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lapel pin types

Soft Enamel Pins vs. Hard Enamel: What’s the Difference?

A common question when designing a custom lapel pin is what’s the difference between soft enamel pins and hard enamel? The answer is in the details of the pin.

Have you been noticing all of these cool lapel pins and might want to get some for yourself? Wondering how you get started and what you need to know? You’ve come to the right place.

With lapel pins making a comeback, you have a lot of options that you can choose from to customize and make the pin everything you imagined it to be.

One of the decisions you have to make is between soft enamel pins and hard enamel pins. What does that mean? For someone that hasn’t gotten lapel pins before, those terms probably don’t mean much.

If you’d like to find out more about lapel pins and what you need to consider when you are creating them, keep reading to learn the difference between soft enamel and hard enamel pins.

How to Create a Soft Enamel Pin

Soft enamel is a very popular type of pin. It gives the pin a raised texture look which also feels a little different than hard enamel pins when they are finished.

The image you want gets stamped into the metal and then cut down to the right size. This can be anywhere from a small pin, such as 0.5″, to a large 4″ pin.

The soft enamel metal plating process, such as with gold or nickel, has to happen before the enamel gets filled. Because of this, only some of the metal finishes that you may like can actually be done with soft enamel.

For a pin to become plated with a colorful metal, such as black or another custom color, you can only use soft enamel. The enamel gets added in after the plating process to the recessed areas.

When finished and the enamel is dry, you may notice that the enamel has a soft and bumpy feel to it. If you would like, epoxy resin can coat the soft enamel if desired. This helps to flatten the enamel a little more and also give it more protection.

How to Make Hard Enamel Pins

These types of pins are more durable and sturdy than soft enamel pins. A lot of people will choose this pin instead because it has a very clean look.

Hard enamel pins become filled with the color enamel after the image is stamped in and cut out. Each color is cured in the oven one at a time, which can add to the expense of this pin because it takes a lot more time.

The pin is then polished down to be smooth and flat with the metal die lines. Because the grinding process is crucial, not all metal finishes work with the hard enamel pins. Gold or silver metal plating are some common options that you may use with a hard enamel pin.

After the colors are added and the pin has been polished, it is electroplated and polished one more time. This completes the pin.

The polishing process is done multiple times and it makes it a little harder to get specific detail in hard enamel, such as thin lines or small engravings.

Hard vs. Soft Enamel Pins: Which is Better?

The truth is that most designs that you may want, whether it is an image or a drawing, can likely be done with either option. A big part of the decision will come from your own preference on which you like better.

The way that both of these types of pins look are way different from each other. Hard enamel is much more refined and smooth while soft enamel is a little more quirky and unique. Another difference is that soft enamel can really get all of those minute details onto the pin while hard enamel is going to look a little bit more specific each time.

A big part of the decision may be the price. Soft enamel is notoriously cheaper than hard enamel because it does not involve such an intense process to make. Hard enamel pins have to be polished and cured several times to achieve their look.

You may decide that one type is better for certain occasions while the other type is more suitable for other occasions. For example, military lapel pins can be made from hard enamel because it may look more professional and classic.

The great news is that you can easily make custom lapel pins that work with either soft enamel or hard enamel. If you have an event coming up or just want to make some pins for fun, you may want to experiment with both options to see which you like better.

One of the great things about being able to make these types of pins is that you can be creative! The sky is the limit and you can make pins that showcase exactly what you were hoping for.

Choosing the Best Lapel Pin for You

When you are deciding between soft enamel pins and hard enamel pins, it comes down to what you like the best and what you plan to do with the pin.

Remember that hard enamel pins are more durable, but they also cost a little more to make. A soft enamel pin is a little less scratch-resistant, but it can have a unique look about it that is hard to find elsewhere.

If you want to get some information about our lapel pins and how you can order them, check out our website to learn more. We have plenty of options to choose from!

Lapel Pin Etiquette: A Guide for Cleaning Your Lapel Pins

Lapel Pin Etiquette: A Guide for Cleaning Your Lapel Pins

Although lapel pins have a history that stretches back to the Civil War, they’ve made a huge comeback. Cute, quirky, and unique designs became a huge trend in the fashion scene around 2014 and have since become must-have accessories.

No matter if it’s a pin with professional significance, the perfect accessory for your carefully cultivated look, or just a way to add class to your outfit, you know lapel pins have many benefits.

What happens if you love your pins a little too much and they need some TLC? Read this guide to lapel pin etiquette and learn how to clean them so they’re looking like new again!

What Kinds of Pins are You Working With?

There’s more than one kind of lapel pin. Knowing what kind you’re dealing with will determine the best way to clean them.

Most people are familiar with the classic clutch back or safety pin badge. There are many other stylish kinds of lapel pins that have their own unique qualities.

Which ones do you have?

Clutch Back

Also known as a butterfly clutch, these are usually small and efficient. The pin back has a point that fits into the clutch.

The clutch releases when you give it a squeeze. No complicated parts to mess with.

Stick Pin

The stick pin is a truly classic design. The pin sits on top of a long needle that pierces your lapel.

Pop the metal keeper (or a piece of cork if you’ve lost the keeper) on the end and you’re good to go. This is a fantastic way to bring a bit of vintage style to your outfit.

Screw Back

Just as the name suggests, you screw a nut onto the point on the pin back. This is one of the most secure types of pins out there.

Floral and Boutonnieres

One of the oldest styles, floral and boutonniere pins have sat on many a gentleman’s suit lapel over the years. While both involve flowers, floral is typically made of fabric while boutonnieres feature the real thing pinned on the lapel.

Out of all of them, the boutonniere is the most low-maintenance. No need to polish and shine a real flower — just pop on a fresh one and go!

Long Stem

If you’re looking to make a statement, you need to add a long stem pin to your wardrobe. This modern twist on the classic stick pin is meant to be noticed.

Long stem pins come in a wide variety of designs. Oftentimes, they’re made out of high-end metals like gold and silver, so you’ll need to be extra careful when cleaning them.

Magnetic

Worried about piercing a favorite outfit? The magnetic clasp pin is for you.

These are perfect for keeping the integrity of a delicate cashmere sweater or fancy dress. The only problem is that eventually, the magnets wear out and your pin might fall off.

Collar Pin

This is a unique pin. Most of the other pins that we’ve talked about go directly on a lapel or are worn like a brooch.

The collar pin clips to a typical button up collar. This is a sophisticated style for a man and a daring fashion addition for a woman.

What You Need to Clean Your Pins

There’s a basic cleaning kit that any lapel pin enthusiast needs. The two things you need are a polishing cloth and a polishing agent.

Before you run to the store, know that not all polishing cloths and agents are made equal.

When working with tarnish on silver pins, use a soft cotton cloth and silver polish. You might even be able to find special cloths that already have the silver polish in them.

Jeweler’s cloths work well for polishing pins. Jewelry polish is great to start with but if you want to splurge, go for the jewelry polish cream.

No matter what you use, look for something non-abrasive and gentle.

Cleaning Your Pins

Before you start, remove the back or keeper from your pin. Be careful not to stick yourself.

It’s always a good idea to test the polish you intend to use in an inconspicuous area. Swipe the back of the pin with a cotton bud before you use it on the rest of the pin.

The most basic way to clean the pin is to dab it with your polish and gently rub it with a cloth. Usually, your tarnish will easily come off.

Some metals tarnish faster than others. Copper tarnishes before silver which tarnishes before gold.

Make sure you use a good quality polishing cloth and cream on pins made out of these metals.

Extra Tips and Tricks

Now that you’ve got the basics down, here are a few other tips and tricks to keep in mind.

  • Never use vinegar or anything citrus to clean your pins. It will damage the metal and any enamel.
  • Don’t use polish on a soft enamel pin; rub it gently with a soft cloth so that the paint doesn’t come off
  • Don’t use harsh abrasives on a hard enamel pin; you risk damaging the design
  • No polish? You can try using toothpaste, but test it on the back of the pin to make sure it won’t hurt the pin
  • Never put your pins in a polishing machine; it’ll be too hard on your delicate pins
  • Household cleaners will also hurt pins; stick to jewelry polishes

The key is to be gentle with your pins. This is the best way to extend the life of your collection.

Practice Proper Lapel Pin Etiquette

It’s not hard to practice proper lapel pin etiquette. It’s important to remember that you should always test the back and be careful when polishing your pins.

If it’s been a while since your pins have had a good shine, take them out this weekend and polish them up. Nipping tarnish in the bud before it gets too dark prevents you from scrubbing too hard or using stronger polishes that can damage the metal.

If you love lapel pins, why not make a custom one for your special event or celebration? Reach out to us today for a free quote!