Palladium sounds like something from a DC Comic: Probably Kryptonite’s cousin? If that’s what you’re thinking, then I’m sorry to say but you’re wrong. Find out what palladium exactly is and whether you feel is worth the buy.
What is Palladium?
Palladium has been used in jewelry making since 1939. It is a precious white metal in the platinum metals group and, as such, shares many qualities with platinum. Before 2004, palladium was primarily used in white-gold alloys and was generally considered too expensive to be used as the primary metal in jewelry. Recently, however, the price has dropped, making it a more viable option for jewelry making.
How Does Palladium Compare to White Gold and Platinum?
Palladium looks a lot like platinum, but is almost half the weight and density. Because it is less dense and more plentiful than platinum, it is significantly cheaper.
Unlike 14k (53% gold) and 18k (75% gold), palladium jewelry is usually 90 to 95% pure with ruthenium used as an alloy metal. For this reason, even though gold is more expensive per ounce, palladium jewelry is more expensive. We’re using more palladium for that same ring design compared with gold, which is mixed with less expensive metals.
How Do Ring Costs Compare?
A Beautiful Palladium Ring From Stuller, Inc.
I recently compared retail prices on 6mm, size 8, Comfort-fit wedding bands. Here’s what I found online:
Platinum ring: $1250.00
Palladium ring: $750.00
14k white gold ring: $580.00
[Prices from Blue Nile January 2016]
Since platinum is so much heavier than palladium, the difference in price makes sense. Even though the cost of raw gold and platinum are similar, keep in mind that the amount of 14kt gold used is only 53% compared with 90% or more for palladium or platinum.
What About Casting Palladium?
I asked Don Briscoe, owner of casting company Artistry of Gold, what his experience has been with the casting of palladium.
“The biggest problem with palladium is its tendency to absorb gasses.
“If a metal absorbs gasses, that complicates the casting process. If it absorbs too much gas, then in the cooling process the gas tries to escape and you get porosity spots or discoloration. Palladium’s tendency to absorb gasses creates a real and continuing problem for jewelers working with it. If a jeweler sizes or works on palladium there will most likely be discoloration of the metal in the heat-worked area.
“Further the solders available to rejoin palladium often darken when heated compared to the surrounding metal color.
“If a jeweler decides to rhodium plate a palladium ring thinking it is white gold, it will darken the metal — the opposite of the desired white result.”