Are Cloisonne Pins Better Than Soft Enamel Pins?

Custom Lapel PinThere has been a debate in the lapel pin world as to what style of pin is “best.” One camp would say the long storied history of Cloisonne pins inherently makes them the best type of pin and the most authentic. The opposition claim that the Soft Enamel type of pin is the most true to the name and reigns supreme in the realm of custom lapel pins.

Before getting to the nitty gritty, we want to first impress upon you that selecting the pin style for your order of custom enamel pins is foundationally important. Making sure the money you invest into your project and the overall outcome of your custom pins should be your primary concern. The style of pin you select plays a large role in ensuring your pins come out attractive, desired and of quality.


The roots of the cloisonné production process dates back thousands of years ago. It was the basis for ancient jewelry in which gemstones were wrapped and held in place with thin metal wires. As the practice was perfected, cost cutting methods were introduced that had the gemstones replaced with enamels but the wire separation remained. This metal trim bordering enamel colors became what is today our modern lapel pins. This close association with precious metals and gems has linked the term cloisonné with high end jewelry. It is likely because of these that cloisonné lapel pins are held in high regard and are in such demand. The smooth finish of these custom pins come from a fine hand polishing and it gleams and shines as it moves. The enamel coloring is deep and vibrant. 


The humble beginnings of soft enamel pins reaches far back to the ancient times of Asia Minor. There, an Iron Age culture began minting their own currency, metal stamped coins. The texture, the relief of a soft enamel pin comes from a die that is stamped into a metal sheet and not all that different in methodology from 2700 years ago in the Anatolian kingdoms. The tight relationship soft enamel pins have with coinage might just be the reason fans of this custom pin type see it as the superior type. Being able to feel the metal borders and sunken areas with paint enamel makes the pin dimensional and valuable. The manufacturing process is much simpler and faster compared to the Cloisonne process and with that comes affordability. 


So now that we know where these two types of pins come from and why they have devout followings, we can perhaps determine what pin type is the best? Not so fast! Just as in any debate, there isn’t an objective, clear answer. Soft Enamel and Cloisonne pins each have their positives and negatives but what pin type should you order for your next custom enamel pin project? The real answer comes down to two things: your personal preference and the usage of the pins. From our experience, professional settings lend themselves to Cloisonne pins. From a trading pin perspective or youth sports, which are large facets of the custom lapel pin community, Soft Enamel pins reign supreme. Fans of art, comics, movies, music and cartoons have leaned towards Cloisonne pins. Let’s do a run down of other popular applications and uses for each style.


  • Corporate Gifts
  • Employee Awards
  • Etsy Pins
  • Anime, Comics, Movies and Music Pins
  • University and College Pins
  • Keychains and Charms


  • Sports Trading Pins
  • Custom Pins Requiring Black Metal Borders
  • Antiqued Metal Pins
  • Convention Giveaways
  • Pins as Fundraisers

At the end of the day, both pin types create amazing pins that people clamor for so focus on drawing up the best design you can and everything will fall into place thereafter.

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