Information about the materials we use
Pewter is a malleable metal made of tin, copper and antimony. It melts at around 260 degrees Celsius and can be cast into vulcanised rubber moulds which only deteriorate slowly over many casts.
We cast our jewellery and gifts using this method and then painstakingly go through a fettling process to remove any surplus material and casting lines.
Each piece is polished and then any findings or gemstones are fitted before packing. The whole operation is very labour intensive requiring skills that take many years to perfect. Due to the process it is highly unlikely that two pieces will be exactly the same even though to the untrained eye they may appear so.
Our staff take great pride in their work and are open to suggestions that may improve quality even further.
Sterling silver is 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper. We use a slightly higher silver content to improve quality. The metal is supplied to us as grain which we melt at around 960 degrees Celsius.
The process is more complex than pewter casting as the mould can only be used once. Hence the term “lost wax process”. A solid plaster mould is made around a “tree” of wax models. The wax is melted out and then silver is poured into the mould. Once solidified the mould has to be broken apart to extract the metal castings which are then fettled and polished individually.
The technique of vitreous enamelling is centuries old and practised by many skilled individuals worldwide. Our skills are mostly self-taught with occasional help from other members of the Enamellers Guild. Most of the inspiration for our colours and designs is derived from nature which presents a rich choice. Pieces are individually fired at over 800 degrees with various colours to create the vibrant effects. No two enamelled items will ever be exactly the same as it is all done by hand and eye !
Tin and the history of our Cornish Tin
Cornwall is justly proud of its ancient tin industry that began nearly 4,000 years ago during the Bronze Age. Tin was mined by our Celtic ancestors and exported to Europe and the Middle East where it was used in making weapons and tools. Nowhere in the world was tin mining so engrained into the local culture as Cornwall and especially so during the 19th and 20th centuries. The last 100 years of the industry were to prove the most turbulent in its history with cycles of boom and bust.
The early tin industry was based on alluvial deposits, where streams had eroded down through the surface and cut across tin seams. ,
As technology advanced, so the mines developed and became shafts and adits from which to extract the cassiterite (tinstone) from the mother lode.
In medieval Britain, the tin industry kept Cornwall relatively independent, with its own stannary law allowing some self-government. Tin has always been valuable, so the mines went ever deeper over the centuries advanced by mining engineers pushing the edge.
As the British empire spread across the world, the sturdy Cornish miners and their traditions went with it. The 19th century, a time of gold rushes, brought Cornish miners to America, Australia, South Africa, Jamaica, and Canada where many of them have remained.
In around 1871 discoveries of gold in the Transvaal, South Africa caused gold fever. Miners left Cornwall in droves and from 1886 the rich deposits in the Rand goldfields led to the high point of Cornwall’s emigration.
About 10,000 Cornish miners left, by train and then ship, for the land that became a British dominion in 1910.
“We are living on South Africa” claimed one Cornish newspaper in 1902.
Before the exodus and for many years
after, tin continued to be mined in Cornwall along with copper. The tin was smelted and cast into ingots locally. Much of this tin was transported by sea from Cornwall and occasionally some of it was lost .
One such cargo was shipped from Penzance in the SS Liverpool, which sank off Anglesey in 1863 where it remained for 138 years.
The ingots were smelted at Chyandour, Penzance in 1862 and stamped with the lamb and flag mark that was commonly used in those days as a symbol of purity.
One hundred and thirty eight years later the cargo of Cornish tin ingots was raised off the seabed from the wreck. We blend a minimum of 10% Cornish tin from the SS Liverpool with other shipwreck and new tin to make the items in the Cornish Tin Collection.
10th Wedding Anniversary
Tin is known worldwide as the traditional gift to give for 10 years of marriage. St Justin has created a small range of jewellery and gifts using this unique tin for just this purpose. Each piece is cast, fettled and then polished to bring out the lustre of this ancient metal.
Several items in the collection feature a diamond, which is sometimes used as the modern gift for 10 years.
The Bronze Age in Great Britain and Western Europe began over 4,000 years ago in around 2,000 BC. Both copper and tin were discovered, mined and fused together to form the alloy bronze, renowned for its strength and longevity.
We have re-created this ancient metal using recycled copper and Cornish tin make a collection of bronze jewellery that looks like gold.