Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Palladium- the new option in fine jewerly

For those that love platinum but don't like the big price tag , relief is at hand! Palladium has many of the properties that people love about platinum but is priced more along the lines of gold jewelry. With the development of new palladium alloys and a major publicity push, more fine jewelry customers are likely to discover this precious metal in the near future.

Palladium is a naturally white metal and one of the six members of the Platinum "family" of metals, along with irridium, ruthenium, osmium and rhodium. Like platinum it is hard enough for use in fine jewelry in almost pure form. Fine jewelry palladium alloy is 95% pure palladium and 5% ruthenium and/or other metal. The exact composition of the 5% varies by manufacturer.

Palladium can be cast and fabricated and has working properties similar to platinum. It is not as dense a material as platinum and therefore the finished piece is much lighter. This attribute not only serves to keep the price under control but can also enable the manufacturing of certain items that may be impractical in platinum, such as large earrings that would otherwise be uncomfortable to wear or large rings that might be top-heavy and turn on the finger when produced in the heavier platinum.

The price of palladium is roughly one third the price of platinum and only a little more that half the price of gold on todays market. Because palladium is used in almost pure form and the most popular gold alloy (14K) contains just over 58% pure gold, a finished piece of palladium jewelry is priced just fractionally higher than the same item in gold.

Unlike most white gold alloys palladium is naturally white and does not need rhodium plating to achieve a bright white luster. And because of its purity palladium has little or no problem with regard to skin sensitivity issues. The high nickel content in some white gold alloys can cause an allergic reaction in some people.

About the only downside that palladium and platinum have is that they are softer than gold alloys and will scratch more easily. This results in the development of a fine "petina" on flat surfaces. While some people prefer that look, platinum and palladium will require more frequent polishing in order to maintain a high polish finish. But the relative softness also serves to improve prong performance making diamonds and gemstones easier to set and reduces brittleness which can cause gold alloy prongs to fail. While not as hard as most gold alloys, palladium and platinun are more durable and well suited for heirloom jewelry that will last for generations.

Considering the value factors of purity, price, plating, and performance (the 4 P's), it appears that palladium is poised to become much more popular in the near future. Gemdiamond.com will begin offering many of our bridal items including diamond engagement rings, wedding bands and diamond wedding sets in palladium in the coming weeks. Our custom jewelry design pieces will generally all have the option of being produced in palladium.