Pin Grading Scale

There exists a few grades of pins. Everyone's criteria for what makes an A Grade (Standard) versus a B Grade (Second) is different, but these are mine. I use this grading scale to determine which of my pins is considered a Standard Grade (A Grade) or a Seconds Grade (B Grade), and more.

I inspect my pins in either natural sunlight or a well-lit room and hold them at a little closer than arm's length.

A Grade/Standard Grade

Pins are handmade items and can vary from unit to unit. Very few pins are perfect, but these are close. These are pins that have some very minor faults to them. Some of these minor faults include...

  • tiny, not noticeable air bubbles
  • very minor enamel under fill
  • some light imperfections in the metal plating
  • light surface scuffing or light scratches on the enamel or metal
  • light or very small nicks on the enamel or metal
  • some small areas of plating imperfections on sides of pin
  • some minor dust on soft enamel pins
  • encased posts with slight wiggle
  • plating imperfections on the back of pin

I test and polish all A Grade pins to ensure that they conform to the artwork and specifications of my design. Most A Grades are eligible to be paired with a custom color rubber pin back or a metal locking pin back.

These pins are sold at full price and make nice gifts or additions to a collection. They are beautiful and are great for wear or display purposes. The vast majority of pins that I sell are A grade or Standard grade.

C Grade/Junk Grade

Pins in this category have multiple and massive defects that prevent them from being sold as standard or even seconds. Their defects are so severe that it would impact their wearability. Some of these defects include...

  • large and very noticeable areas of scuffing
  • large or deep gouges in enamel
  • large or deep scratches in enamel
  • large areas of under filled enamel
  • multiple defects or imperfections in the metal plating
  • large and multiple air bubbles in soft or hard enamel
  • multiple areas where glitter has been misapplied
  • large or multiple areas of missing metal lines
  • multiple areas of enamel staining or discolored enamel
  • low quality enamel or metal work
  • missing or incorrect back stamp
  • duochrome plating is missing on over 40% or more of metal
  • significant areas of low-fill
  • more than one unfilled enamel area
  • broken or missing pin posts
  • color changing enamel does not color shift
  • areas where enamel is missing

These pins are never put up for sale and are only sometimes offered for free during specials or sales. Pins without my back stamp or an incorrect back stamp are never given away or sold.

B Grade/Seconds Grade

These pins have noticeable flaws, some more minor or major than others. Some of the flaws that would qualify a pin as a B grade include...

  • noticeable or multiple areas of under filled enamel
  • moderately scuffed enamel or metal
  • multiple points of imperfections on the metal plating
  • multiple air bubbles in the enamel
  • missing metal lines
  • missing enamel on a small portion of the pin
  • noticeable off-set screen printing
  • areas of low glitter
  • one unfilled area of enamel
  • enamel staining on sides or back of pin
  • overfilled enamel that floods some metal lines
  • some missing plating on duochrome pins
  • large amounts of glitter in areas where there shouldn't be
  • noticeable amounts of dust on soft enamel
  • small gouges or marks on enamel
  • encased posts that have significant sway
  • large areas of imperfection of the metal on the sides of the pin
  • large areas of plating missing on back of pin

A seconds grade pin might not be as nice as a Standard Grade, but it is still highly wearable and can make a good additional to a collection if the imperfections noted above are not bothersome to a collector.

On occasion, I may sell "B2 Grade" pins, which are pins that I consider to be slightly more defective than a Seconds (B Grade) pin, but are not considered junk, for a deep discount.

S Grade/Collector Grade

These pins are perfect. I don't have many S Grade pins and will dig through the batches to find and keep an S Grade as a model for photography, for my portfolio of work or for display purposes. I do not sell S Grade or Collector Grade pins.

Oopsies Pins

Oopsies pins are not a grade, I typically use this category to denote pins sold at a slight discount because the artwork may be incorrect among an entire batch. Incorrect artwork that qualifies pins as an Oopsies can include incorrect color fill, incorrect pin size, missing metal lines, or wrong plating. Oopsies aren't necessarily flawed and are sold like regular pins, except with a small discount.