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Soft Enamel vs Hard Enamel Pin: What’s the Difference

From unique pins to challenge coins, a certain type of enamel is used to make these items colorful and detailed.

When it comes to choosing these kinds of products, what’s the difference when comparing the features of soft enamel vs hard enamel?

Read on to discover the two ways that enamel is used to make pins and coins and how to spot the difference.

Soft Enamel vs Hard Enamel Pin: What's the Difference
Soft Enamel vs Hard Enamel Pin: What’s the Difference

Soft Enamel vs Hard Enamel: Texture  

The most significant difference between these two types of enamel pins and coins is the texture. You can tell the difference by running your finger over the surface of the enamel, and you may be able to tell by looking at the design, too.

A hard enamel pin is smooth and flat with a scratch-resistant finish. Soft enamel pins and coins have slightly raised metal edges around each section of the design to give it a more defined look.

Both soft and hard enamel pins and challenge coins are made from the same metal mold. They also use the same colors to make them, at least for most designs.

Soft Enamel vs Hard Enamel Pin: What's the Difference
Soft enamel vs hard enamel

Another way to look at it is that soft enamel uses “recessed” sections of colored enamel that settle down in between the edges of the design. With hard enamel, the product comes out flat and smooth and often has a bit shinier appearance after manufacturing.

Manufacturing a Soft Enamel Pin  

Whether it’s a pin or challenge coin, a soft enamel design features a slightly different look and feel than its hard enamel counterpart. The colorful enamel is laid into the recessed sections of the pin or coin.

Once all of the enamel is in place, the product is placed into an oven. The oven’s high temperatures bake the enamel to make it hard and durable. This process only happens once so when the pin or coin dries, the enamel clings to the edges and the recesses below the metal outlines or “die line.”

Thanks to the raised metal ridges, the enamel colors don’t mix together. The final outcome is a unique dimensional look since the colorful paint is lower than the metal borders around each individual color.

When you gently rub your fingers over a soft enamel challenge coin, you will feel the raised metal ridges. Many people enjoy this style of enamel due to the unique texture and visual dimension.

Certain metal finishes can only be used with soft enamel. Black paint and rainbow plated challenge coins and pins should always be made using the soft enamel method.

The Hard Enamel Process  

If you’re looking for durability in the quest to determine soft enamel vs hard enamel, the hard enamel option is much tougher and more scratch-resistant. This process also results in a smooth, clean, and finished look that many customers prefer.

Overall, you can choose a soft or hard enamel product and have it made in the same design. Most of the time, it all comes down to your own personal preference or the preference of the recipient.

To make a hard enamel pin or challenge coin, the surface is first filled with the color and design. Next, the face of the pin or coin is gently ground down until it becomes smooth and flat. This combination of grinding and polishing is what makes hard enamel a good option for some metal finishes.

If you like gold or silver metal plating on your coin or pin, the hard enamel option may be best. As the enamel design is laid onto the surface, it’s repeated several times to raise the enamel high until it’s heated, hardened, and cured.

The polishing and smoothing process is what makes hard enamel pins so recognizable. The metal die lines are smoothed down to the same level as the enamel for a flat look and a smooth feel when you run your fingers over the surface.

Which One Should You Choose?  

There is really no right or wrong answer when deciding between a soft enamel or a hard enamel challenge coin or pin. Most of the time, it all comes down to personal preference, but there are a few other factors to consider.

Soft enamel allows for virtually every plating option including black paint, antiqued finishes, and other colors. Hard enamel only works with traditional plating’s like silver or gold.

Soft enamel coins or hard enamel coins

While the design should be the same for both enamel styles, soft enamel tends to show more intricate details. This is because the raised ridges really give the final product a bit more definition.

Surprisingly, soft enamel tends to cost less than hard enamel products. The main reason behind the cost difference is because it’s much more time-consuming and labor-intensive to achieve the smooth, polished look of a hard enamel product.

Soft enamel products are the most common option due to their faster turnaround times and unique details. However, if smooth and shiny is what you need, it might be best to opt for hard enamel.

Find Your Perfect Enamel Product  

In the comparison of soft enamel vs hard enamel, it really comes down to looks, texture, and production times. If you like the smooth and shiny option, hard enamel is the way to go. For those who prefer a little more texture and a bit more detail, you might want to opt for soft enamel.

If you’re interested in our products, designs, or services, feel free to explore our website and contact us today for a free quote.

Lapel Pin Plating Options

When designing a custom lapel pin, plating choice will play a critical role in how your pin design will look once produced.

Plating is an important part of the production process, in which an extra layer of metal is added onto the outside of the lapel pin.    

Watch our video about lapel pin plating options.


A polished plating will provide a brilliant, reflective surface. This is often the best choice for enamel pins. bold, raised features such as text logos will stand out under any ligh

For polished plating, you can choose gold, copper, brass, silver, nickel, or black nickel.

An antique plating will create a non-reflective surface, perfect for more elaborate designs with many metal elements in close proximity. The recessed areas of the design will have a slightly darker finish. This creates extra contrast to make the elements of your design stand out, Perfect for die struck pins or designs with a lot of raised & recessed metal.For antique plating, you can choose from antique gold, copper, brass, silver, or nickel.

If you want to really take your design to the next level, two-tone plating is an option used to create a distinctive look. two-tone plating utilizes a masking process to use two different platings on the same pin.  

A growing trend in recent years is rainbow anodized plating. Created by a process in which an electrical charge is passed through the metal while it is submerged in a chemical solution. the result is a dynamic finish that changes color when viewed from different angles.

For some designs, A painted coating will look best. for example, you may want the coating to match with your existing design, to avoid the visible line that plating exhibits around the outside. Any Pantone color is available, so there is plenty of room for creativity.   

If you want to know more about lapel pins and lapel pin types, or our other custom metal products, check out our youtube channel or visit our website for more information regarding lapel pins and metal promotional products. Interested in getting your own custom lapel pin? Complete our no obligation form to get started on your next lapel pin project.

Types of Lapel Pins

Different Types of Lapel Pins

When it comes to creating custom lapel pins, the type of pin you choose will have a large impact on the overall look and feel of the custom pin. Continue on to learn more about the different types of lapel pins.

Watch our video to learn more about different lapel pin types.



A common choice for lapel pins is soft enamel. For these pins, our manufacturing process uses raised and recessed metal to separate the enamel paint that makes up the design. This results in a high-quality custom lapel pin with a natural look and a textured surface.

Hard Enamel pins are similar in their use of enamel paint, but an additional process is used in which the enamel is polished to be flush with the metal for a smooth, jewelry-like finish.

If you’re looking for a more classic or traditional appearance, die struck is another great option. Instead of using enamel paint, die struck utilizes the raised and recessed areas of metal to display your design. For die struck pins, plating choice will have a large impact on the overall look of the design.  


Due to their versatility and lower cost, Offset printed pins are another popular choice. there are no thin metal lines separating the colors. This means your design can have complex details and gradual color changes, to display an exact match for your existing design materials.

If you need pins on a tight deadline, ask us about quick pins. You can choose from a variety of in-stock shapes and sizes to display your design on a printed pin. In most cases, If you order by 10:30am eastern time, you can have them delivered the same week, with free tracking and shipping anywhere in the United States.

If you want to know more about lapel pins and lapel pin types, or our other custom metal products, check out our youtube channel or visit our website for more information regarding lapel pins and metal promotional products. Interested in getting your own custom lapel pin? Complete our no obligation form to get started on your next lapel pin project.

The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Lapel Pin Uses and Applications

The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Lapel Pin Uses and Applications

Thought you knew all about pins?. Here is the ultimate guide and Boost your knowledge in understanding Lapel pin uses and applications.

The Greeks created the first lapel pin in the 13th century B.C. and evolved into the lapel pins we have today. Whether it’s to complement your suit to awarding students, there are many different reasons why we sport lapel pins.

But what’s the etiquette surrounding lapel pins? If you’re unsure, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s everything you need to know.      

What Is a Lapel Pin?

Before answering “how to wear a lapel pin?”, it’s important to know what a lapel is.

The lapel is the edged part on both sides of your suit jacket, just under the collar. It’s folded back on either side of the front opening of your chest pocket.  

Most lapels have a buttonhole, either left open or stitched shut, on the upper part of the left-hand side. If you’re unsure where to place suit lapel pins, follow this traditional lapel pin etiquette.  

Lapel pins are often decorative but they can relate to your organization or causes. They come in an array of shapes and sizes which you can wear with anything from employee uniforms to your team’s kit.

Lapel pin uses and applications.

The Various Types of Lapel Pin Attachments

It’s important to note that the backside of a lapel pin can be as significant as the front. There are many types, for example:

Stick Pin

The most common type of attachment is a stick pin, a thin needle with a collar that advances up and down to either attach or release the pin.

Military or Butterfly Clutch

These have been the standard lapel pin for years. It’s lightweight and the backside has a sharp point attached to it. Note that when you squeeze the butterfly clutch, the pin is released.

Magnetic Clasp  

Two small disc magnets in the pin’s backside and the front attachment holds the pin in place. This is a popular choice for those who don’t want to put holes in the material.  

Different Types of Lapel Pin

Now we know where to place a lapel pin, it’s important to consider the various lapel pins. For example:

Education Pins

This type of lapel pin is beneficial for schools and universities. You can use these to award students for excelling in a particular subject.

Schools and universities can customize them so they display the institution’s logo, the student’s name, and the relevant academic field.

Not only do well-designed education pins look fantastic on school blazers, but they motivate students to work harder. Further, any student-led campaign can use education pins to raise awareness with their multi-colored patterns and colors.

Military Pins

Show support for your branch or for the U.S. Armed Forces by wearing a military lapel pin.

It shows your patriotism and if you’ve served, lapel pins let you connect with veterans and other military members. Also, seeing another person with a similar military lapel pin connects you on a personal level.  

Police Pins

Law enforcement lapel pins are an effective way to combine pride and protection associated with the job while establishing your identity.

Lapel pins also raise awareness about your police department when displaying key information. As a result, your community will feel safe knowing the precinct number and location of their local police department.

Custom-made police pins make great freebies at school events. As these pins copy real badges, it excites students when they receive them. You can also reward overachieving students by making them unofficial junior deputies.

Sports Pins

Lapel pins are a superb way to celebrate professional or school sports team, uniting players and fans. They enhance oneness and team spirit which will encourage players to work together to win.  

It’s also an affordable method of getting pins for baseball, football, and basketball teams. The player can collaborate and brainstorm the design by adding their team logo and slogans.

Further, lapel pins can be an award for anyone who’s connected to a sport that will encourage participation. Not only does it boost confidence but it gives them a moment that they can hold onto for life.  

Employee Pins

Lapel pins that display your company’s logo raise brand awareness, a crucial part of advertising. Wearing employee pins will also attract customers to see what types of products or services you offer.

As every business is unique, you can have lapel pins in an array of colors, sizes, and designs depending on your brand identity and needs. Customized pins also boost your employee’s morale if you use them as an award for their hard work.

When employers show their appreciation to employees, they will be more motivated to perform better and will be more loyal to your brand.

Organization Pins

Organizations like charities can also reap the benefits of custom-made lapel pins.

For instance, you could offer different pins to reflect each donation level by ordering gold, silver, and bronze pins. The exclusivity of these lapel pins will raise awareness for your cause and encourage others to donate.

That’s Our Guide On Lapel Pins

Whether you’re a member of an organization or law enforcement, lapel pins are a fantastic way of raising awareness and unifying the team.

You can use lapel pins to award their students for outstanding work or to revel in team spirit when playing sports. Or wear your company’s lapel pin to improve employee productivity and establish your brand identity.     

Are you interested in getting lapel pins for your branch or educational institution? If so, we’d love to chat. Contact us here for more information.

Meaning Behind Military Pins

The Ultimate Sacrifice: The Meaning Behind Military Pins

The Ultimate Sacrifice: The Meaning Behind Military Pins

You don’t need a special occasion to celebrate our troops who make the ultimate sacrifice with their commitment. Explore the benefits of gifting military pins.

In Japan, lawyers or bengoshi now sport lapel pins (kisho) to signify their seniority and expertise as lawyers.

These badges are technically owned by the Japanese Federation Bar Association and “lent” to these lawyers, subject to disbarring, criminal conduct and other career-ending circumstances. What at first glance, may appear like a 16 petalled chrysanthemum is actually a sunflower, proudly fronting these lapels. A unique attorney number lies behind this regal front.

In the U.S.A, these military pins represent something else. As more of a military novelty, these pins are used to signify the ranks of soldiers and the unit they belong to.

However, while their official uses may vary across continents and countries, the symbolism is universal. The lapel pin has proudly evolved to represent camaraderie, affiliation, loyalty, patriotism, and unity.

These badges of honor symbolize a brotherhood of sorts among people. They signify a common cause, a common honor or in some cases, a common brand.

And they do it with sheer class.

The Origin of Military Pins: Exploring the Evolution

During the battles of the middle ages, knights would often find themselves separated from their own kin. At some point, inspiration struck and these knights began painting their shields in feudal colors in order to establish their identities among themselves.

And thus the principle of recognition and identity through an accessory was first established. This eventually (albeit indirectly) paved the way for the popularization of the lapel pin.

It was the civil war that first popularised the use of lapel pins in the U.S.A. Each military unit required their soldiers to wear a brass pin with their unit numbers on them, in order to be able to know which unit they belonged to. As a natural transgression, these lapel pins with their distinctive numbers grew to build a sense of brotherhood and loyalty among the units.

As world war I came around, this changed. The lapel pin was no longer a common accessory amongst comrades. Instead, receiving a lapel pin was a meritorious achievement, and only a select few were given this honor for their exceptional service.

Eventually, there were also special lapel pins handed to the close relatives of deceased soldiers.

Soon this reached civilians, and now anyone can sport a lapel whether its a matter of demonstrating their loyalty, patriotism or simply a personal statement. Military pins are now a full-blown industry.

Some General Terminology

While the military services may have varying styles of their badges (or pins) some of the terminologies remains common. This terminology is referenced in each of the services’ uniform regulations.

  • Breast Insignia: These badges are worn directly above ribbons or medals. Insignia itself is a pin-on accessory made from metal.
  • Identification Badges: These are worn at a uniform’s breast pocket level
  • Marksmanship Badges: These are usually worn below the ribbons on the uniform

The Variants and What They Mean

Each of the military’s five services maintains their own lapels. These being the Army, the Air Force, the Marine Corps, the Navy, and the Coast Guard.

  1. The Army: The Army pins are categorized as marksmanship, combat and special skill, identification and foreign.The Army: The Army pins are categorized as marksmanship, combat and special skill, identification and foreign.
  2. The Airforce: Aviation badges are awarded at three different levels, each signifying the seniority of the individual.
  3. The Marine: These include breast insignia (aviation, diver, etc.), identification badges and marksmanship. The marksmanship badges can differ based on the variations in weapon qualifications and other achievements.
  4. The Navy: These badges are regulated by the U.S Navy Uniform Regulations and are classified into identification badges and breast insignia. The latter are further divided into command, warfare and other qualifications.The Navy: These badges are regulated by the U.S Navy Uniform Regulations and are classified into identification badges and breast insignia. The latter are further divided into command, warfare and other qualifications.
  5. The Coast Guard: These are issued by the Department of Homeland Security. In addition to these specialized badges, they are also authorized to receive badges from the U.S Navy as well as the Department of Defense.

The Medal of Honor

The Medal of Honor rests at the top of its hierarchy. It is the topmost honor for anyone serving in any of the military services and is presented to them by the President of the United States on the 25th of March (National Medal of Honor Day).

This is awarded in recognition and gratitude for having served the nation above and beyond expectations. It is a mark of exceptional bravery, loyalty and everything that the military stands for.

This pin knows three variants for the Army, the Navy and the Airforce. However, members of the Marine Corps and Coast Guard can be awarded the one created for the Navy.

With their use becoming increasingly commonplace, corporates, societies, clubs and other group-oriented organizations use their own customized pins too!

A Corporate Transition with a Purpose

Given its profound associations with the U.S military, the lapel pin has evolved to represent something larger than itself. The reason its use has grown so widespread is due to the sense of unity and common cause that it creates.

Corporate employees find comfort in feeling like they are a part of a larger brethren, a cause bigger than them. This sense of belonging, loyalty, and unity is something that organizations and corporations often want, but otherwise, fail to achieve.

It also doesn’t hurt that lapel pins or military pins add an incomparable touch of elegance to any corporate outfit, allowing for these businesses to achieve brand awareness in the classiest way.

Inspired? Check out our range of customizable lapel pins for your own business, event, fundraiser or anything under the sun!

custom lapel pin

All About Pins: 5 Fun Facts You Didn’t Know About Lapel Pins

Thought you knew all about lapel pins? Think again. Boost your knowledge with these interesting facts and helpful tips about lapel pins.

From recognizing special achievements to practicing a little self-expression, lapel pins are a great way to wear a stylish accessory with pride. If you’re wondering where the lapel pin came from and what it means, look no further.

Check out this handy guide to learn five fun facts all about pins that you might not know about, so read on to learn more!

1. Lapel Pins Are Inspired by Boutonnieres

As the men’s suit started to become a fashion staple, seamstresses and designers added a hole in the lapel. This hole was originally designed to keep fresh flowers, giving the man a look of wealth and distinction. As time went on, this hole, also called a boutonniere, was referred to as the “buttonhole flower.” It originated as far back as the 16th century and is considered a sign of wealth, good luck, and protection.

Boutonnieres

During the 19th century, the boutonniere was accompanied by other accessories on the lapel like jewel-encrusted pins and watch chains, which eventually also lead to the lapel pin. What better way for men to express themselves than to add a unique and shiny pin to their already well-made suit?

2. Pins as a Status Symbol

Brooches and lapel pins have been used for centuries as a way to show off someone’s affiliation with a specific part of society. While women tended to wear jewelry to showcase their wealth, men tended to sport lapel pins. Italian men were all about pins as they wore a fancy brooch also called an enseigne. This pin was usually worn on the brim of a hat to show that they made a successful religious pilgrimage.

For some people, the pins were a protection charm that helped to prevent danger. However, the most impressive way people wore lapel pins was to show an affiliation with the military or as a part of a particular group.

3. All About Pins: Soft and Hard Enamel

Today’s lapel pins are usually made enamel which combines color, durability, and affordability. Soft enamel is typically more affordable and is a perfect option for casual wear or for giving out team awards. Lapel pins made of soft enamel are the most widely used thanks to their colorful designs and practicality. And while hard enamel lapel pins are similar to soft enamel, they also have a few distinguishing features.

A hard enamel pin is heated to increase its strength. Once the pin is dry, it has a smooth, crisp finish that helps it showcase much more intricate detail. These pins are geared toward the more fashion-conscious wearer, but both are equally durable and can be made in any design.

4. How Do Lapel Pins Stay in Place?

The clasp or backing of the pin is what keeps it neatly attached to your lapel, hat, bag, or anything else you choose. These attachments come in a variety of different designs depending on the manufacturer and your preference.

Stick pins are the original lapel pin and they’re easy to use thanks to their simple design. The pin itself is attached to a slender metal stick and then placed directly into the buttonhole. A thin needle at the top slides up and down to secure or release the pin for ease of use.

Today’s lapel pins are often found with a butterfly clutch. This mechanism was made popular by the military and features a sharp point on the back of the pin with a metal “butterfly” attachment. You simply squeeze the sides of the butterfly to release the pin, then press down to reattach it.

Other examples of lapel pin attachments include a magnetic design. Using two strong magnets, the wearer just places the pin on the outside of the garment and sticks the other magnet on the reverse to keep it in place. The most secure form is called a screw and nut, and all you do is simply screw the nut behind the pin in place to keep it neatly on the lapel.

5. Pins Can Be Used for Anything

One wonderful thing about pins is that they can be created in almost any design imaginable. This makes lapel pins a great way to recognize achievements, give out awards, or to use as a fashion accessory.

Many sports teams use lapel pins so fans can show off their team, or they can be given to teams as an award. You’ll also find these pins on police officers, firefighters, and others who work in the public sector too.

Lapel pins can be worn as a symbol of a specific group, a sign of military ranking, or they can even be worn by employees to show off a company logo. And, since these pins can be made into almost anything, they’re easy to customize. Many artists create their own unique designs in the form of a lapel pin. From animated characters to your favorite rock band, these accessories are the perfect form of self-expression.

Make Your Pin Unique

Now that you know all about pins, it’s easy to see why they’re such a beloved item. Choose a pin for your organization, sports team, or school to give people an accessory to be proud of. What once began as a man’s fashion accessory for the suit, today’s pins are worn by everyone and on everything.

Visit our website for a huge selection of free art and amazing pins, and contact us today to get a free quote on all your lapel pin needs.


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