What Color Is Pewter?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Apr 12, 2021 8:07:27 PM ET
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Pewter color is a grey hue that's darker than silver but lighter than charcoal. It's most commonly seen in the metal that shares its name, and this metal is a manmade alloy of tin, copper, antimony and bismuth. Pewter is sometimes made with small amounts of silver to give it more luster. Centuries ago, pewter was typically created with a combination of tin, lead and sometimes copper, but manufacturers no longer use lead in pewter items that are made for regular use or that may come into contact with people's skin regularly.

What color is pewter close to? One of the colors most similar to pewter is known as gunmetal grey. This is a dark grey tone that often has a bluish or purplish tinge to it. The material, which like pewter is made up of copper and tin but also zinc, may take on an almost black color and is sometimes treated to look slightly tarnished permanently.

Steel grey is another color — and another type of metal — that may pewter may resemble. But, unlike pewter and gunmetal, steel is made primarily with iron that's been alloyed with carbon. Untreated steel may appear more silvery than pewter or gunmetal; however, steel often undergoes a treatment called "bluing" to make the material rust resistant. This can give it a darker, bluer tone that appears more similar to pewter and gunmetal.

In the design world, pewter is considered a neutral color, which means it pairs well with most other colors and can help make brighter, more energetic colors pop when serving as a backdrop. For this reason, interior and exterior paints often come in various pewter-based shades that can add some drama to a room while complementing other design or architectural elements that are meant to serve as focal points.

As a metal, pewter is still in use today, primarily for ornamental purposes. You might find pewter serving platters, vases and other decorative objects crafted from this material. It tarnishes easily, so it's less commonly used in jewelry now than it was in centuries past.