Owl Jewelry

People have been making coins into jewelry since the inception of coinage. There are many ways to have necklaces, pendants, rings, brooches, tie clasps, cufflinks, buttons, belts, and so on made out of coins today, whether ancient or modern, whether with genuine coins or replicas made primarily to be used for jewelry.

You can buy coin jewelry premade or use the coin of your choice. You can contact a local jeweler or an outfit that specializes in coin jewelry, or you can make coin jewelry yourself. Here's more on coin jewelry.

The following pieces of jewelry all pay homage to Athenian Owls. They're listed, in an inevitably subjective way, from most to least interesting.

Greek pendant made from cast of originally engraved replica (31 mm).

Here's a old pendant made in Greece with an originally engraved replica, not skillfully done but because of its context and history, interesting nonetheless. It commemorates the first International Congress of Archaeology, which was held in 1905, with the reverse legend, in Greek, reading "International Congress of Archaeology 1905."

This meeting took place in Athens, and scholars from 19 countries attended. The second meeting of this group took place in Cairo in 1909, the third in Rome in 1912, the sixth in Berlin in 1941, the seventh in Prague in 1966, the twelfth in Athens in 1983, and the fifteenth in Amsterdam in 1998. This is from a Web search, and it's not clear if the group still meets.

The World Archaeology Congress is a similarly named archeology group that also holds regular meetings, and it appears to have a much bigger presence today. But it is against archeology being the province of "white European upper-class men" and reinforcing "the present-day world order," and it disagrees with the notion that ancient archeological findings should be considered "world patrimony" despite the fact that many people in living in various parts of the world today regard certain ancient civilizations as being part of their heritage. It argues for more inclusivity in archeology, but it recently made headlines by excluding Israel from one of its meetings. The World Archaeology Congress, which was founded in 1985, doesn't seem know about the existence of the International Congress of Archaeology, indicating at its Web site that the first international forum for archeological research was organized in 1931. In actuality international archeology forums were held in the 19th century as well, which points to the oddity of an organization of scholars who study the past not knowing about the past of their own profession.

Along with politicizing the study of the past, archeology has been criticized for being anti-collector. Some archeology organizations are overzealous in trying to stop the looting of archeological sites by calling for the ban of private collecting of ancient goods, with the Archaeological Institute of America being the loudest voice here. Private collecting and public study in reality are complimentary, each promoting interest and knowledge of the past.

The above pendant appears to be silver-plated, possibly over copper, since it's light for its size but has the characteristic subtle blues and pinks of silver toning. It appears originally engraved, though without much knowledge of the coin type it represents, copying, not well, two different Owl varieties. The obverse copies an Early Classical Owl, Sear 2520, with Athena's wavy hair, except that the helmet crest includes only dots and leaves out the lines that represent horse hairs, and the reverse copies a Mass Classical Owl with its tall, slender owl, except that the owl's tail is composed of two separately delineated feathers instead of a single tail prong.

Greek-American pendant made from 1973 Greek two drachmas coin (22 mm).

This attractive gold- and silver-plated pendant was made from an authentic coin, but a modern one, the 1973 Greek two drachmas, which features on the reverse an appealing rendition of the owl on Classical Owls. The artists who make these pieces, John and Janice Germain of Lexington, MI, first drill a small hole in the coin and use a jeweler's saw to cut away everything except the central device and the rim, solder the owl's tail to the rim as well as a loop to connect the owl's head to the rim, add a clasp to the loop, then selectively plate the piece by hand in gold and silver. This piece of cut-coin jewelry is available among other places from Bill Saunders of Nostalgic Bay in Snohomish, WA.

Czech pendant made from Antiquanova figurine (25 mm x 10 mm).

Here's sterling silver pendant made from a figurine in the Czech Republic by Antiquanova, a well-known maker of ancient coin replicas. The Greek letter theta on the reverse, however, appears in its modern rather than ancient form, with a line rather than a dot in the center, and the owl's tail features are wider than on Owls but nicely fill the space between the owl's wing and foot on this pendant.

American brooch made from three cast replicas (65x22 mm).

This is a pewter brooch (sold on eBay as silver) that was made by Alva Studios, also known as Alva Museum Reproductions, which was located in Old Bethpage, NY. Alva Studios also made a matching earring set that featured just the owl reverse and a matching pedant that featured Athena on one side and the owl on the other. The replicas are undersized, each about 22 mm in diameter and much thinner than authentic Owls, and they're inexpensively cast, having muddy details. The dark toning, however, improves the overall appearance of the brooch, and the creative pairing of two reverses with an obverse also adds interest.

Greek pendant made from cast of originally engraved replica (19 mm).

Here's a sterling silver pendant made in Greece with a cast of an originally engraved replica. It's a poor quality, undersized replica, with Athena's crest appearing unrealistic and the crescent moon missing on the reverse, though it was affordably priced. Some pendants are made with better quality replicas, and some are made with authentic Owls, but often the latter are pricey, with the coins greatly marked up.

As one example of seriously overpriced coin jewelry, at the time of this writing a TV network Web site was selling silver pendants made with authentic Owls, the Owls having worn, unattractively corroded surfaces and appearing to be only in Fine condition, coins that might sell for $300 to $400 from an ancient coin dealer, for about $1,500. As another example, one jeweler was selling a gold pendant with an Owl in similar condition, but instead of corrosion it had an ugly flan defect (not a test cut), for about $5,500.

Other glomworthy coins:

Oldest Coins

 Athenian Owls

Alexander the Great Coins

Medusa Coins

Thracian Tetradrachms

House of Constantine

Draped Bust Coins

Saint-Gaudens Double Eagles

Coin sites:
Coin Collecting: Consumer Protection Guide
Glomming: Coin Connoisseurship
Bogos: Counterfeit Coins

© 2014 Reid Goldsborough

Note: Any of the items illustrated on these pages that are in my possession are stored off site.