Coins have a magical quality that has drawn collectors for centuries. Working with coinage in metalwork and wearing coins as jewelry can be a fun alternative to more
conventional jewelry materials. The artwork on coinage is often beautifully detailed and rendered. Coin jewelry can represent national pride when an image on a coin evokes such feeling. Luck is a theme represented by the “lucky penny”. Coins can make jewelry exotic, with the use of rare, unusual, or foreign coins. Conversely, it is interesting to see the everyday mundane coin as special, when it is showcased in jewelry.
Many people are concerned that defacing a coin for use in jewelry is illegal. This is false. Defacing US currency is illegal if the intent is to pass it as legal tender after it has been altered. These laws are used against counterfeiting, and do not pertain to those who wish to make something else entirely out of the currency, whether for sale or not.
As metalworkers, the use of coins can be tricky if we are to use heat techniques to alter coins. It is important to know the metal content of coins before applying torch to them.
The following is some useful information on US coinage:
Metal Content by mint year:
1793-1857: 100% Copper
1858-1864: 88% Copper, 12% Nickel
1864-1982: 95% Copper, 5% Tin & Zinc (Bronze)
1942: Core: Steel; Plating Zinc
1982 –Present: Core: 99.2% Zinc; Plating 100% Copper
1866-1942: 75% Copper, 25% Zinc
1942-1945: 56% Copper, 35% Zinc, 9% Manganese
1945-2005: 75% Copper, 25% Zinc
1892-1964: 90% Fine Silver, 10% Copper
1964-2005: Core: 100% Copper; Plating: 75% Copper, 25% Nickel
1982-1964: 90% Fine Silver, 10% Copper
1965-2008: Core: 100% Copper, Plating: 75% Copper, 25% Nickel
1976: (Silver Bicentennial) 79.1% Fine Silver, 20.9% Copper
necklace by Sudlow Jewelry
necklace by Honeybee Designs
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