Choosing between platinum and palladium for your engagement ring may be quite tricky. In this article, we explain the main differences & similarities of both these precious metals. After reading you will have a full picture and can decide easily what will be the best option for the ring of your dream
Table of Contents
History of platinum and palladium
Platinum is one of the three most commonly used jewelry metals (together with silver and gold). The name refers to the Spanish word “platina”, meaning “little silver”. It was used in pre-Columbian times by South Americans and after 1750 came to Europe. When it was discovered how to melt platinum down, it was mostly used as decoration and for laboratory instruments, not for jewelry. Louis Cartier was the first in Europe to use platinum for jewelry. He brought platinum’s durability and luster to light and made it popular. After King Louis XVI of France even called platinum “only metal fit for kings”.
Nowadays, South Africa is the major producer of platinum, this white metal is far rarer than gold.
Palladium, in its turn, does not have such a rich history, it was discovered only in 1803 by English chemist William H. Wollaston. Palladium in itself is rare in nature with the most extensive deposits in South Africa, Russia, Ontario, and Montana. Jewelers began using palladium in the 1930s while creating white gold. They tried to use it as a platinum alternative because palladium has really an explicit outer similarity with platinum. However, they have significant differences which we will focus on in detail next.
In Europe of the 18th century, platinum was used for crockery as in the photo: a precious sugar bowl made of gold and platinum. In the right photo: a Cartier’s platinum & sapphire necklace made for Otto von Bismarck, German statesman of the 19th century.
Color & Shine
Compare these three rings of different metals. From left to right: platinum, palladium, and silver rings
Platinum is a naturally white metal and at first glance, its color is similar to silver: both have gray cold undertones. However, platinum seems sometimes brighter and shinier than silver which can have a duller, gray appearance.
Platinum’s shine doesn’t fade to yellow over time, but the surface of a platinum piece may become dull. So, platinum jewelry requires some maintenance to keep it shiny as before.
If we talk about palladium, it is a shiny white metal in the same group as platinum (along with ruthenium, rhodium, osmium, and iridium). To the untrained eye, the colors of platinum and palladium look almost identical but palladium has a slightly darker tone. So, platinum rings are generally about 1 shade whiter than palladium. However, a palladium ring will feel relatively white on the finger. By the way, speaking about the whitest precious metals people usually mention rhodium or sterling silver.
Weight & Density
Alloy & Purity
Jewelers use metal alloys firstly because they play a role in the hardness of a jewelry piece. Secondly, alloy components ease the casting and fabrication of jewelry. As for both platinum and palladium, rings made of them usually have 5% alloy.
In the case of palladium, ruthenium is often used for 4.8% of the alloy, with trace amounts of copper or other components. Platinum rings can be alloyed with iridium, rhodium, and ruthenium.
How many percent exactly of the precious metal you will have in your ring, you will know from the stamp (or in other words hallmark) on a quality jewelry piece:
So, after all you’ve read about the quality & density of palladium and platinum you can keep in mind that:
because of the low density of palladium, rings of approximately equal volume and design but made of different metals — palladium and platinum — will contain different amounts of these metals. Simply put, an average engagement ring will weight 3 grams of paladium but if of platunum, then 5-6 grams. (Going to details, an item of volume 1 cm3 in 950 Pd will contain 11.4 g of Palladium. But an item of the same volume in 950 Pt will contain already 20 g of Platinum.)
So, you see that platinum in a ring is heavier as palladium (and purer as gold): hence, it will influence the end price of your ring.
Durability & Maintenance
In terms of hardness, on the Mohs scale, platinum is rated at a 4 and palladium a 5. When alloyed, platinum goes up to 4.5 and palladium to 5.75. So, though palladium is about 10% more scratch-resistant, both these metals are nearly equally resistant to scratching and better than white gold or silver.
Yes, they both still can have a slight loss of luster over time — and some people like this matte finish on their rings which jewelers call “patina”. But if you prefer a mirror surface you can give your item non-abrasive polishing. Both platinum and palladium as “noble metals” have perfect abilities to withstand oxidation and corrosion. So after the polishing, you will find them both as shiny as before.
Additionally, both platinum and palladium are hypoallergenic metals. As a rule, platinum is alloyed with copper, palladium, rhodium, iridium as it’s technologically simple and inexpensive. We work with platinum-silver alloy and it’s the most safest alloy which never causes allergy.
Workability & Resizing
In fact, less than 1% of rings worldwide are made of palladium and for now, palladium is not widely recognized as a precious metal in jewelry and watchmaking. Not many jewelers work with palladium, they may not have the right equipment for it. So, you probably will be in search of a professional who will resize your palladium ring.
Also, because palladium is harder than platinum, it can be less workable than platinum. As a result, jewelers may find it more difficult to deal with palladium.
As for platinum, repairing and resizing of platinum rings may also be a bit tricky because platinum needs a higher temperature to work with compared to gold, so the repairing will be more time-consuming. But the techniques for soldering platinum are identical to gold techniques. So, you will find professional jewelers working with platinum without much effort.
Value & Price
Palladium is comparable in cost to platinum. Both of these metals are 30 times rarer, compared to gold. Both of them are used in industry, in electronics, and in many new technologies and are sometimes interchangeable.
Starting from 2018-2019, palladium increased in price and is sometimes considered the most expensive of the four major precious metals: gold, silver, and platinum.
Still, you can discover that a platinum ring approximately of the same design and weight as a palladium ring may be more expensive. It’s because platinum is much denser than palladium (almost twice as dense, as described before). This means that a jeweler by making the same ring will use more grams of platinum than grams of palladium.
Now, when you’ve studied all the similarities and differences between platinum & palladium, let us concentrate on which of these metals can be a perfect choice for your (or your partner’s) engagement ring.
Palladium Pros & Cons
Palladium actually has an outer similarity of platinum and is equally attractive as platinum. Also, it may cost less than the same piece in platinum. It is durable and scratch-resistant as well as platinum and does not require special care over time.
However, you can face these problems while purchasing a palladium ring:
Though palladium hardness is a bit higher than platinum, since it’s a malleable metal (as all precious metals), it is also brittle. If a prong of a palladium ring will break or crack, it has to be repaired very well. So, you will be obliged to find a good goldsmith working with palladium and this exact may not be an easy task at all.
Secondly, while choosing a palladium ring online or in a store, you will see that your choice will be quite moderate. You probably won’t find a wide variety of rings. So, let us come closer to the point why.
Secondly, while choosing a palladium ring online or in a store, you will see that your choice will be quite moderate. You probably won’t find a wide variety of rings. So, let us come closer to the point why
a palladium ring may fit you:
Platinum Pros & Cons
Though palladium is a slightly harder metal, platinum rings are also very durable. The color of platinum is a bit lighter than palladium and it usually looks great in rings with colored gemstones. Platinum can require polishing over time, but it will not be worn as quickly, as, for example, gold and it’s still very durable. Any diamond in platinum prongs will feel very safe, secure and will not fall out. That’s why platinum is especially impressive due to its color & durability in bold high setting engagement rings.
Still, there are some platinum features that you have to keep in mind:
With a high probability, you will pay more for a platinum ring of the same design and weight in comparison to a palladium one. The reasons we’ve already described above. Yes, prices of precious metals fluctuate, but as for now, the main point is as follows: platinum costs more than palladium which is still not totally common metal for jewelry.
Additionally, your platinum engagement ring will feel significantly heavier as the same style ring made of palladium: approximately twice as much. Though some people like it, not everybody is excited to have a chunky feel on his finger. However, platinum rings can be as delicate as of any other metals since platinum is very malleable and there are lots of platinum rings offered on the market. So finally,
a platinum ring may fit you if:
With NinaVova you will not have a problem with the choice as we offer custom-designed rings and you can have any ring style you need. Your platinum engagement ring will fit you (or your soulmate) perfectly and will be made according to your personal vision.
Our specialists at NinaVova have a high level of expertise in working with platinum and enough experience to deal with tricky designs. It doesn’t matter if you choose a plain classic style, engraving, combinations with diamonds, colored gemstones, or even with other metals. Together we will find an optimal solution for your budget and you will not be torn apart by the choice between stone and metal cost. We always offer options and designs for each customer individually.
Your platinum engagement ring will be not just a ring, it will be an epitome of your love as strong & durable as the metal of which it is made.
You can contact us here directly and we will help you to create the platinum engagement ring of your dream.