Very few products can be recommend blindly without reservation to a broad audience. Preferences, requirements and expectations vary widely from person to person, and situation to situation. Just as strongly as I would advise a severely dehydrated person to rather opt for gulp of fresh water over sipping molten lava, I would urge anyone to choose palladium over white gold for jewellery use whenever possible.
To properly manufacture jewellery in palladium a jeweller requires very specialized (read: expensive) equipment and processes. The metal can not be properly worked by hand, and therefor no basement jewellers will be able to assist with palladium manufacturing. Very few jewellers have invested the capital and time into the science of palladium manufacturing. Unfortunately 99% of jewellers that can’t work in palladium don’t stick to a simple “we don’t manufacture in palladium”, but rather spend a few minutes rehearsing a little speech about preserving the traditional metals and other foreign concepts.
At Poggenpoel.com palladium is our best selling metal by a very large margin. I believe the following facts pack a knock-out blow to white gold for use in engagement rings...
1.) Palladium Is NOT a "New Metal"
The poet in me understands the lure of a classic metal choice. I would also shy away from “new metals” (trendy, fly-by-night types) when buying an item that symbolizes my eternal and undying love for another person. You can sleep soundly though - palladium is anything but new. Palladium was discovered in 1803 by William Wollaston. He named it after the asteroid Pallas, which in turn was named after the Goddess Pallas Athena. Palladium has been in use in various applications for well over 200 years.
2.) Palladium is Hypoallergenic
Quite a few people experience allergic reactions to their wedding and engagement rings. This allergy is called "wedding-ring dermatitis" and should not be confused with the very real 7 year itch. Wedding ring dermatitis can cause extremely itchy, red and scaly welts. It’s main cause is an allergic reaction to the nickel content often found in white gold rings. Nickel allergies affect 24 - 36% of woman... and it’s on the rise. The North American Contact Dermatitis Group proudly named nickel the 2008 "Allergen of the Year."
Nickel use in jewellery is declining worldwide, but tons of white gold jewellery with nickel content is being reused by many jewellers every day. Even if your jeweller is not deliberately adding nickel to his white gold mix, the recycled jewellery he is reusing will most probably have some nickel in it. Nickel can turn your symbol of love in to a source of frustration in a heartbeat!
Palladium is completely hypoallergenic, and contains no nickel or other known allergens.
3.) Palladium Doesn't Need Rhodium Plating
Since white gold in its pure (unplated) state is a rather dullish gray metal with a prominent yellow undertone, it’s plated with a few microns of rhodium to improve the appearance of the jewellery. Although rhodium is stunningly white - it wears off in a few short months, regardless of what the jeweller tells you. Jewellers do not replate for free and you’ll be looking at around R300 per plating just to maintain the original colour of the jewellery you purchased. Replate a ring three times per year for 15 years and you would have spent R13 500 on rhodium. That wan’t part of the quote was it?
Palladium doesn’t need any form of plating and even after 50 years the metal will appear as white as the first day you laid eyes on the ring.
4.) Palladium Is Stronger And More Durable Than White Gold
Pure gold is much softer than most people would imagine. In fact, it is so soft that you can indent your thumb nail into pure gold without great effort. The alloys mixed into 18ct, 14ct and 9ct gold strengthen the metal, but no gold based concoction will ever be a hard, strong metal. It’s great to start out with the intention of having your ring properly polished up every 4 months, but people are crazy busy and don’t find time to run into jewellery stores as planned.
Although palladium is far from scratch resistant it is much more durable than white gold. Your palladium engagement ring will not be in desperate need of a touch up polish every couple of months.
Furthermore, palladium much better secures your diamonds in a ring. Engagement rings get knocked every day. Make sure that your diamonds are properly set in a strong metal to decrease the risk of losing diamonds when your ring takes an unexpected bash.
5.) Palladium Is Much Rarer Than Gold and Platinum
Most of the research available indicates that palladium is at least 30 times rarer than gold. Palladium is also much rarer than platinum.
Back in 2001 palladium was actually 75% more expensive than platinum. Due to the high cost of using palladium in industrial applications, a very similar and cheaper metal started being used. The shift to platinum in industrial use since 2001 has made the platinum price sky-rocket. The tables are turning yet again, and the palladium price has recently hit a 14 year high.
With the small supply of palladium available, and the exceptionally cheap price it’s currently at, you can expect a steady increase in price in the next few years.
Personally I have no doubt that palladium will become the number one choice for high end jewellery over the next decade.
Now, please tell me; why on earth would you choose white gold over palladium?