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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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!
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