The word pewter may conjure images of colonial Americans drinking tankards of ale while discussing the Boston Tea Party, but this soft-luster metal can be a beautiful addition to a beaded necklace or bracelet.

First created by the Romans, early pewter was comprised of a tin and lead mixture, but the health drawbacks caused by ingestion of lead eventually became well-known and the metal eventually morphed into a non-deadly concoction of tin, antimony, and copper. Called Britannia metal, but essentially leadless pewter, the metal enjoyed somewhat of a resurgence now that it was no longer a health hazard.

pewter clasp

In early colonial America, using utensils and dishes made from metallic alloy was a symbol of wealth and prosperity that only the genteel could afford, and this status symbol became a boon for colonial pewterers. In fact, it has been estimated that the value of imported British pewter was worth more than the imports of silver, furniture, and upholstery combined. Pewter reigned supreme when it came to metal objects of daily use until the Revolutionary War broke out in 1776. Patriotic families donated their pewter objects to the war effort to be melted down and cast into bullets with which to fight for freedom.

pewter necklace

By 1850, pewter had lost its luster, slinking off the metal circuit to be replaced by silver-plating which became all the rage of that era. Fortunately for lovers of pewter’s unique antique look, the metal has returned to the scene and today is used to craft myriad items such as jewelry, pewter charms, home décor, and gifts. SWCreations uses a small yet fine selection of cast lead-free pewter beads and charms in our beaded jewelry. Those who prefer a look rife with old-world charm and historical significance would do well to choose the vintage luster of pewter.

Photo Credits

January 15, 2012 — Leslie Patrick

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