A lady rang me one day asking if I would be able to make a bracelet out of some per-decimal silver coins that she had. She told me that it was for her daughters sixtieth birthday and that the dates on the coins related to her birthday. I told her that I would love to make it for her so she arranged to come around and give me the coins.
While having a conversation with her she thought that it would be a good idea to also have another bracelet made for her daughter-in-law. She had enough coins for more than one bracelet so she decided to also get me to make one for her as well. I showed her a couple of styles I could do the bracelets in. One was like a charm bracelet and the other style was a linked bracelet that joined the coins with jump rings on both sides. She decided to go with the charm bracelet style.
The coins were tarnished and a little damaged. So to clean them up I put them in a cleaning solution. This brought them up nice and shiny. Unfortunately, I could not fix the damage for fear of losing definition on the coins. Once they were clean though the damage didn’t look so bad.
The Bracelet Measurements Needed
I asked the customer what sizes she wanted the bracelets, but she said she was not sure. To give her an idea of what I meant, I showed her my wrist and she believed my wrist was the same. She thought that it would probably be best to make them both the same size.
As I have a small wrist I decided to make the bracelets 17.78cm (7 inches) long but thought that it would be best to add extensions to them so that they can be adjusted.
Using The Jump Ring Tool
To make the jump rings for the bracelets I used 1mm sterling silver round wire. And as you can see in the photo I have a jump ring maker.
In the design I made up, there were two different sizes of jump rings. The two sizes of jump rings were 4mm and 6mm. I needed to make 24 of the 6mm jump rings and 36 of the 4mm jump rings for both bracelets. Twelve of the 4mm jump rings are for the extensions.
With my jump ring tool, there is a mandrel attached to a plastic winder as you can see in the photo. The winder has a hole at the top for me to put my finger in to help me wind the wire around the mandrel. Although I still need to make the jump rings manually this tool helps a lot. Once the wire has been wound around the mandrel, I then can take the wound wire off the mandrel. Then I use my wire cutters and cut along the wire to free the jump rings. Once the jump rings are all free, I then need to cut the opposite side of each jump ring so both ends will join well when soldered.
Some people do this with a jeweller saw. I have been thinking it probably would be easier to do that but I need some way to hold the jump ring coil so I can use the saw to cut it. I will have to think about this for further projects. Hum!!!
Making The Bracelet
Now I have the jump rings ready to solder. My thought was to attach the small and the large jump rings alternately.
So, I decided to close and solder all the large jump rings so that all I needed to do was use the small jump rings to attach everything together.
Once the large jump rings were all soldered and quenched with water. I started to put the bracelet together. The first thing I needed to do was to add a 12mm lobster claw for the bracelet clasp. I picked up a small jump ring and began to attach a the lobster claw and also added one of the large jump rings then closed and soldered the small jump ring. I continued soldering the jump rings together till I reached the desired length.
Trouble With soldering The Jump Rings
Unfortunately, I had some trouble with this process. I found that while soldering the jump rings using the torch I would also solder the other jump rings together. Because of this, I would have to reheat them to free them and also have to be very careful not to melt the jump rings while doing this. This became quite an issue and now I think about it, it would have been better to have just taken the time and solder each jump ring at a time. HUH!! Hindsight!
Finishing Off The Bracelet
I finally got to the end of the bracelet and all I had to do was to add the six small jump rings for the extension. At the end of each extension, I also added a tag with a 925 stamp on one side and RRA signature stamp on the other.
Cleaning Up The Bracelet
Now the bracelet was ready to be popped in the pickle. Once out of the pickle I checked all the joints then once it is all fine I pop the bracelet into the tumbler to polish it up.
As you can see in the photo there is a before and after shot of the bracelet. The front bracelet is the before, this is what the bracelet looks like when I have finished soldering. The after is a shot of the bracelet once out of the pickle. In each step you really see the difference in the look of the bracelet.
Putting Holes In the Coins
The next thing was to drill holes into the coins at the top. Doing this I needed to be careful not to destroy too much of the wording on the coins.
Using a punch I made an indent where I was going to drill the hole. This makes it easier to drill as the drill sits into the indent and keeps the drill from going all over the place. When drilling the hole I used a small drill first and then a larger drill in the diameter of the hole I want to make. I needed the hole to be 1mm in diameter as the small jump rings were going to be made from 1mm wire.
To make sure that the jump rings I was using to attach the coins to the bracelet would fit through the hole. I used the 1mm wire that I was going to use for the jump rings and tried it through the first coin I made a hole in. The wire went through just fine so I knew that it would all work well.
Then I continued to make the rest of the small jump rings to attach the coins to the bracelet. I also needed to work out where to put the coins so they were in the order that the customer wanted and also sat at the front of the bracelet. Once I determined where to put the coins I placed each coin onto the bracelet with the small jump rings then closed and soldered them. Then the next thing to do was to place the bracelet into the pickle and then clean the bracelet up. Now all I had to do was to pop it in the tumbler and polish it.
Well, I made the other bracelet the same way but the only thing I did differently was the way I soldered the jump rings.
As you can see they turned out really well and the customer was very happy.