As a jewelry designer, I often give jewelry as gifts, at least to my female friends. I’d love to make some jewelry for my husband, but unfortunately he’s not the swinging, gold-chain wearing type (or any other kind of chain for that matter), and will only wear his wedding band.
So what’s a Jewelry Girl to do when a holiday like Valentine’s Day comes up? I decided to make him a “Love Token” to carry in his wallet:
Now before you say, “Hey, that picture is out of focus,” please note that I made a couple of errors when stamping the metal, which are explained below. Instead of a mistakes, however, I prefer to think of them as “design decisions.”
Before beginning this project, give some thought to what you want to write on your token. You can just write “Love” if you want, but give it some thought to make the token unique.
My husband and I met through an online personal ad that I placed way back in 1996. I no longer have the text for the entire ad, but I started it with Shakespeare’s sonnet #130, which begins:
My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun…
And ends with this couplet:
|And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.
In the spirit of the sonnet, I decided to stamp a sun-like shape at the top of the token, and I modified the closing text to read “My love is rare.”
Beginner (requires basic metalsmithing)
Materials & Tools
1) Jeweler’s saw
2) Alphabet metal stamps (1/16)
3) Emery paper
4) Sharpie (preferably thin point)
5) Metal block
6) About 10 grams sterling silver or gold or at least an inch square sheet of 18g (1 mm) of either metal
7) Metal file
8) Emery stick
10) Circle template or compass
11) Rolling mill (not pictured)
Here’s how it’s done:
1) This being a special occasion and all, I decided to use 18k gold in this project. Sterling silver will work just as well, and is a lot less expensive, and the process is the same regardless of whether you use gold or silver. If you use sheet metal for this project, skip to step #6.
2) Using your jeweler’s saw, cut at least a 3/4 inch piece of metal. You can eyeball this–it doesn’t have to be precise.
3) Mill your piece of metal flat to about 2 mm. Be careful not to smoosh your fingers. With a piece that small it’s easy to do. My jewelry teacher offered to start it for me, so I let him.
4) Anneal your metal to soften it for further milling. If you don’t, it can crack or peel at the edges.
5) Continue to mill the metal to 1 mm thickness. You can do it thinner if you want, but 1 mm will give the token a solid, coin-like weight, which is what I wanted.
6) Draw your shape (in this case, a circle) on your metal using the Sharpie.
7) Using your jeweler’s saw, carefully cut the shape out of the metal.
8) Using your metal file, emery stick, and emery paper, file and smooth the token so that all sharp edges are removed.
9) Anneal your token again so that the metal will be easier to stamp.
10) Using your Sharpie and a ruler (or your plastic template) draw rough guides where your letters will be stamped.
11) Carefully begin stamping your letters/design onto the token using your metal stamps, hammer, and metal block.
I cannot stress the word carefully enough when you are stamping the metal. It is very easy to accidentally stamp the wrong letter or to stamp it upside down if you aren’t careful.
Case in point:
Can you see that I accidentally used the “A” in love and the “V” in rare? Oh, and I just noticed that the “S” is upside down. Sigh. Those tiny letters are hard to read on the stamps!
A perfectionist would’ve re-did the token but I am not a perfectionist. Instead, I re-stamped the V and the A, hoping that the resulting design would give it a rustic, handmade look, which was my intention from the beginning, despite the mistakes.
12) Using a few different types of hammers, I pounded the token here and there to give it a more distressed, old coin-type look. I was also hoping to disguise my mistake, which I was only marginally successful in doing.
13) Polish your work if you want a shiny finish, use a satin finish buff for a brushed finished. I gave mine a shiny finish, then distressed it some more by putting it in a jar with some quarters and shaking them.
14) Style variations: You can do almost anything with your love token. Try, for example, cutting a shape in the middle of it, or solder a shape (like a heart) in a contrasting metal. For this project, I came very close to fabricating it in silver and then soldering a gold heart to the top instead of a sun.
15) Give the Love Token to your honey and then make him take you out to dinner. Happy Valentine’s Day!