Although every engagement or wedding ring’s primary focus is the beautiful stone displayed on top, the color, weight, and quality of the band on which it sits are some of the factors to consider in choosing the ring that goes with you for eternity.
Wedding rings are no longer just a symbol of love and union. They are also the couple’s fashion statements. So much so that some engaged couples prefer wedding bands that are incredibly versatile and can work well with any personality or taste.
Certain materials like palladium and platinum are often offered to couples looking for this direction. Ever heard of palladium? It’s not surprising. A lot are not familiar with this metal. But, let’s discuss how palladium and platinum are different from each other and why they are considered one of the most favorite metals to use for jewelry.
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Palladium and Platinum Basics
The traditional choice for wedding rings has long been yellow gold. They embody lasting beauty and deep-rooted value. However, the 1990s introduced another trend in wedding rings – cool and clean luster of white gold.
White gold became popular as it accentuates the sparkle and brilliance of diamonds. It doesn’t reflect color through the stone. All while allowing couples who prefer the look of silver-colored metal to honor wedding traditions without compromising beauty.
Platinum and palladium came into the picture as other options for a naturally white looking metal for wedding rings. Gold is alloyed to look white but wears away over time. Wearing results in replating, which has to be done every once in a while. Maintaining white gold with replating came inconveniently for some.
History of Palladium
English chemist William H. Wollaston discovered palladium in 1803. While examining residues left from platinum after dissolving it in aqua regia, he ran a series of chemical reactions to isolate palladium. Then after heating palladium cyanide, palladium metal was extracted.
The chemist made his discovery known eccentrically. He left a quantity of palladium metal for sale with a mineral dealer in London, then anonymously posted handbills all over the city, describing what the new metal can do.
The unconventional announcement attracted harsh criticisms that said palladium is an alloy of platinum and mercury. But, Wollaston only wanted to have time to understand the metal before going out there and introduce it personally.
Palladium is named after the then-recently discovered asteroid, Pallas, which refers to the ancient Greek goddess of Wisdom. It belongs to the platinum group metals, possessing similar properties like malleability and ductility.
Like gold, palladium can be beaten into thin leaves. It does not tarnish in the air but does lightly in moist air that contains sulfur. Its durability is the reason it has been a popular choice of metal material for jewelry since 1939. It was then that platinum was needed for the war that palladium rings became a great alternative.
Palladium was officially recognized as a precious metal in January 2010. Since then, any palladium wedding ring more than a gram is legally expected to be hallmarked.
Pros and Cons of Palladium in Rings
Palladium’s unique characteristics give it certain advantages when used as a wedding ring. And, as with most metals used for wedding rings, it also possesses a few disadvantages. Here are a few you may consider.
- It has a beautiful silvery-white luster while keeping a slightly darker hue than platinum. This appearance is almost not perceivable as to the naked eye. Both look virtually identical.
- Palladium wedding rings are incredibly durable. They are a little harder than platinum, thus giving the latter a slight durability advantage.
- Not too long ago, palladium was a more affordable metal than platinum. But, the increase in demand for this metal, mostly due to its industrial uses, means that there isn’t much price difference now.
- White golds need to be replated every once in a while to keep their color. Palladium rings naturally maintain their color over time and can often foster an attractive patina as it ages.
- Palladium is lighter than platinum thus will feel relatively light on the finger.
- This metal does not contain any nickel making it less likely to cause allergic reactions than alloyed gold.
- Palladium is 15 times rarer than platinum and 30 times rarer than gold. Its rarity is the reason it is not a typical metal for wedding bands. As a result, it may be hard to find a palladium ring in a design you want due to its limited supply.
- As a result of their metallic characteristic, palladium rings are tough to resize.
- Some couples tend to go for heftier wedding bands, and the lighter weight of palladium may come as a deal-breaker for them.
History of Platinum
The illustrious platinum is one of the rarest and most expensive metals used in the modern world. Not only is it as rare as gold, but it is also as desirable because of its luster, resistance to tarnishing, and strength – all characteristics that are perfect for wedding rings.
The discovery of platinum dates back to the ancient Egyptians. But, the understanding and knowledge about this precious metal came when its discoverer Antonio de Ulloa returned to Spain in 1746 and brought samples of it.
It wasn’t until 1751 when it was recognized and became its own element. In the following years, methods of melting the platinum down became successful, and it began to grab jewelers and other metal workers’ interest.
One of the first instances platinum was used for fashion and jewelry was when Marc Janety, a goldsmith to Louis XVI, used it for fashion buttons and chains for clothing, expensive cutlery, and other luxury items.
Platinum did not immediately become an item for jewelry. It was only until the development of jewelry torches that manipulated metal that Louis Cartier used to create the first platinum jewelry. He was able to bring platinum’s durability and luster to light.
Today, platinum has various uses. It remains a favorite option for jewelry because of its resistance to tarnish, unlike silver. Industries also use platinum for catalytic converters in car engines. Platinum is also useful in boosting magnetic properties; thus is used in the electronic sector to create hard disks. In the medical industry, they serve their purpose best in dental fillings, pacemakers, and even chemotherapy treatment for cancer patients.
Pros and Cons of Platinum in Rings
As with palladium, platinum also has its fair share of pros and cons as the material for engagement rings and wedding bands. But, these should not hinder your decision to pick platinum as your choice for your wedding ring.
- Platinum is almost as durable as palladium. While the other is a slightly harder metal, both make excellent rings because of their strength and how they tolerate a substantial amount of stress.
- It has a stunning silvery-white color and striking sheen. It is your best choice of metal if you love the look of white metals.
- Engagement and wedding rings made of platinum are typically 90 to 95% pure; therefore, there is not much alloy metal that can set off any skin allergies.
- Platinum ages gracefully. It maintains its color intuitively. Like palladium, it also develops a patina over time, which adds to the ring’s character. It is easy to polish even when worn.
- Platinum weighs more than palladium and may feel heavier on a finger. Although technically it is not a disadvantage, some couples are not big fans of extra weight.
- It is one of the most expensive metals that you may have to pay more for a platinum ring than you would for one made of 14k white gold.
Palladium vs. Platinum Wedding Rings: Close Comparison
Although the differences between palladium and platinum are not visible to the naked eye, they differ in many aspects – from their appearance to their durability, their weight, and cost, too.
What separates them from each other is color. Palladium and platinum may look impossible to tell apart, but to the trained eye, one is slightly darker than the other. The marginally darker metal palladium also differs from platinum in terms of being more resistant to scratching.
Both palladium and platinum are naturally white metals and will stay white no matter what. However, palladium is slightly darker by one shade than platinum. No plating brings their whiteness, meaning that you won’t have to replate to maintain it, unlike white gold.
Over time, these metals develop a patina. Patina is a gloss on the surface that results from age or polishing. When palladium and platinum experience wearing and tearing, the metal moves from one part to another.
This movement gives a ring a matte-finish appearance or what is known as patina. This characteristic is what couples love about these metals. Unlike palladium and platinum, when gold gets scratched, the metal comes off the ring and leaves the surface looking nicked.
Palladium is more rigid than platinum, which makes it harder to scratch than the latter. Nevertheless, as with most wedding rings, they will go through scratches so, it should not entirely be a deciding factor.
Both metals show to be one of the hardest metal for wedding rings in the graph below – they are even harder than 14K gold wedding rings.
Palladium is less dense than platinum; thus, it weighs marginally less. Typically, a platinum wedding band weighs almost twice as much as a palladium ring of the same size. While the platinum ring’s weight is a good reminder you are wearing a ring, others prefer feeling lighter with a palladium band.
Unlike gold, palladium and platinum are both hypoallergenic metals, and none of them are likely to induce metal allergies. Allergies often happen with gold as it contains different metals to make it hard. If your skin is sensitive, palladium or platinum with no nickel content is the best metal for your wedding ring.
Some say that because palladium is one of the hardest metals, that they are impossible to resize. Myth buster – it is possible to resize palladium rings. But, it requires a complicated process and can often be a little pricey.
Since palladium is tough to work with, the majority of jewelers charge a premium to resize it. Others won’t even offer resizing services due to difficulty or not having trained staff to do it.
So, if you are looking at getting a palladium wedding ring, be sure that you have the right size ahead of time to avoid the hassle of resizing.
On the other hand, platinum rings are significantly easier to resize and won’t cost as much. They may still be more difficult to resize than gold, but it’s a far more popular service that many jewelers can perform.
Due to the massive increase in demand for palladium, the once significantly cheaper than platinum now costs par with it.
Palladium is not only known as a metal for jewelry but cars too. Car exhaust systems consume about 85% of palladium, specifically the parts intended to reduce toxic pollutants emissions.
Before 2017 to 2018, palladium costs less for the ring of the same style made of platinum. With the great demand and diminishing supply, there’s just a little margin of the price difference. Still, wedding rings made from palladium or platinum are substantially more expensive than those made from 14K or 18K gold.
Palladium and platinum are both stellar metals, and it won’t be a surprise if you find it hard to decide between the two. With 2020’s metal market, it would be more sensible to go for a platinum ring because of its density and flexibility in its widespread recognition. But, if you keep it on a budget, palladium’s quality will give you value for your money.
With characteristics that are almost similar to each other, the decision may boil down to which is more comfortable to wear. After all, if it’s a wedding ring you want these metals for, you would like to wear them comfortably for a lifetime.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Q: Are there better alternatives to palladium and platinum?
A: Both metals are rare that not a lot of jewelers offer it as an option for engagement or wedding rings. Their characteristics also make them hard to deal with that some jewelers prefer not to work with them, especially with palladium.
But, if you want the whiteness similar to that of palladium or platinum, 14K white gold is a great alternative. It may not be as white as palladium or platinum, but it is durable, stylish, and undoubtedly more affordable.
Q: Why is platinum more expensive than palladium or gold?
A: There are many factors why platinum (and palladium) is more expensive than gold. Platinum is about 60% heavier than gold. So, if a gold ring weighs 5gr, it would have weighed 8 gr in platinum. Jewelry made of platinum is nearly pure platinum, not alloyed. Its manufacturing process is more complicated than gold, which adds to the labor costs, too.