online version that you can access by clicking here.

 

Avoiding the “Green” Finger: 

Example of a clad (non-silver) Washington Quarter coin ring.

Example of a clad (non-silver) Washington Quarter coin ring.

When using non-silver (clad) coins to make into coin rings, sometimes your finger can turn a greenish-color. This is primarily due to the nickel and copper metals reacting to the temperature changes of your skin.

green finger

Oxidation from wearing a clad coin ring

Gold!
Another option is to use gold plating on your clad coin. Below is a 1972 JFK Half Dollar that I plated in 24K gold to see how it would turn out. I was very impressed! Just realize that over time the gold plate will wear off, depending on how often the coin ring is worn, whether or not it gets dinged or scratched, etc.

1972 JFK 24K gold-plated Half Dollar

1972 JFK 24K gold-plated Half Dollar

 

Clear coat-it!
Although not permanent, the most inexpensive way to temporarily avoid the oxidation is by applying women’s clear nail polish to the finished clad coin ring and letting it dry for a few hours. This provides a barrier between the clad coin ring and your skin. How long the coat of nail polish lasts on your clad coin ring will depend on how often you wear the ring, if you sweat a lot, etc.

Clear nail polish

Clear nail polish

These are just some of the key factors in coin selection to consider before making a coin ring. Just remember to have fun, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and enjoy the process!

To see what coin ring making tools I currently offer, visit My Shop.

4 things to look for when buying Reduction Dies to make coin rings

People often ask me questions relating to reduction dies, which are a critical component necessary when making coin rings. Reduction, (also known as “compression” or “reducer” dies), are conically-pitched (or cone-shaped) pieces of round steel that are used in the process of folding over and then reducing coins to make into coin rings.

Oftentimes, people aren’t familiar with the best places to go to get these reduction dies, or the proper questions to ask the person offering them before making their purchase.

Here are a few key points to remember asking before buying any reduction dies. The following four components should be in place if you want to have reduction dies that will give you both long-term usage and better wear-and-tear resistance:

 

Question #1: are the dies made from wear-resistant and hardened stainless steel?
The Hardened Stainless Steel that I use is very tough, durable, and has some of the best wear and rust-resistance than most other types of metal that people are choosing to use.

I work with machinists who are true craftsmen at their trade and they are able to produce an ultra smooth, mirror-like finish to the inner die wall faces that allows for the least amount of friction and therefore easier reduction of even the largest and toughest coins. If you look closely at most others’ dies, you can see somewhat of a rough finish on the face of the dies, which can adversely affect their use.

 

 

Question #2: are the inner walls of the reduction dies fine-smoothed and polished?
This is a critical aspect of having a quality reduction die that shouldn’t be overlooked. Having an ultra smooth inner die-wall finish, (which is the part of the die that makes contact with the outer edge of the coin that you are either folding or reducing), allows for minimal friction and force needed to forge the coin. Damage to the outer reeded edge of the coin isn’t likely to occur as a result either.

Below is a close-up photograph of a one-sided reduction die that has a very rough and scored inner die wall finish; as seen by the heavy tooling and score marks by the red arrows:

Heavy tool marks and scoring by the red arrows on this poorly-machined one-sided reduction die

Heavy tool marks and scoring by the red arrows on this poorly machined one-sided reduction die

CoinRingUSA’s reduction dies are some of the smoothest, finely finished and highest-quality dies available today on the market:

This leads to the next important question to ask…

Question #3: are the reduction dies precision CNC-machined?
You may or may not have heard of this term before, but the “CNC” in machining is an abbreviation for “Computer Numerical Control”. It simply means that computers control the use and operation of manufacturing tools such as mills, lathes, routers and grinders.

The key benefit to this is that it produces the exact same result each and every time. Even the best human operator will have small variations between finished results, whereas a CNC machine will produce exactly the same result every time it is run.

Where this can come into play with the reduction dies is having the ability to machine the exact same inner die wall pitch throughout all of the dies; down to thousandths of an inch consistently every time. The reduction dies that I offer are all precision CNC-machined.

 

Question #4: are the universal reduction dies double-sided?
This is mainly an issue of time, skill level, and cost to the person making the dies. (*** With the exception of the new “Swedish Wrap” extrusion dies that are single-sided), the issue with the photo below of a 1-sided reduction die is that it becomes difficult to continue folding over and reducing a coin, due to the fact that you only have one size diameter die opening to work with. You’ll often end up buying multiple 1-sided reduction dies if you go this route.

notice the conical shape of the die extends all the way from the top to the bottom of this 1-sided die

Notice that the conical pitch of the inner wall extends all the way from the top to the bottom of this 1-sided die

It’s much better to have a set of double-sided reduction dies that follow what I call a “Pairing Order”, which is simply having dies that have diameter sizes in sequential descending order, such as a die with a 1.4″ inch diameter opening on one side, and then a 1.3″ inch diameter opening on the other side of the same reduction die.

In the sizing example above, you would simply flip the die over after you’ve folded the coin over on the 1.4″ inch side, and begin folding the same coin down into the 1.3″ inch diameter side of your reduction die. This makes the task of coin ring-making so much more effective and time-efficient; as you in essence have “2-dies-in-1”.

All of the reduction dies that I offer are double-sided with the sizes precision-engraved on each corresponding side for easy identification, as shown below:


Lastly, the picture below is of a coin ring that I made recently using the double-sided reduction dies. Notice the amount of outer detail that has remained intact as well as the condition of the outer reeded-edge portion of the coin:

If you make sure that all of the aspects above are covered when purchasing your reduction dies, you will have coin ring tools that will produce a beautifully-finished coin ring that will last you a long time.


To see and purchase the Reduction Dies that I offer, click here.

If you don’t see a particular item that you’re looking for such as the specialty reduction dies or the coin center punch tool, it’s because I am temporarily out of stock due to high demand. If that happens, please reach out to me by clicking on the “Contact” tab in the upper right-hand corner and I will get back to you as soon as I am restocked, thanks!