The Legal Question
The legal question comes up all the time. Hey, isn’t what you’re doing illegal?
The short answer is; NO, it is not illegal.
Section 331 of Title 18 of the United States code provides criminal penalties for anyone who “fraudulently alters, defaces, mutilates, impairs, diminishes, falsifies, scales or lightens any of the coins coined at the Mints of the United States.”
This statute means that you may be violating the law if you change the appearance of a coin and fraudulently represent it to be other than the altered coin that it is. In other words, if I altered a Nickel and tried to pass it off as a $5 gold coin; that would be illegal.
Coin jewelry has been around since coins were minted. My coin rings are coin jewelry and they are not represented as anything other than a jewelry item; thus there is no fraudulent intent as defined in the US code.