How Money Clips are Made

When I was in college and scrounging every last penny, I never understood the benefit of a money clip. I mean, I wanted to keep every little bit of change I had when I got it.

With the benefit a few mentors and a couple style guides, I’ve learned that a money clip is a great way to keep your cards and your bills in a nice little package in your pocket. Minimalism, friends!

We have worked with a couple of domestic companies to create a money clip in one of satin brass, sterling silver and 18 karat gold.

Here’s how they come together.

The underlying material in our money clip is 22 gauge brass. 22 gauge brass is about 0.79 mm. The brass itself is a copper alloy – it’s 85% copper and 15% zinc. The brass comes from a Chicago mill, where it is melted down and turned into a brass coil about one inch wide. The coil is pictured here.

The coil is then stamped into a money clip with a 16 ton hydraulic press, pierced to create the distinctive finger on the inside of the clip, bent in half to create the "clip" and then flattened shut. It sounds simple, and it is amazing to see such a mechanism in action.

The clips come off the machine quite sharp to the touch. As in, too sharp. Each piece is hand-sanded to bevel the edges.

In order to stamp out the metal, and to preserve the untarnished nature of the product, a fair amount of grease is added to the brass coil. All of that needs to come off. The money clips head to the finisher for cleaning and electroplating. First, they take a little bubble bath – into a cleaning solution. They are then hand polished to remove imperfections — for example, when they fall off the manufacturing line into a bag, they scratch against each other. Same for when making the short trip from the manufacturer to the finisher. There’s a lot of care involved in hand polishing.

Once that’s done, they’ll go into an acid copper bath for about thirty minutes on a rack, which brightens the brass and prepares the pieces for electroplating. They’ll next go into a nickel bath, which seals off the brass. Finally, they’ll go into a bath of sterling silver or 22 karat gold. And when electrical current is added, each clip is coated in the material.

The racks then move to an oven at 180 degrees - real low - for about 15 minutes.

On some of our products, we’ll engrave the products with monograms or a name. In that case, we use a specialized diamond engraver.

When all is done, we’ve created an Owen & Fred money clip, ready for boxing and for your cheddar.