As its name suggests, a lapel pin is a small accessory meant to be worn on the lapel of a suit jacket, or if a jacket is not available, at the left breast of a dress shirt where the lapel would normally fall. Some people even wear smaller lapel pins on the collar of their shirt for a touch of irreverent, adventurous fashion.
Lapel pins are largely ornamental, similar to traditional boutonnieres, although they are also usually used to show a person’s affiliation with an organization or as a sign that they support a certain cause. Some businesses also use lapel pins as part of their employee engagement strategy, as these pins can be worn as a symbol of achievement or recognition, or simply as a reminder of the company’s mission and ambitions.
More recently, pin collecting and trading has also become a popular hobby in which people deal items that feature pop culture symbols, iconic brand emblems, and cartoon and movie characters. In fact, entertainment conglomerate Disney officially supports and promotes Disney pin trading, a practice that has really grown in popularity in recent years. Currently, more than 100,000 designs are available for buying and trading online and at Disney properties all over the world, with some truly limited edition items even reaching prices of up to $2,000 or more in secondary markets like eBay.
How Lapel Pins Are Made
The process of manufacturing lapel pins vary depending on the type of product, but it typically begins with the rendering of the design, either digitally or on paper. This blueprint is transferred to a die, which is used to stamp the design into the metal workpiece. Afterwards, the workpiece is cut into individual metal bases, and the pins are soldered to their backs. Whether the lapel pins will have colors or finishing depends on the specifications ordered by customers.
Conversely, there are also lapel pins that are made of fabric or paper, which are usually made to resemble classic flower boutonnieres. Many customers choose to have such products custom-made and bought at online shops like Etsy. They are also popular DIY fashion projects.
At Wristband Creation, we make four kinds of high-quality lapel pins, namely hard enamel lapel pins, soft enamel lapel pins, die-struck lapel pins, and printed lapel pins. But which one is the best choice for you? Let’s take a look.
The Premium Pin: Hard Enamel Lapel Pins
Hard enamel lapel pins are also called epola pins or Cloisonne pins, from the ancient technique of decorating metalwork with the use of vitreous enamel, gemstones, and glass. These pins are first die-struck with the design, and the recessed areas are then filled in with several layers of high-quality enamel paint so that after it has dried, the colors are level with the metal borders. After coloring, the pins will be “baked” in a kiln at extremely high temperatures (reaching up to 1600 degrees Fahrenheit) to ensure that the paint will harden properly. This process is also what makes these pins highly durable. Afterwards, the pins are plated and polished for a high-gloss finish.
As opposed to traditional hard enamel, which makes use of glass-based ingredients and thus cannot replicate the required colors exactly, Wristband Creation uses premium enamel paint so that we can match any color you want through our Pantone Matching System. It must be noted that the multiple polishing processes involved in making hard enamel pins means that some of the metal lines may end up thicker than in the original design. If you have more lines in your design—for example, a lattice or honeycomb pattern—it is better to opt for a larger pin size to ensure that the details will be captured more accurately.
Hard enamel lapel pins are perfect as commemorative items because they last long and don’t lose their quality over time. These pins can also be used for badges as a form of recognition or as a way to promote a brand or a cause. Schools, especially colleges and universities, as well as fraternities or sororities are also among the most usual customers that choose hard enamel pins because their logos stand out really well with the techniques used in producing these products.
The Dimensional Look: Soft Enamel
The main difference of soft enamel lapel pins from hard enamel ones is that the enamel paint is added only once. When dry, the paint is at a lower level than the dieline, the borders of the design that prevent the enamels from mixing. As such, if you rub your finger over the finished soft enamel pin, you can feel the ridges of the dieline.
The base of the soft enamel pin starts with a roll of raw copper, brass, or iron, onto which the design are stamped using a die. The pattern leaves a recessed area in the metal, which will then be filled with the enamel paints and then allowed to dry, as opposed to the high-temperature baking process with hard enamel pins.
Because of the limited layer of paint as well as the lack of polishing processes, soft enamel lapel pins are more affordable than hard enamel ones. However, there are other ways to make these economical pins a bit more hard-wearing. An epoxy resin coating can be added to the surface to protect the enamel and make it last longer. Wristband Creation also offers high-quality plating using gold, nickel, copper, or brass for truly unique finishes. Their affordability is also what makes soft enamel pins popular, especially those looking for a premium-looking pin at a fraction of the cost of more expensive options.
The Handcrafted Elegance: Die-Struck
If you’re looking for understated sophistication, die-struck lapel pins are the way to go. These metal pins are made with gold, silver, copper, nickel or any combination of the four. These metals are ideal as they are more pliable and can therefore produce sharper images.
As with the other types of lapel pins, the design is stamped using a custom die onto the metal sheet. However, instead of filling the recessed areas with enamel, the pins are either sandblasted or plated to bring out the design. Depending on your preference, Wristband Creation can create a matte, textured, or polished finish to your die-struck pins. They can even be made to look vintage or aged.
Customers who need formal or ceremonial-looking ornamental badges—say for an exclusive club or a government office—die-struck pins are the best option. The monotone effect of metal on metal gives a rather distinguished look, perfect for when a company or organizations chooses to give the pins as part of their awarding ceremonies.
For further embellishment and personalization, you can even add a synthetic gemstone to your die-struck pins. These work wonderfully if you want to give out pins that distinguish different members of a group, like different batches of graduates during a university homecoming night or different chapters of an international service organization during a conference.
The Finely Detailed: Printed Lapel Pins
Wristband Creation’s silk screen-printed lapel pins are perfect for those who want to convert colorful customized logos, finely-detailed art, or even photographs with the subtlest color gradations into small but fashionable accessories.
The designs are printed onto a white background and then attached to the metal backing, or they can also be printed directly onto the metal itself. Because there is no need to cut metal dies, the cost for producing printed lapel pins is much lower compared to the other kinds of pin on this list. Printed lapel pins are also more lightweight, even with a coating of durable epoxy to preserve and protect the image.
Wristband Creation also uses the latest in printing technology to ensure precise color matching of your designs—perfect for designs that have very specific color requirements. Put it this way: if you want your pin to look exactly like how it does when you print it on paper, printed lapel pins are your best choice. This kind of lapel pin is ideal as affordable event giveaways, fundraising items, souvenirs for sporting events and school activities, and more.
Endless Possibilities: Customized Lapel Pins
Want to have a different closure for your lapel pin other than the traditional butterfly clutch? What about a special packaging? Or perhaps you’re producing only a limited number of pins and want to add sequential numbers for a particular batch. Whatever your purpose and your style preferences, Wristband Creation has you covered with our customization options for your lapel pin.
You can choose from five different back attachments, four packaging options, and nine metal finishes (except for printed pins) to create a look that’s uniquely yours. You can also add a customized text on the back of your pins, which we will add using a laser engraving process to ensure that it won’t fade or rub off easily.
Similar to our wristbands, there are also no minimum orders required. You can have as many as thousands or as few as ten pins made by our team. Rest assured that no matter how many you order, you will always receive the same guarantee of quality from Wristband Creation.
A lapel pin is not only a cost-efficient way of adding some “oomph” to your outfit, it’s also a great way to make a statement, in fashion or otherwise. So if you need to raise awareness for a social cause, show some appreciation to your high-performing employees, or simply want to show some pride and show off your personal style, lapel pins are your versatile products of choice. Our team of lapel pin experts are here to help you every step of the way. Let’s work together soon!