Plating Tips: Don’t Let Polished Plating Outshine Your Design

Add Contrast to Challenge Coin Design

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Too Much of a Good Thing…

So you want to make a challenge coin, not just any challenge coin, the challenge coin! It will be comprised of nothing but shiny, highly polished gold so that it shimmers and shines like the sun on a hot August day. So much, in fact, that its radiance will attract the attention of anyone within a 50-foot radius! As you stand outside showing off your coin to some buddies, the light refracts off your gleaming gold coin directly into the corner of the eye of a passerby. He turns to see what could have reflected light at such a magnitude and approaches inquisitively to get a closer look. However, his face changes as you reveal to him the source of his curiosity, the glimmering marvel that is your challenge coin. Once wide with wonder, his eyes are now squinting feverishly, trying to discern the intricate detail hidden amongst the polished gold monotony. The moral of this story: “Too much of a good thing is not always better.”

Why Adding Contrast to Your Challenge Coin Design is So Important

It was so hard for the passerby to see the detailing in the coin in the hypothetical story above because polished coins lack contrast. Contrast makes things easy to read, like black text on a white background. There’s a reason people still don’t make websites like they did back in the 90’s. Aside from being hideous and nauseating, the bright-colored text on bright-colored backgrounds provided no contrast. If you witnessed the early websites birthed by the invention of the World Wide Web, you know they were tough to read. Unfortunately, challenge coins are no exception to this rule. So, if you want your coins to be legible and the detail to stand out, you must add some contrast!

Polished Coin Comparison
Adding color improves detail and legibility

Ways to Add Contrast to Your Design

Two ways to add contrast to your challenge coin design are colored enamel and antiqued finishes. Colored enamel is the most common as it is the cheapest of the two options, and most people want to add color to their coins anyway. When choosing a lighter-colored plating such as polished gold, silver, or copper, you want to use darker colors, which contrast nicely with the bright-colored plating. Inversely, you will want to use lighter colors when choosing dark-colored platings, such as black nickel or black metal. Dark colors like navy blue and maroon tend to get lost and don’t stand out well when paired with dark metal finishes.

How Antique Plating Improves Contrast and Legibility

The second way to add contrast to your coin is by adding an antique plating. Antique plating is a wonderful option because it doesn’t just add contrast to your coin. It also makes your coins look as though they’ve been around the block a few times, and this adds character. The worn, vintage look of the antique challenge coin not only gives it a rustic appeal but also increases legibility and makes the detail in the coin really pop.

Keeping Your Design in Mind

There’s never a one-fit-all solution when deciding how to add contrast to your coin. So, when deciding whether you want to do so by adding colored enamel, antique plating, or a mixture of both, we recommend always keeping your design in mind. Here are a few questions to consider when choosing which option is best for your design:

1) Do you want color? If so, then how much? If you want a lot of color covering most of your coin’s surface, it might be better to choose a polished plating. This is because most of the antique plating effect (that gives your coin such a cool look) will be covered up by enamel coloring.

2) Are the majority of our design colors light or dark? If the colors are primarily dark, they will add great contrast to more lightweight colored platings such as polished gold, silver, or copper. However, if you’re using many lighter colors such as white, sky blue, or bright yellow, we recommend using darker platings such as black nickel or black metal. Even antique platings pair well with light-colored enamels.

3) Is legibility and detail a big concern of yours? If the answer is no, and you really want a solid polished gold, silver, copper, or whatever plated coin, then do it! The solid, shiny gold coin we used as an example in our article is beautiful and exactly what the person who commissioned the design wanted.

In Conclusion

Polished platings are not just an economical option; they look fantastic! However, as with everything else, too much of a good thing is usually bad. Without colored enamel or antique plating to help contrast the raised and recessed portions of the challenge coin, there is no contrast, and things such as wording and detail become challenging to discern. To help add contrast and make your design pop, you can add colored enamel or antique plating to your challenge coin. Some people may want a solid polished gold, silver, copper, or whatever plated coin, and that’s fine! As it fits the purpose of his design well, the solid polished gold coin example we used in our article is precisely what the person who commissioned the design wanted. However, keep in mind that we are always here to help if you cannot decide which option would best suit your project design. Simply call or email us, and one of our sales team members will be happy to lend their expert opinion.  

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J and jarren
J and jarren
10 November 2023
My class spent well over $9,000 on our class coins. First issue, they didn't get them to us in a timely manner. We received them barely in time for graduation. Second, they sent us coins with a misspelled word (brave) as seen in the picture. Third issue, a lot of the spinners came broken, also as seen in the picture. When I reached out to the company, they claim sending replacement coins out at a later date is rectifying of this situation. Very empathetic to the situation at hand overall. Not very professional at all, terrible business practices and they definitely will not receive future business from me nor any recommendations either. Zero stars
M. Wong
M. Wong
27 October 2023
I found this company last year after a recommendation from a friend and I've ordered several times now. What keeps me coming back is the high level of customer service and responsiveness in the projects that have been created. The work product is also great and the quality of the coins, detail and just overall, I am very pleased with. This is my GO TO shop now for coins. Please check them out, you will not be disappointed! PS. Big shout to Corbin for his amazing guest service!
Stephen Ryan
Stephen Ryan
25 October 2023
This company is fantastic! I reached out to them to create a custom shaped coin with custom artwork that they had put together for me. The coins are a Veteran's Day thank you token for those who served at our company. We will definitely be returning for future orders. From start to finish, they were very open with communication, extremely fast to respond to concerns and questions, and lastly delivered something that blew us out of the water. Thank you so much!
Alejandra O'Connor
Alejandra O'Connor
25 October 2023
I ordered challenge coins on behalf of my government agency. Lone Star was easy to work with and did amazing things with the graphics I sent. They turned the artwork around quickly and each time it was better than what we had hoped for. We did have several back and forth messages to get the coin exactly as we wanted it. Our representative was so patient with us and had excellent customer service. We also got the coins in the mail quickly. Working with Lone Star was a wonderful experience end-to-end.
Italy Mair
Italy Mair
18 October 2023
Great service, great communication, and great products! Would definitely recommend them.
Rafael Moronta
Rafael Moronta
13 October 2023
Amazing artwork.. aside from the product what I loved most of our experience was the flexibility to create a coin that’s exceeds your own expectations. Thank you guys so much for making the process seamless and affordable!
5 October 2023
Absolutely fantastic company to work with. Communication was always quick, and the final product looked even better than the proof did. 10/10 would recommend!
26 September 2023
I engaged with Lone star challenge coins to make coins for my fiancé's celebration of life. I was pretty clueless about design, and they provided the perfect design. The coins arrived in time, and we were more than satisfied with the outcome. Their customer service was excellent as well. They guided me (held my hand) throughout the process, and were quick to respond. I cannot say enough about their product and company.
Debbie Avinger
Debbie Avinger
26 September 2023
We are so grateful for the work Lone Star Challenge Coins did for our nonprofit fundraising event! They worked with our budget and gave us medals with ribbons and challenge coins that were better than we expected.
Dan Kiser
Dan Kiser
22 September 2023
Corbin was very combative when I explained that the design provided was not at all reflective of the requests that I provided on the Inquiry form. Based on the customer service alone during that 1 phone call, I am not inclined to pursue any business with this company. EDIT: I spoke to the owner, Mike, and he helped rectify the situation and framed it as a learning opportunity for his team. This is a good reminder that people make mistakes but first impressions matter.
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