Soft Enamel VS Hard Enamel Pins, What is the Difference?

When making the Custom Pins with Enamel Paints, the most common question is what’s the difference between soft vs hard enamel pins (the two most popular styles).

In case you are a video lover, watch the video to get a quick answer.

Video Version of Soft Enamel VS Hard Enamel Pins

For more introduction, please read on…

Quick Visual Distinction

Let’s get a quick understanding of Soft Enamel VS Hard Enamel Pins, just judging from the surface:

The simple answer is soft enamel has raised metal lines & recessed enamel, a textured and non-smooth surface.

While the answer for hard enamel is a polished-flat of metal and enamel, a non-textured and smooth surface.

soft vs hard enamel pins
Soft vs Hard Enamel Pins

If you have these two type pins at hand, try to compare and observe them from the front-view, the side-view, and feeling the difference of the surface with your fingers.  You must have got the answer when you read here.

Want to deeply understand the differences? Please dive on.

In-depth Understanding

1. What are Enamel Pins?

➤ What are Soft Enamel Pins?

Although its name says otherwise, soft enamel pins are not soft to the touch. Soft enamel pins are a kind of enamel pins, it is also called die struck pins. On the basis of stamped metal or die struck metal, it can be electroplated with various metal colors, bright gold, bright silver, etc.

The debossed metal areas between metal edges are filled with various colored enamel paints which are laid below the metal edges.

Each color is surrounded by metal edges. Its surface has an obvious sense of concavo-convex. You can feel the obvious roughness with your fingers. Its dimensional look is what makes so many people drawn to it.

➤ What are Hard Enamel Pins? 

Hard enamel pins are also called as imitation Cloisonné pin, a kind of enamel pins. It is equivalent to the upgraded version of soft enamel.

The entire inside debossed metal areas are filled with various colored enamel paints to the same even level of the metal edges.

And the surface is repeatedly polished. Its surface has no obvious sense of concavo-convex, and we can feel a slightly bumpy feeling while it has a similar texture to ceramics. The smooth surface makes it look more exquisite.

2. How Much do Enamel Pins Cost?

➤ Soft Enamel Pins--Most Popular Style

The great-looking soft enamel pins with medium quality and the charming texture are highly cost-effective and can be used for a versatile selection of shapes and sizes.

It is suitable for making all kinds of mid-range lapel pins. 

Price as low as $0.35/PC. Check the price list of soft enamel pins

➤ Hard Enamel Pins--High Perceived Value

The high-quality hard enamel pins belong to the top grade lapel pins. The smooth and exquisite surface gives people a luxurious feeling.

The price is a bit higher than the soft enamel. It is applicable to be the company lapel pins and commemorative lapel pins.

Price is as low as $0.55/PC. Check the price list of hard enamel pins

3. How are Enamel Pins Made?

Different Manufacturing Process

Both use the same metal mold and will have vivid colors. The mold of soft enamel can only use for producing soft enamel pins, while the mold of hard enamel is not only able to use for the hard enamel process but also for the soft enamel process.

Let’s learn more about the difference in manufacturing processes.

          How to Make Soft Enamel Pins          VS          How to Make Hard Enamel Pins

The Manufacturing Flow Soft Enamel Pins VS Hard Enamel Pins

The Manufacturing Flow of Enamel Pins

Soft Enamel Pins

Hard Enamel Pins

Step1: Drafting Step1: Drafting
Step1: Die Milling Step2: Die Milling
Step1: Stamping Step3: Stamping
Step1: Cutting to Size Step4: Cutting to Size
Step1: Polishing Step5: Filling Colors
Step1: Electroplating Step6: Baking
Step1: Filling Colors Step7: Polishing
Step1: Baking Step8: Electroplating
Step1: QC Step9: QC
Step1: Finished Pins Step10: Finished Pins

➤ Different Surface of Finished Enamel Pins

Soft Enamel Pins is concave-convex, a metal line, or a metal surface is raised.

Hard Enamel Pins is filled with enamel paints to be a flush and even level with the metal edges and polished to a smooth-to-the-touch surface.

Soft Enamel VS Hard Enamel Pins
Soft Enamel VS Hard Enamel Pins

Notice: We can add a transparent epoxy resin coating to the surface of soft enamel pins to protect the surface and give the effect that the soft enamel is smooth(lose the sense of concave and convex).

Distinguish Skill: Because of the refraction of light, the surface with an added epoxy resin coating will be bright with a sense of reflection. But the “flat one” is not the hard enamel one.

4. Durability: Soft VS Hard Enamel Pins

After getting the finished product, let’s see who is more durable.

Under the same preservation method and conditions, hard enamel pins are more durable than soft enamel pins.

Hard Enamel Pins is preferred by those who want the more durable enamel pins. It has super high quality and resistance from scratching.

In terms of drafting and design, the enamel pin manufacturer does the same colors, details, and visual effects on either. The difference is how the end products feel and how shadowing or reflection alters the appearance of the finished pins.

You can choose one or the other based on aesthetic preference as some craft works better than others with either the manufacturing process.

At, we offer both soft and hard custom enamel pins for the lowest factory price. Ultimately, the custom pins come down to your personal preference. You could pick the appearance and process that work best for your design. 

If you are still unsure, contact us and let us know. As an enamel pin maker with 20 years of professional experience, GS-JJ is able to help you to pick out the most suitable one and the best looking one for your design.


Maybe you are interested in: how to make enamel pins

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