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Palladium is increasing in popularity as young couples increasingly look for alternatives to the traditional engagement and wedding bands. Similar to platinum but more affordable, palladium has many benefits that make it an excellent choice.
Here we discuss the pros and cons of palladium and why it’s worth considering palladium for your engagement or wedding ring. But before we get into the details, here’s a quick overview:
Pros and Cons of Palladium Rings
Pros of Palladium Rings
- Looks similar to platinum
- Reasonably priced
- One of only 4 precious metals
- Hypoallergenic and safe to wear
- Easy to maintain
- Durable and hard
Cons of Palladium Rings
- Very rare
- Limited design options
What is Palladium?
Palladium is a precious metal and makes up part of the Platinum Group Metals (PGM) on the periodic table. The PGM are known for their anti-corrosion and anti-oxidization properties which make them hardy and durable metals. As a result, PGM are also called Noble Metals.
Palladium (atomic number 46) is very similar in appearance to platinum but is much less expensive and dense. It’s also extremely rare and is about 15 times rarer than platinum. In the past, palladium was seen as a worthless by-product of platinum mining, but today is one of the most valuable metals on the market.
Of the world’s supply of palladium, about 4% is used for jewelry, with the rest used in the automobile and technology industries. Most palladium comes from Russia and South Africa.
What Does ‘Palladium’ Mean?
The word palladium comes from Greek and Roman mythology, named after the statue of Pallas, Athena on which the safety of Rome was believed to depend.
The metal was named after the second-largest asteroid, which was named after Pallas. By that point, the term palladium was used to refer to anything that provided safety and security.
As a result, many believe that palladium is a good luck metal and provides safety for the wearer.
Types of Palladium Rings
Palladium is commonly chosen for bridal rings, especially male and female wedding bands. However, it can also be used for engagement rings. It can come in a variety of finishes, including brushed, hammered, high polish, matte and textured.
Because of the metal’s rarity, however, you won’t find many options, whether you search in store or online. For example, right now on Blue Nile, there are only 3 palladium ring designs but over 90 white gold and over 65 platinum designs.
Why Choose Palladium for Your Ring
Now that we’ve got a bit of the background information covered, let’s take a look at the benefits of choosing palladium.
1- A Precious Metal – Why the Hallmark Matters
Palladium began to be used in jewelry in the 1930s, but it was only in 2010 that hallmarking palladium became a compulsory requirement. This meant that a piece of jewelry needed the special identification stamps that distinguished this metal from others.
To put this in perspective, only four metals in total are required to bear hallmarks – gold, platinum, silver and palladium. This fact upgraded palladium to a precious metal and increased its value in jewelry.
The recognized palladium hallmarks are 500, 950 and 999, which denotes the purity levels of the metal. A piece of palladium jewelry marked 500, for example, simply means that there’s 50% of the alloy is composed of palladium while 999 has a much higher purity level at 99%.
To distinguish palladium from platinum, the numbers are set within three connected ovals, whereas the platinum hallmarks have a trapezium-shaped background.
2- Palladium Affordability
Palladium is known for being less expensive than platinum, but how much cheaper is it? This varies depending on a number of factors, including quality of craftsmanship and product as well as brand.
We compared the price of men’s wedding rings on diamond giant Blue Nile and couldn’t find a massive difference between palladium and platinum prices. For example, this comfort fit palladium wedding band and this similar platinum band differ only in about $40, which is insignificant in the wedding ring arena.
However, a similar search on the James Allen site showed a bigger difference in price, coming to around $200. The takeaway is that in general, palladium is less expensive than platinum, but this shouldn’t be taken for a given.
It’s important to note that palladium is more expensive than white gold and sits in the middle between white gold and platinum. However, in the recent past, palladium’s value has at times overtaken that of platinum.
3- Palladium Appearance
If you’re after a white metal, palladium fits the bill. Platinum is somewhat whiter than palladium, but the difference is minimal. Overall, palladium can easily be mistaken for platinum.
This bright white look is natural meaning that it won’t tarnish over time nor will it require replating to maintain the look. To compare, while white gold is less expensive, the cost of periodic rhodium replating can add up. This makes palladium appear more attractive as an engagement or wedding ring choice for daily wear.
4- Palladium is Hypoallergenic
Because of the high levels of purity in palladium used in jewelry, the metal tends to be hypoallergenic. Typical palladium alloys contain 95% palladium and 5% ruthenium, with some trace amounts of other elements.
There are no common allergens for metal sensitivities and allergies like nickel, zinc or cobalt, making palladium a safe metal to wear.
5- Palladium Hardness and Durability
Platinum is known for being one the hardest precious metal used in jewelry but in fact, palladium is harder than platinum. Both are durable and tough metals to choose, but palladium can be just that little bit more resistant to scratches.
6- Palladium is Lightweight
Because palladium isn’t as dense as platinum, it feels a little lighter. This makes it comfortable to wear, especially for people who aren’t used to the feel of rings on their fingers. It’s so lightweight that you may not feel it on your finger, so take that into consideration, especially if you like heavier rings.
7- Palladium is Easy to Maintain
Three main reasons make palladium easy to maintain:
- Naturally bright therefore no need of replating
- Tarnish resistant
- Hard and resistant to scratches
What this means is that palladium rings require minimal maintenance unlike platinum or white gold. A patina will develop over time on the surface, but this often won’t affect its luster or color.
Simply washing the ring with soap and water will be enough to maintain its luster. If the ring has gemstones, you might want to take it to a professional jeweler for a regular check up when required just to maintain the integrity of the setting.
Reasons That Can Make Palladium an Unideal Option
1- Palladium is Rare
But this is a good thing, right? Yes, we’re often drawn to rare things and this can be viewed as an advantage. As we mentioned above, the downside is that because of its rarity, palladium jewelry can be hard to find. There are often fewer options compared to other metals.
2- Less Workable than Platinum
Because palladium is harder than platinum, it can be less workable than platinum. As a result, jewelers may find it more difficult to polish or craft jewelry using palladium.
Potential Confusion – What is Palladium White Gold and Palladium Sterling Silver?
You’ll sometimes come across metals such as palladium sterling silver or palladium white gold when searching for palladium jewelry. These simply refer to silver or white gold alloys that contain a significant amount of palladium. Don’t confuse this with palladium alloys.
These metals are much less expensive than solid palladium but can be more valuable than other silver or white gold alloys.
Where to Buy Palladium Jewelry
Unfortunately, many top engagement and wedding band retailers offer very few palladium ring options. This limited choice can be off-putting for shoppers but if you’re heart is set on a palladium ring, we recommend searching on the following stores:
- Blue Nile has a small but select collection of palladium wedding bands for men. They’re known for their excellent products, competitive prices and for being the largest online diamond retailer.
- James Allen carries a few palladium wedding rings, viewable in 360 HD video with accompanying images. There’s no doubt the quality you get here is among the very best.
- Etsy offers a range of jewelry made of palladium as well as silver and gold palladium alloy. Each seller has their own policies so do your due diligence. You’ll be sure to find some unique ring designs here, including palladium engagement rings.