Glitter vs. Translucent Enamel: Knowing Which One is Right For You

Posted by Patrick Moyer | Monday September 30th, 2019 | Topic: Design

Upgrading to a Brighter Enamel

If you’re looking for a certain sparkle in your custom coin design, our art team will usually offer one of two different options: Glitter enamel or translucent enamel. While they are used to create a similar type of shimmering effect, they’ll each look and feel a little different. So, depending on certain features in your design like the metal plating, the type of artwork you’re looking for, or even the colors you request, our artists recommend one or the other.

But which one is right for you? Ultimately, this decision is up to you, so we decided to go over some of the best examples of both glitter and translucent enamel and talk about the best ways to incorporate them into any type of challenge coin design. Knowing how best to pair them with different parts of your design will definitely make your artwork shine even brighter. 

How to Tell the Difference Between Glitter and Translucent Enamel

Glitter may be a nightmare when it spills over the rug or ends up all over your clothes, but you can rest easy knowing that our glitter enamel is safe. There won’t be any sparkly disasters when your package of custom coins arrives. 

To create glitter enamel, our production team carefully mixes glitter and a clear adhesive into the enamel paint you’ve chosen for the design. The adhesive makes sure that the glitter binds with the enamel paint, so once the glitter enamel dries on the coins, it’s not going anywhere.


The silver glitter enamel surrounding the Homeland Security Investigations’ interpretation of the Kool-Aid man is vibrant. The shards of glitter trapped in the paint catch the light as you turn the coin over in your hand, making for a bright and exciting design. Normally, enamel colorfills are smooth to the touch, but the pieces of glitter mixed into the paint create a textured, sandy feeling surface.

Translucent enamel, on the other hand, is very smooth to the touch. If you aren’t sure if a design you’re looking at is made with glitter enamel or translucent enamel, running your thumb over the design is usually enough to tell the difference. However, in most cases, you’ll be able to see the difference before holding the coin.


Translucent enamel is a half and half mixture of enamel and clear gloss. This creates a slightly see-through variation of any enamel color, and allows some of a coin’s metal plating to shine through from underneath. When paired with recessed sandblasting, translucent colors gain a subtle shimmer similar to that of glitter enamel.

While not as pronounced as glitter enamel, this effect is still a special way to make any design stand out from the crowd. The texture of the sandblasted metal beneath the translucent enamel catches the light at different angles, making the coins shine as you roll them over and examine the artwork.

Which One is Right For You?

Knowing which option is right for your design depends on a number of different things. The first thing to consider is metal plating. Translucent colors work best with high polish plating options that are more reflective. Since the shimmer effect relies on light passing through the translucent color and bouncing off the sandblasted metal underneath, a non-reflective antique metal coin, or a coin made with one of our powder coated metals, would be better off with glitter enamel.

The next thing to think about is the type of effect you’re hoping to create. Translucent enamel is best suited for covering large areas of a design to produce a fluid, glistening sheen of color. So if you’re looking to recreate a rippling water scene or a beautiful blue sky, translucent colors are the best option for you.


Glitter enamel usually creates a much more noticeable effect that can overpower some designs. However, when used to accentuate certain aspects of your artwork, drawing the eye to some of the finer details, glitter enamel is an option that can take your design to the next level. The swirling smoke, sparkling Reno sign, and silver lightning on these coins show that a little glitter goes a long way. 


Making an Unforgettable Design

Glitter enamel provides a brighter sparkle than translucent enamel over sandblasted metal, so if you’re looking for something that really shines, glitter is the best way to go. But sometimes a subtle shimmer is all you need. Translucent enamel is better for covering large portions of a design without overpowering the artwork.

SignatureCoins-Glitter Vs Translucent Enamel

We’ll most likely make recommendations based on whether you have an antique or high polish design, how much enamel you are planning to include, and a few other aspects of a design, but deciding which option fits your needs is up to you. Now that you’ve had a look at some of our favorite examples of each style, let us know which one you prefer for your design, and see how adding a little sparkle can make an unforgettable coin design.

Patrick Moyer Blog Author

Patrick Moyer

Patrick Moyer studied communications, professional and persuasive writing and marketing at the University of Central Florida. He is a full-time copywriter for Signature Promotional Group and spends all of his free time working on his next novel. Books, movies and late night brainstorming sessions around the kitchen table are his favorite pastimes, and his love of stories has him searching for the message hidden behind every custom design that comes through the office. If you think your Signature order deserves to be featured in a blog, give us a call or contact us explaining why at https://signaturecoins.com/contact