Machine-Made vs. Handmade Awards: Which Are Better?

Rob Szafarowicz
Samantha Mikos

From artisan jewelry to homemade soaps, handmade products are everywhere. However, there are lots of assumptions about the differences between handmade and machine-made creations. What went into this? Why is one more expensive? What is best for you? The same questions are crucial to consider when designing custom awards. You should know what you’re getting yourself into, so Cristaux International would like to help. With us, you’ll learn the basics of machine-made and handmade awards and what is best for your program.

Get design inspiration from our portfolio.

What Are Handmade Awards?

Handmade awards are pieces produced by hand along with the help of machines. These orders typically consist of less pieces and are intimately manufactured. To make handmade awards, we refer to a digital design file and shape the pieces by hand with the dimensions in mind.

Discover more details about the Champions Cup we made for World Poker Tour, featured below.


What Are Machine-Made Awards?

Machine-made awards are also known as factory-made or mass-produced. These pieces are almost entirely crafted by machines. Some products require post-process finishing and added details to be done by hand. To make a machine-made award, we convert a digital design file into code and send that code to machines which then work their magic.

Learn more about the piece pictured below, that we made for Wasserman.


How to Choose Handmade or Machine-Made Awards

To decide with confidence what is best for your recognition program, consider the following factors and questions to ask yourself.

  • Timeframe. How quickly do you need your order filled?
  • Budget. Can you afford a larger upfront investment, or is your budget small and fixed?
  • Design. How complex is your award design? Are you willing to compromise on the concept or details?
  • Material. What materials do you want to use?
  • Other requirements. Communicate and prioritize all your needs to find the best award vendor and process for you.

Additional Resources to Learn More

Award manufacturers don’t often invest the time and energy in educating clients on the design and fabricating processes. However, the Cristaux team believes in empowering our clients to fully understand every stage. When you learn more about what goes into the production of your order, you will see a greater return on your investment. Also, you’ll be able to align your brand with your long-term vision and extend the longevity of your program.

We work hard to make the journey enjoyable for those who work with us. At Cristaux, we can support you by using the following tools.

  • Website. It features our portfolio, blog, and information on our recognition solutions.
  • Virtual showroom. We can have an open conversation in our virtual showroom, while showing you what goes into each of our creations.
  • Account managers. Our team is constantly learning about the trade to guide our clients new to the world of recognition.


Differences Between Machine-Made and Handmade Awards

To find out which choice is best for your recognition program, take the time to understand how handmade and machine-made processes differ. Also, consider how they would fit with your timeframe, design, and budget.


Orders for handmade awards are typically fulfilled more quickly than that of their machine-made counterparts. Machine-made pieces take longer to produce because more time is spent setting up machinery and testing quality control. Additionally, orders for machine-made awards have a higher quantity than handmade orders, taking more time to manufacture more pieces.


Handmade awards are normally more expensive to produce, while machine-made products usually cost less per unit. Why is handmade more expensive? When working smaller production runs, it is more intimate and specialized. It requires more labor and is more expensive in the short term. Also, buying materials in lower quantities is more costly.

Machine-made pieces call for a larger investment upfront. However, you get your money’s worth overtime. It’s like buying in bulk. We often try to persuade customers to be more economically efficient by ordering more upfront. This way, we can order more material at a lower cost and quickly fulfill their next order without having to produce more pieces. Cristaux recommends purchasing two- or three-years’ worth of inventory. This way, clients receive the best savings for their brand’s investment.

Cristaux Metal Crystal Abstract Award


You may envision using a specific material for your awards or gifts. If so, it may be most beneficial to have those awards produced in the countries with the easiest access to that material. For example, you may want a handmade crystal trophy. As a result, you would want to source material from China or other countries of the Asia-Pacific, which have ready access to this raw material.

Additionally, you may envision an intricate design for your program’s pieces. If this is true, then consider handmade recognition pieces. This process allows for more complex designs than machine-made creations.


When looking at just one or a few pieces, it is difficult to notice physical differences. However, if you order a larger quantity and compare more pieces at once, then machine-made awards will appear more consistent.

A greater tolerance is allowed for handmade awards. This means that there is a greater area between acceptable and unacceptable products. There is greater leeway for error. However, we still maintain excellent quality control and ensure complete client satisfaction.

Learn more about variance in awards manufacturing.

2ft tall 3D Printed gears of war custom trophy for video gaming

Keep an Open Mind

When considering whether to go with handmade awards or machine-made pieces, it’s crucial to remain open-minded. From design to material choice, flexibility and collaboration could elevate your program beyond what you imagined. As trends and markets shift, the industry may change, and we’d love to be your guide.

Contact the Cristaux team to start collaborating on custom awards today.