An over one hundred years old, twenty cent silver Newfoundland coin, turned into a ring? Sounds odd, and who would destroy such a coin from history? Can such a coin even become a ring?
Well to answer these questions, a man wrote to us at Moonkist Designs wanting to know if we would undertake the project. He had looked for months for someone willing to take it on so he could give his beloved (and coin collector) a one-of-a-kind engagement ring. Second answer, a ring can be made out of a coin if large enough, the process is the same as our Mokume Gane, and our answer?
We were apprehensive of course, these coins, though stamped with twenty cents, vary in price within the collector community, from forty dollars to the hundreds depending on the quality and mint of the coin. That, and there would only be one chance to get it right! Our brave production supervisor and trainer to all new employees bound for the bench, attacked this project, and he did so with minimal ‘sighs’ of apprehension.
As we noted before, the process is similar to our Mokume Gane ring, measuring the diameter and circumference to know what punches to use,
as well as the thickness of the coin. Vintage silver coins are rather thick – just over an eighth of an inch – and normally when we make a ring from flat metal in this way we want five eighths in width for the band to hold strong. So, as shown in the picture, our brave leader did just that, taking all the necessary measurements, then went to work with
a punch and mallet. (Took several good whacks too!) Now given the coins age, the metal had been handled many times. That and the initial casting had work-hardened the silver greatly, so before we could move on, annealing was necessary. This process requires the use of a torch, heating the metal to loosen the crystallized formation of the silver itself, making it malleable and easier to shape. The task completed, our brave leader moved onto the next stage in the process.
Using a ring sizing mandrel, a mallet, and PVC tubing to preserve the coins outer design, the ring slowly begins to take form.
This process can usually be adjusted at the start, having cut out the outer and center for a given size range, however with a coin you are sort of stuck. Slowly working the metal to take form, the coin becomes a ring, tapering the metal and stretching it from the center hole punched out, up the sizes one by one. With no choice at all if we were to preserve the pattern and the coin’s original diameter, our brave leader hammered the coin to a size eight. Unfortunately we need a six and this next step shows us why he is so brave.
Now, even though the ring will be given a mount, we want to get the pattern as close as possible for consistency, and the littlest details are what make a ring either, ‘ok’ or ‘wonderful’ , ‘blah’ or a ‘beautiful work’. This is why our brave leader took on the task, he has an eye for matching patterns on bands that need to be downsized so that it looks like there was never a cut at all. Again he measures and finds just the right area that will help both the outer and inner patterns (for both the front side and back of the original coin) then carefully makes his cut.
This done, now he has to solder the ring whole once more, and with the intention of a mount being placed later, he uses Hard Silver solder to get the job done. With flux, a compound that cleans and allows metal to flow freely when heated close to a melting point, and hard solder to join the two ends as one once more, the ring is placed into a pickling compound to remove oxidization and clean off any flux that may be left behind.
With some cleaning and shaping done after the pickle the ring is sized on the mandrel once again, bringing this unique piece to the proper size needed. Now it is time for the mounting! Our very romantic client has a specific sized stone in mind, length 7.61mm width 5.70mm height 3.54mm and to make it last and hold using a prong mount, platinum or gold is often best, and he chose white gold for his mounting. After cleaning the surface areas with a file for the best hold using solder, the mount is placed and soldered with medium white gold solder, and after ensuring everything is centered, double checks and the like, pickling ensues once more.
All that was left our cleanup and polishing process. John used a flexible shaft machine to clean the ring, taking away any rough spots or sharp edges. Then, the ring was placed within the polisher to work harden the metal and give it a shine. Finally, when it was removed from the polisher, we used a hydochloric acid mixture to darken the surface of the ring in a process that mimics silver antiquing and polished off the details.
Unfortunately our client was not able to mail the stone, so we crafted the mounting for him and sent it to his location. Then, he was able to have a local jeweler set his stone in the mounting that we had crafted.We were happy to do this, and he was delighted with the result, so much so he has a matching coin for us to make into his band for when they marry.
Just to clarify, of course she said yes!
Our generous client even sent us the wedding announcement, a photo of the final outcome once the stone was set, and a wonderful review that you can read here regarding his experience with Moonkist designs.
We all look forward to working with him again to create more unique and challenging works of art!
Our vote for most unique engagement ring: A 115 year old coin ring with a beautiful yellow diamond!
By John Friend/Moonkist Designs, LLC 2015