Palladium is quickly becoming more popular in the jewelry industry and increasing in value. It closely resembles platinum and has emerged as an affordable alternative. It is lighter in weight and more scratch-resistant than other precious metals. Unfortunately, it is difficult to resize due to its rarity.
Choosing palladium has advantages and disadvantages, as does any other metal. It's crucial to examine both and determine if palladium is the best option for you before you buy.
Palladium 101: What is Palladium?
Palladium is in the precious metal classification. It is an almost white metal with a silver-like appearance. The discovery of palladium occurred in 1803. Jewelers didn't use it until the late 1930s.
Aesthetically, platinum and palladium have very similar looks. The visible differences between palladium and platinum are very slight. Most wouldn’t notice the differences if both rings were out on display.
Palladium is a 5 on the Mohs hardness scale. Its hardness increases to 5.75 when made into an alloy. In short, palladium is a harder metal. On the other hand, 14k white gold rings, commonly used for wedding bands, measure 3.5-4.
Most palladium alloys consist of 95 percent palladium and 5 percent ruthenium. Additionally, there are trace amounts of other elements.
Close to 85 percent of all palladium happens to be used to produce car exhaust systems. It plays a role in building the parts involved in reducing the emission of toxic pollutants.
What Does "Palladium" Mean?
Initially, the word used to mean "a source of protection." The inspiration for the word's meaning derives from a tale about the Greek goddess Athena. Athena was renamed Pallas after slaying a giant who attempted to capture Mount Olympus. Afterward, they built a sculpture to protect the city of Troy from impending attacks.
Moreover, astrologists discovered an asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars. Most of the asteroids were named from gods and goddesses from Greek mythology. One of the first asteroids received the name “Pallas” in 1803.
In that same year, scientists successfully isolated a new silvery metal element. It was named palladium after the asteroid.
Types of Palladium Rings
Typically palladium is used for wedding bands. Many also use it for engagement rings. This metal comes in various finishes such as hammered, matte, high polish, textured, and brushed.
Despite the fact there are a plethora of finishes available in palladium, due to how rare it is, stores and sellers are likely to have only a few options available in palladium. Ironically, palladium was considered a worthless by-product of platinum mining. However, now it is one of the most valuable metals around today.
Palladium Alloys: Palladium White Gold & Palladium Sterling Silver
In your search, it's not uncommon to happen upon metals like palladium white gold or palladium sterling silver. These refer to white gold or silver alloys with a considerable amount of palladium.
Keep in mind that 14k white gold contains 58 percent gold. It is more budget-friendly than pure gold and other pure metals.
Palladium Rings: Pros and Cons
Here are the advantages and disadvantages of choosing palladium.
Pros of Palladium Rings
Palladium has numerous benefits as a jewelry metal.
A Precious Metal
The 1930s saw palladium used in jewelry for the first time. Still, it wasn't until 2010 that palladium became a hallmark in the jewelry industry. This is when palladium pieces started getting identification stamps to differentiate them from other metals.
Supply and demand fluctuations have caused moments when palladium has been more expensive than platinum. In general, though, palladium is much cheaper.
Many metals like white gold need rhodium plating to maintain their original color. Palladium, on the other hand, naturally sustains its color and will develop a matte look over time. This is an attractive feature for those that believe it gives their ring more character.
Palladium is one of the most low-maintenance metals you can own. It is naturally bright, so it doesn't need replating. To keep the luster on your palladium jewelry, gently washing with a basic soap and water mixture should be sufficient every once in a while.
There's no nickel in palladium, so you're at a lower risk for an allergic skin reaction in comparison to gold. Specifically, 14k gold and other metals used for wedding bands and engagement rings can often trigger reactions.
Platinum is much denser than palladium. Palladium is a lightweight and comfortable option for those that don't want a heavy ring. If you aren't used to wearing jewelry, you might appreciate a ring that doesn't weigh your fingers down.
Strong and Durable
Palladium engagement rings are also tarnish-resistant. That means this durable metal doesn't get damaged easily and retains its natural look.
Though palladium will sustain scratches, a unique feature about this material is that the metal gets displaced as opposed to lost. Instead of wearing down, it'll develop an aesthetically pleasing patina that doesn't affect color or luster.
Cons of Palladium Rings
Take these potential shortcomings into consideration before you make a purchase.
Palladium is 30 times rarer than gold and nearly 15 times rare than platinum. That makes it a unique option for wedding bands and engagement rings. That means it'll be challenging to find a variety of styles and choices at the jewelers because of a low supply.
This is on the list twice because it comes down to personal preference. Some people like the heftier feel of a ring, as it adds value for them, while others enjoy having a ring that doesn't feel as heavy.
Difficult to Manipulate
It's hard to resize palladium due to limited availability and the characteristics of the metal. Additionally, many jewelers don't use it.
Palladium Rings: Care & Maintenance
You'll have an easier time maintaining a palladium ring because the wear and tear are minimal. When your ring reaches that patina look, you can opt to get it restored to a high polish finish by a professional jeweler.
Here are some maintenance tips for palladium rings:
- Consider storing your pieces in a separate jewelry box to prevent them from getting scratched by other pieces of jewelry.
- When performing chores or other rugged tasks, remove your ring to avoid chemical exposure.
- A commercial jewelry cleaner is sufficient to clean your palladium jewelry. You can also use a mild soap and water solution with a soft cloth or toothbrush. Use a microfiber cloth to dry the ring once you finish.
- You can also opt to have the ring cleaned by a professional once a year.
Palladium Ring Buying Guide
The prices for a palladium ring can vary depending on the size of the stone you select. In general, the price will be around $2,000.
A palladium ring looks good with any setting, from bezel-set to prong. Your choice depends on your personal preference and how you'd like your ring designed.
Though the style options are limited and palladium is rare, you can still find retailers selling it. Work with a jeweler you like and trust if you want a custom palladium ring.
Palladium is affordable, easy to maintain, lightweight, durable, and stunning. The rarity and difficulty with resizing may present an issue for some. Still, if you find a retailer with the style you want, it's one of the better platinum alternatives.
Buy palladium rings if you have sensitive skin and need a hypoallergenic metal. Additionally, choose palladium if you don't like heavy rings and want a cost-effective option for your wedding band or engagement ring.
It's vital to weigh the pros and cons when you select a metal for your jewelry. Ultimately, it’s an investment that you'll have for years to come.