Coin Jewelry & Other Ways To Use Coins As Art

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silver-coin-pocket-watch.jpg 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.

mercury-dime-necklace.jpg 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!

14k-gold-liberty-eagle-coin-bracelet.gif

Coin Art
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.

buffalo-nickel-coin-watch.jpg coin-rings-made-from-coins.jpg

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!

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15 thoughts on “Coin Jewelry & Other Ways To Use Coins As Art”

  1. I know that it is illegal to produce a coin and to pass it on as a real-as to use as currency in a real market. So my question is can you reproduce a coin to be part of an art or fashion and than sell the item? Would it be illegal to do such a thing? If it’s not fraudulent where could I read this as to ensure this truth?

    Reply
    • Hi, Marilyn –The best way to answer such a question is to remind anybody intending to produce imitation coins for jewelry or art to, at the very least, imprint the words ‘COPY’ or ‘REPLICA’ on the coin in an obvious location. Some of the primary things that make coin counterfeiting illegal is to A) trying to pass the coins off as REAL coins. B) using fake coins, or attempting to use fake coins, as money. C) Selling counterfeit coins under the guise of ‘real’ money.For some more insight on the issue, check out these links:https://www.collectors.org/Library/Hobby_Protecthttps://askaboutcoins.com/2009/08/counterfeit-co

      Reply
  2. I have an 1800 quarter eagle that unfortunately was made into a pendant. It is in very good condition. I’ve done some research on it and apparently it’s fairly rare. A local coin dealer offered $500 for it. My camera doesn’t allow me to take close up photos of it, but I can try to get someone with a better camera take pictures for your review – I know that’s preferable for you. Sight unseen, could you throw out a possible value for it based on my information. Thanks, Roger

    Reply
  3. Hope my question gets answered — looks like there has not been any activity for awhile here. I have a bracelet made of gold 2.5 dollar coronet pieces soldered together with gold, four tiny links per coin (2 on each side). The coins are in mint condition except for the attached links. Is this bracelet only worth the gold weight now, or more due to the rarity of the coins?

    Reply
    • Hi, Dot —

      We usually answer the forums every two to four days or so, but I apologize if your question was missed between site activity. While coins used in jewelry will have surface alterations that lower their value, they may still be worth substantially more than bullion value if the pieces are rare. Once, a person who had such a piece actually had an extremely rare coin embedded in the jewelry. Can you tell what years (and, if possible, mint marks) your quarter eagles have? I can tell you more about the value of the piece after learning this info.

      Thanks,
      Josh

      Reply
  4. Hi, Dot —

    This is a very valuable piece, assuming all the coins are authentic. It looks like at least one of the coins may have been cleaned and I can’t tell from the photo how much edge damage may have occurred to the coins with the collars, but I would, sight-unseen, suggest the coins are worth at a minimum $125 to $150 apiece.

    If you are looking to sell this, do yourself a favor and visit a bona fide coin dealer, as they will give you the best price for the coins.

    Cheers,
    Josh

    Reply
  5. Jay, what is your opinion on cleaning a pendant made from a 1943 Liberty Half Dollar? I have read the coin collectors advice NOT to clean any coins but I want to sell this item as a necklace and it’s too grungy. As you say in your article, “coin collectors do not condone this sort of thing since it obviously ruins any collector value to the coin” so is there any more harm done to make it sparkle? Thank you for your thoughts.

    Reply
    • Hi, S Reilly —

      Any coin that has been altered is generally no longer considered numismatically collectible. In this case, your coin is more valuable as jewelry than as a collector coin and may sell for more if carefully cleaned.

      Good luck!
      Josh

      Reply
    • Hi, Sonny!

      While I’m not sure on the content or value of the chain, the privately minted one-ounce silver round is worth its bullion value. As of today, 11/29/2021, that is approximately $23.

      Hope this info is helpful to you,
      Josh

      Reply

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