The Least Expensive & Most Romantic Valentine’s Day Gift Ever: DIY Penny Charm Bracelet

by Brett on February 7, 2013 · 104 comments

in Dating, Marriage, Relationships & Family

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PSA: Valentine’s Day is next week.

Are you looking for a thoughtful gift idea for the occasion that goes beyond the usual chocolates, flowers, and plush teddy bear holding a satin heart, but don’t want to plunk down a 15-carat wad of cash? Well, I’ve got you covered. Today I’ll share  how to make one of the most romantic, and yet least expensive Valentine’s Day presents possible. It costs about five dollars and takes just a half-hour to make — no other gift offers more swoon and “awwwww” for the buck.

I actually got the idea for this while browsing Pinterest a while back. (Yes, I browse Pinterest. There’s actually some cool man stuff there and lots of recipes for good grub. Shameless plug: follow AoM on Pinterest). The basic concept is this: You take a penny minted in different years that are significant to your relationship with your girl and turn it into a charm bracelet.

I thought it looked like a swell gift idea for my wife so I decided to make it. Result? She loved it.

If you’re ready to become the world’s greatest boyfriend/husband this Valentine’s Day, read on.

Materials Needed

  • Pennies. You need a penny from each significant year of your relationship — her birth year, your birth year, year you met, year you married, year(s) kid(s) were born, etc.
  • Chain bracelet. See if your wife/girlfriend has an old chain-link bracelet. If she doesn’t, buy one at the craft store for $3. (When I went to Hobby Lobby to buy a bracelet, a smooth jazz version of “El Shaddai” was playing over the store sound system. True story.)
  • 9mm jump rings. You can buy a package at the craft store for $2.00
  • Scrap wood
  • Vinegar
  • Salt

Tools Needed

  • Power drill (ideally a drill press)
  • 1/8-inch drill bit
  • Metal file/sandpaper

Step 1: Find Pennies

moneybox

Sorting through my coin bank like a regular Scrooge McDuck. Look for a penny made in each significant year of your relationship: your wife’s/girlfriend’s birth year, your birth year, the year you met, the year you got married, the year(s) your children were born. You get the idea. This will take longer than you think. If you have kiddos, recruit them to help. Just keep an eye on any toddlers sticking coins in their noses.

pennies

Jackpot! Finally a use for the lowly penny. Now we need to give these bad boys a bath.

Step 2: Clean Pennies

vinegar

Place pennies in a bowl and pour some vinegar in.

salt

Add salt for good measure and mix. Let them soak for about 5-10 minutes. They’ll come out looking bee-u-ti-ful.

Step 3: Drill Holes

drill

Put your penny on your scrap piece of board and start drilling a 1/8-inch hole into it. A drill press is definitely ideal, but I don’t have one so I just used my power drill. I ended up taking my thumb off the penny so I could use both hands to press down on the drill. The penny started spinning around really fast, but it got the job done.

hole

I used a split drill bit, so I was left with a rough edge on the back of the penny. A pilot drill bit would have given me a cleaner cut. Again, just working with what I had.

Step 4: File/Sand Rough Edges

file

I took some sandpaper designed for metal surfaces and cleaned up the rough edges around the hole as much as possible. I didn’t have one, but a metal file would probably work better.

Step 5: Put Jump Loop Ring Through Penny Holes

loop

Place a jump ring through a penny and hold it daintily, like so. Yes, I said daintily. Do the same for all your pennies

Step 6: Attach Jump Ring & Penny to Chain Bracelet

putonchain

Step 7: Break Out the Smelling Salts and Prepare for Swooning

completed

I probably could have bought a better-looking chain, but I don’t have a refined taste for lady’s bracelets.

Option #2: Key Chain

keychain

The bracelet is a little quirky, and if it’s not your wife’s/girlfriend’s style, you can make her a key chain with your pennies instead. You’ll simply need a 24mm split ring key ring and a larger drill bit (3/18″ worked for me). Drill your holes and thread them on the key ring. Boom. Instant, thoughtful gift.

I’m sure you could get all sorts of creative with either the bracelet or the key chain, but alas, I have the creativity of a drill bit. The real gold, or golden copper here, is the penny idea. Any way you do it, it will make your gal go “awwww,” and even if she doesn’t like it, she’ll think it’s mighty thoughtful and keep it forever and ever. Whenever she looks at it, she’ll think of how your relationship just makes cents. I’m here all night folks. Please tip your waiters.

Share your DIY Valentine’s Day gift ideas in the comments!

{ 104 comments… read them below or add one }

1 ken February 7, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Pretty neat idea, but 2 issues that I see.

1) While I doubt anyone would really care, but you are still defacing money

2) That picture with your thumb and the drill just look dangerous

It’s still a pretty neat idea, and woman loves this stuff. I’m sure it will beat give the wife a few pennies.

2 LG February 7, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Wrong.

(Glad your wife liked it though.)

3 Will February 7, 2013 at 2:14 pm

This is especially relevant in Canada right now because they stopped making pennies one year ago and they’re starting to collect them out of circulation and melt them down as of this month.

4 chris brown February 7, 2013 at 2:15 pm

Ken you’re lame

5 Nick February 7, 2013 at 2:26 pm

The “least expensive”? Yes.

The “most romantic”? Subjective—I’m voting no.

“…even if she doesn’t like it, she’ll think it’s mighty thoughtful and keep it forever and ever.”—If she’s a hoarder.

6 Chris February 7, 2013 at 2:27 pm

Will pass on this idea lol. Maybe your wife didn’t want to hurt your feelings, Brett?

7 Amanda Kennedy February 7, 2013 at 2:39 pm

Speaking as a woman, I have to say this is a lovely idea (and am secretly hoping my other half notices that I’ve been reading this post).

Not all of us are wealthy enough to buy an expensive but ill-thought bottle of perfume, or other insignificant gift the recipient will have forgotten about next year. This is a genuinely thoughtful idea which I’m sure many wives and girlfriends will adore!

8 Scott Sideleau February 7, 2013 at 2:58 pm

I’m definitely going to be doing this! Since I’ve already procured a bracelet, I’ll likely pursue the “classy” key chain. Great article!

9 James February 7, 2013 at 3:04 pm

While I’ll agree that this is a low-cost gift, how romantic it is is debatable. This year I wrote a song for my wife. The only cost involved was time, because I already owned everything else I needed. While this not may be for everyone, I think it’s a pretty good gift if you can do it.

10 Pat February 7, 2013 at 3:07 pm

Actually, unless you plan on using the currency that you drilled holes in, it’s not illegal. You own that money, so therefore you can do what you want with it. If you were to try to buy something with that coin it would be illegal.

11 Jackie February 7, 2013 at 3:14 pm

Another woman here, and I think the bracelet is super cute and a great idea. Knowing that my bf took the time to find pennies for our important dates is definitely romantic, and I can see it being a real conversation starter. I just need to figure out a way to get my bf to see this without making it obvious! :)

12 Michael Lunsford February 7, 2013 at 3:30 pm

hmmm…. an interesting twist for the traveler might be using appropriately dated foreign coins.

If you’re too chicken to try pennies, buying a charm bracelet with significant charms is still a good idea. A decent flea market in the area can probably help you do it inexpensively. Back a few (cough) years ago I remember purchasing a reasonably priced, sterling silver, charm bracelet with a few charms.

13 jeff_williams February 7, 2013 at 3:32 pm

For safer drilling take a small piece of scrap and use a forstner or spade bit that matches the size of the penny. Drill a shallow hole. Then use the piece of scrap to drill your penny. As long as you are drilling off-center like in this guide, your penny won’t spin. Also, use an awl to bang a small dimple in the penny so your drill bit won’t “walk” when you first start drilling.

14 Nathan Z February 7, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Fun idea.

Not sure if it struck anyone else weird that holes are being put into Lincoln’s head… Just an observation.

15 Seth February 7, 2013 at 3:48 pm

Did you have to put the hole through Lincoln’s head?

16 Derek February 7, 2013 at 3:56 pm

Please….the drill/thumb comment? It’s not like he had it under a screaming drill press…get over it.

Anyway…pretty cool idea. It’d be neat to do for your daughter too!

17 Nusy February 7, 2013 at 3:56 pm

As a woman… I’m on the other side of the fence. I think it is low-cost, for sure. Romantic, not so much. Most women I know wear the *same* jewelry every single day, or wear none, as they find it uncomfortable or annoying. And their answer for this bracelet will be – a sheepish smile, and putting it in the back of the drawer forever; especially if you had been together for a long time. I can see its appeal in new relationships, but not for a couple that spent the last 10+ years together (like us).
Better idea? Go home; raid the fridge. Cook a dinner for her, then do the dishes yourself. Cost – close to zero, as it’s stuff you ALREADY have. Effect – huge.

18 Mark Petersen February 7, 2013 at 4:01 pm

I think the Cost to wow factor ratio is really high in the wow factor side of things.

19 waykno February 7, 2013 at 4:15 pm

Geez, I can’t believe all the negatives here. Personally, I think it is a great idea. For those of you naysayers, it is the thought of the idea you took the time and invested your time making it while thinking of your sweetheart. Defacing? How many kids flattened a penny on the RR tracks? Felons? No. Safety? Somewhat but so is driving. C’mon–one can find fault with anything if you look long enough.

20 Bob February 7, 2013 at 4:23 pm

I think it’s a nice idea for someone under 16 years old.

21 Jim Collins February 7, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Esteemed Readers, Brett, and Kate,

Cut from the U.S. Department of the Treasury web site:

“Defacement of Currency

Defacement of currency is a violation of Title 18, Section 333 of the United States Code. Under this provision, currency defacement is generally defined as follows: Whoever mutilates, cuts, disfigures, perforates, unites or cements together, or does any other thing to any bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt issued by any national banking association, Federal Reserve Bank, or Federal Reserve System, with intent to render such item(s) unfit to be reissued, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.

Defacement of currency in such a way that it is made unfit for circulation comes under the jurisdiction of the United States Secret Service. The United States Secret Service web address is http://www.secretservice.gov.”

It is therefore, an excellent idea as few things are so good for self esteem as breaking the law.

Yours in criminal intent and romance,

Jim Collins

22 Billy E February 7, 2013 at 5:06 pm

my lady friend adores it. thanks brother-sir!

23 Billy E February 7, 2013 at 5:07 pm

also, el shaddai is my JAM

24 Greg February 7, 2013 at 5:14 pm

It’s sweet, but ugly (sorry Brett!).

I like the keychain idea though. Also, someone said something about foreign coins. Those ideas paired together are GOLD (or copper… yup…)

Oh, who am I trying to kid? I’m single

25 Andrew February 7, 2013 at 5:21 pm

I like the idea, but I’m not sure it is very practical (uncomfortable to wear).

Perhaps building a shadowbox type of wall hanging would be better received? It would be small though, and therefore hard to see unless one got up close.

I keep a drinking glass next to my bed, perhaps sinking the pennies in some clear acrylic (or other medium) to make a coaster would be better received?

26 Abby February 7, 2013 at 6:00 pm

It’s interesting to see the split opinions on this one! I personally think it’s very cute and would love to get this from someone. But everyone’s tastes are so different, and that’s okay. I’m sure some girls wouldn’t like it. I would say make it and see — you’re only out $5 if it doesn’t go over well. And trust me fellas, I think Brett is right when even if they don’t like it they’ll think you are so so so sweet. I think guys really don’t understand girls sometimes…both their tastes and their feelings….

27 Dennis February 7, 2013 at 6:50 pm

I think it would be even cooler if you paired it with a chemistry experiment to make it better looking:

http://chemistry.about.com/od/chemistryhowtoguide/a/goldsilverpenny.htm

And about defacement of currency, a letter from the treasury on the topic of souvenir penny-smashing:
http://www.parkpennies.com/pressed-penny/penny-pressing-legal.htm

28 Waykno February 7, 2013 at 7:20 pm

If brand new red pick up trucks were given away, someone would ask, “do you have any red ones?” Come on folks–hey, Jimmy Collins: it is a $300 fine for anyone using the mailbox like a bill collector w/o paying postage, that is why they hang it on your door (the notice if you don’t answer). Flash, the USPS won’t prosecute for that unless you are a major offender like thousands per day. The gov’t . won’t prosecute one for making this bracelet nor flattening pennies on the RR track either.

29 Waykno February 7, 2013 at 7:23 pm

And, like any article, if you can use it, use it. If not, move on :-) Ya can’t please all the people all the time.

30 jerry February 7, 2013 at 7:49 pm

Please leave your negativity in your closet. This is a grown up site.

31 TNSig February 7, 2013 at 7:51 pm

Though I know my girlfriend would appreciate the (attempted) romantic gesture, I don’t think the majority of women would actually wear a bracelet with a bunch of pennies on it. Maybe mine is just high maintenance. Interesting and creative idea, though.

32 Doug February 7, 2013 at 8:01 pm

Judging by the comments (especially the females), I’m gonna have to say that in my opinion, this one’s appeal is 50/50. It really depends on the woman. I can totally see my girlfriend telling me it was sweet, wearing it around for a little bit, and then having her family exchange worried glances to each other about me. Who knows, maybe I’ll man up and try it one day.

And what the hell guys, really? It’s 5 cents that you’re wasting! hahaha and to think that people have been trying to get rid of the penny for years, and we are locked in a war of words over it’s defacement…

33 Matto February 7, 2013 at 8:42 pm

Neat article, and an interesting and very personal gift. I like it!

As someone who takes every opportunity to do dumb things with power tools (and has the scars to prove it), that photo of the drill and the finger makes me shudder. Could I suggest even a pair of vise-grips or pliers, just to hold it with instead? I know, I know, you’ll probably be fine and I’d probably do it that way myself too, but as above, I’ve lost A LOT of blood doing quick little things like this.

Protip – to de-burr the sides of the hole, use a drill bit a couple of sizes larger than the one you used to drill the hole. If I use a 4mm bit to drill the hole, I’d use, say, an 8mm bit to de-burr. Just hold it in your hand and gently work it backwards and forwards until you can go all the way around. You’ll find it will neatly clean up and bevel the edge of the hole. Quicker and easier than filing or sanding.

Cheers,
Matto :)

34 Craig February 7, 2013 at 9:04 pm

The drill hole through the head of Lincoln is a little morbid, don’t you think?

35 Kate (not McKay) February 7, 2013 at 10:37 pm

Another lady chiming in here, I think it is lovely! And absolutely sweet and thoughtful. I don’t expect big expensive gifts from my husband, but I know he’ll put a lot of thought into making me a witty card with a little hand drawn cartoon or something like that.

Personally, I’m a bit taken aback by all the negative comments directed at Brett! Gentlemen, I’d much rather have something like this than some incredibly expensive or macho gift you’ve picked out last minute—honestly, then I’ll just think you’re an ass.

36 Travis G February 7, 2013 at 11:32 pm

I like this idea, but I would possibly pair it(or even replace it) with a coin ring made from a quarter (which takes a lot of work), or a nickel (much less work and less green finger). The how-to articles are all over the place.
Beware, birth year quarter rings tend to stain fingers green. Nickels don’t seem to leave a stain, and they are much more dainty.

37 graf February 8, 2013 at 3:50 am

Key chain – ok, I have the same.
But bracelet? Duh… its so ugly :)
Look at coin bracelet on etsy.
There are some well made examples.

38 Helen February 8, 2013 at 7:19 am

I find it funny reading the comments. women like this idea, men not so much. Proves to me men really don’t know women all that well. I’d much rather have this than the usual gifts men buy for the women in their lives for Valentine’s Day! Very thoughtful Brett!!!

39 Luis Perez February 8, 2013 at 7:34 am

Very creative, once again, Brett! However, my first thought was, how many women will actually WEAR this?

40 David February 8, 2013 at 8:37 am

I’ve been married 3 years, and we have a 1 year old and a 2 year old. My wife loves charm bracelets so I plan to give my wife this gift from myself and the kids. I think she will love it. Thanks for the idea Brett. For all of those with negative comments, try reading the article “Stop hanging out with women and start dating them”. If you’re married, then you should already know that it’s the time and thought you put into the gift she will love.

41 Brandon February 8, 2013 at 9:02 am

The coins with a significant year are a great idea for a keepsake but I dont think any women will actually wear this. I’d definitely have to give this to her as a sentimental gift and also get her a real gift.

42 cfsullivan February 8, 2013 at 9:06 am

Make the penny gold or silver so that it matches the chain.

http://chemistry.about.com/od/chemistryhowtoguide/a/goldsilverpenny.htm

or google make a gold penny

43 Bree February 8, 2013 at 9:07 am

I, too, am surprised at all the negative comments. Certainly this gift wouldn’t be for every woman, but Brett already points that out in noting that the gift is on the quirkier side. I would also say that bracelets are the most divisive jewelry gift as some woman will just never wear one regardless of what the bracelet looks like. If you’ve never seen your wife/gf wear a bracelet (or she only wears cuff bracelets), avoid this gift (obviously).

As I woman, I like the gift idea as it shows some effort and reflection on the relationship rather than just thinking about what I like. I would recommend dimes, though, since they don’t hang as low and I prefer the all-silver look. I guess that means it’s not the *least* expensive gift, but still….If you do go for it, make sure the bracelet itself isn’t too big. There’s nothing worse than a charm bracelet that hangs halfway down your hand.

44 Nye February 8, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Sorry, but I don’t find this cute or thoughtful or anything. It’s crude, cheap and just shows that you’d rather fool around with pennies than put some real thought into getting a gift for your girl. Seriously, if all fails, stick with chocolate. Or at least make it more individual/colorful/something thats not PENNIES….

45 Texburrito February 8, 2013 at 12:30 pm

To me, this has the same romantic effect as a coupon book. My wife and I don’t have much money, but I can assure you she would not enjoy this gift. What she would enjoy is me pampering her in some kind of way. A little chocolate to eat while she is being pampered would be icing on the cake. They want to know you care, and they want your attention. That’s my take…

46 David H. February 8, 2013 at 12:44 pm

Brett,
My wife purchased a key ring with two pennies and a brass circle stamped “Blessed” for my birthday last summer. The pennies were from the year we were married and the year our son was born. I cherish that piece. It’s funny you put this up because I have been toying with the idea of making one of these for my wife for Valentine’s day too.
Thanks for sharing what I think is a fantastic idea. :)

47 Scott February 8, 2013 at 12:49 pm

I’m combining the ideas…using the bracelet and making it an addition to my wife’s key-chain. The hard part is getting the pennies clean…I did the vinegar/salt thing, tried lemon juice and am presently on diet cola…the next step is sriracha.

48 Will February 8, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Reading the comments I think an article about knowing your wife/other is in order. My wife would love that I did this, but I know other women who would not. Some women are simply not into this sort of jewelry, and all women are not “romantics”. The key in this situation is to know what your mate would think before making it for her. Or if you are not married, make it for her, and if she doesn’t like it, snubs it, or doesn’t appreciate the time you spent making it, well then perhaps you should find someone else.

49 Nikki February 8, 2013 at 1:25 pm

I’m a woman & I love the idea! I think it’s charming.

50 Stever February 8, 2013 at 1:35 pm

Re Mr. Collins –

I’m not really sure a penny is any of these things:

“bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt issued by any national banking association, Federal Reserve Bank, or Federal Reserve System, with intent to render such item(s) unfit to be reissued”

I guess if anything, it might be “evidence of debt” but that seems a stretch? And also, it’s not just the disfiguring that is a trigger, but disfiguring that renders the thing “unfit to be reissued.” “Reissued?” I don’t know that just spending the holed penny would amount to reissuing anything.

All’s fair in love and war, but law is whole ‘nother universe.

51 Dave February 8, 2013 at 1:42 pm

Cool idea. The execution’s a bit crude, but the sentimental intent is the sort of thing most women love. I wonder how well solder and thin wire would work for mounting the coins?

In any case, I’m going to start looking for specific pennies now. Which will probably take long enough that this’ll be a gift for Christmas or next Valentines day. But that’s alright, it gives me plenty of time to look into different mounting methods and other ideas for things to do with a handful of sentimental change. I particularly like the electroplating idea a couple people posted above.

52 Michael February 8, 2013 at 1:51 pm

In terms of defacing U.S. coins. This was commonly done to a very large degree in the last 19th century and early 20th. People often made jewelry out of one dollar and 2-1/2 dollar gold coins and many can be found today with holes or with solder on them where they were attached to pin backs. It was also fairly common in the 19th century to re-engrave the backs of coins with decorative initials. These are commonly referred to as “Love Token” and can be found on the backs of silver quarters and some gold pieces as well. Whether is is legal or not to do this it hasn’t stopped anyone and I doubt that anyone was ever prosecuted for doing it.

53 logan February 8, 2013 at 6:58 pm

it’s not illegal to deface money if you increase the value of it, that bracelet is worth more than 5 cents now.

54 Lindsay February 8, 2013 at 7:02 pm

I agree with the people talking about Lincoln. I found it kind of odd that every single penny had a hole through his head–isn’t that how he died? My husband, on the other hand, thought it was hilarious, but he would.

55 Lindsay February 8, 2013 at 7:08 pm

But aside from the Lincoln thing, I think this is a cute idea. I have a bracelet made of coffee beans. :)

56 Peter February 8, 2013 at 8:28 pm

All women that see this:
“Aww, that’s so cute! I love it!”

All men that see this:
“You’re defacing money!”
“You should have done this instead!”
“You drilled a hole in his head!”

57 BMH February 8, 2013 at 9:12 pm

I think it’s a cool idea. I am a woman, and I do not personally enjoy charm bracelets (too bulky for me) but I would enjoy having the keychain option.

58 Blake February 8, 2013 at 10:54 pm

This is a fantastic idea.
I try to make my wife something every year, and we’re both sentimental when it comes to important milestone dates.

Regarding the negative comments on “defacing currency” – currently, a penny is worth less than $0.01 due to the value of the American Dollar. If our dollar were worth more, it would be considered a crime. As it stands, it is not. I used to work for a marketing company that would cut pennies with scissors to display their utility. We did a massive amount of Q&A with Uncle Sam before we settled on pennies.

:)

59 Ken February 9, 2013 at 2:28 am

My grandfather made a bracelet like this for my mom, only instead of pennies he used coins from the contries he visited while in the Navy. He died in 1994 and the bracelet was passed on to my sister a few years later. This gift is a keepsake and a treasure; it is also a great way to live on past your years. Great gift idea and may God rest his soul. Luis Robert Nothstein

60 B.E. February 9, 2013 at 1:50 pm

What innovation! I would not have enough pennies to put on a bracelet yet as my girlfriend and I have only been together for a year and half. I was thinking about making a keychain instead before I came across the idea further down this post. Brilliant.

I’m not a particular fan of V-Day but women certainly expect *something.* I will simply be getting her a bouquet of her favourite flowers along with a poem I wrote for her. The penny keychain is a great idea and would make a nice addition. Once again: thank you, Brett!

Regards,

B.E.

61 Evan M February 9, 2013 at 4:16 pm

Sic semper tyrannis.

Now I’m going to go deface some pennies while laughing at the Secret Service for not being able to punish me for my crime.

62 minuteman February 9, 2013 at 5:33 pm

I took jewellery making courses at my local community college and acquired the skills to make proper jewellery. I bought a bunch of sapphires and rubies at a gem dealer and when I proposed to her I told her that this was her engagement ring, some assembly required. I then made her wedding ring (plain gold band) and a gold and sapphire engagement ring and a pair of ruby ear rings. Ten years and two sons later we are still happily married. Of course it helps that I met her at the college where she was taking the same courses as me.

63 Nathan Grubb February 9, 2013 at 7:54 pm

Try making it into Hobby Lobby when they’re playing the smooth jazz version of “This is my Father’s world.” It kind of sounds like a smooth jazz version of the Lord of the Rings song, which simultaneously makes me want to fall asleep and hike Mt. Doom.

64 JohnnyT February 10, 2013 at 10:56 am

Some ladies dig the homemade look, but if your lady doesn’t, get yourself some coin pendant bezels, available for cheap on ebay, and you won’t have to drill the coins.

I just did this similar thing for my wife 2 weeks ago. She’s Canadian, so when I found out that Canada is phasing out their penny, I bought a shiny, uncirculated Canadian penny minted in the year of her birth and a coin bezel off of ebay for about 12 bucks. I then repurposed one of her gold chains to make a pendant necklace. She loved it to tears! Proof that good gifts don’t have to be expensive, just thoughtful.

65 Ross February 10, 2013 at 3:04 pm

Makes the task a bit more fun if you add some baking soda to the solvent.

66 Elyse February 10, 2013 at 5:25 pm

I’m a woman. I’d think the bracelet was a thoughtful and creative gift, but privately think it looked like something tangled from a junk drawer.

Using dimes to make it match and maybe charms (bought, found, or carved/handmade) to make it fuller would add that extra refinement that makes it really nice.

I would love the keychain!

To present it, I’d suggest attaching it with a pretty ribbon on it to a rose or on a small box of chocolates like this: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-4iCKZpJUSes/Ty9zVPLSnII/AAAAAAAACcU/SdcAsf0M1sc/s1600/DSC_0029.JPG (closest I could find in a quick search) or just on its own. It doesn’t cost that much extra and it looks really nice.

67 Harry February 11, 2013 at 10:13 am

Here’s how I did a similar project for an ex’s birthday. .

I gathered up several quarters, dimes, and nickels with her birth year on them. I retrieved my old Remington Targetmaster .22 and loaded it up with high velocity rounds. I taped the various coins to a backer and placed the board in a safe area. After positioning myself about 7 yards away, I applied some judicious marksmanship to the coins. Surprisingly, it worked out pretty good. I gathered enough coins to make a small key chain with. It turned out pretty cool. I won a lot of brownie points for that project.

68 Alaina February 11, 2013 at 11:49 am

I made one of these a while back for as a gift for my mom on Mother’s Day, except I used pressed pennies (you know those machines from touristy places?) from some trips we have been on together. She absolutely loves it. A helpful hint: you can order copper bracelets from places like Etsy for about $10 and it really pulls the look together.

69 Ink Wellson February 11, 2013 at 3:45 pm

Just a tip for anyone trying this: the vinegar/salt combo is a start for getting them clean, but if you really want them to shine like new mints, I discovered as a kid that rubbing a penny with a pencil eraser does more than any chemical approach.

Just my two cents… har har.

70 Erika February 11, 2013 at 5:01 pm

Another woman weighing in….I think this is such a sweet idea. I probably wouldn’t wear it much, but would be shocked and amazed (in a good way!) at my boyfriend actually paying attention to dates and tracking down pennies to reflect those years. The keychain is a great idea!
Good work Brett!

71 Dear February 11, 2013 at 10:05 pm

Another lady chiming in. I personally would not enjoy this because I have metal allergies. That bracelet chain looks a bit…itchy. I will have to say, though. You don’t have to spend a fortune on gifts to impress a woman, you just have to know them. I receive $5-$10 bouquets at the grocery store for Valentines day. He always remembers my favorite flower and color. Him remembering what I enjoy means a lot more to me than an expensive gift I’ve never expressed interest in before. Pay attention to them in their daily lives and you won’t have a problem finding affordable gifts; I do the same thing for him. :)

72 dogg February 12, 2013 at 7:38 am

A cute idea, but kinda cheapie looking. Definitely needs better drill holes. Maybe it would help with a nicer chain and lacquering the pennies.

73 Carmen February 12, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Its a sweet gift, and your WIFE will certainly appreciate that you remember the significant dates in your marriage. Will she wear it? Who cares? If you have kids, you will notice that she treasures some of the ugliest stuff in the universe, if her babies gave it to her.
If you’re inept, as the author is, that’s okay- she already knows. If you’re just cheap- well, she knows that too.
Just make sure the dates are significant to HER, not the year you bought the Camaro, or when your team made it to the Super Bowl, all right?

74 Christopher February 12, 2013 at 8:02 pm

I’m trying this!

75 Russell February 12, 2013 at 8:54 pm

I used this idea. But instead of using a store bought chain i made my own loops out of some copper decorative wire I bought at hobby lobby. IT turned out awesome!

76 Jon February 13, 2013 at 12:52 am

You can also make a ring out of a quarter. I made one but it was too big for my gf and a nickel worked perfect. It takes a few hours and a lot of elbow grease but her and all of her friends thought it was very thoughtful. A lot more thoughtful than just drilling some holes through some pennies I’m sure… Look it up on Pinterest or YouTube for techniques. Use a spoon for rounded edges or if you want a more crude look just use a hammer. They turn out pretty cool.

77 Ruby February 13, 2013 at 7:42 pm

Another gal chiming in here…

Personally, I think it’s a sweet idea. And particularly for practical gals who do NOT want extravagant or costly gifts, it’s a budget-minded idea that still manages to be sentimental and have significance for a particular couple. But then, I’m only one gal. I’m sure more “foofy” gals than me would disagree with that. :-)

78 allan b. February 14, 2013 at 8:04 am

Thank you for the cool Idea! I made a small keychain using pennies for the year of my wife’s year of birth, the year we met, the year we started dating, and the years for both of my daughters births. For the year of our marraige I used a canadian penny since we went to canada for our honeymoon. Thanks for the cool idea. My wife is not a sentimental person so trinkets are fun things she can enjoy

79 Destinatus February 14, 2013 at 10:45 am

I’ve gotta admit I loved the idea when I first read it. Then after reading some of the reviews and comments of the “nay Sayers” I was a bit apprehensive. But I stuck with it anyways. I’m glad I did my girlfriend LOVED the small but thoughtful token. I agree that it’s not about the money when it comes to pleasing a “Good Woman” … Admittedly stopping by the gas station and picking up a candy bar and car air freshener on your way home from work probably won’t help your cause, but as long as there is “serious/chivalrous” thought behind the gift … You’re golden!! This was a great idea, Thanks.

80 Destinatus February 14, 2013 at 10:48 am

Furthermore … She’s already looking forward to adding more pennies (special dates) to the bracelet.

81 Ink Wellson February 14, 2013 at 11:44 am

Just thought I’d swing back around and update that I went with the keychain idea, and my wife loved it while my 18 year old clearly thought I would bomb with it. Age and perspective might make a difference, here.

For anyone attempting this in the future, I used the idea described by jeff_williams above for drilling about an inch into a piece of scrap with a 3/4 inch blade bit. The penny fit perfectly, and while there was still a little movement during drilling, it definitely was a little safer than holding with my fingers.

I’m glad I ignored some of the negative comments on here. My wife loves her keychain.

Thanks, Mr. McKay.

82 serv February 14, 2013 at 3:53 pm

HOLY GOOD S*** She loved it!! Thanx AOM you just made my valentine’s day. My wife prefers gifts I make myself , and this one really made her happy, maybe more than when i writen her poems. The only thing I did different was buy a $3.99 antiqued chain bracelet with copper, silver n gold toned hearts on it and added a nickel n a dime with the matching 5 yr and 10 yr aniversary yrs. She’s being showing it off all day!

83 B.E. February 14, 2013 at 8:01 pm

The woman loved it. Time to continue her soapstone carving for her birthday…

Thank you, Brett. You have helped me get more of those smiles that I love out of her.

Sincerest regards,

B.E.

84 Grant February 15, 2013 at 12:55 am

I showed my wife this article and she said, “Thank you for NOT making that for me.” So, perhaps it’s not for everyone. I do love “The Art of Manliness” for most things, though.

85 Rory February 15, 2013 at 5:45 am

My wife loved it, her mom loved it, all her friends loved it.

I went the necklace route instead of a bracelet.

Thanks Brett!

86 Dylan February 15, 2013 at 8:56 pm

I used a vise grip and a rag to keep the pennies in place without scratching them. Also, drill speed isn’t a big factor. Just a slow speed and a slight amount of pressure and you’ll get a clean hole without even needing to file or sand

87 Brad February 15, 2013 at 9:43 pm

A few years ago, a friend of ours showed up at an event with a professionally made charm bracelet of foreign currency. My wife talked about how nice it was, but the woman had said it was expensive. Last year for her birthday, I gathered some money from specific places (used coins from a Caribbean island that had boats for a nautical theme, etc.) – and did this exact thing. Hers has more coins on the bracelet, about 10 to be exact, but they were planned by size – smallest to largest and back to smallest. She really loved it.

Also, an easy way to drill the holes without holding the coin at the same time is to use duct or masking tape to attach them to scrap wood, then drill through and into the wood for a nice clean hole. Still, awesome. I’m glad to see something cool like this on here. By far that was one of the cheapest birthday gifts I ever bought for her (about $10 in the whole thing) but she loved it. If you have old money laying around, it is useful also. We used foreign money from when family members lived in Saudi Arabia for some cool designs.

88 RulingPart February 16, 2013 at 1:49 pm

I did this, and she loved it!

Here’s a link to a pic:

http://ajauntylife-rulingpart.blogspot.com/2013/02/penny-charm-bracelet.html

Thanks, Art of Manliness!

89 GeekyMike February 18, 2013 at 8:42 am

Amazing idea! Not only does my wife of 11 years love it, my children do too (since they each have a penny on their Mom’s bracelet). Thank you so much for this idea

90 Brandon February 18, 2013 at 9:11 am

My wife and I are on a strict budget this year, (first house and first baby on the way) so knowing my wife loves gifts made with thought and time vs. tons of money I gave this a shot and she loved it. I added a pennie for our birth yrs, yr we started dating, and married. She can’t wait to add a 2013 pennie. Thanks AOM!

91 Ben Harding February 21, 2013 at 10:54 am

Does anyone know if this would work with dimes or foreign coins? I was wanting to make one of these for my partner, maybe with small denom. coins from Japan, Greece and so on, but didn’t know if there were any harmful metals or so on underneath the plating.

92 Dylan February 22, 2013 at 8:54 pm

I am fifteen and look to this site very often. I even have it saved as an app. When i saw this I was like “I could actually do that” because I am in a metals class making jewelry. I then thought I could improve it, I cut hearts into the pennies leaving the years still showing. Though it wasn’t as cool because I don’t have kids so I could only put three pennies on. My year, her year, and our year. Thank you for this idea.

93 Rob February 27, 2013 at 8:45 pm

It’s not the looks that matter its showing her you think about her and you remember things that happened that she thinks is important.

94 Chris March 10, 2013 at 4:31 pm

http://imgur.com/iIMjb7o

Thanks for the idea!! I took it a little further!

95 Nathan G March 11, 2013 at 1:07 pm

I made a similar keychain for my wife for Christmas 2012. I just used two pennies, representing our kids, but I added a twist: I got out my metal stamps, and stamped our kids first two initials on the corresponding penny. I scavenged everything from stuff I already had, spending only time on it (aside from the $0.02, of course.)

My wife loved it, because it was a genuine gift that I put my time and love into, and because I created it especially for her.

96 Michael April 11, 2013 at 11:59 pm

…or if the missus doesn’t go for bracelets, grab that penny-diameter drill bit and inlay the pennies into a small picture frame. Finish it off with a photograph, pressed flowers, or a hand-written poem. Just a thought.

97 Jim April 24, 2013 at 12:38 am

After reading Dennis’s post regarding the crushed souvenir pennies I had the idea to use several crushed pennies I picked up around the city. My girlfriend already collects them so it added an personal touch to your idea.

Thanks to both Brett and Dennis.

98 David/Sharpie April 25, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Jim, yes:

“with intent to render such item(s) unfit to be reissued”

Which is what Pat said, if you don’t intend to spend it, it’s not defacing it.

99 Charlie Fyler June 4, 2013 at 9:12 pm

While I think this is a creative idea, I would have liked to have seen it done with silver dimes. I have some a mixture of them from different countries laying around that would be wonderful on a chain and for those who don’t know, silver sounds differently than other metals when it’s struck, hence, “Silver Bells”.

100 Susan July 17, 2013 at 5:21 pm

Along with most of the other women on this board; I agree – if it’s thoughtful and/or meaningful then it’s romantic. Making a trip to the craft store then going through the trouble to put something like this together is most certainly “thoughtful”. And digging thru change to find appropriate dates absolutely fits the bill of “meaningful”! Honestly, your man shouldn’t have to spend a mint on expensive MEANINGLESS store-bought trinkets, over-priced restaurants or flowers that don’t last to put a smile on your face. That’s not love! I would be over the moon if my husband (or maybe my son for Mother’s Day *hint hint* if you’re reading this LOL) did something like this for me :) However, a single larger coin with appropriate date suspended from a 1.5-inch chain would be more aesthetically pleasing as a keychain, I think. And I love Michael Lunsford’s idea of using foreign coins. If you met or were married in a different country you could sub the coin for that date with a coin with that date from that country. Or you could choose 3 to 5 significant dates, choose the most significant out of them and make that coin larger than the rest and center it at the bottom of a chain necklace. Then attach 1 or 2 smaller coins with other significant dates spaced to either side of the larger coin. There are heaps of things you could do with this idea. Thank you, Brett, for posting it! :)

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