I Love Using Coins to Make Jewelry

Posted by Jarrett Leone on

I love using circulated currency as an artistic medium. Each coin has its own story to tell. As I am working, I wonder-- where has this coin traveled? What was traded for it? How many lives has it connected before finding its way to my workbench to be transformed into a unique piece of jewelry? Coin currency has been an integral part of society for thousands of years. There is a strong connection to history and a sense of nostalgia associated with coins. Using them to make jewelry allows me to craft unique, high quality works from a necessary, pre-existing material.

It is interesting to think that for some adults, coins become a nuisance. Something annoying weighing down a pocket or taking up space on a dresser. Not for me. I love the tangible weight and feel coins. I think I would have enjoyed living in a time when I could pay with something with a sack of copper, silver or gold. I have so many fond childhood memories associated with coins. Getting to keep the change when my father sent me to the store for something and using it to fill up my piggy bank. Finding a coin on the street and feeling like I had found an actual treasure. Sometimes when my dad was selling on the street in Manhattan, I would fish for coins in the subway grates using fishing line, a fishing weight and chewing gum or chapstick. I would fish until I had enough to buy my own egg cream. 

I learned to cut coins into jewelry as a child by practicing with old copper pennies on my fathers' workbenches. Since then, I have worked with master metal smiths, received a BFA in sculpture and painting, and experimented with every conceivable medium. But I always come back to coins. There is something magical about them.

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