A Brief History of Lapel Pins

Lauren Deegan

Lapel pins are incredibly popular and tiny symbols of everything from causes to brands to political parties to musical artists. Thanks to the varied ways in which they can be used, these pins are ubiquitous today. You’ve probably seen a lapel pin almost every day of your life even if you’ve never actually worn one yourself. They’re just one of those things whose existence we take for granted.

At Cristaux, though, we don’t like to take things for granted. It’s not how we’ve found success, and it’s not how we approach what we do for our clients. That means we’re serious about not taking the products we make for granted. We pride ourselves on making the best lapel pins around.

We’re confident making that boast because we know how our pins fit into the history of these fascinating objects. It’s quite the history too. No one is entirely sure where the first lapel pin came from or why it was made, but we do know about the development of the artistic process that lead to the types of pins that we wear today.

Pioneering Color Inlay Processes

Let’s go back to Egypt in 1800 B.C. That’s right, we’re going back 3,800 years in history to learn more about lapel pins. It’s true that the Egyptians didn’t actually make lapel pins, or at least that none have been found among the spoils in ancient tombs. However, the Egyptians did begin the process of inlay and enameling that gives the lapel pin its unique look. As early as 1800 B.C., artists were soldering together wire to form decorative filigree pieces.

Some 600 years later, Grecian artists began using powdered glass to fill in the spaces between wires in filigree designs. They then fired these creations, which created a type of inlay known as enamel. The decorative objects that emerged from the fires were colorful and eye catching. They were also relatively sturdy thanks to the hardness of the glass.

Enameling Gets Refined

Chinese fired enamelware is among the most recognizable of all enameled designs. The Chinese advanced enameling techniques and then used them to create stunning vases, jewelry and decorative objects. Some of the earliest fired enamelware emerged during the Yuan Dynasty, which ran from 1271 to 1368 A.D. However, enamelware in China didn’t became immensely popular until the rule of Emperor Zhu Qiyu of the Ming Dynasty.

Lapel Pin Manufacturing Processes Today

Lapel pins as we know them today likely come from the decorative enameled objects found in both ancient and modern societies. While the process of enameling is still used for color inlay today, many other techniques are also used. These include

  • cloissonne, a type of hard enamel done on sheets of copper,
  • soft enamel,
  • photo etching,
  • screen printing,
  • four-color processing, also known as offset printing, and
  • photo doming.

We’ve mastered a variety of these techniques so that we can make lapel pins that meet the highest aesthetic demands.

Whatever the process used to produce it, the heart of a lapel pin is in its design. Without the correct form, a lapel pin falls short of meeting its goal. After all, these are very small pieces. They must be designed with both preciseness and legibility in mind.

At Cristaux International, making products that stand out in terms of craftsmanship and artistic power is something we do every day. It’s no different when it comes to lapel pins. If you’re dreaming of lapel pins, we can make those dreams come true.