To an untrained (or even trained eye), platinum and palladium can look the same. I understand zilch about jewelry and in an attempt to learn more and hopefully give my eyes something beautiful to feast on, I dropped by a local jewelry store. I’ve seen a few palladium rings and a few necklaces but sadly, they don’t stock platinum rings. They have a “show ring” for clients who want to see the physical qualities of a platinum ring but as for variety and style, clients will have to look through a brochure. Too bad.
What struck me the most with the two rings is that they’re very similar. Lay a ring made from platinum and palladium side by side and you’re looking at identical twins; metallic, shiny and grayish-white. So let’s take a closer look at the two metal
- Very rare and expensive, platinum is an exclusive metal used for jewelry. It is superior among other metals used for jewelry because of its durability and hypo-allergenic properties.
- It is very dense which makes it heavier than palladium or gold. Because of the weighty feel, platinum is highly recommended for men’s jewelry. And because of its density, it does not lose metal when scratched. Gold loses metal as it is scratched on another surface, this doesn’t happen to platinum, it simply displaces the metal.
- Some women prefer the heft of platinum over the lightness of gold because it make them conscious that they are wearing a ring, and this prevents them from banging their jewelry around.
- Platinum rings are ductile and relatively softer than gold but more durable. This characteristic allows it to be used to shape into intricate patterns of jewelry. When placed under pressure, platinum will bend, where as gold pieces will break.
- It is resistant to corrosion and rusting as it does not absorb oxygen which makes it ideal for everyday use.
- It is made 90-95% platinum, which is almost pure with 10 or 5% alloy to harden it. Platinum can also vary in shades depending on the alloy used.
- Since it is a white metal, it is usually no longer coated with rhodium. This means it can look different from rhodium-coated white gold. If you prefer the high-shine of rhodium, jewelers can always plate it for you.
- Platinum can last for many many decades and is the metal of choice for heirlooms.
- Platinum is a highly respected metal of choice, however, it can be hard to resize or do repair work. An inexperienced jeweler can easily create weak points if not careful. So if you are looking to grow with a ring, having it re-sized in the future, upgrade stones or anticipating to have repair done, it is best to go with white gold as it is easier to work with than platinum or palladium.
- Palladium is cheaper than platinum, and relatively new to the market.
- It is almost identical to platinum and behaves like platinum in terms of durability. It was used first as an alloying agent for white gold. Palladium is used as a whitener that gives white gold its white color. It replaced the use of nickel as a whitener to gold as it doesn’t cause allergies or irritation.
- It is ductile and can be shaped into intricate and fine patterns without breaking.
- It is not as dense as platinum, almost as light as gold, but is still durable. It also doesn’t lose surface when scratched and, similar to platinum, it accumulates more surface scratches than other metals. (a quality called patina, a look of ‘wear’ that enhances the appearance of the ring)
- It can be highly polished as well and because the metal’s color is natural, it doesn’t need to be rhodium plated.
- It is also almost pure in composition 90-95%, like platinum.
- Very few jewelers work with palladium, and it can be brittle if not worked on properly. Like platinum, it is also hard to maintain in terms of resizing and repair work.
Which one to pick?
Both are very similar but the biggest difference they have is their price tags. Palladium is considered second-best by the jewelry industry to platinum and for this palladium is sold cheaper in the market. However, from a consumer stand-point, palladium can be just as luxurious as platinum as it has almost all of the benefits of platinum such as the durability and color, the resistance to tarnish and scratch and of course, the elegance.
The only con I see with palladium is that since it’s a not as well-know as platinum, you would need to find someone with specialized skills and tools to work with it. In contrast, platinum is patronized by a lot of jewelers and that means more experts in the field.
So, when choosing between the two metals, I believe the budget will be the biggest decisive factor but whatever choice you go for, make sure to scout your place for jewelers who are experts in your metal choice. Casting palladium or platinum the wrong way may result in a brittle ring, so expertise is a must. The level of expertise will also determine their workmanship and ability to produce fine details.