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What is the difference between soft and hard enamel pins?

Whether you are a pin collector or just starting, you’ll notice that some pins are hard enamel and some are soft. If you’re looking to make your own, then you might be wondering what the difference is. The decision of either soft or hard enamel is based on the design you’re trying to achieve.

Soft Enamel Pins

Soft enamel pins are more common especially when there are multiple colours in the design. Soft enamel allows for bevels and raised creases between colours and shapes. The soft enamel metal plating process is done before the enamel, or paint, is filled in. This means the paint is at a lower level than the metal borders surrounding each colour. If you rub your thumb over a soft enamel pin you will feel the metal ridges.

Hard Enamel Pins

Hard enamel pins are the opposite in that there are no creases. The enamel is overfilled and then polished down to create a surface that’s smooth to the touch. This usually makes the pins shinier, but not always the case. Hard enamel can be a better option for text as it allows for bolder type.

Here is an image of the same pin in both hard and soft enamel.

Image from

Each type of pin has its own set of particular benefits. But it really comes down to how complicated the design is and how many colors will be used. 

When creating custom pins, soft enamel pins are easy to make which means you can use basically any design. However, as soft enamel pins do not take as much time to make and are cheaper, they are also less durable. These pins will not last as long as the hard enamel pins will. If you need your pins to last a significant period of time, perhaps soft enamel won’t be for you.