Pewter is a malleable metal alloy. It is traditionally composed of 85–99% tin, mixed with approximately 5-10% antimony, 2% copper, bismuth, and sometimes silver. Copper and antimony act as hardeners while lead is more common in the lower grades of pewter, which have a bluish tint. Tin is an amazing metal in lots of ways, and is the fourth most expensive precious metal in common use after platinum, gold, and silver. All of our pewter is completely lead-free, and sourced from highly reputable suppliers in western countries. All of our pewter is at least 92% tin, with the remainder being about 0.5% copper and about 7.5% antimony.
Worldwide, pewter is actually the fourth-most-common metal for jewelry making.
- Affordability: Since pewter contains mostly tin, typically along with traces of copper, antimony, or other harder metals, the alloy certainly costs less than gold, platinum, and even silver. Most pewter jewelry and other products are valued for their beauty and workmanship more than for the cost of the metal. When compared to precious metals, the lower cost of pewter obviously contributes to its popularity.
- Versatility: Because tin is soft, pewter is also rather soft, even though the other metals in the mix harden it somewhat. Still, this pliable quality allows artisans to create distinctive and complex designs with this metal. Pewter pieces are often quite prized for their artistic merit and craftsmanship.
- Durability: Again, the softness of this alloy means that owners need to take some care with their pieces. On the other hand, they won’t have to worry about pewter tarnishing like silver and other metals do.
What is Lead-Free Pewter?
In the old days, pewter contained lead as a hardener. Since lead can be toxic, people would be prudent to limit exposure to any vintage pewter. Belmont, through our NEY Metals brand, supplies safe, lead-free pewter alloys for applications that may come in contact with skin or food. Of course, this includes jewelry, tableware, or utensils. Besides tin, pewter alloys may contain small amounts of copper, silver, antimony, and/or bismuth. Jewelry makers may select the type of pewter alloy because of its hardness, its appearance, or their planned casting or molding techniques.
Reconsider Pewter Jewelry
At some points in history, pewter has been called the poor man’s silver, but this isn’t really a fair description of this useful alloy. Some benefits of using pewter for jewelry include the lower price, lack of concern over tarnishing, and especially, the pliability of pewter that make it possible to create elegant and complex designs. Many fine jewelry makers use pewter because they can offer more affordable jewelry; however, others focus on pewter because it is the right metal for their designs.