Coin jewelry has always been popular with men and women, not only because of its variety but due to its timeless, classy look. Men tend to choose tie bars, cuff links and money clips. Women favor earrings, anklets and necklaces. Gold and silver U.S. coins from the early 1900s make the best coin jewelry, but vintage copper pennies, buffalo nickels and even modern era Eisenhower dollars and Kennedy half-dollar coins spiff up a formal wardrobe.
One of the nice things about coin jewelry is that you can choose the coin yourself, take it to your favorite jeweler, and have it mounted as an earring, necklace, ring, whatever you want. Birth-year jewelry is quite popular for this very reason. Those lucky enough to have been born before 1965 often locate proof-quality silver dimes, quarters or half dollars and have them made into sparkling, wearable pieces.
Befriend a Local Coin Dealer
Every big city has a network of local coin dealers. If you want to build an impressive collection of coin jewelry, befriend a local coin dealer, explain your needs, and tell them to be on the lookout for the exact coins you want. Reputable dealers will help you find inexpensive coins that work well for jewelry but are not appropriate for coin collectors (who tend to seek out pristine, uncirculated coinage). Jewelry pieces need not be in proof condition. In fact, sometimes a bit of wear lends to the historic mystique of the item. For example, a slightly worn silver dollar or slightly scratched Franklin half dollar could make an authentic looking money clip cover.
Buy the Setting First, Coin Second?
Some buyers approach the situation another way; they purchase the setting first and then find a coin that looks good in it. This system works especially well if you want a necklace or earring for a special occasion. Have your jeweler show you an assortment of coin-less settings and choose your favorite. Then, you will be able to visit the coin shop with the mounting in hand, ready to make a perfect match.
Tip: Copper and gold coins look great in silver settings, while silver and nickel coins work best in dark metallic settings. A silver casing around a copper or gold coin creates a strong vintage look and enhances a men’s or women’s business suit.
Warning: Beware Fake Gold
If you want gold or silver coins for your special jewelry piece, be sure to purchase the coins either from a licensed coin dealer (a member of the American Numismatic Society), or directly from your jeweler. That way, you will be certain that the coin is not lead-filled gold or faux silver. Numismatists and jewelers know their metals and will give you peace of mind. This is quite important considering the price of silver and gold coinage, which can run into the thousands of dollars for a large piece (of gold, anyway).
This warning goes double for foreign coins. At least with U.S. money, you know what you are getting. Unfortunately, the second-hand market is sometimes tainted with “100 percent fake” Mexican gold pesos, European gold coins, and other fraudulent metals. This is why it is vitally important to obtain your jewelry coinage from a professional jeweler or coin dealer.