A custom cloisonne pin has an ancient history and a beautiful stained glass-like finish.

Did you know that cloisonne is an ancient technique of metalworking developed in the Far East? It has been used for centuries in the creation and decoration of pins and coins. It is a very intricate and complex process. The custom cloisonne pin is formed first by adding compartments 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 the enamel or inlays, which are often of several colors. 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, cloisonne is the preferred method for collector’s pins and is a process offered by the majority of the lapel pin making industry.

Cloisonne objects contain different compartments of the enamel inlays, which creates the appearance of several different colors. At the Monterey Company, we still use this ancient technique in the creation of a handful of our lapel pins and have perfected the art.

We also use a more modern and economical but similar technique in our company known as epola, which creates hard enamel lapel pins. It is a resin-based substance that is heated to create a bright, hard, enamel-like finish. After being baked at high temperatures the glass enamel is sanded and polished to flush out the metal lines that separate the colors. The metals most commonly used with this process include brass, iron, zinc alloy, stainless steel, and aluminum.

The difference between these two processes is that the recessed areas are filled with brilliant colored resin when using the epola technique. It is not as hard as cloisonne, but it looks shinier, reveals finer details, and allows for the use of the Pantone color matching system.

While both processes create beautiful works of art, the epola process is extremely durable and one of the most popular types of lapel pins that we sell at The Monterey Company. But some clients still insist on a custom cloisonne pin for their beautiful, jewel-like finish.