Pins, Stickers and Fun

Enamel Pin Grading System

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Last updated: 26/01/2020

My grading system is dynamic and may be added to whenever I encounter new materials, effects or issues not previously encountered. I will not make changes to existing rules or lower existing standards, but I may add rules for materials not previously mentioned.

Categories

The grading system I use for my enamel pins consists of four grades:

  • Collector Grade
  • Standard Grade/Jacket Grade
  • Seconds Grade
  • Salvage Grade

Collector Grade

Collector Grade pins are as close to perfect as they come. From a batch of 100, I might get 10-15 Collector Grade pins, but this varies a lot from order to order.

Example of a Collector Grade Jellyfish enamel pin from my Galactic Reef collection

Collector Grades might still show minor signs of the production process, such as tiny scratches in the metal.

Standard Grade/Jacket Grade

Enamel pins are handmade, and very few pins come out of the production process without minor, hardly noticeable imperfections.

My Jacket Grade pins are very close to perfect and will display minor imperfections only. Jacket Grade pins may also be referred to as “Standard Grade” pins.

Three enamel pins with one small spec of dust each embedded in their enamel.
Three examples of Jacket Grade pins from my Sleeping Beauties Collection. Each pin has a small spec of dust embedded in the paint, but apart from that, they’re pretty much perfect.

Common Imperfections

Imperfections and/or defects present in Jacket Grade/Standard Grade pins might be, and are not limited to:

  • Tiny specs of dust in the design
  • Tiny imperfections in the metal plating
  • Light scratches
  • Teeny-tiny chips in the enamel
  • Minor underfilling in non-central parts of the design
  • Minor areas of missing filling
  • Minor imperfections in screen-printed details
  • Minor offsets in screen-printed details
  • Small dark specs in glitter (no hair is accepted though)
  • Pins that contain glow-in-the-dark effects may show signs of the glow-powder used, and may also contain small cracks close to the edges.
  • Pins that contain sandblasted enamel, semi-translucent enamel, glitter enamel, epoxy and/or similar materials, may show signs of air bubbles, lumps and/or similar elements within the material. Because of the translucency of these materials, air bubbles and similar effects are hard to avoid.
  • Screen-printed details may overlap with the metal plating. This is common for screen-printed details placed close to the raised metal/zinc alloy outlines.

Jacket Grade pins will only have a small amount of the imperfections mentioned above, if any. If a pin has an overwhelming amount of Jacket Grade imperfections, I will classify it as a Seconds Grade pin.

Seconds Grade

My Seconds Grade pins have noticeable flaws. Seconds pins don’t always look great for close-up photography, but they’re beautiful additions to backpacks, bags, and pinboards, and are a great choice if you like to wear your pins out on adventures.

Minor defects are highlighted in one of my Clouded Leopard enamel pins.
Example of a Seconds Grade enamel pin, also from Sleeping Beauties. This pin has more prominent underfilling in its paw, plus four minor defects.

Common Imperfections

Defects in Second Grade pins might be, and are not limited to:

  • Underfilled areas.
  • Large specs of dust or paint.
  • Small paint smudges.
  • Small areas with the wrong color fill.
  • Scratches in screen-printed details.
  • Severe overlapping of screen-printed details onto the metal/zinc alloy outlines, to the point where the outlines are no longer visible.
  • Multiple imperfections in the metal, such as scratches, overfilling, tarnish and more.
  • One or more air bubbles in the enamel.
  • Large cracks along the edges of the enamel filling (in particular with glow-in-the-dark pins)
  • Large dark specs in glitter.

Salvage Grade / C Grade

My Salvage Grade pins have highly noticeable defects or in some cases peculiar differences from the original designs. Such defects might include, but are not limited to:

  • Large areas of underfilled, overfilled or missing enamel.
  • Tarnished, dented or scratched metal.
  • Large areas of the wrong color enamel.
  • Large chips, scratches, holes or cracks in the enamel.
  • Glow-in-the-dark effect doesn’t work.
  • Large areas of missing glitter.
  • Misplaced, heavily scratched or distorted screen-print
  • Large areas of dust, hair or spots in the enamel.
  • Loose back posts.
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Here’s an example of a Salvage Grade pin from my Winter Collection. This pin has a severe paint smudge that covers a large area of the pin.