The plated pewter posts, spacers, links and chandelier findings used in the Earrings Galore earrings are purchased almost entirely through one supplier. I find comfort in knowing how seriously they take the issues concerning lead and that they only buy pewter that is routinely tested to comply with stringent FDA limits.
Here is their story:
All Pewter Is Not The Same
There is an increasing interest concerning the presence of lead in pewter alloys, and the potential health hazards of lead. We hope the information presented here will expand your understanding of the pewter used here, as well as other alloys that are used in the jewelry trade.
The Federal Trade Commission and the American Pewter Guild define pewter as a "metal alloy product of which the chemical composition shall be not less than 90% Grade A Tin, with the remainder composed of metals appropriate for use in pewter."
We use an alloy called "Britannia", composed of 92% Tin, 7.5% Antimony and .5% Copper. Tin is refined from ore that contains other metals, including lead. A chemical process is used to remove the lead, but trace amounts still remain. Their casting alloy is routinely tested for lead content, yielding results ranging from 179 to 300 parts per million (ppm). This is well below the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) standard of 500 ppm deemed safe for pewter used for culinary purposes in contact with food. Although all pewter contains trace amounts of lead, the term "lead free pewter" is sometimes used to describe pewter that meets the stringent FDA standard.
Unfortunately, many jewelry components are made of metal containing substantial and sometimes alarming amounts of lead. Tests that we have run on other cast jewelry components yield lead contents as noted.
Lead is commonly used in pewter alloys because it is easy to cast and very inexpensive, costing 1/8th as much as tin. However, lead is a known toxin that accumulates in the body causing numerous physical ailments. In recent decades, focus on this problem has resulted in the elimination of lead in gasoline and paint. Now there is increasing concern and discussion about lead content in metal alloys used in items that come in contact with people, particularly children. This has led to the recall of millions of metal jewelry items that were manufactured overseas.