Palladium – The Obvious Choice for Diamond Jewelry.

Nov 18 09:48 2010 Vasco Kirov Print This Article

The need for replacing the gold with more suitable metal came up together with the preference of white metal over yellow.  Gold has been the metal of choice for fine jewellery for millennia and is perceived as symbol of rarity status and wealth. It is still enjoying great popularity making roughly 90% of the jewellery on the market. So why change it with anything else?

Gold is still the only precious metal with yellow color and the only option for the few,Guest Posting who prefer yellow lewellery, but when it comes to white is definitely not the best option. Currently the trend is white, very white, especially when we talk diamond jewellery and it makes sense to use white metal for white jewellery instead of yellow. What about white gold? Well, white gold is not exactly white, that’s why it has to be rhodium plated. White gold is pure yellow gold “forced” into white color by alloying it with whitening metals and the most popular whitening metal is...yes that’s right palladium.

What are the characteristics of the ideal metal for white diamond jewellery?
•    It must have the right color. It should be as white as possible without gray or yellow overtone
•    It must be rare and precious
•    It must have the right mechanical properties making it suitable for stone setting and  high polish
•    It must be hypoallergenic and scratch resistant

I have been designing and making fine jewellery for many years, working with different precious metals. First it was gold (yellow, white and rose) in 9, 14 and 18k, then platinum and recently palladium. My hands on experience with most of the metals in the jewellery industry give me the capacity to compare and professionally assess them. Here is my view of 18k white gold, Platinum and Palladium based on the four characteristics above:
 
Color – While palladium and platinum are indistinguishable by color, gold is easy to single out. The higher the gold content (karat) the more difficult is to “bleach” gold’s rich yellowness. Gold possesses unique precious metal qualities and if the gold content is decreased in order to achieve whiter color the resulted alloy ceases to resemble the initial precious metal properties. High purities white gold are impossible (there is no 22k white gold) with 75% (18k) being the highest. Even the best white gold alloy is not white enough and has to be rhodium plated. Rhodium plating is a surface treatment and it wears off.

Purity - Platinum and palladium have naturally the best clean of overtone white color and thus they are used in almost pure form (95%).  The alloying 5% are usually also metals from the PGM’s (Platinum Group Metals) Ruthenium and Iridium being the first choice. This leaves us with 100% noble metal content in the ready item. The highest purity white gold alloy has 75 % gold and often this is the only precious metal involved.  Palladium gold alloys bring this percentage to about 87.5, but still very far from 100% noble metal content. Jewelry with 100% noble metal content possesses some very important qualities: It never tarnishes, changes color and it is totally hypoallergenic. Many white gold alloys content nickel , a metal known to cause allergy reactions.

Rare and precious – Any one of the three metals compared in this article is rare and precious. Gold, Silver, Platinum and Palladium are the only metals with ISO (International Organization of Standardization) currency code. The price of any of these metals is determined by many factors connected mainly to their availability and demand and is subject of daily change. At the time of the writing their price order is: Platinum, Gold, Palladium and Silver.  This order was different just few years ago. In the end of 2001 Palladium was right at the top preceding gold and platinum. Platinum is statistically 15 times rarer than gold. Palladium is even rarer.

Mechanical Properties – I have to take the risk of infusing my article with technical information, but I will try to keep it at the possible minimum. Besides the achieving of desired color as in the case of karat gold the precious metals are alloyed with other metals in order to achieve some mechanical properties that make them suitable for jewelry manufacturing. The ideal jewelry metal should be tough, abrasion resistant and suitable for high polish. Palladium fits perfectly all the criteria.

Now strait to the price issue: Palladium finished item is priced per gram in the vicinity of 14k gold and sometimes lower.  Compared to platinum which is the closest rival in appearance and quality its cost is between 1/3 and 1/4 of the price per gram finished item. Because of its lower density however it comes much cheaper if compared with identical platinum item. The current low price of palladium is set to explode soon and is wise to take advantage of it.
The next question comes naturally: What are the drawbacks? As there is nothing ideal, palladium also have a weak point. It is more difficult to manufacture and highly demanding in terms of technology and materials used in the process. The good news however, is that in no way this difficulties affect the customer nor the maintenance of the item after the purchase.  From the customer’s point of view palladium just has all the right qualities.

The last point is the availability. Palladium is still very new as solo jewelry media. It is closely related to popularity and price. As the popularity grows, which is inevitable considering the advantages of this metal, so will grow the availability and unfortunately its price.


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About Article Author

Vasco Kirov
Vasco Kirov

Vasco Kirov is an experienced designer and master goldsmith with vast knowledge in every aspect concerning fine jewelry. He has been awarded many prestigious design awards for excellence in diamond jewelry design. His innovative online jewelry studio has large picture library where you can find inspiration for your diamond ring and with Vasco’s help have it tailored to suit your taste and budget.

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