Pewter vs Stainless Steel Jewelry

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Pewter and stainless steel are both popular choices for white jewelry. But which one is better?

Pewter is a soft metal alloy. It is easy to work with.

So that pewter jewelry can be made without the need of a torch. These pieces can even have intricate details.

Pewter is also a very affordable option when compared to similar-looking precious white metals.

However, pewter can tarnish over time, giving it a vintage look.

316L type stainless steel is a popular material for jewelry as it does not rust, corrode or tarnish.

It is also a hypoallergenic metal and can be worn by people with sensitive skin.

Yet, there is more to the story of pewter vs stainless steel jewelry, shared below!

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What is pewter?

Pewter is an alloy of tin, bismuth, and copper. It is a soft metal that is easy to work with, and it can be molded into a variety of shapes.

It has a relatively low melting point when compared to other metals.

It also has a low density. This is why pewter pieces are very lightweight and easy to carry. Thanks to this, pewter is often used in costume jewelry and figurines.

Pewter should not be confused with brass. This latter is a copper alloy with zinc. Check our post brass vs stainless steel jewelry to compare two metal alternatives for jewelry.

Pewter is often used to make figurines, jewelry, and other small objects.

Pewter has been used for centuries, and it has a long history. The first recorded use of pewter dates back to the Bronze Age.

Pewter was also popular during the Renaissance and the Victorian era. Today, it is a common material used to make a variety of objects.

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What is stainless steel?

Stainless steel is not an element or an alloy with a fixed content recipe.

It is the general name of a group of iron alloys with a minimum of 11 chromium.

There are many types of steel that are customized for different environments.

Today, steel is used in kitchen appliances, underwater applications, construction, machinery, aerospace and automotive industry and biomedical sciences, to cite a few areas.

All these cases have different demands in hardness, durability, corrosion resistance, heat resistance, weight, hypoallergenic property, appearance, cost, production constraints etc.

For jewelry, we’ll focus on surgical grade 316L type stainless steel. This version is used for surgery equipment and implants. It is hypoallergenic, thus very unlikely to trigger any skin reactions.

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Pros and cons of pewter vs stainless steel jewelry

1. Color

Pewter has a silvery color that can range from white to gray.

Unfortunately, it can tarnish over time. When tarnishing is the subject everyone thinks about sterling silver. This is normal as it is the most widely used silver alloy in jewelry and household objects.

Sterling or 925 silver gets a black crust on its outer layer that takes away from its shine. Although you can get rid of tarnish, it will require a little work.

Pewter’s tarnish is not the same. It gets a yellow hue on its surface. These can approach a brown color that is not as in sterling silver.

The good news is you can easily restore the luster back with silver wipes or household solutions like baking soda.

Pewter does not corrode or rust.

316L type steel has a more cool metallic color than pewter.

It does not stain, tarnish, corrode or rust.

Rust is the oxidation of iron and iron alloys. 316L type stainless steel is immune from rusting.

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2. Durability

When we come to hardness and durability, stainless steel jewelry is clearly the winner over pewter pieces.

Stainless steel has a hardness of 6-6.5 rating on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. Pewter finds itself in around 3 grade on the same scale. This means it is about gold and silver level hard.

Steel pieces will show much more scratch resistance and keep their form against clashes.

On the other hand, pewter weighs about a half less than steel. It has a density of about 4.3 g/cm3, which fluctuates according to the metal mix. It is similar to titanium in weight with much less durability of course.

You can check out post on bronze vs copper jewelry for two alternative metals.

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3. Hypoallergenic property

Not all metals are safe for human tissue. This may come particularly important for jewelry metals.

Who would like blisters, rashes and headaches ruining a joyful experience
Yet these are symptoms that may occur from metal allergy.

The main culprit for hypersensitivity is nickel. This metal affects about 10% of the US population.

Close behind comes another allergen metal: lead.

You should avoid these in your pewter pieces in order to stay safe.

As we already said above, we stick to 316L type stainless steel pieces which are certified surgical grade material.

It is considered safe for people with sensitive skin and a good choice for steel jewelry.

4. Price

Pewter and stainless steel jewelry have both affordable prices when compared to many metal pieces.

They are generally close in price.

Pewter is probably a better option for those on a budget because it has the advantage of showing jewelry designs with intricate details too.

Stainless steel is still a good choice for those who want a durable metal that won’t corrode, with a more cool and strong presence.

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Conclusion: Pewter vs stainless steel jewelry: which one is better?

In conclusion, pewter and stainless steel jewelry both have their pros and cons.

It really depends on what you’re looking for in a piece of jewelry as to which one is better.

If you want something that is going to last longer and require less maintenance, then 316L type stainless steel is the way to go.

It is durable, hypoallergenic and will give you that cool look for years ahead.

However, if you don’t mind sacrificing durability for a more unique look, then pewter might be the better option for you. It is lightweight and fun to carry.

Even if it does tarnish, you fancy those marks of time, giving a little antique feel. Yet you can always remove those light yellow hues with a simple silver wipe!