DIY Antique Coin Cufflinks

homemade cufflinks

As I’ve said before, my family makes Christmas gifts for one another. Since my tools are currently in storage (I’m between houses at the moment), my creative output is limited. The wife and I decided that we would split the gift-making duties again this year. She made scarves for the ladies and I made cufflinks for the gentlemen.

This wasn’t the cheapest gift that I’ve made, but I think it’s one of the coolest. And it couldn’t be easier. I bought two orders of silver-plated cufflink blanks from Amazon. Then I bought some metal jewelry glue. All that was left was to find something eye-catching to adorn the cufflinks.

I was reading recently that old Mercury dimes (produced from 1916–1945) are being scooped up by buyers as bullion investments. They consist of 90% silver, so they’re worth more than they cost. The name Mercury dime is actually a misnomer. The icon on the face of the coin is not the Roman God, Mercury, but rather Lady Liberty wearing a winged helmet.

I picked up ten Mercury dimes on Ebay. I overpaid for them at around $3.60 apiece (after shipping). If I had it to do over again, I would contact a local coin shop to pick up some of their less-than-pristine coins. Following that thought process, I later picked up some cheap buffalo nickels (produced from 1913–1938).

You’re never supposed to wash, much less shine, valuable coins. Since I was planning to glue them, thereby ruining their value, I figured I’d go ahead and shine them too. I wanted them clean, but not in mint condition. Old coins should look old. I gave them a mild scrub with some Bar Keeper’s Friend and then air-dried them on a paper towel. That was it for the prep work.

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Next, I glued the cufflink blanks to the coins so that the heads of the dimes rest perpendicular to the shirt cuff. As for the nickels, I alternated the Indian head and the buffalo for each cufflink set.

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I actually kept one set of dimes unwashed for myself. I like the patina of authentic antiques.

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I wore them to work to test the glue. I was impressed by its resilience. Pretty much all of the stress is actually on the cufflink blank, not the coin.

Finally, I bought some little gift boxes on Amazon and the wife tied them up with bows.

Cost breakdown

$36 10 Mercury Dimes
$5 15 Buffalo Head Nickels
$28 20 (10 sets) Silver Tone Cufflink Knurl Backs Setting
$5 .7 oz Aleene’s Jewelry & Metal Glue
$15 12 3-inch by 2 1/8-inch by 1-inch Jewelry Boxes with Filler

 
$89/10 = $8.90 per cufflink set

I ended up with some extra nickels, boxes, and glue, so it’s not really an even breakdown. I also only needed eight sets, but ended up with ten. That means I have a couple of gift-wrapped sets laying around for the next time I forget to buy a birthday gift for someone.

This is a great DIY project for anyone to try. It requires zero skills and experience. Plus, the cufflinks look really cool. What’s funny is that people are selling these on Amazon for $40+ per set. Maybe I should start up my own shop?

Update

People have emailed me asking how the cufflinks have held up over time. They mostly have been great. The glue failed on a couple of links, so I experimented with different brands and came back to Aleene’s Jewelry & Metal Glue. For a metal-to-metal bond, this stuff is like a weld when you’re dealing with flat surfaces. Both failures occurred on the nickels, which have deeper indentations than the dimes. I’m guessing that caused the failure. The second gluing went much better, probably because the old glue already filled those gaps, making for a flatter surface.

DIY Antique Coin Cufflinks
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2 thoughts on “DIY Antique Coin Cufflinks

  • September 27, 2020 at 1:31 pm
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    Clean glue surfaces with alcohol and let dry. This will help the bond.

    If you would add some CUFFSTYLE Cufflink Adaptors ($15) to the present the very nice cuff links could be worn with regular cuff, long sleeve shirt.

    Great article.

    Reply

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