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Chances are, you have probably run across a few pieces of coin jewelry in your time.
Coin jewelry is any coin that has been altered due to drilling, cutting, faceting, plating, or all of the above.
Is it legal? Is it worth anything?
Types Of Coin Jewelry
Coins have been used over the years to make all sorts of creative jewelry such as:
Not too long ago at a local auction in my area I ran across a belt buckle made out of buffalo nickels. And these days, one of the hottest things is the state quarter pendant — a one of a kind necklace with your favorite state quarter on it.
So, how long have people been making jewelry out of coins? Well, the answer to that is probably as long as coins have been around. My other hobby besides coins happens to be metal detecting and friends of mine have dug up large cents from the 1800’s that have a small hole drilled into the top where it was once worn as a necklace.
Today, it seems coin jewelry is becoming more popular than ever. Even stars like Jennifer Love Hewitt have been seen wearing coin pieces as jewelry. It doesn’t take too much looking around to find a interesting piece of coin jewelry. For example, here’s a very nice necklace made from a mercury dime.
Of course, for the most part, coin collectors do not condone this sort of thing since it obviously ruins any collector value to the coin. However, the above-mentioned coin necklace sells for over $50 whereas just a common date mercury dime that it is made from is only worth a buck or two in circulated condition.
There is quite a bit of work that goes into making these pieces of jewelry, so they will always be quite a bit more expensive than the actual coin was worth in its former condition. Some are even cut with a jeweler’s saw to make the portrait stand out better, and then parts are plated with 24K gold — like this Walking Liberty half dollar necklace.
Now, if you ask me, the cream of the crop in terms of coin jewelry is this Gold Eagle Bracelet. There are 6 eagles in that bracelet… Wow!
Other than being used for jewelry, coins are often used as a type of art also. Although the coin art is rarely worth much.
For the most part, people alter coins just for the purpose of selling it as art, using it as some sort of token, or smashing their logo and name into it for an interesting form of advertising.
If you search around eBay, you can find an array of coin art — such as coins that have been elongated into an oval shape and then stamped with a nice picture of zebra or some other type of animal or person.
Legal Or Not?
Some people say any of the above pieces are illegal. Some say they are not illegal. And some just don’t care either way. Well let’s clarify that for you.
It is illegal to deface U.S. coinage in a "fraudulent" manner. Therefore, as long as you are not doing it to commit fraud (trying to use the coins as legal tender after being altered), then it is perfectly legal.
However, I have to add my two cents here at the end and mention, the Walking Liberty half dollar and such coins are already very beautiful without being cut on or plated. So instead of chopping them up, pick up some Whitman folders and get started into the exiting hobby of coin collecting!
I have been collecting and trading coins for years. Coin collecting is a hobby for me, and I’ve done a lot of research about coins through the years.