I've been a lapel pin maker for 8 years through my brand, Jubly-Umph, and I'm obsessed! They're the perfect accessory for expressing who you are to the world, ideal gifts for those who seemingly have everything. Small, affordable, collectible, and lightweight, they help you showcase your personality effortlessly.

I see so many questions such as; how do you wear enamel pins?

Are they called enamel pins or lapel pins?

and

How do you make enamel pins?

But not everyone is familiar with what an enamel pin is so here is everything you need to know about enamel pins!

Hand holding 3 best selling enamel pins

The History of Enamel Pins

Enamel jewellery has been around for thousands of years. The earliest known examples of enamel work dates back to ancient Persia where artisans created intricate jewellery and decorative objects. The technique spread around the world as different cultures modified and adapted it into their art and decorations.

However, it wasn't until the 19th century that enamel badges, as we recognise them today, emerged and gained popularity.

They gained popularity from the late Victorian era as symbols of social status and allegiance. This started in Europe, particularly in England and France.

Clubs and societies made lapel badges to be worn at meetings and fundraising events. political groups made pins with slogans and election dates to show member allegiances.

Schools created pins in their house colours and as student and teacher gifts.

They were used to commemorate sporting events and fundraisers, clubs like the scouts used them to show membership and achievement, and tourist destinations like seaside towns and national parks created miniature artworks that people could take home and wear as a jacket pin or bag pin.

But it wasn't until the latter half of the 20th century, with the rise of youth counterculture and the DIY movement that enamel badge pins really took off as part of fashion.

These badges were embraced as a defiant outlet for self-expression by the underground and radical worlds of punk, rock, and skate cultures and then made their way into mainstream fashion and pop culture.

I have an eclectic collection of badges that I started acquiring as a child, such as 80's Disney land characters, girl scout medals, travelling souvenirs, ones that were given to me as funny gifts and even some I found. I keep them in a box as a treasured possession and each one has special meaning and memories attached

Enamel pins are the perfect way to express youself

How Enamel Pins Are Made

Most lapel badges are made using a die-struck stamping process. A mould is created from the artwork, and the shape is stamped into a sheet of metal. This creates a shape with ridges where the artworks lines are and a recessed space to fill with enamel.

The metal is die-struck or moulded into the desired shape and size. The outline of the design is then cut from the sheet and polished. An attachment is soldered onto the back of the design. The piece is then plated or coated, and colouring is added to either by hand or by machine.

 

Soft Enamel vs Hard Enamel

Soft enamel pins and hard enamel pins are different in how they're made and how they look. Soft enamel pins have raised metal edges and sunken enamel filling, creating a textured 3-dimensional look. The process allows for finer lines and a softer style but is not as hardy. They are easier to make and cheaper too, which is nice if you're on a budget.

Hard enamel pins are made in a similar process except instead of recessed enamel filling, the enamel sits flush with the edge of the metal creating a smooth surface. Hard enamel is very hardwearing and of better quality. There are many different plating options such as silver and gold plating, and they are heavier and more substantial to feel.

I created my very first pin design as a soft enamel pin with a resin top layer for extra protection. I loved the look but once I started producing in hard enamel and saw the huge difference in quality, the gold plating, and the way my illustrations really popped, I knew I would only make Jubly-Umph enamel pins in hard enamel from then on.

Soft enamel versus hard enamel pins

Pros and Cons:

Soft Enamel Pins:

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Textured, 3D appearance
  • Great for simple designs
  • Can be produced quickly

Cons:

  • Less durable
  • Enamel may wear down over time
  • Not suitable for intricate designs

Hard Enamel Pins:

Pros:

  • Durable and long-lasting
  • Smooth, polished finish
  • Ideal for intricate designs
  • Enamel is less likely to chip or fade
  • High quality finishes like gold plating

Cons:

  • More expensive than soft enamel pins due to their higher quality
  • Production process can be more time-consuming
  • Limited texture compared to soft enamel

How Enamel Pins Are Different from Brooches

The main difference between enamel pins and brooches lie in their construction, size, materials used, and how they're secured to clothing or accessories.

A brooch typically features a bar pin on the back, which is secured with a clasp or latch mechanism.

This bar pin allows the brooch to be attached securely to fabric without the risk of it falling off easily. Brooches come in a range of sizes and materials, from costume jewellery to fine jewellery.

Brooches come in a range of sizes from very small to quite large and a range of materials from costume jewellery, made from plastics, wood, metal, etc, to fine jewellery which could be made from gold, silver and precious jewels and gemstones.

On the other hand, an enamel pin has a thicker straight pin on the back, which is commonly secured by a butterfly clasp, rubber backing or a locking pin back. This straight pin is designed to penetrate fabric or other materials easily, while the butterfly clasp or locking pin back ensures that the pin stays in place once attached.

Modern enamel pins are usually made from a base metal coated in gold, silver or coloured coatings. Even though enamel pins can be made up to larger sizes such as 10cm, it is more common for them to be made in smaller sizes such as 3cm-4cm.

Most Jubly-Umph designs average around 3.5cm in length which we find is the ideal size for wearing one as a personal message of expression or a cluster of designs (such as a cute trio of bookish badges) to show your personality.

 

enamel pins and badges are perfect way to express yourself, and display wearable art

What are some other names for enamel pins?

They are often referred to by other names such as lapel pins, badge pins, lanyard pins, badges and buttons. The name enamel pin specifically refers to the way the pieces are made- with enamel.

While lapel pins and lanyard pins refer to how the items are worn, on the lapel or collar of a shirt or jacket or on a lanyard. The common definition for all these is the same and even though a lapel pin suggests it is to be worn on a lapel, they can be worn on bags, hats, jackets, cardigans and more.

 

What does the back look like?

Here are two photos of the back of Jubly-Umph enamel pins. All our pins feature one or two prongs on the back and come with butterfly clasps however we do have other clasp options available.

 

How to Wear Enamel Pins

For those new to enamel pins, the question of how to wear them is really common. Many times when trading at events with Jubly-Umph enamel pins I have been told “I really love these designs, but I don’t know how to wear them”

If this is you, fear not, because we've got some top-notch suggestions straight from our Jubly audience on how to flaunt badges with style!

  1. On Your Jacket: This classic choice never goes out of style. Simply adorn your jacket lapel, collar, or pocket with your favorite empowering or sassy sayings for an instant pop of personality.
  2. On a Tote Bag: Give your tote bag some flair by pinning on your favorite designs. It's a fun and practical way to showcase your collection while on the go.
  3. On a Lanyard: Show the world what you mean without saying a word! Add one or many designs to your work, school or event lanyard so people know exactly who you are and what matters to you!
  4. On a Cardigan: Spruce up your cardigan or sweater by adding a subtle message to the neckline or collar.
  5. On the Collar of a Dress or Shirt: Select a single badge or a pair (or more if you prefer). For example; a bookish badge on an outfit you will wear to your local book club meeting.

For a more extensive list and examples see my blog- 5 fun ways to wear enamel pins 

 

How to Use Enamel Pins

Enamel pins are so versatile, particularly ones with special messages and meaning attached to them. I asked my customers how they use their Jubly-Umph designs beyond just wearing them, and this is their top answers:

  1. Stuck Next to Their Desk: They make for perfect desk companions, offering little boosts of positivity throughout the day. Stick them to your desk or display them nearby for a dose of inspiration and motivation whenever you need it most.
  2. On a Corkboard to Hold Up Notices: Need a stylish way to display important reminders or notes? Use a badge to hold them up on a corkboard! Not only do they serve a practical purpose, but they also add a touch of personality to your workspace.
  3. On a Hat Band: Elevate your hat game by adding them to the band. Whether it's a baseball cap, fedora, or beanie, they can add a unique flair to your headwear, making a statement wherever you go.
  4. As a Little Talisman to Carry in Their Pocket: Enamel pins aren't just for display—they can also serve as personal talismans. Carry your favorite designs in your pocket as a source of comfort, inspiration, or simply as a reminder of something meaningful to you.
  5. Displayed in Their Home: Who says enamel pins are only for wearing? Display them proudly in your home as miniature works of art! Whether it's on a pinboard, framed display, or even hanging from a string, they add a touch of whimsy and personality to any space.

 

How to Store or Display Enamel Pins

  1. On an Upcycled Picture Frame: Transform a plain corkboard or picture frame into a personalized pin display. Simply attach your collection directly to the corkboard or fabric backing of the frame using the backs. Arrange them in any pattern or design you like for a unique and eye-catching display. ( See my blog post- how to make a pin display in 10 minutes)
  2. On a Banner: Hang your pins on a fabric banner specifically designed for display. These banners often feature loops or slots where you can securely attach your favourite designs, allowing you to easily rearrange and showcase your collection. Hang the banner on a wall or door for a decorative touch.
  3. On a Lampshade: Get creative with your home decor by adorning a lampshade with your favourite enamel pins. Simply attach the pins directly onto the fabric of the lampshade, spacing them out evenly for visual appeal. When the lamp is lit, the shapes will cast unique shadows, adding an extra layer of charm to your space.
  4. In a Dish: Keep them organized and easily accessible by storing them in a decorative dish or bowl. This method works well for smaller collections or for those who like to rotate them regularly. Display the dish on a dresser, shelf, or coffee table for a stylish accent piece.
  5. On a Jacket: Transform a denim jacket or vest into a wearable display! Attach your favourite enamel pins to the front, back, or sleeves of the jacket. Not only does this create a personalised fashion statement, but it also allows you to easily showcase your pins wherever you go.

 

Why Enamel Pins Are So Collectible

Enamel pins have become incredibly popular collectibles, and it's no wonder why! They're shiny, glittery artworks you can wear wherever you go. They're a way to show the world how you feel without needing to say a word. They can be worn out loud and proud or hidden underneath a collar or bag discreetly, the message being just for you.

Here's why people love collecting them:

Enamel pins are highly collectible due to their small size and often limited edition or small run releases. This exclusivity adds a thrill to collecting, as enthusiasts hunt for rare and sought-after designs and complete their collection.

One of the joys of enamel pins is the ability to wear multiple designs and messages at once, creating mini collections based on your mood and theme of the day. Whether clustered on a jacket lapel or arranged on a tote bag, each one tells a story and adds character to any ensemble.

Collectors are drawn to enamel pins from their favourite artists, bands, brands, or characters. Some collectors, such as Disney collectors, have trading days, exclusive launches, dedicated YouTube channels, forums, Reddit, and Facebook groups devoted to them, and it is BIG business!

For the past eight years, I've been designing and creating Jubly-Umph enamel badges, and they stand out for their original hand-drawn artwork, small production runs, limited editions, and meaningful messages. Customers rave about Jubly-Umph lapel pins, praising their quality, creativity, and the emotional resonance of their designs.

Many Jubly collectors boast extensive collections, with dozens or even hundreds of enamel designs proudly displayed and showcased. Each one represents a moment, a memory, or a passion, making collecting not just a hobby but a source of joy and pride. And, I also get told, collecting Jubly-Umph pieces is like being in a secret club and getting a thrill when you spot another Jubly collector in the wild.

I am told quite regularly that they make an excellent unique gifts for mum, gift for dad, kris kringle gift or teacher gift!

Make sure to check out our list of gift ideas!

I am pretty sure I have covered everything you need to know about enamel pins but if you have a question not covered here pop it in the comments!

Happy collecting

Tasha,

Head Artist, Designer and Pin Queen

Jubly-Umph

May 17, 2024 — Jubly Umph

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