What is Pewter?

The basics of pewter as a precious metal.


In the last few years there has been a pleasant revival of popular interest in pewter, a two metal alloy consisting of 65-80% tin and 20-35% lead.

In early New England most of the pewter used was shipped from England, the chief pewter designer Paul Revere worked.

The one kind of pewter most used is called Brittania metal. It consists of 92% tin, 5% antimony, 3% copper - with no lead. You should consider making pewter purchases from a reliable jeweler or merchant if the items are to be used for food or drink.

A high tin content is necessary when making food vessels formed of pewter. If this isn't done the alloy will produce lead crystals as the molten metal cools - and these crystals can mix with food acids to corrode the metal, contaminate food, and cause lead poisoning.

Dr. Gerald Wykoff GG CSM

Dr. Gerald Wykoff is GG (Graduate Gemologist), a CSM (Certified Supreme Master gemcutter), educator, and author of several gemology books. He founded the American Society of Gemcutters in the 1980s and served for more than 10 years as the editor of its monthly magazine, American Gemcutter.

Never Stop Learning

When you join the IGS community, you get trusted diamond & gemstone information when you need it.

Become a Member

Get Gemology Insights

Get started with the International Gem Society’s free guide to gemstone identification. Join our weekly newsletter & get a free copy of the Gem ID Checklist!