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Bigger hammer

Cut Coin Jewellery

Here is the secret birthday-present metalworking project that I was making cryptic comments about on FaceBook a couple of weeks ago:

finished_l_coin

It's a cut-coin pendant. I got the idea from a jeweller in Ironbridge who specialises in the technique (though I have since learned that there are many others around the world doing similar work). As you might guess, it was for a relative whose first initial is 'L' and was born in 1999 (a century after the coin was minted). It's 16mm in diameter, which is smaller than a modern five-pence piece (incidentally there was an even smaller silver 1.5 pence coin but they are pretty rare). Here's a photo of the coin before I started work on it:

coin

It's an 1899 British silver threepence. Because it was minted before 1920 it's made from sterling silver, which is 92.5% silver, 7.5% copper (the alloy makes it a bit harder-wearing than pure silver would be). I also made the attachment rings from sterling silver wire and soldered them on with silver-solder, and supplied it with a fine sterling silver chain (not made by me).

I cut it out by hand using very small diameter drill bits, a jeweller's piercing saw with a ridiculously fine blade, and a pair of Optivisor magnifying glasses. I couldn't have done the work without decent magnification - often I would spend a few minutes obsessing over a particular detail, then flip the visor up and look at the work I'd just done, only to find that I could barely see the feature with my naked eyes. It's slightly frustrating to look at a photo of the finished coin taken with my macro camera setup because it shows up flaws that you just can't see without magnification. I think I definitely got better at following the lines accurately after a few hours' practice. In hindsight I over-polished parts of it, particularly the crown, removing some of the fine details. But for a first attempt I'm quite pleased with it!

Incidentally, Christmas is coming up: if any of you are interested in commissioning me to make something similar, please drop me a line to discuss the details.

Comments

Thanks! I wasn't keeping close track but I reckon the design took about an hour, the cutting about six hours, the attachment ring about half an hour, and the cleaning and polishing about an hour. Not counting research, searching eBay for the right coin, ordering materials and tools, etc. I reckon a second one to a similar design would probably take me about six hours. A simpler design (without the laurel wreath) would likely take significantly less.