What Is Palladium Used For? | Everything You Need to Know
Palladium is a rare chemical element, discovered in 1803 by William Wollaston. Its name comes from the asteroid Pallas, which the Greek goddess ‘Athena’ acquired after slaying Pallas. Palladium is the newest trend in jewelry due to some of its shared qualities with platinum. Platinum, as we all know, is considered to be one of the most luxurious metals to craft jewelry with. But what if you could reap all the benefits of platinum for a significantly lower cost? Well, palladium has turned out to do precisely that.
Palladium is a platinum group metal; possessing many similar premium qualities. It’s rare, lustrous, and has a natural silvery-white color. This lustrous metal looks much like platinum to a layman’s eye, but it’s way more affordable. This price gap isn’t because of any artificiality or mixtures in palladium, but due to the difference in density among the two. As a matter of fact, palladium is 95% pure, which is the exact percentage of purity of platinum as well. For comparison, white gold is merely 58.5% pure.
Why Is Palladium Used in Jewelry?
The rising trend of palladium in modern-day jewelry makes perfect sense. Palladium has everything you could look for in a jewelry material. It’s incredibly pure, as mentioned above, and appears incredibly beautiful even in its rawest form. Being from the metal family of platinum, it’s basically as good as Platinum with an even better price. Why wouldn’t people want it?
Palladium has a naturally beautiful, bright white color – and it won’t tarnish easily. It’s also better than white gold in the sense that it doesn’t require a rhodium coating, unlike white gold. Additionally, white gold doesn’t come anywhere near palladium when it comes to purity. Due to all of its amazing qualities and growing popularity, using it in jewelry just makes sense.
We’ve mentioned how palladium’s lower density plays a role in making it more affordable than platinum. For a clearer understanding, imagine two identical pieces of jewelry; one made out of pure platinum, and the other with palladium. The one made of palladium would be much lighter, which also means it’s going to be lighter on your wallet. Not only that, but a lower weight makes the final piece much more comfortable to wear. With jewelry, the bigger the piece, the bolder the statement will be. With palladium, you could wear bigger rings or bracelets without feeling like something’s pulling you down.
Is Palladium a Good Metal for Rings?
Most people wear wedding bands, engagement rings, or promise rings. When it comes to fashion rings, you can be much more forgiving when it comes to their quality because you won’t be wearing them for long periods of time anyways. With engagement or wedding rings, it’s a whole different story. This is why some factors cannot be ignored when choosing the right ring; e.g. level of comfort and allergies.
If you’re someone that seriously suffers from nickel allergies, you’ll fall in love with your palladium ring. The material is hypoallergenic, which means it’s highly unlikely to affect you. Its lesser weight also works wonders for making it feel easier on your fingers. Moreover, a lighter band allows the inclusion of bigger and better gemstones such as rubies, emeralds, and diamonds without causing any discomfort. Another benefit of using it for rings is that this metal is really malleable, allowing its use in detailed intricate designs. Palladium wedding bands are growing more and more popular every day since hardly anyone can see the difference between platinum and palladium. All of this while at the same time cutting down on the price tag – not too bad huh?
Why Is Palladium so Expensive?
Speaking of bringing the price tag down, that only applies to palladium when compared to other premium materials. While it’s cheaper than platinum, it’s definitely an expensive and rare material in itself. While more and more jewelers are using palladium, this industry isn’t anywhere close to being the major player in the palladium market. That honor goes to the auto industry, as nearly 80% of all palladium demand comes from the global auto industry.
Palladium is widely used in manufacturing catalytic converters in gas cars and it’s meant to significantly reduce car vehicle emissions. In fact, the jewelry industry doesn’t even come second when it comes to Palladium demand; the dental industry takes that position. Due to an increase in demand, and a limited supply of this silvery-white precious metal, the prices are predicted to stay on the rise.
What Is Better, Platinum or Palladium?
Due to the similarities in these materials’ nature, this is a complicated question, and conclusions will come down to preferences. However, some important factors could be taken at face value to outline a helpful comparison between the two. These are the defining aspects of a material that manufacturers consider before crafting jewelry with it: appearance, strength, durability, cost, and the level of comfort it offers. These have been broken down with respect to palladium and platinum below.
A palladium piece of jewelry would be harder to scratch than one made out of platinum. However, every jewelry piece gets scratched over time, so this is hardly a crucial factor. However, for metals, being harder to scratch and being ‘stronger’ are two different things. Of these two, platinum is ‘stronger’, but both are strong enough to be used even for wedding bands that are worn on a daily basis.
Both of these metals are naturally white and non-tarnishing. This means that they’ll stay white forever! Neither one of the two requires rhodium plating, which makes them look whiter and brighter than white gold.
However, there does exist a slight difference in the shade between palladium and platinum, as insignificant as it may be. Platinum jewelry is usually about one shade whiter, but it’s hard to notice any difference at all. Both these metals minimal maintenance in the long run, while white gold requires regular re-plating to avoid developing a yellow tinge. Palladium and platinum jewelry also develop a patina finish with time, which results in even less maintenance needed in the long run!
This area is where palladium is the clear winner, it’ll always be the front runner. Take rings for example; palladium rings cost about half the price of platinum ones. This, however, doesn’t make palladium an inferior metal in any way. As a matter of fact, many buyers who aren’t budget-conscious still go for a palladium option over platinum.
Both are hypoallergenic, which means there’s virtually no difference in that area. However, the weight drastically changes among the two metals. Platinum jewelry, as mentioned above, would be about twice as heavy as a palladium piece of the same size! While some people prefer heavier rings or bracelets, others find lighter palladium jewelry to be much more comfortable. This aspect is really a question of personal preference.