Monday, January 11, 2016

Treasure lockets tutorial

One of the pieces I made quiet a few of last year were coin treasure lockets. It's no surprise that I love coins and I use them quiet often in my designs, but what I really love about these pendents is that they are rather simple and can be worn every day.

Coin Lockets
I like to try and make some jewelry that is not too out there and that my "non art jewelry friends" like too (some of my pieces have left some of them with confused looks on their faces and mumbling along the lines of "oh, that's.... different!" which generally means it's a "very artsy piece", which are the one's I like the best, but are not to everyone's taste), however these seem to go down well with everyone!

What you will need-
  • a pair of coins (here I have used Irish 3d coins)
  • 8mm cabochon
  • 0.8mm sterling silver wire enough for three jump rings
  • 5mm bezel wire
  • doming block & brass hammer
  • 400 grit sandpaper
  • Medium and easy solder paste
  • Soldering equipment
  • Dremel with a polishing wheel
  • Rouge
  • Nail buffer
Doming the Coins
  • First gently dome your coins, I use the size 7 and then size 6 on my block. But make sure you go slowly and do not hit them with too much force, you don't want to lose any of the detail on the coin, nor do you want to hit the coin so hard that it just cracks rather then domes (this I have done many times).
  • Sand the lip of the coin flat on a piece of sandpaper, aim for the flat edge to be about 1mm thick this means that your locket will sit together neatly. (I normally stick a blob of blue tack on top of the coin to hold it while sanding and then sand in a circular motion).
Cutting the Jump Rings
  • Using your sterling silver wire you will need to make a small pair of jump rings and one larger one to use as the bail (you don't need as many as I show in the photo I just tend to make them up in batches, or you could use pre-made ones) I use a 2.5mm knitting needle to make my smaller rings and the small end of my bail making pliers which is about 3.5mm to make my larger one. Once I have the coils wrapped I make a small grove on the top one with my cutters so the saw has some where to bite and then I saw by hand (slow and steady and please be careful of your fingers).
  •  If you are using bigger coins to make your lockets you may want to use larger jump rings and thicker wire.
  • Once you have cut your jump rings use a couple of pairs of pliers to close the small jump rings (don't worry about the large ones just yet).
Making the Bezel
  • Wrap the bezel wire around the stone and cut and file the ends to fit. Make sure the ends fit together perfectly and are spotlessly clean.
  • Using the medium solder paste solder the joint closed (please remember to follow all safety precautions) leave to cool.
  • Once cool check the bezel fits the stone and clean up the joint with a file.
  • File the base of the bezel wire so it is spotlessly clean, if it is not spotless the solder will not flow!
Soldering the Bezel
  • Sand the inside of one of the domed coins until it looks clean enough to solder (I use a small amount of sand paper and the tip of my finger), apply medium solder paste around the inside sanded edge of the bezel and place into the domed coin (solder side down). I then place the coin into a small hole in my soldering block so that it is flush against the surface and I can solder the jump ring on at the same time. 
  • Make sure you place the joint of the clean jump ring against the sanded and clean top of the coin so that when you solder it also closes the seam, once soldered leave to cool.
Soldering the Lid
  •  Sand the top of the domed coin that you will be using as the lid, place it on the soldering block as shown above, again with the solder paste over the opening in the jump ring.
  • Solder gently and leave to cool.
Set the Stone
  • Once both have cooled open your larger jump ring and place through the top and bottom of the locket, close and carefully solder closed with easy solder.
  • At this point your coins will be black, don't panic this is normal! For some reason pickling the coins will not remove any of the fire scale, so I just skip to giving them a light rub with a wire brush and then a gentle rub with the number two file on a nail buffer.
  • They can be left like this (with a little Ren wax) for a nice contrast so you can really see the hare or you can finish them how I like them, with a really beautiful high polish. For this just use a Dremel with a polishing head and a bit of rouge.
Amethyst Hare Locket
Of course this can be done with other coins and you can set all different types of stones too, here are some I made a while ago....
Farthings and Six Pences
But, please be aware that not all coins work. Newer plated coins for example tend to crack when domed and melt when soldered!



  1. A great tutorial thanks for sharing! Where do you get your coins?

    1. Thanks Tracy, best place I have found (and I mean cheapest) has been eBay! Not the buy it now options tho, generally the bulk lot auctions.

  2. great tutorial thanks - what should be the material (metal) of the coin used for such designs and what should the gauge be?

    1. You can do it with silver and copper coins, just not any of the more modern plated coins. Old English sixpences work well as do farthings. The gauge of the coin? The Irish three pence coins have been the thickest coins that I have tried it on and they are surprisingly thick but it's pretty much trial and error. If the coin is too thick you might have trouble doming it.

  3. A great tutorial! I am glad I was gifted one of these coins because they look like an amazing amount of work that I am not capable of yet. Perhaps some day! I put my coin on a goorgeous sterling silver chain and wear it proudly. I love it.

  4. Love these! I have a few skills to work on first, but these are on my list. Thank you!

  5. Yes, thank you for this great tutorial. I was surprised you could dome the coins without losing the detail. Can't wait to try it!

  6. Wow nice job and so many people would wear that!

  7. Don't know if I'll ever be able to do this...but I can dream about it now! Thank you so much for this great tutorial, Niky!


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