From the Battle Field to the Front Page for Love

one penny wedding ring

Ben Mc Dowell and Jolene Riley, an Afghani Penny and the Finished One Penny Wedding Ring

How did a British Army bombardier in Afghanistan make a one penny wedding ring? He made it from an Afghani penny and end up on the front page of the Daily Mail!

This story came to me from the blog post of my English jeweler friend Mark Johnson at Serendipity diamonds.

She Didn’t Want to Ask for Too Much so She Asked for A Penny

Ben Mc Dowell, stationed in Afghanistan was going to miss Christmas with his girlfriend Jolene Riley of the UK. He called her and said, “I will be away for Christmas – what do you want me to get you?”

“A penny.” She replied. This was the least expensive thing she could think of.

From here, the concept of the one-penny wedding ring was born.

Three Months, a Hammer, a Rock and a Big Heart

Ben McDowell, found an Afghani penny and  spent the next three months beating it into shape with rock. What an amazing surprise he came up with! Can you say romantic?

One Penny wedding ring

This is the Penny Ring as Mark Received it.

The Bombardier then sent it to my jeweller friend Mark Johnson of Serendipity Diamonds in the UK to size it and polish it.

Once the story was out it was covered by the Daily Mail who loved writing about such a unique story.

In Case You Were Wondering

Jolene said yes!

The Afghani penny was made of a nickel based alloy. Once it was finished and shined contrary to the Daily Mail story it did not need any plating. It shined up that well on its own.

I asked Mark about the Daily Mail’s claim that it had been plated. He said, “they just made that part up, it’s not plated!”

Mark ended up doing the couple’s engagement ring as well. Way to go Mark!

Jewelry Blogger,
Calla Gold


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About Calla Gold

Calla Gold is a Personal Jeweler and Author who takes pride in working with clients one-on-one to integrate their personal sense of style and taste into custom designed jewelry and repaired jewelry pieces.   Unlike typical Santa Barbara jewelry businesses, Calla Gold has no brick-and-mortar location. Calla Gold comes to you, bringing you the jewelry collection you want to see and collaborating with you to create unique custom jewelry. Calla also works with at-a-distance clients.

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Tracey D
Tracey D
6 years ago

It is so nice to read about someone who has been to Afghanistan and is OK and going to live a loving life.
I loved his creativity in making a wedding band from a penny. Just a great story Calla.

Raymond weil watches
6 years ago

Nice story!! I think he was a very romantic person. He was a brilliant and truly remarkable young man.

Linda Perkins
Linda Perkins
6 years ago

It’s got love, is has heart-breaking distance to that romance and it has a military man. I love this story. I love jewelry that has a lot of meaning and heart put into it. Great story, thank you for sharing it!

Mark Johnson
6 years ago

Hi Calla.
It was lovely to see your post on the penny wedding ring. Thank you also for the kind mention. It was wonderful to be able to help and play a small part in what was such a unique and wonderful story. So nice also to see so many of the lovely comments following your write up. Keep up the great work. Mark.

Lisa Darsonval
6 years ago

What a touching story. I think it’s beautiful how he got her exactly what she said, but made it so much more meaningful. May their life together be filled with happiness. Thank you for sharing, and congratulations to Mark for his fine work. 🙂

Jolene McDowell
Jolene McDowell
3 years ago

Thank you for all these lovely comments I am the pround owner of the one penny wedding ring. We are now happily married! We’ve just looking through all the articles which were published.

Thanks again