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Sunday, September 15, 2013

3-D vs. 2-D relief in challenge coins

One of the most frequent questions we get when designing a challenge coin is, "What is 3-D relief?"  The price for 3-D coins is much higher than 2-D coins -- but the resulting coin is very different.  Before you have your challenge coins made, be sure you fully understand the difference.  Here is a brief explanation and photos of the 2 types of coins.

2-D, or two dimensional, is the most common way challenge coins are made.  A 2-D coin has levels of metal height on the coin that are only at a 90 degree angle from base of the coins.  The coin on the left is a good example of 2-D artwork.  The Chief's head, chevron and the eagle are made by creating lines in the metal that are raised at a 90 degree angle.

All lettering on this coin, the stars in the outer rim and all artwork in the center circle are made from 2-D.  To add color to a coin, we need these lines of metal that create a "dam" for the paint that will be injected into each area.  2-D coins can be color-filled or, as in the photo above, can be left without paint.

2-D artwork on coins is always made by raising the metal straight up from the coin.  We can create multiple levels of raised areas and create a 2-D coin that looks similar to a 3-D coin.  We will discuss this in more detail later.

3-D relief on coins creates the look that the artwork has been sculpted into the coin.  The metal is raised and lowered at an infinite number of levels and the corners of objects can be curved and sloped.

Creating a 3-D coin is a great way to upgrade your coins.  3-D relief can be used to recreate a building, your mascot, a monument - virtually anything.  And relief can commemorate a person in intimate detail.

The cost for 3-D coins is higher than a standard challenge coin for several reasons.  First, we generally make the coins slightly thicker to accommodate the relief.  Secondly, an extra step in the coin production process is needed for the 3-D areas of the coin to either be hand-carved by skilled artisans or created by the computer with a 3-D rendering.

The 3-D areas of a coin cannot be painted.  However, we can cover 3-D areas with clear or tinted epoxy.

If you want more detail in your coins than 2-D allows, but want color added to the areas, we can accomplish this by creating a photo insert of your artwork.  A sample photo insert coin can be seen to the left.

A photo insert is a great option for adding color and color blends (4 color process) to your coins.  The artwork is screenprinted in full color on a metal sheet.  That sheet is then die cut around the image.  Then the thin metal piece is adhered to the coins.  To protect the screenprinting -- we apply a layer of clear epoxy to the top.  The result is a beautiful, high-end coin.  As you can also see, we can cut the metal to various shapes.

Celebrate Excellence has a large gallery of coins online where you can see many examples of all three of the coin types above.  We also have a brief video online for the first-time coin purchaser -- "Coin Design 101" -- the video explains all features available on coins.

As the nation's highest rated challenge coin company -- we love answering questions about coins.  Please call and ask to speak with a coin specialist - 1-800-662-8283.  Or visit our Celebrate Excellence website to learn more or to get a free no-obligation quote.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Chief and SNCO Induction Medals

In 2010, we designed a Chief's Induction Medal in conjunction with the Lackland Chiefs Group.  After several years of producing a "generic" coin for quite a few Chiefs Groups around the country -- we decided that there should be a special medal available only to Chiefs Groups and designed to recognize new Command Chief Master Sergeants.  Celebrate Excellence created the die and produced the first batch of Chiefs medals in 2010.
Chiefs Induction medal

The Chiefs Induction medals are constructed of solid brass with a nickel plating.  Accents of glitter white add to the "bling" factor -- and look spectacular when the spotlights hit the medals.  They come on a 30" neck ribbon.  Line number or date engraved on the medal is included in the pricing.

Chief's Induction medals can be ordered by visiting our website:

In 2013, we introduced the SNCO Induction medal - which recognizes the newest members of the Air Force's Top Three - the Master Sergeants.  Based on the style of the popular Chiefs Induction medal, the SNCO Induction medal is a slightly smaller medal.  Crafted in iron with a shiny silver nickel plating.  There is an area in the center of the chevron that accommodates a line number or date.  The medals come with a 30" neck ribbon and are ready to presentation.

SNCO Induction medals can be ordered by visiting our website:

SNCO Induction medal
Both medal designs are copyrighted and available only through Celebrate Excellence.  They are sold in small quantities, you can order just one (1) medal. Call us for quantity discounts on larger orders.

Both medals are in stock and can ship withing 48 hours.

These medals are the ultimate in recognition for your new senior NCO's and Chiefs!  Do not settle for generic medals -- these occasions are once-in-a-lifetime.  Make them truly special.

You can visit our website to place an order for either medal by clicking HERE.

You can also view our brief video on military medals by clicking HERE.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Gyro coins -- the next generation of challenge coin

The military challenge coin has evolved over the years.  The original coins were small, 1" - 1.25".  They rarely had paint -- most were simply brass coins without embellishment that tarnished and were worn from years in one's pockets.  Over time these cherished military mementos have become larger, added paint, textures and special edging.  Some have epoxy domes and 4 color process inserts.  A few years ago I saw my first spinning coin -- what a giant leap in coin design!  The center of the coin actually rotated around an iron pin in the coin.  I didn't think challenge coins could advance any more after that.  After all -- how much can you do with a thin round sphere?  You can see many of our coin designs on our website at

In 2012, we created a video that details all of the features, finishes, textures and metals we can use to create your special coin -- "Coin Design 101" - .  With over 700 views in the first 6 months alone, we soon realized that there was a new design option on the horizon.

Well -- get ready for the latest evolution of the challenge coin -- the gyro coin.  Gyro coins take the spinner coin concept to the next level.  To be honest, I was astounded the first time I held a gyro coin.  This is a coin so advanced, so unique -- my mind was racing at the ways we could use it!

A gyro coin consists of a coin that has one standard side.  The other side is a separate piece of die struck metal that sits on top of the coin, but has a rod running perpendicular to it and attaching it to the other coin piece below.  In this way, the top metal piece can spin, or rotate, like the face of a clock - 360 degrees.

Click here to view the short video:

Gyro coin video

The standard side of the coin can also have a small raised center area, called a nib, that allows you to use the coin like a spinning top.  In this way, you can spin the coin in one direction, and spin the top piece in the opposite direction.  That's where the name "GYRO" comes in.

Here are some designs we've made:

This coin was made for the National Security Administration for their Armed Forces week celebration in 2013.

This coin, made for Edwards AFB was designed with a top spinning piece, the QUALITY ASSURANCE shield, and a bottom piece that has their 412 Quality Assurance mascot.  The mascot (vulture's) tummy has a raised nib that serves as the piece where the coin can be spinned like a top.

"I received the coins on Saturday, the coins look awesome!" reports TSgt Nicholas Lage, 412 MXG, Edwards AFB, CA.  "This was a project for the QA Division at Edwards AFB that was several months in the making. I distributed the coins to the section and the response was unreal, the entire section is very pleased. Thank you to Tammany and her team for bringing this to life."

To see our complete line of challenge coins, please visit the website at

Tammany Williams, Owner

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Fiesta medals

Fiesta medals are arriving for Fiesta 2013.  We are honored again this year to make the official San Antonio Spurs Fiesta medals!  Celebrating the Spurs' 40th Anniversary -- this year's medal is a large sneaker with the Spurs logo in gorgeous glitter!  Get yours today -- these will sell out! 

We also have some great medals we know you'll love!  Just in today:

Group O:

Rita Garcia's annual Fiesta medal:

and this year's medal for Mt Sacred Heart Academy:

New customer, Las Chiladas, has a marvelous medal!  I hear they have amazing breakfast tacos!

Come and see all of our Fiesta medals for 2013 and previous years' -- our showroom is at the corner of Jackson-Keller and Loop 410 at 2130 Jackson-Keller Rd.  Or call us at 210-979-6706.  Visit us on line at