We absolutely love handmade English pewter – especially our gorgeous pewter jewellery which is made from recycled tin in the heart of Cornwall.
But what on earth is Pewter, and why is it so special?
Pewter is an alloy of tin, copper and antimony, which is often known by its Arabic name, kohl. Tin is the fourth most used precious metal after platinum, gold and silver, but it is very soft and is rarely used as a pure metal. Once turned into pewter, it is bright and versatile – perfect for jewellery and gifts.
Cornish pewter needs Cornish tin
Cornwall has a rich history of tin mining and craft that dates back to the Bronze Age, and in 2006 certain areas were recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site – a ‘place of significance and value to the whole of humanity’ – putting Cornish mining on a par with the Pyramids, Stonehenge and the Great Wall of China!
But the tin industry in Cornwall wasn’t always this illustrious. Tin mining was hot, dusty and dangerous work that brought riches to just a few. Once a world-leader in tin, Cornwall’s mining industry was bust by the late 19th century, and ‘between 1871 and 1881 it is estimated that a third of Cornwall’s mining population emigrated in the face of unbearable hardship at home.’
After a brief resurgence during the First and Second World Wars, Cornish tin mining was well and truly over thanks to cheaper imports. But now, this 4000-year-old regional industry is making a comeback. Canadian company Strongbow Exploration Inc. has taken over the South Crofty Tin Project, with a view to mining in Cornwall once again.
These days, tin mining is a controversial subject due its impact on the environment. But luckily our suppliers of gorgeous pewter jewellery only work with recycled tin.
Pewter jewellery – the UK’s booming cottage industry
Pewter was introduced into Britain around the 2nd century A.D. by the Romans. The original alloy contained lead to give it its dark colour – not ideal for the tankards and chalices that were often formed from pewter! Today’s pewter is, thankfully, lead-free and much brighter, but is still often handcrafted in the traditional way.
Pewter’s qualities make it perfect for jewellery manufacture, and the UK is bursting with bespoke contemporary jewellery designs in pewter. We like ours the best, of course, especially because our pewter pendants come with a silver-plated chain and are handmade in Penzance.
Here are some of our favourite pieces:
- Handmade English Pewter Starfish Pendant Necklace – simple but beautiful (we think this one would make a great affordable gift)
- Handmade English Pewter Anarchy Pendant Necklace – perfect for hippy chicks or groovy guys
- Handmade English Pewter Flower Pendant Necklace with Amber Gem – a flower-power essential with a precious amber stone at its centre
Not only is pewter bright and attractive, but it also keeps its shine without needing a lot of upkeep – result! If your pewter jewellery does tarnish, simply wash it in warm, soapy water and dry with a soft cloth. You can also use non-abrasive metal polish, and always buff your pewter in straight lines, not circles, for best results.
We love pewter jewellery because it’s a little piece of British history – recycled! We hope you love it, too.