Cloisonné Pins vs. Hard Enamel Pins. The good, bad, and ugly truth behind the metal.
In the lapel pin world, its impossible to have a discussion about the lapel pin making process without talking about Cloisonné Lapel Pins. Cloisonné is an ancient technique of metalworking developed in the Far East. The lapel pin is formed by first adding compartments (cloisons in French) to the metal object by soldering or gluing silver or gold wires, or thin strips placed on their edges. These remain visible in the finished piece, separating the different compartments of color.
The multi-step process, which remains relatively unchanged today, results in a jewelry-like finish whose durability far exceeds that of other processes for your lapel pins. For this reason, Cloisonné is the preferred method for collector’s pins and is a process offered by the majority of the lapel pin making industry.
In August of 2009, The Monterey Company began learning about lead toxicity in imported products, specifically in Cloisonne pins. Rachael, the company’s operations manager explained, “We immediately had prototypes of all of our samples tested so that we could be assured (and in turn, assure our customers) that our products are safe for our clients, young and old. When the test results on Cloisonne came back, we were astounded by how toxic the material is.”
The Monterey Company decided that in order to continue being able to stand behind its products, they simply could no longer continue providing Cloisonne pins considering the health risks associated with the substance used to create them. The alternative, which was already being used, and selling quite well, is Classic New Enamel or Hard Enamel.
Hard Enamel lapel pins have an elegant and “classic” look, much like their cloisonné cousins. However, the modern technology used to make our Hard Enamel lapel pins offers the added advantage of PMS color matching, not available with Cloisonné. PMS color matching gives our clients the choice of over 1,000 Pantone colors, allowing you to create a custom lapel pin that is both vibrant and colorful. We are proud to be able to offer an alternative to cloisonne that is not only safer but also more versatile.
“So far, while I think it was a risk for the company to limit our market share, I think our customers can appreciate our concern for public and environmental health. We are pleased to be able to make a step, if not small, towards being a socially responsible business,” shares Rachael.