There’s no hiding the fact that we’re big fans of enamel pins – this is why we keep coming up with great new ones. As well as being great gifts and accessories, not to mention a fab way to let people know how you feel on any given day, enamel pins have a rich and interesting history.
You can tell people today that you’re awesome AF using an enamel pin because of centuries of craftsmanship, jewellery design and manufacturing techniques – which is also pretty awesome.
So exactly who invented enamel pins, why are they called enamel pins and what else do you need to know about this must-have accessory? We’ve done some research to reveal all.
When Were Enamel Pins Created?
Enamel pins have been around for a lot longer than you might think. In fact, the first steps toward creating enamel jewellery were taken well back around 1,800 BC by the Mesopotamians and ancient Egyptians.
Artisans during this period developed Filigree, which saw small pieces of wire joined together with heat to create intricate ornaments or emblems. During the process of developing this technique, they also created the colour inlay technique, although they weren’t aware that this was the case at the time.
It wasn’t until around 500 years later that the Greeks and Cypriots discovered the technique of vitreous enamel. This process sees raw minerals being fired at high temperatures to create a glass powder. This can then be mixed with other minerals to create a range of colours and effects.
This process allowed them to create amazingly detailed enamel art and took us a bit closer to the creation of enamel pins.
So who actually took these techniques further and created enamel pins? During the Yuan Dynasty, which ran from 1271 to 1368 AD, the Chinese started to create more detailed enamelled items. This included wearable art pieces, which ultimately were used by the military to show rank – the first enamel pins.
How Have Enamel Pins Evolved?
Enamel pins became – and still are – a staple of military uniforms, helping to show rank. They have also been used as a form of decoration for important people, as well as during political movements or periods of societal change.
However, they have been used throughout the centuries in different ways. They were heavily used during the American Civil War to show that soldiers had been awarded by the government. They have also been used by fraternities for decades as a way to show pre-engagement when men would give their fraternity pins to their significant other.
Just as fashions and needs have changed, so have enamel pins. Even today, there are plenty of options available out there, from intricate art to slightly sweary enamel pins and military uniforms. The versatility of the enamel pin means that it really can be used for almost anything!
Modern Enamel Pins and Advertising
Fashion enamel pins weren’t always a big thing and may not have become what they are now if it wasn’t for the rise of advertising and marketing. From around the start of the 1900s, there has been a drive for brands to be instantly recognisable, which has led to more and more types of advertising.
From posters to newspaper ads, radio spots and even – you guessed it – branded enamel pins. Anything that got a company’s logo out there to make it more recognisable was used in an attempt to boost sales and win over competitors, which means promotional enamel pins.
However, it isn’t just brands that use pins; they have also been used over the last century to show that people belong to a certain nationality or political group. The communist party used them during the 1960s and 70s, they have been used to fly the LGBTQ+ flag and show pride in where people come from.
You’ll also find enamel pins used to raise money for charities going back decades, as they are a great way to give someone something in return for a monetary donation.
The fact that enamel pins can easily be made in a huge range of designs means that there are so many different uses for them. Modern technology has also made it easier than ever to manufacture them, which means they are still a go-to choice for branded advertisement, political movements and fashion.
Enamel Pins Today and Why We Love Them
We’re pretty sure that there is an enamel pin out there for everyone. Whether you want something pretty, a pin that makes a statement or just want to warn people about your mood on any given day, the rise of enamel pins means you have plenty to choose from.
They’re a great way to express your personality and brighten up any outfit in an inexpensive way – which also makes them great options for gifts. We’re also firm believers that enamel pins are still little pieces of art that you can take everywhere with you, which means they are a great way to support small businesses and artists too. If you love an enamel pin just as much as us or know someone who does, take a look at our fab range here and find the next addition to your collection.