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Got Spare Change? Turn Your Coins into Cufflinks

By Stasia Fong 6 November 2014
  To the average person, spare change is an annoyance, building up in our pockets after we reluctantly take it from cashiers. Thankfully, one man recognizes the beauty in our coins and is turning them into wearable art. Ben Huang of Patinova has discovered the perfect way to utilize spare change and is transforming Hong Kong's coins into cufflinks and other beautiful pieces of jewellery. We spoke with Huang to find out how he thought up this amazing idea. The inspiration for Patinova started when Huang began searching for a pair of cufflinks made out of Hong Kong coins from his birth year. Approaching several jewelers around the city, he struck a wall in commissioning the unique cufflinks. “Local jewellery shops either didn’t want to make them or said it couldn’t be done,” Huang told Localiiz. Not letting his desire for coin cufflinks go, Huang set forth to create the pair himself. “A family member who is a qualified jewellery designer was able to introduce me to a small jewellery workshop, so I was able to have a pair made to my specification there.” From there, his designs spread like wildfire. “Friends who saw me wearing them liked them and asked if I could also make some from for them. That’s how it all started,” Huang explained of Patinova's beginnings more than three years ago. Predominantly, Huang utilizes the smaller sized coins – the five-cent, ten-cent, and twenty-cent coins to produce his cufflinks. “Any larger denomination would be physically too big to be made into cufflinks.” Hong Kong does not mint coins every single year and only certain years for coins remain available. Despite this hurdle, Huang assures us that this doesn’t affect his sales in the slightest. “People accept this and still like the coin cufflinks because they represent a unique piece of Hong Kong history.” His coin cufflinks have gotten so much success, that Huang has even expanded the line by creating coin charms and pendants influenced by the buttons from the Qing dynasty, including designs for women. “The symbolism behind each design embodies both the 'masculine' and the 'feminine' virtues. A good example would be the lotus – the flower represents beauty and purity because it is rooted in murky and muddy waters, but emerges pristine and perfect (feminine attributes); the pod with its numerous seeds represents abundance as well as fertility (both masculine and feminine attributes),” Huang explained. Patinova also has a line of cufflinks based on the Chinese Zodiac animals. “The zodiac animals are based on an old set of Qing Dynasty miniature paperweights. I currently have three animals – the dragon, tiger, and ox which I have made into cufflinks for men, charms and pendants for women. I'm working on having the entire set of 12 animals.” Huang's designs adorn shirt cuffs and necks around the world. “I do get orders from Singapore, UK, and the USA, either from expatriates who used to live and work in Hong Kong or China, or Chinese people who are living and working there and want to have something to remind them of 'home’.” Patinova’s products also highlight Hong Kong’s relationship between past and present. Combining the historical elements of coins from the past and making them in to contemporary pieces of jewellery encompasses Hong Kong culture in one tiny piece of silver. Localiiz hopes that Huang continues to extend his jewellery line and gift our city with more pieces of historical relevance. Be sure to view and purchase Patinova products here.

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Born in Singapore and raised in Hong Kong, Stasia Fong is a freelance writer with dreams of breaking into the television industry and executive produce her own television show.