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Lead

Lead is an element, atomic number 82, symbol Pb. It is quite soft, ductile, malleable and very dense. In the past lead was alloyed with other metals to make them heavier, more ductile and more malleable. Lead has little use in jewelry today but was once widely used in solder for jewelry repair. It was a popular way to repair delicate jewelry items because of the low temperature required for it to melt. These lead spots can be observed on the reverse of antique jewelry and are usually black or dark gray and lumpy. Historically, lead was alloyed with tin to make pewter; lead-free pewters are now available. Enamels contain lead even today and some artisans prefer to use the leaded enamel even though lead-free enamel is available. Because of the poisonous and toxic nature of lead, it is highly regulated and not recommended for use in jewelry.