If you have not visited Etsy, you will find a shopping site where you can find unique items that are not available elsewhere. Most of the sellers on Etsy sell handmade designs, vintage items, repurposed vintage items, supplies, and unique low volume goods. It would not be farfetched to call Etsy an Internet craft fair and a neat place to go shopping.
One of the more interesting items on Etsy are coin jewelry. Coin designs are themselves a form of art but can become ordinary when repeated over millions of coins. Take a meaningful design and add it to a bezel, attach it to a pendant, or hammer it into a ring and these artists take the coins to the next level.
Many of these artists will take requests for the type of coin for their creations. Some will even let you send a special coin or a coin they cannot obtain to create your design.
A quick search on Etsy for coin jewelry found over 100,000 different jewelry items including bracelets, rings, earrings, bracelets and more. Aside from the different types of jewelry the artists will also use coins from all around the world including the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Norway, and more.
Coin jewelry hunters may be unknowingly accessories to a crime. According to an article in The Straits Times, it is illegal to make jewelry using coins from Singapore.
Like many other nations, Singapore takes pride in the art on their coinage. Aside from being their means to promote commerce, they are used to represent their culture and society. However, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the Singapore equivalent of the U.S. Treasury Department, has said that under Singapore’s Currency Act, it is illegal to “mutilate, destroy or deface” their money. Offenders can be fined up to $2,000.
If you search for “Singapore coin jewellery” (the British spelling of “jewelry”) on Etsy, you will find around 200 different jewelry items returned as part of the search. It is common to see Singapore flower series coin or older coins that featured seahorses.
None of these artists are based on Singapore
While United States law allows for people to use coins for jewelry or other purposes as long as there is no attempt to use them as legal tender currency (18 U.S.C. § 331), this might not be the same for other countries. Although European laws are similar to those in the United States, there is some question as to whether the laws of Canada and Australia can be interpreted to have the same restrictions as Singapore.
When I asked an attorney, he questioned whether an international buyer would convicted of a crime. We both agreed that if you buy jewelry with an international coin, leave it home if you plan to visit that country.
Etsy was asked for a comment but attempts to contact them via email has not been answered.
It is a very common misconception, even here in the US. The question often comes up, “Is it legal?”. It’s hard to blame people for thinking that its not legal to “deface” coins; After all, we tend to believe the things that have been repeatedly slipped into our minds from various sources. I myself was a firm believer that one would be in violation of some arcane law if I even wrote something on paper money.