How To Make Enamel Pins

How To Make Pins Guide

Need to know the difference between pin styles? How long does it take to make custom pins? We have a full list of answers to help you understand. Designing custom-made pins with your logo need not be confusing. 

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Monterey Home » How To Make Enamel Pins

What are the most popular enamel pin styles

Making a pin design starts with your logo or illustration. Selecting the pin style starts with choosing between soft enamel, hard enamel, and cloisonne. The difference in these styles is pretty simple. Soft enamel is recessed below the metal compared to hard enamel and cloisonne. These two styles are on the same level as the metal making them smooth to the touch compared to textured soft enamel.  The Monterey Company is an expert in manufacturing and has all the answers from production methods to adding the best lapel pin backs. Learn how to make enamel pins.

Custom shaped pins are easily customized with your logo

Making custom shaped metal pins is as easy as creating your design and deciding if you would like a custom shape or a standard shape.  In this guide, you will learn the differences in styles and production options as well as the best ways to make enamel pins.

Most Popular Enamel Style

Soft enamel pins are the most popular style. Logo colors can be matched and colors are recessed giving them an embossed feel.


Do you have a full-color logo or don't want the metal lines around each color? Printed pins can be made exactly like your logo.

Die Struck

This style can be plated in gold, silver, and copper or can also be made in real gold and silver.


Cast pins allow for incredible 3D imagery and they can be made with or without color. Tiny cut-outs are also possible with casting.

What Are The 10 Things To Know When Getting Custom Lapel Pins Made?

Top Ten Things To Know About Designing Metal Pins

1. Your Design

Designing a pin starts with your idea or sketch. Artwork will be created by your pin designer and a proof will be sent to you for your review and approval.

2. Proof

A proof is created to ensure your ideas best reflect your final design. Proofs are the best way to make sure all the spelling, colors and sizes are accurate and approved by you.

3. Style

What style should you choose? Sometimes requesting samples is the way to decide on the best pin style that compliments your design.

4. Quantity

Why is quantity on this top ten list? When ordering a custom pin, the quantity will dictate the price per piece along with the size and enamel style.

5. Cost

Costs will vary depending on the style you choose and the quantity you order. Base metals such as iron will lower the cost of your order compared to copper.

Trio - Cloisonne (1)

Hard Enamel - Cloisonne Pins

Cloisonné is a 2000-year-old technique developed in the Middle East. This process was originally used to make small items such as jewelry, weapons, and decorations. By the 14th century, China got ahold of this technique and started to make larger items such as decorative bowls and small statues.

At The Monterey Company, we use the same age-old process to make our cloisonné pins. We make our cloisonné pins from colored sand. The sand is melted at a temperature of 1700 degrees to create a jewelry-like appearance. A cloisonné pin feels like glass to the touch and is considered a hard enamel. Cloisonné pins are very collectible and have a very high perceived value. Find out more about the artistic technique of cloisonné pins or request a free quote for cloisonne pins.

soft enamel vs hard enamel lapel pins

What’s the difference between soft enamel and hard enamel lapel pins

Is one better than another? The PC answer is no, and it's really about personal preference. Soft enamel vs hard enamel pins are best described as great quality vs the best quality. Hard enamel has a glass-like appearance similar to cloisonne. Soft enamel is less expensive and can be made a bit quicker than hard enamel because of the way these two styles are made. When in dought, request samples.

The difference between soft enamel and hard enamel pins is in the enamel color fill. Soft enamel pins are color filled only 75% of the way up the walls of the pin. Hard enamel color fill is filled all the way to the surface of a pin. Hard enamel pin has 100% enamel color fill allowing this lapel pin style to have a smooth feel. Like soft enamel has an embossed feel.

soft enamel vs cloisonne lapel pin

Cloisonne vs Soft Enamel

What is the difference between cloisonne and Soft enamel pins? There are two major differences between these two die-struck pin styles. The first difference is cloisonne is made by heating colored cloisonne paste to 1700 degrees and it becomes smooth like glass. They end up having a jewelry finish. Soft enamel is made where the enamel fills the recessed areas of your design part way, creating raised and lower levels. Production time to create cloisonne normally takes 15 days to 17 days vs 10 days for soft enamel.
soft enamel lapel pins with printed center

Soft Enamel + Printing

Combining soft enamel and a printed pin can really be the best way to add the high perceived value of a die struck pin and the details only available in printed pins. Also known as adding a printed insert into soft enamel style. The printed center can either be spot printed or offset printed. Adding a thin layer of epoxy only to the printed areas makes the center of your design really stand out. Printed centers will not have metal lines between each color like soft enamel does.


This style is a great way to show off a design that has lots of tiny cut-outs or if you are looking to order lapel pins in bulk as they are lighter to ship. Made from cast zinc, this style allows for amazing details and enhances the raised areas of your design. Creating 3D proof will show you what your design will look like prior to production. Antique finishes look the best as the raised areas are shiny and recessed area are darker creating a really nice contrast.

A few More Tips

6. Plating

Plating also is known as the pin finish, it comes with a few options. Plating pins normally include nickel free plating under your main plating finish. Gold & silver plating is the most frequently ordered finish.

7. Production

Standard production normally runs 10 days. Soft enamel and printed pins are the fastest style to make. Hard enamel and cloisonne pins are more involved to make and take longer to create.

8. Deadlines

If your order needs to be rushed, we recommend asking your sales rep to send your pins "Factory Direct", in order to meet your deadline. You also want to make sure your sales rep is aware of your deadline.

9. Shipping

Most bulk lapel pin orders are shipped FedEx Air.  Shipments needing to go to multiple locations is pretty standard. Please make sure you allow enough time to have your order shipped. 

10. Reorders

The best part of reorders is the mold has been previously made and your order will cost less than what you originally paid. Production will also be less as there is no need to create a new mold.

Most Popular Styles

3d soft enamel pins
Soft enamel is one of most in-demand styles for custom made pins. They have lots of great uses, and they are stunning to look at. They are quite affordable because of the method they are made by die-striking your logo into the base metal. Made of fine metal detailing the process and give you an unlimited number of colors to choose from. This means you will get the exact logo color you are looking for. With so many enamel styles, textures, and finishes, soft enamel pins are some of the most versatile and cost-effective to manufacture. Soft enamel has raised metal edges and recessed color giving this style a textured feel.
die struck enamel pin
Hard enamel is a great alternative to our cloisonné pins. We use Pantone color mating with hard enamel. This new method of pin-making gives you all the colors and brilliance of Cloisonn but they can be used in more ways. Hard enamel is the most durable style we offer. They are also the most in-demand choice for lapel pin style due to their eye-catching beauty and bright colors. Note that the metal and enamel colors are on the same level.


Transparent enamel pins are made with soft or in hard enamel. What makes transparent enamel different? It allows for the metal under the color to show through. This allows for making designs in the metal that can enhance a design. 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 enamel is one of the most popular enamel styles because of the overall enhancement it offers a logo.
printed pin
Printed pins can also be made with extra thickness for a higher perceived value. We make individual screens for each color that is printed. Why add color without the metal border? We have found that some companies have strict brand guidelines. For instance, matching their logo colors and having metal separating colors around their logo may not work for their design. Adding colors to a design can be done at any time of the production process.

Plating Options

antique copper lapel pin
Antique Copper
satin pin: 50 year award
Satin Gold
antique bronze custom lapel pins
Antique Bronze
shiny silver metal pin with stones
Shiny Silver
three ruby gemsone gold us pin
silver magnetic pin
Antique Silver

2d vs 3d pins

What’s the difference between 2D and 3D lapel pins?

What is the difference between 3D pins and regular 2D shapes? Allow me to let you in on a little secret. Logos can be cute, fancy, professional or even a way to say thank you.

What Should I Know About Ordering Lapel Pins With My Logo

Whether you design your logo pins with lettering or an image, 3D molds will give your design a detailed and realistic sculpted appearance. Logo's can be made into a logo pin with you design by any graphic artist and the art can be modified to work with your logo.

How to sell custom enamel pins online:

There is a new trend of people who are making custom enamel pins for resale. It has never been easier to market lapel pins because of social platforms like Instagram. It is as easy as creating your design and adding it to Instagram with a few hashtags. Finding a good manufacturer to come up with the best options, plating and base metal choices can be a huge benefit. 

For those of you that do not know what hashtag is, it is a word or phrase preceded by a hash or pound sign (#). This tag identifies a specific topic. The question is, what hashtags should you use to sell online? Here are are a few popular hashtags:#lapelpins #pingame #enamelpins #enamelpin #pincommunity 

Where To Get Lapel Pins Made

Lapel pins are currently being made in the USA, Asia, and Canada. Getting lapel pins made requires a minimal amount of design experience and mostly a vendor that can get your order placed with a factory. Most pin factories have hundreds of workers that specialize in a specific task including enameling and plating.

5 things know about making enamel pins?

  1. Deciding on the enamel style: Enamel colors come in three main styles, soft, hard and cloisonné.
  2. Decide on the size and the number of colors: Pricing is normally based on the quantity ordered and the number of colors in your design.
  3. Design Time: Spending time up front on your design is time well spent. Approving a design on the first round of art proofs happens in most cases if you and your salesperson spent time going over all the details of your design. Sometimes multiple art revisions will be made to design depending on production limitations or sometimes revisions need to be made for aesthetic reasons.
  4. Consider pre-production samples: Making samples are a great option, it gives you the ability to review your pin before final approval. It also allows you to take photos of your design for pre-orders. Requesting samples with different platings and enamel colors are a great way to see your design with multiple variations.
  5. Shipping and deadlines: Please allow enough time to design your pins and have them produced. Rushing the process can lead to mistakes or missed deadlines. With that said rush orders are commonplace and deadlines can be met if they are realistic.

The Monterey Company has been a pin manufacturer since 1989

Frequently Asked Questions

Our Popular Styles

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