Transform a Coin Into a Silver Ring
It just takes a coin, some patience and quite a few hours, and you can hammer out a sterling silver ring everyone will notice. Choose a half-dollar or a quarter, preferably minted in 1964 or before, when coins were 90 percent silver. (After that year, silver coins contained copper-rich alloy.) You can buy these older silver coins from a coin collector for a few dollars, much less than you would pay for a sterling silver band from a jeweler. Why not choose a coin with a meaningful date, such as a birthday or anniversary?
Coins Get Smaller But Bigger
When you tap and turn the round disc of a coin, the diameter gets smaller, and the edge widens. Just hold the edge between your thumb and finger on a hard surface such as steel while you tap. What you're doing is tapping the coin into a simple band, with some of the coin's mottoes and designs staying intact. Suggested tools for ring making include a small hammer, or a big spoon, drill and bits, dremel tool and bits, and fine grade sandpaper. You'll also want gloves and safety glasses.
Soldiers and their Sweethearts
Back in World War II, a great way for a wounded soldier to pass the time was to spend hours on end tapping a coin with a spoon, making a sterling silver ring for a sweetheart back home. For her finger, the diameter of a quarter was perfect. For his, a half-dollar was better. A spoon may have been the only tool available. It was slower than a hammer, but gentler too, and the silver ring didn't require as much polishing and buffing.
You'll want complete instructions to find out how to keep the mottoes and engravings from the coin, and to find out how to open the center of the ring. See Resources for step-by-step directions, and even a video.
How Does Uncle Sam Feel About It?
It is illegal to deface U.S. currency with the intent to defraud. According to the United States Code, Title 18, Part I, Chapter 17.33, if your intent is not to defraud, altering currency is not illegal. Go ahead and make as many coin rings as you like.