What is the difference between hard and soft enamel pins?

In the world of custom accessories and collectibles, enamel pins have carved out a unique niche for themselves. These small, wearable pieces of art have gained immense popularity among enthusiasts and creators alike. Enamel pins come in various styles and designs, but the two most common types you'll encounter are hard enamel pins and soft enamel pins. If you've ever wondered what sets them apart and which one might be the best fit for your project or collection, you're in the right place. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve deep into the differences between hard and soft enamel pins.


The Art of Enamel Pins

Before we dive into the distinctions between hard and soft enamel pins, it's essential to understand the basics of enamel pin production.

Enamel pins are crafted by layering colored enamel onto a metal base, typically made of brass or copper. The design is separated into different areas or sections, each filled with a specific enamel color. These layers are fired at high temperatures to fuse the enamel with the metal, creating a smooth, glossy, and vibrant surface.

Now that we have a foundational understanding of how enamel pins are made, let's explore the key differences between hard enamel pins and soft enamel pins.

 enamel pins

Hard Enamel Pins

Hard enamel pins, also known as cloisonné pins, are characterized by their polished and smooth finish. Here are the key features of hard enamel pins:

Smooth and Flat Surface: Hard enamel pins are polished to achieve a flat and even surface. This gives them a high-quality, jewelry-like appearance.

Color Separation: The colors on hard enamel pins are separated by metal lines, which are raised slightly above the enamel. This results in a distinct, well-defined design.

Durable and Scratch-Resistant: Due to the polishing process, hard enamel pins are more durable and less prone to scratching. They can withstand wear and tear over time.

Vibrant Colors: The high-temperature firing process used for hard enamel pins results in vibrant, rich colors that don't fade easily.

Premium Look: Because of their smooth finish and vibrant colors, hard enamel pins often have a premium and luxurious appearance.


Soft Enamel Pins

Soft enamel pins are another popular choice among pin enthusiasts. They have their unique characteristics that set them apart from hard enamel pins:

Textured Surface: Unlike hard enamel pins, soft enamel pins have a textured surface. You can feel the recessed areas of the design, which adds depth and dimension.

Color Depth: Soft enamel pins have a distinct color depth, as the enamel sits lower than the metal borders or outlines. This depth gives the pins a tactile and visually appealing quality.

Cost-Effective: Soft enamel pins are generally more budget-friendly than hard enamel pins, making them an excellent choice for those working with a tighter budget.

Customizable: The textured surface of soft enamel pins allows for greater customization options, such as adding texture or patterns to specific areas of the design.

Versatile Finish: Soft enamel pins can be plated with various metal finishes, such as gold, silver, or black nickel, to achieve different looks.


Hard Enamel Pins Production Process

Design Creation: The design for a hard enamel pin is created with metal borders that define the pin's shape and design.

Mold Making: A mold is created based on the design, which will be used to cast the base metal.

Metal Casting: The base metal, often copper or brass, is melted and poured into the mold, forming the pin's shape.

Polishing: Once the metal is cooled and solidified, the pin is polished to a smooth and level surface.

Enamel Application: Enamel is carefully applied to the recessed areas, layer by layer, with each layer cured before the next is added.

Baking: The pin is then baked at high temperatures to harden the enamel.

Polishing and Plating: After baking, the pin is polished again to achieve a glossy finish, and plating is applied if desired.

 enamel pins

Soft Enamel Pins Production Process

Design Creation: Similar to hard enamel pins, the design for a soft enamel pin is created with metal borders that define the pin's shape and design.

Mold Making: A mold is created based on the design, which will be used to cast the base metal.

Metal Casting: The base metal, often copper or iron, is melted and poured into the mold, forming the pin's shape.

Enamel Application: Enamel is applied to the surface of the pin's design areas, creating a textured effect.

Air Drying: The pin is allowed to air dry, which creates recessed areas between the metal borders as the enamel settles.

Baking: The pin is then baked at a lower temperature than hard enamel pins to harden the enamel and set the colors.

Color Separation: Soft enamel pins may have slightly raised metal borders that separate the different enamel colors.

Plating: Plating is applied to the metal areas of the pin, enhancing its appearance and providing protection.


Choosing Between Hard and Soft Enamel Pins

Now that we've examined the differences between hard and soft enamel pins, the next question is: which type of pin is right for your project or collection? The choice between hard and soft enamel pins depends on several factors:

Budget: If you have a limited budget, soft enamel pins may be the better option due to their cost-effectiveness.

Design Complexity: If your design requires intricate details and precise lines, hard enamel pins are the way to go. Their smooth surface allows for precise color separation.

Texture and Dimension: If you want a pin with a tactile, textured surface and a three-dimensional feel, soft enamel pins are the ideal choice.

Durability: For pins that need to withstand regular wear and tear without showing signs of damage, hard enamel pins are more resilient.

Personal Preference: Ultimately, your personal preference and the aesthetic you're aiming for play a significant role in the decision-making process.


Customizing Your Enamel Pins with Badges UK

One of the unique aspects of working with Badges UK is our commitment to customization. We understand that each enamel pin project is as unique as the individuals behind it. That's why we offer a wide range of customization options to ensure your pins align with your vision perfectly:

Metal Plating Finishes: Our selection of metal plating finishes includes classic options like gold, silver, and black nickel, as well as specialty finishes like antique or rainbow plating. These finishes can drastically change the overall look of your enamel pins, giving you even more creative control.

Pin Size: Whether you want a small, discreet pin or a larger statement piece, we can accommodate various pin sizes to suit your needs.

Attachment Styles: How your pins are attached is another aspect of customization. We offer options like butterfly clutches, rubber clutches, or even magnetic backings for a unique touch.

Packaging and Presentation: The way your enamel pins are presented can enhance their appeal. Badges UK provides a range of packaging options, from simple polybags to custom-printed backing cards or presentation boxes. This attention to detail can make your pins stand out even more.

Quantity: Whether you need a limited run of pins for a special event or a large order for retail purposes, we can accommodate various quantities to meet your requirements.


Enamel Pins as a Creative Outlet

Enamel pins have become more than just accessories; they are now a form of self-expression and storytelling. Creators and artists use enamel pins to convey their passions, interests, and even political statements. The ability to wear your favorite designs on your lapel, backpack, or jacket allows you to carry a piece of your identity with you wherever you go.

Many artists and designers have embraced the enamel pin trend as a way to showcase their artwork on a small yet impactful canvas. From intricate illustrations to clever wordplay, enamel pins serve as tiny pieces of art that can spark conversations and connections with others who share similar interests.


Collecting Enamel Pins: A Growing Trend

Collecting enamel pins has also gained immense popularity over the years. Enthusiasts often trade and collect pins from various artists and brands, curating their collections based on themes, aesthetics, or personal connections. The thrill of discovering unique and limited-edition pins adds an element of excitement to pin collecting.

Enamel pin collectors often display their treasures on pin boards, jackets, bags, or even in shadow boxes. Each pin represents a memory, an interest, or a piece of art that resonates with the collector, making it a truly personal hobby.


In the world of custom accessories, enamel pins have carved out a unique space for themselves. Whether you prefer the polished finish of hard enamel pins or the textured charm of soft enamel pins, these small but impactful pieces of art have captured the hearts of collectors and creators alike.

Badges UK stands ready to bring your enamel pin designs to life, offering a wide range of customization options to ensure your pins are a perfect reflection of your vision. Our commitment to quality craftsmanship and customer satisfaction has made us a trusted name in the industry.

So, whether you're an artist looking to share your creations, a collector on the hunt for unique finds, or a business owner seeking to make a lasting impression, embrace the world of enamel pins with Badges UK by your side. Contact us today to embark on your enamel pin journey, and let us help you turn your creative ideas into stunning, wearable pieces of art that will be cherished for years to come.