Shopping for jewelry is exciting, and if you’re looking for something like a diamond engagement ring that you’ll wear all the time, it's important to get it right. Palladium and platinum are two precious metals that have been growing in popularity recently because of their durability and their hypoallergenic properties. Palladium in particular has recently experienced a massive growth in popularity, causing its value to jump 25% in just two weeks.
Palladium is a lightweight metal with excellent durability, whereas platinum is a heavier metal that polishes up beautifully. Although palladium and platinum have differences, they share many great qualities, which we’ll be covering here.
Palladium Vs Platinum: Getting the Basics Straight
When people think of engagement rings, silver and gold are usually the first metals that come to mind. Still, when making a purchase as significant as an engagement ring, it is important to explore every option. Whether you’re looking at platinum wedding bands or palladium rings for that special someone, we’re here to help you understand the difference between these two precious metals.
What is Palladium?
As a platinum group metal, palladium is among the lesser-known metals in the jewelry industry, likely because it’s relatively less abundant than other precious metals. Another defining characteristic of palladium is that, unlike with lower-purity gold, allergic reactions are rare since it’s free of nickel. It’s also lighter weight than both gold and platinum, while still maintaining extraordinary durability.
Aside from jewelry, palladium is a common component in car exhaust systems. In fact, vehicle manufacturers account for approximately 85% of palladium purchases. When comparing palladium over platinum, palladium does have a downside—it’s tricky to resize unless jewelry makers have the right equipment.
- It has an attractive silvery-white color
- Slightly harder than platinum
- Weighs less than platinum
- Maintains its color well
- More difficult to find due to lower natural abundance
- Challenging to resize
What is Platinum?
With recent increase in demand, the price of platinum is traditionally higher in price than palladium though there has been some fluctuation between the two in recent years.
One of the most attractive features of platinum is how well it holds up against scratches and wear. Most wedding bands are 950 platinum, meaning that they contain 95% platinum and the remaining 5% in other metal alloys. Due to this minimal amount of alloy metal, allergic reactions aren’t common with platinum jewelry.
Among the most significant differences between platinum and palladium is its weight. Platinum weighs more than palladium. However, heavier-weight jewelry is a desirable feature for some people, especially when it comes to rings since they offer a heavier feel on the finger.
- Allergy risk is low
- Very durable, similarly to palladium
- Polishes up easily
- Heavier than palladium
- More expensive than palladium
What is Patina?
Patina gives palladium or platinum rings a matte-finish look and develops over time. Unlike unplated white gold, which chips when scratched, palladium and platinum metals ``bunch up” when they are scratched, meaning the metal on the surface moves around but doesn’t break away. This creates the patina finish.
For many people, patina’s dull shine is an attractive quality. If you prefer the look of your palladium or platinum jewelry without the patina, however, you can simply repolish your jewelry. Platinum and palladium both hold up well with repolishing.
Detailed Comparison Of Platinum & Platinum
Now that we covered the general properties of palladium and platinum, let’s discuss their similarities and differences in more detail.
Palladium vs Platinum: Appearance
If you see a palladium and platinum ring side by side, it can initially be difficult to tell the difference between them. Both have a silver color and take on a patina appearance with use.
When trying to determine the difference in color between the two metals, try looking at the part of the ring that faces the skin, as it’s usually unpolished and maintains more of the metal’s original color. Palladium has a slightly darker silver color than platinum. Because platinum has a lighter hue, it is a good metal for showing off the color in gemstones.
Palladium vs Platinum: Composition
An alloy is a mixture of two or more metals combined to produce jewelry or any other metal product. The purpose of an alloy is to improve the qualities that a single metal alone doesn’t offer. Including alloys in a piece of jewelry allows for the piece to have improved strength and resistance to corrosion.
According to the Encyclopedia of Physical Science and Technology, alloys that are commonly combined with palladium are silver, copper, manganese, and chromium. Platinum may have a variety of other alloy metals, including copper, cobalt, rhodium, or even palladium.
Palladium vs Platinum: Cost
Until early 2020, the price of palladium was lower than platinum. However, the price has since jumped, and palladium and platinum now compete with one another in terms of cost-effectiveness.
Palladium is 15 times rarer than platinum. Nevertheless, palladium is traditionally a lower-cost option than platinum. If you’re interested in purchasing palladium jewelry and want a good deal, keep an eye on the market, for it often changes depending on the available supply.
Palladium vs Platinum: Permanence
Both palladium and platinum are durable metals and hold up better to wear and tear than gold. However, palladium is slightly more scratch-resistant than platinum, making it a great option for people whose jewelry might face a little more wear-and-tear.
When it comes to their composition, platinum is slightly less susceptible to rust and corrosion than palladium. However, the difference is so minor that it often isn’t a consideration when most people decide which metal they want to purchase. As mentioned above, both metals will take on a patina look over time, but you can get them repolished if you prefer that they return to a shiny silver state.
Palladium vs Platinum: Skin Sensitivity
Nickel is among the most common causes of skin reactions from pieces of jewelry. It causes dermatitis, an itchy rash that appears on your skin upon contact. Both palladium and platinum are considered hypoallergenic metals, so you typically don’t have to worry about skin sensitivity when wearing palladium and platinum jewelry. However, since jewelry usually contains metal alloys, you should consult your jeweler about whether or not the piece you are purchasing contains any nickel if you have sensitive skin.
Palladium vs Platinum: Weight
Platinum is denser than palladium, which also causes it to weigh more. In fact, a platinum ring is often almost double the weight of a palladium ring.
Some people enjoy the weight of platinum because it gives the feeling of a more expensive metal. It also tends to be a more common choice for men than women. Still, many other people prefer the lighter-weight feel of platinum.
Palladium vs Platinum: The Conclusion
Palladium and platinum are both beautiful and durable metals for jewelry. Palladium is a great option if you’re seeking a rare metal that’s lightweight, extra scratch-resistant, and has a silvery-white patina shine. On the other hand, it makes sense to select platinum jewelry if you want a denser metal with a lighter hue that allows it to highlight gemstones.
If you’re considering other metal alternatives for your wedding band, white metals like white gold are a strong contender, especially in the cost department. Since it only has a 58% gold composition, white gold is more affordable than palladium and platinum.
That said, white gold requires more maintenance since it chips off easily, and its color gradually wears away when using household chemicals. In contrast, with palladium and platinum, you can leave your ring on all the time with confidence that such activities will create the patina look that so many people desire.