What is the Difference Between a Soft Enamel and Hard Enamel Coin?

5 minute read

Published on: 20 Oct 2020

Last modified on: 18 Mar 2024

Table of Contents

Are you interested in custom enamel coins? Then you may be intrigued to know the difference between soft and hard enamel coins. The difference between the two is significant, so get ready to discover more.

Here’s soft enamel vs hard enamel.

What Are Hard Enamel Coins?  

In America, hard enamel is imitation hard enamel as the United States banned lead in products decades ago due to lead poisoning. Lead was once one of the primary ingredients in hard enamels. Until an appropriate replacement was made, products were created in soft enamels only.

Hard enamel coins have an enamel added to the coin or pin to the point that it’s higher than the design and item itself. The enamel is heated to an incredibly high temperature. Then it’s stoned or polished down to the top of the coin or pin.

The hard enamel coin has a smooth surface and colorful etchings that are the same level as the base metal, with a slick and glossy finish. Hard enamel coins are always produced from high-quality material and cost a little more than soft enamel coins.

This technique allows all the areas to be colored so that they’re equal to the top of the coin. When correctly done, you shouldn’t notice much of a difference in the feel of the coin and the design. Both should feel even.

The expertise of this technique is that each of the etched or stamped designs on the coin stands out sharply. Each letter is legible from any angle, and light won’t reflect off it, making it difficult to read.

The multi-step hard enamel process is often used to produce other items, including jewelry, vases, and high-end decorative ornaments and handicrafts.

What Are Soft Enamel Coins?  

Custom Soft Enamel Coin

The soft enamel process involves pouring a colored enamel into the parts of your coin or pin before drying it with a heat lamp. During the process, you’ll notice all the details of the coin as the raised areas will be much elevated than the enamel.

Soft enamel plays a significant role in creating coins because designs can be produced in a 3D process. On the other hand, placing a hard enamel on a 3D image isn’t possible. That’s because when the coin is stoned or polished down, so will the 3D design.

As soft enamel coins don’t require stoning or polishing, this cannot occur. Usually, soft enamel is used to make an item look more realistic. The application of soft enamels can give an object a look as if it’s really there.

It’s essential to know that soft enamel isn’t actually soft when you touch it. Soft enamel is an industry term referring to the color fill process used to create the coin.

Recessed areas of the coin are filled with liquid enamel by using a small needle and are surrounded by raised metal to contain the enamel correctly. Afterward, the challenge coin is ready for packaging and delivery.

If you brush your fingers over your soft enamel coin, you’ll notice a layered feel.

What Are Custom Hard Enamel Coins?  

Custom Hard Enamel Coin

A custom hard enamel coin is a high-quality option, with a color filled with solid pigment. The color and metal surface are smooth and intensely polished.

Custom hard enamel coins are durable, too, as the colors are bright and vibrant with many years in them. If you want to collect valuable challenge coins, a custom hard enamel coin is an excellent choice.

What’s more, custom hard enamel coins are often well-presented due to their elegant appearance.

These coins are high-quality and durable, making them an excellent option for custom military, navy, and air force challenge coins.

What Are Custom Soft Enamel Coins?  

Soft enamel coins are the most popular option for customers wanting a custom piece, mainly due to the affordable price. The color fill of a custom soft enamel coin is a liquid pigment, and the colored areas are lower than the metal parts of the piece. This makes the soft enamel coin look more layered.

With the raised metal and a recessed colored area, the colored parts are more attractive, bright, and vivid under the light.

There is a wide selection of shapes and sizes available for soft enamel coins, making it an excellent option for custom pieces. Plus, an optional epoxy coating can be added if desired.

Soft or Hard Enamel Coin: Which Is for You?  

Whether you choose a soft or hard enamel coin is up to you and your budget. Some people prefer soft enamel coins because they like the realistic feeling of them. In comparison, others appreciate the smooth surface of hard enamel coins.

If you’re looking for a custom challenge coin, we’re here to help. We specialize in personalized challenge coins and can create something special for you and your team.

As a leading challenge coin creator, we use quality control inspections to ensure all customers love their custom coins. We take your personalized ideas and transform them into attractive pieces using our finest craftsmanship.

If you’re still not sure which type of custom coin is right for you, or you need some inspiration, we’re here to help. Get in contact with us here if you have any questions, and we’ll help create the custom coin of your dreams.

Jack Thompson

Jack Thompson was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. After retiring from the military, Jack moved to Austin, Texas, to start a new chapter in his life. He has always been passionate about storytelling and decided to become a writer and podcaster. He runs a successful podcast where he discusses military history, shares personal anecdotes, and interviews other veterans. Jack also writes often about military traditions and history.

Related Articles

Fraternity Coins

Fraternity Challenge Coins: Celebrating Brotherhood and Achievement

7 minute read
Greek life has been a staple on college campuses for nearly two centuries. The oldest fraternity still in operation on college campuses was founded in 1825. The secret society origins have drawn in students from all over the country to join a brotherhood. Top Highlights While the media has a specific image of Greek life […]
What is a CIA Challenge Coin?

What is a CIA Challenge Coin? 

6 minute read
What is a CIA challenge coin? Learn more about the significance of CIA challenge coins and how they honor their department uniquely in this article.
5 tips for designing a great challenge coin

5 Tips for Designing a Great Challenge Coin

7 minute read
Challenge coins have become an important part of the military culture. They are small tokens that can be earned by members of the armed forces to mark a specific achievement or moment in time with a unit or organization. Top Highlights Additionally, challenge coins are used as a token of recognition that signify membership, loyalty, […]

Join Us to Get Savings!

Like a good deal? Sign up to get challenge coin deals delivered to your inbox. Join us today and save! 
All Rights Reserved. All symbols, logos and slogans depicted are registered trademarks of their respective owners. The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense visual information does not imply or constitute endorsement. By submitting designs to CustomChallengeCoins.net, subsidiary of MetalPromo LLC, the purchasing party warrants that he, she, or it has/had the legal right to reproduce (or have reproduced) any logos or other images associated with his/her/its order. Samples on the site are for illustrative purposes only and are not for sale.
envelopephonemagnifiercrossmenuchevron-down linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram