Palladium is a contemporary metal that has steadily been gaining popularity.
This metal is becoming a popular alternative to gold, silver, and platinum jewelry, especially for wedding bands or engagement rings.
Palladium is a great option for rings because they are more affordable in comparison to their noble metal counterparts and are tarnish and oxidation resistant. The precious metal is also low maintenance and easy to care for. All in all, palladium has many more benefits than drawbacks.
For those in the market for an engagement ring or wedding band, there are several reasons to consider purchasing a palladium ring in comparison to other precious metals.
The History of Palladium
Palladium has had a rich history ever since it was discovered in 1802 in London, although it is most abundantly found in Russia and South Africa.
After it was discovered, palladium was placed on the periodic table of elements in 1803 and classified as a Platinum Group Metal (PGM) due to their similar characteristics, such as durability, natural white color, hypoallergenic, and resistance to tarnishing and corrosion.
In the past, jewelers used palladium in jewelry when they were short on platinum metal since the metals are so alike.
Although palladium has similar characteristics to platinum, palladium is known to be lighter in weight and more affordable.
Palladium also is harder than platinum according to the Mohs scale of hardness, with palladium at a 4.8 while platinum is at a 3.5.
Palladium is also known to be a great catalyst converter, which is why the metal is also used in a variety of other man-made inventions.
In fact, according to jewelryshoppingguide.com, only 4% of palladium is used in jewelry while the rest is used by dental, technological, and auto manufacturing.
This is what makes palladium rings so rare in comparison to other precious metal jewelry.
Palladium is also one of the only PGM (besides platinum) that is rare enough to be traded in the World Commodities Market, making its value change from week to week.
On average, palladium is usually more expensive than white gold, but less expensive than platinum, although it depends on the market values and economy.
Another interesting fact about palladium comes from its name.
Scientist William Hyde Wollaston named his discovery palladium, after the second-largest asteroid named “Pallas” after the Greek god of Athena.
Due to Athena’s strength and security, many people deemed the element to have the strength of Athena and the precious metal became a beacon of good luck.
Cost of Palladium Rings
Due to the influx of the market, it really can depend on the price of palladium jewelry.
Another factor that may increase the price is the purity of the metal.
To tell how genuine a palladium ring is, there is a hallmark fineness mark stamped on the inside of any ring.
This hallmark is a sign to show how pure the metal is.
For palladium specifically, the sign looks like three connected ovals with a number (however, the sign was three connected trapezoids before 2010).
These numbers usually are 550, 950, and 999.
The meaning of these numbers is the amount of palladium found in the ring, where 550 means 55%, 950 means 95%, and 999 means 99%.
Rings with lower hallmark scores have an amalgamation of palladium and other less expensive materials.
This is why the price can drastically change from ring to ring.
The hallmark fineness marks are not to be confused with the platinum marks, which are three trapezium shapes connected with the numbers 850, 900, 950, and 999.
The previous trapezoid shape of the palladium hallmark fineness marks can be easily confused with the platinum marks.
Thankfully, the modern design of the hallmark makes it easier to decipher.
Since palladium is rare, it can be hard to find palladium rings at big brand labels such as Jared’s, Zales, Tiffany and Co, etc.
Stores such as Blue Nile, Etsy, Larson Jewelers, and James Allen sell a limited amount of palladium rings, although their palladium rings may fluctuate in and out of stock.
To get an idea of how much palladium costs, Larson Jewelers sells a simple 950 wedding band for $3,599.99.
At Jacob’s Diamond and Estate Jewelry, a simple palladium wedding band is $850 (Hallmark is not disclosed in the description).
Finding palladium rings can be difficult since they are high in demand yet the supply is so rare.
According to jewelryshoppingguide.com, palladium rings are 15 times rarer than platinum.
This is why it can be so difficult to find a palladium ring in comparison to a platinum ring.
How to Care for Palladium Rings
Palladium rings are known to be low-maintenance, thanks to their tarnish and oxidation-resistant characteristics.
However, over time, it is not unusual for palladium rings to get a few scratches here and there.
Of course, there are ways to prevent these scratches from occurring, but most people find that an accumulation of small scratches creates an aesthetically pleasing patina, or film, on the ring.
If this patina is less than desirable, then simply placing a palladium ring in a jewelry box or bag can prevent such scratches.
Another way to care for a palladium ring is to remove the jewelry when doing household chores that require harsh chemicals (such as various cleaning solutions).
Fortunately, palladium is extremely resistant to color-changing when it comes to contact with such chemicals.
If palladium rings have gemstones or diamonds set in, then the ring should be removed when cleaning otherwise the stones may face negative reactions to the harsh chemicals.
When purchasing a palladium ring from a jewelry store, ask for a jewelry cleaner to take home and clean the ring yourself.
If you don’t have a shop-bought cleaner available, using soap and water is sufficient enough to clean palladium.
Before placing the ring into storage or before wearing it, be sure to use a soft cloth to gently dry it off.
Jewelers may offer free or low-cost professional cleaning, depending on the store’s policy and if the ring was purchased through the store.
If a palladium ring does get a few scratches on it, take it to a jeweler to have it polished to its original state.
Having the ring polished may remove the aesthetic patina, so it is important to disclose whether you would like the ring to be polished or simply cleaned.
Since palladium rings are low-maintenance, they don’t require much more care than the steps listed above.
However, if the palladium ring has gemstones, diamonds, or jewels set in place, they may require a bit more attention, such as checking the prongs that the jewels are set in.
Pros and Cons of Palladium
There are many benefits in comparison to the drawbacks of palladium jewelry, making the noble metal a popular choice for many wedding bands and engagement rings.
Hypoallergenic: Due to the high purity of palladium, the metal has low possibilities for allergic reactions.
The element alone is known to be of little toxicity. If a palladium ring has a hallmark of 950, there is only a trace of other elements such as ruthenium.
This is a great option for those who have any sensitivity to nickel, zinc, or any other metal with low purity.
Appearance: The silvery-white sheen of palladium and platinum look so similar that people often have a hard time telling the difference between the two metals.
Even when palladium scratches, it adds to the appearance of the metal, giving it a soft brushed effect.
Cost: Palladium is more affordable in comparison to platinum, even though they have similar characteristics.
The price range of palladium usually sits between white gold and platinum, although it is subject to change depending on the economy.
There may be times when palladium is priced higher than platinum, but this is rare.
Durability: Palladium is rated at a 4.8 out of 10 on the Mohs hardness scale, which is quite a few points higher in comparison to white gold, gold, platinum, and silver.
Since the metal is so durable, when palladium scratches, the metal is never displaced.
Low maintenance: Palladium is easy to maintain due to its sturdy characteristics.
Over time, it will not change color like white gold because palladium is tarnish and oxidation resistant.
It also does not need to be re-plated like rings made out of other precious materials.
Lightweight: Even though palladium is harder than platinum, it is much more lightweight.
This makes the metal a popular option for wedding bands and engagement rings because it is barely even noticeable, whereas platinum feels heavy.
Difficult to manipulate: Palladium is known to be durable, but this can also be a bit of a drawback.
If manufactured by an inexperienced jeweler, the pure precious metal can become brittle.
The other precious metals are much softer and easier to work with in comparison to palladium.
Expensive: Of course, palladium is more affordable than platinum as mentioned before, but the price has jumped past the rest of the precious metals such as gold, white gold, and silver.
If affordability is a necessary factor when buying a wedding band or engagement ring, palladium could be out of budget for some.
In the past, palladium was significantly cheaper, but since it has grown in demand, the price has gotten higher over the last few years.
Limited Styles: Since palladium is so rare, it can be hard to find a variety of options for rings.
There are only a few styles of rings that are offered by some jewelers which usually include: brushed, hammered, and smooth palladium rings.
The reason that there are a limited amount of styles is since palladium can be too hard to manipulate.
Not offered at many stores: Palladium can be hard to come by and hard to work with, which is why many big labels may have little to no options for this precious metal.
Buying Tips for Palladium Rings
Finding the perfect palladium ring can be a bit of a search, especially since it is much rarer than its precious metal counterparts.
If you are set out to find the perfect palladium ring, be sure to set aside some time to do some research as it can take a while.
A tip to keep in mind when buying a palladium ring is the size.
The larger the ring is, the more palladium that will be needed, making the ring even pricier.
If set on palladium for the precious metal of your ring, you can opt to have a less expensive gemstone (or none at all) to make the ring more affordable.
If you are interested in a gemstone set inside of a palladium ring, decide on which setting might work the best for the gem and the metal.
Keep in mind that palladium is quite low maintenance, but the gemstone of your choice might need a bit more attention.
Another buying tip is to take a look at the hallmark stamped on the inside of the ring.
This can largely affect the price and value of the ring. The lowest hallmark that palladium can bear is 550 and the highest is 999.
When researching, you might run into palladium sterling silver or palladium white gold.
This means that either silver or white gold has been alloyed with the palladium.
These alloys make the price and value of the ring significantly cheaper than pure palladium but can make it more expensive than sterling silver or white gold alone.
If buying a ring online, it can be difficult to decipher how much palladium metal is in the ring.
If unsure, consider giving the jeweler a call to ask about the hallmark of the ring.
Perhaps the jeweler can even give you more options than the online selection of palladium rings.
When working with a jeweler, they must understand how to work with palladium.
Those that are inexperienced with this metal can make a brittle, weak ring.
Ask to see the jeweler’s other designs and work with palladium to get an idea of whether or not you would like this professional to create your ring.