Making Custom Enamel Pins
Your guide to making enamel pins
At the Monterey Company, our custom enamel pins are finished by hand. In this guide, learn more about how we make our customize pins using your logo, and how to pick the best options for your design.
Hard Enamel and Soft Enamel—What’s the Difference?
One type of enamel isn’t better than the other—it’s all about what’s best with your design. Hard enamel has a shiny, glass-like finish that is filled to the pin’s surface for a smooth look. Soft enamel is faster to make and more affordable than hard enamel and is filled 75 percent of the way up the surface walls.
Choosing Your Pin Style
The first step in making your enamel pin is deciding on your logo or illustration. Work with our team to create the perfect design. Then you’ll need to select the type of enamel and finish details to make your pin design come to life.
Soft enamel is a classic option that will emphasize the recessed and raised areas of your design. It is also a cost-effective way to add color to a high-quality product. This type of enamel will add color to your design while leaving lines visible to create a crisp and clear final product. You can also add letters and linework to create words and shapes that complement the background. Include different vivid colors for a custom pin design that pops.
Our Most Popular Processes
A unique way to enhance your custom design is to combine different processes. You can stamp the outer edges of your pin and leave the center open for a smooth, glossy printed design. You can also combine custom enamels and printing to create a unique dimension that blends classic styles with the crisp, modern look of a printed pin. Printed inserts can feature any image or photo, like a logo, slogan, or any other detailed design, giving you endless options to customize your creations.
Transparent enamel pins are made with the background showing through the layer of enamel. What makes transparent different? It allows for the background to show through. This allows for making designs in the background that can enhance an image. For example, you could show boulders in a stream that appears to be just under the surface of the water. Or in the case above, you can add dimension to the trees. Transparent coloring is one of the most popular because of the overall enhancement it offers a logo.
Transparent enamel pins can also be created with many different personalization options, like unique shapes, textured finishes, and more. One of the most striking ways to incorporate transparency is to add it to your design proof. This adds transparency while still letting texture show through. It’s the perfect option for images where subtle accents can make a big difference.
What are cloisonne pins?
Dating back over 2,000 years, cloisonne is a process traditionally used in jewelry making and metalwork. The process starts with a die-struck copper design, which creates raised and recessed areas. From there, colored sand is used to fill the different spaces in different colors to finish the design. The process begins similarly to other enamel techniques—with a die-struck copper piece that has cavities and ridges. Unlike other techniques, however, cloisonne enamel filling uses the colored sand to fill in the recessed areas. The colors used are chosen from our color charts and then put into your design.
Once the colored sand has been added, the pin is fired at 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit, which turns the sand into colored glass. This type of pin can’t be overfilled or sanded down, so the process needs to be very precise. Once the jewelry-like pin has been filled correctly, it needs to be annealed—this involved cooling the pin slowly to ensure the glass is cured. The finished product is then polished, engraved, or plated and shipped to its final destination.
This time-intensive process was originally used to make small items like jewelry and decorations. In the 14th century, the technique began to expand to larger items like decorative tableware and small statues. If you’re interested in this cloisonne for your custom design, our team will guide you on the best way to incorporate it.
Cast with enameling
Cast pins are a great option for customized designs with cut-outs. Made from zinc, cast pins allow for tiny details and raised areas to stand out in your design, and you can also add antique finishes on raised areas to create a nice contrast. Cast pins are also a good choice if you are ordering in bulk because they’re lighter and easier to ship. If you’re unsure what your final pin will look like, work with our team to create a three-dimensional proof to see the results before production.
Printing with epoxy coating
Add extra thickness to your printed pins with epoxy coating. We specially make individual screens for each color on the printed design—that way, the final result is exactly what you were hoping for. Combining enamel and printing is a great way to increase the value of a die-struck pin. Blending the two adds weight and a high-end finish. Finalize your design by adding a thin layer of epoxy to only the printed areas so the center of your design really stands out.
Quick Turnaround Times
Although the cloisonne and hard enamel processes share many steps, there are two different manufacturing processes for different finishes. Hard enamel is created by filling the recessed areas of a pin with molten material. Then, the excess filling is then sanded down to achieve a glassy surface.
Cloisonne uses pigmented sand to color pins. The sand is then is fired and cured, which creates a gem-like finish. Because of the complexity of producing cloisonne pins, they are some of the most high-end pins to produce. As a result, they also take longer to create and involve more steps, making them more expensive and more valuable than other pins.
With the Monterey Company, making pins is as easy as creating your design and deciding on your shape. In this guide, you will learn the differences between our production options and the best ways to make custom enamel pins for you.
Top Things To Know About Making Enamel Pins
1. Your Logo
Making a pin starts with your idea. Artwork will be created by your pin designer, and a proof will be sent to you for your review and approval.
4. Get A Digital Proof
Our talented team will create a design proof to ensure your ideas are reflected your final design. Proofs are the best way to make sure the spelling, colors, and sizes are all accurate and approved by you before production.
Our standard production time is normally between 10 and 14 days. Printed pins are the fastest style to make, while hard enamel and cloisonne may take longer to create.
2. Pick Your Pin Style
We offer many different base metals and closure styles. Request a sample from our team to help you decide on the pin style that complements your brand’s image.
Cost varies depending on the style you choose and the quantity you order. Our pins made from iron are the most cost-effective option we offer.
If you need a rush order, we recommend asking your sales representative to send your order "factory direct" to meet your deadline. You’ll also want to make sure that our team is aware of your deadline so it gets to you on time.
3. Select Your Quantity
When ordering a custom pin, the quantity, size, and style you choose will dictate the price per piece. Usually the larger your order, the lower the cost per pin.
6. Plating & Finish
Plating—also known as the finish—comes in a few options. Our plating typically includes nickel-free coat under your main plating. Gold and silver plating are the top finish choices for our custom designs.
9. FedEx Shipping
Most of our bulk lapel pin orders are shipped using FedEx Air, and shipments often are routed through many locations. Please make sure to allow enough time for shipping.
We’ve also made ordering additional pins easy. When you order a pin, we create a mold for your specific design. That way, if you need to order more, we already have it on file. You can always update the enamel background, change colors, update text, or keep the design exactly the same the next time you need your lapel pins. If you’re new to creating custom pins, the Monterey Company is here to help. We’re experts at working with our customers to breathe new life into design ideas. With our years of experience, streamlined process, and design expertise, our artists can turn your concepts into unique creations that you’ll be proud to wear.