hard enamel pin

How Are Enamel Pins Made

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.

enamel pins

How To Make Enamel Pins

The first step in making your custom 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. The first step in making enamel pins is deciding on size and shape of your design. Enamel pins can be of any size, but the production process is different for smaller and larger designs. For a small design that will have hard enamelling done on it, I recommend sticking to either round or oval shapes because they are simple and easy to produce in volume. If you want your art with soft enameling, then custom shapes can offer a little more flexabilty.

The next step is to create your design and size it to fit the pins you want. Enamel pins are traditionally between 3/4" to 1 1/4" but there is no set measurement for what’s acceptable, so use this as a guideline only. Enamel pins are available with either a gold or silver metal finish. Hard enamel pins have a hard, jewel-like surface and the color is baked on to prevent wear from exposure to the outdoors like rain, sun, snow etc. Enamelling takes place in two steps: firstly, it’s fired at 1200 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes followed by polishing and assembly of your attachment.

Choosing Your Pin Style

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.

multi-color pin 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.

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.
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.

Our Most Popular Styles

hard enamel pin

Adding Enamel To A Cast Pin

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.

Top Things To Know About Making Enamel Pins

Enamel pins are a great way to show off your favorite fandom, or even just an art style you admire. Enamel pins can be made using two different methods: the "hard enamel" method and the "soft enamel" method. The hard enamel process will create more durable and higher quality pins, but it is also much more expensive to produce than soft enameling. Soft enamelling is cheaper, but it has a textured feel because of this type of production.

Lapel pin pricing varies depending on the style you choose and the quantity you order. Lapel pins made from iron are the most cost-effective option we offer.

Our talented team will create a design proof to ensure your ideas are reflected in 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. 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.

Plating also is known as the finish comes in a few options. Plating typically includes a nickel-free coat under your main plating. Gold and silver plating are the top finish choices for our custom designs.

plating chart

New Orders

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. If you need a rush order, we recommend using a printed pin style.

Repeat Orders

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.

Shipping times vary depending on your location. Most bulk lapel pin orders are shipped using FedEx Air service, and shipments often are routed through many locations. Shipping delay is not common but does happen and allowing 3 to 7 days for shipping is usually a standard delivery time.

The Process

1 - Your Design Ideas

Have an idea for an enamel pin? Send us your drawing or clipart and we work with you your vision.

customer design sketch

Customer Supplied Art


2 - Digital Proof is Made

We design a digital proof for your approval at no charge and we include unlimited revisions.

faire-lapel-pin-design

3 - The Final Product!

Production of your pin design normally takes 10 to 15 days. Note the 3D added to this design!

faire pin
pin back cards

Top Styles That Will Make Your Logo Stand Out

Transparent Enameling

Transparent enamel pins are made with the background showing through the layer of enamel. What makes transparent color 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.

hard enamel globe pin

Add Additional Printing To Your Pin Design

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.

cloisonne pins

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.

enamel lapel pins

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.