Deciding between Platinum and Palladium for jewellery
Knowing very little about precious metals, often leads to questions about the benefits of one type, over another. White metal has become the most popular choice, being more neutral in colour, compared to the other choices such as Yellow Gold and Rose Gold. Platinum and Palladium continue to cause confusion for many people. Rather than an in-depth blog on metallurgy, here we are going to look at characteristics of each metal, to provide information to help make the decision a little easier. There are always pro’s and con’s with any such choices. It is more important to decide which is most suitable for yourself?
The merits of Platinum
Let us begin with Platinum. Most consistently, the UK standard for Platinum tends to be 950 Platinum, this being 95% pure. The remaining percentage is composed of other alloys that provide a benefit to the jewellery, such as increased surface hardness by the introduction of metal such as Tungsten. Platinum is hypo-allergenic and is most suitable for anyone with sensitive skin for this reason. Where a reaction is encountered to wearing Platinum, more often than not, this is due to moisture trapped under the ring following hand-washing. Besides being hypo-allergenic, the metal has a naturally white colouration, without the need to Rhodium plate the metal to give whiteness. This is a characteristic that we will see is shared with Palladium. Platinum is well regarded for its ability to be re-furbished with any scratches or damage being removable on the jeweller’s bench and through re-polishing back to ‘as-new’ condition (and without losing metal). Sizing is also worth noting since the metal can be lasered to provide a seamless finish when sized down, a detail that is in contrast to Palladium.
The Price of Platinum
Many clients purchasing Platinum will comment on the substantial feel of Platinum on account of the fact it is approx. 1/3rd heavier than 18ct Gold. Platinum is also by far the best metal for setting diamonds since the strength of surrounding claws offers maximum protection around precious stones. With precious metal prices fluctuating, and with the price of Gold often being very close to the price of Platinum, clients have often questioned why then, is Platinum more expensive than 18ct Gold. The answer is in the weight. Even if Palladium reached a price where the metal prices were equal (unlikely, we would point out), Platinum would remain far more expensive on account of the weight.
The popularity of Palladium
Palladium is a metal that has increased significantly in popularity, especially for engagement rings. Jewellers today, embrace the saleability of the metal. Especially true now the UK hallmark has been granted. It has a much lower metal price and a much lower weight than other precious metals which means that this is a good choice when cost is a deciding factor. Palladium, just like Platinum can be polished to the same mirror-like finish. It is also naturally hypo-allergenic and 95% pure. The whiteness of Palladium is a natural and consistent like Platinum. You would, therefore, assume this a much stronger candidate for purchase than Platinum. Palladium, being much lighter has less of a weighty, substantial feel, but I personally think that in a heavyweight wedding ring, this can be a personal preference, with lightness, rather than a solid heavy feel to the ring. Palladium wedding rings, in such substantial designs, are much more affordable on account of the lower weight and price as discussed already. For stone set rings, however, many smaller claws can lack the strength that Platinum has. Some jewellers, in fact, will specify a claw needs to be a 30% thicker in Palladium to be effective in securing the stone. Bar settings, part bezel and full bezel settings are always better choices than engagement ring designs with fine claws.
Platinum, Palladium, repairing and re-sizing
Probably a final consideration well worth noting lies with how the metals behave under heat. Working the metal on the bench, Palladium often becomes brittle when heated. This makes it a difficult metal to join, in the case of two or three part rings where the mounter has to assemble components. This is also true of sizing down rings. Due to this underlying difficulty, Palladium cannot be lasered and so Platinum solder is generally used in mounting and sizing Palladium. For this reason, a clear advantage stands out when considering long-term maintenance work.
Here we have covered many, probably not all, but some important characteristics for consideration. Every precious metal has a suitability based on the end wearer, and with a little advice and guidance (all offered for free!) an informed choice can ultimately be made.