(based off the guide by Alum&Ink)
Everyone's criteria for what makes an A Grade (Standard) versus a B Grade (Seconds) 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.
A Grade/Standard Grade
Very few pins are perfect, but these come close. These are pins that are near perfect but 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 on the enamel or metal
- light or very small nicks on the enamel or metal
- some minor and not noticeable dust on soft enamel pins
I test and polish all A Grade pins to ensure that they conform to the artwork and specifications of my design.
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.
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
- off-set screenprinted areas
- areas of low glitter
- unfilled areas of enamel
- enamel staining on sides or back of pin
- overfilled enamel that floods some metal lines
- large amounts of glitter in areas where there shouldn't be
- noticeable amounts of dust on soft enamel
- small gouges or marks on enamel
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.
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
- significant areas of low-fill
- 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.
Pins I offer full price or through Patreon are A/Standard Grade. The only time I will offer a B/Seconds Grade at full price or on Patreon is in the case of an extremely limited design.
This guide will be expanded upon over time with examples and images, etc.