DENHAM SPRINGS – There are times when you can just look at something and say, ‘I have to have it, I need it.’ Whatever that object may be, it becomes love at first sight and only divine intervention will prevent you from reaching out and grabbing the prize.
That’s what happened to Stuart Salassi one evening as he scanned his inventory on the online marketplace, eBay. As the jewelry maker assessed his wares he noticed a hint of gold on the right rail, in an advertisement. At first he believed it was an 1895 10 dollar gold coin, but upon closer inspection, he realized that it was something much more than just a regular commemorative keepsake.
“It was a ring,” Salassi said, and then paused, “… it was gorgeous.
“I immediately thought ‘God, how in the heck do you do this?’”
The seed was planted, driven by his will to learn Salassi began his journey down the rabbit hole of the internet. The advertisement link brought him face-to-face, so to speak, with a gentleman who had created the necessary tools for the job. According to Salassi, this particular vendor had become the icon of the coin-to-ring industry – which meant the soon-to-be coin converter had hit the jackpot.
“They had a list of the die sets that you use for every part of the process,” Salassi recalled. “This guy was at the forefront of this particular industry because he had designed all the dies and tools necessary.”
The jeweler ordered every piece he needed for the process. While he waited for the arrival, Salassi pulled up a series of ‘how-to’ videos on YouTube to get a sense of the steps he would have to take for each conversion. YouTube is an amazing thing, Salassi recalled, and immediately decided that the process could not be that difficult given the right tools – which had begun to arrive.
Failure, however, has historically been the best teacher.
Salassi’s first attempt was a dud, as he didn’t heat the metal quite hot enough to be shaped into a ring. Instead, it cracked.
The heating process is called “annealing” and is the second – and most important, according to Salassi – step of the coin-to-ring conversion. The first step, he said, is to take one of the die casts he was sold, place the coin inside, and then use a hammer to puncture a ‘finger-size’ hole in the metal.
Salassi’s second attempt didn’t go so well, either, as the metal was overheated which caused it to blister, bubble, and become useless.
Armed with information from his first two attempts, the jeweler hit the perfect workflow on his final shot. Stopping as he needed to anneal the metal if necessary, Salassi was able to finish the process by using a hydraulic press to wrap the metal around a pre-formed piece, which created the ring.
“It’s a tough, time-consuming process – but it’s so worth it,” Salassi said.
Initial attempts were made with commemorative coins Salassi had purchased after 9/11 – made of silver which had been stored in the bottom of the World Trade Center towers. The rings still have the slogans ‘Never Forget’ and ‘In God We Trust’ clearly visible on the bands, as all the rings are made to hold their original memory and value.
From there, Salassi created his own private collection which features commemorative slogans from around the United States.
“This is just a great gift or a great piece to make from commemorative coins, because you still get to keep that memory,” Salassi said.
“Be careful with pure gold though,” he cautioned, “you’re risking an extremely high potential amount of future value by using it to create a ring.”
Salassi recommends commemorative coins from any occasion as the starting point for the process. While rings can be made from gold, the jeweler recommends customers consider copper, brass, and silver coins as better mediums for the gift.
Interested parties can visit Salassi Jewelry at 239 N. Range Avenue in Denham Springs, or call to make an appointment at 225-271-8641.