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Tin has been used to make jewelry for centuries.
It has a similar look to sterling silver or palladium but comes at a fraction of the cost.
It is inexpensive and easy to work with. It is a good starting point for anyone interested in making jewelry and creating side income.
However, it has some downsides too.
Tin is a soft metal that can be easily scratched. It also tends to tarnish when exposed to air and moisture.
What is tin?
Tin is a chemical element with the atomic number 50.
Its symbol is Sn for the Latin Stannum on the periodic table.
Tin is the 49th most abundant element on Earth’s crust and is found mainly in ore cassiterite, which is a tin oxide.
The top 3 major producers of tin are China, Indonesia and Myanmar.
Tin is a metal that is most commonly found in its purest form, as a silver-white metal. It is soft and malleable, making it easy to work with. Tin has been used for centuries to create all sorts of objects like chains, keys, pots, jewelry and jewelry boxes.
Tin (or aluminum) is the traditional 10 year anniversary gift between couples. A tin jewelry box or a tin earrings necklace set is an ideal gift for such occasions.
Tin is a relatively inexpensive metal, so it is often used in costume jewelry. However, because it is soft, tin jewelry can be easily scratched or dented.
If you are looking for a more durable metal for your jewelry, consider opting for something like stainless steel, titanium or gold.
Pros and cons of tin jewelry
This metal has two main allotropes. These are different versions of tin with variations in atom positioning.
At room temperature, these have close but different colors: white and gray.
β-tin has a silvery-white color whereas α-tin is gray.
Thus, tin jewelry can look shiny like rhodium plated white gold and cool like titanium or stainless steel.
2. Hardness and durability
Tin is a very malleable metal. It is a ductile material that can easily be pressed and shaped into thin sheets and thin wires.
It is not brittle like tungsten or some iron alloys.
It’s also quite soft, which is why it’s often used in jewelry-making.
It has a hardness rating of 1.5, which is quite low. Gold and silver have about 3 and titanium a 6 grade on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness.
This means it will not show strong scratch resistance against daily wear and tear.
With time, tin oxidizes and tarnishes like sterling silver.
Yet, tin does not rust.
Rust is the oxidation that forms a red-brown crust on iron and iron alloys. Tin is a metallic element on its own that does not include iron.
Tin is an abundant metal. There is no supply shortage thanks to mining and recycling activities.
It is not a precious metal like palladium or platinum.
Thus, it is offered at affordable prices.
4. Not hypoallergenic
People with sensitive skin may experience unease from some materials, especially jewelry metals. This is known as contact dermatitis or metal allergy.
A metal allergy is a skin reaction that can occur when people come into contact with allergen metals such as nickel or lead.
Allergy symptoms may include itching, redness, and swelling.
Tin may trigger allergic reactions in some people.
If this is the case, prefer jewelry made from hypoallergenic metals that are considered safe and are highly unlikely to cause skin irritation.
Conclusion: Should you get a tin piece of jewelry?
In conclusion, tin jewelry is soft, affordable, and comes in white and gray colors.
It is a good material to kick off jewelry making.
It is very malleable and ductile. You can easily bend and shape it many times.
However, this softness means it has low scratch resistance.
If you are looking to buy a more durable piece of jewelry, check out silver, stainless steel jewelry, rhodium plated white gold or titanium jewelry that show more endurance.
You can also try pewter jewelry which is a tin alloy that shows much more hardness durability. You may think it as the 14k version of gold jewelry that is an alloy of yellow gold with copper to elevate hardness.
A second disadvantage of tin jewelry is that it is not hypoallergenic. If you are looking for a piece of jewelry that is both safe and stylish, check our hypoallergenic metals post before making your decision.