Fabricating with Palladium

Ok gang- I’ve read the Orchid tips about fabricating with Palladium
and I am ready to go.

Before I start, are there any tips out there from all yall that
aren’t covered by the Ganoksin article?

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer

Before I start, are there any tips out there from all yall that
aren't covered by the Ganoksin article? 

Try it with some pieces you can afford to mess up before you start
taking or filling actual orders. You may find that palladium is not
as fun to work with as you’d hoped. Personally, though I have to
work with it for my employer, I don’t like the stuff much at all.
It’s light years away from platinum. It has many of the problems one
used to run into with traditional platinum solders, as well as a few
of it’s own. One caveat. Don’t plan of combining it with gold or
silver. At least not without some test pieces to be sure you’re
design works. Solder joints between palladium and silver or gold are
not as strong as one might wish, and some solder joints seem to crack
on cooling due to differences in expansion rates. A friend of mine
who got all gung ho on palladium as a cheaper alternative to gold,
but with more “cachet” than silver, tried a bunch of pieces with gold
bezels but palladium back plates, as well as palladium bezels with
silver back plates. She was using roughly 28 to 30 guage metal for
the bezels, so the seams didn’t have all that much surface area, but
in either gold by itself, or silver by itself, etc, these would have
been fine. An unacceptable number of those seams between palladium
and other metals cracked either spontaneously, or just with the
little bit of stress in burnishing over the bezel’s top edge to set
the stones I helped her sort of fix some that she just had to have,
with a laser welder. But the resulting welds looked rather like crap.
Even laser welds just on palladium, not mixed metals, are dicey,
prone to porosity and cracking. Sometimes you get lucky and it works,
but as often as not, just when you Need it to work, it “heads south”.

Like I said, try it, and get used to it, so you can make an informed
choice as to whether it will work for you, Before you start
committing yourself to it with orders that have to be filled, etc.
For some things, it’s fine, and the price is certainly attractive.
But it’s not a total substitute for the other white jewelry metals.

Peter Rowe.

i went to the Ganoksin articles first. there great.

i did find recently though that i could solder it with my normal
blowpipe torch which speeds things up alot! (before i had to borrow
the water torch from my old workshop).

i have developed an odd habbit of licking all my work so the
pallions stick!

Chris Boland

If I may chime in i agree with Peter totally. personally been using
the stuff and it is pretty nice, BUT it is not old or platinum or
silver or any substitute for any metal. it is it’s own animal. very
different then platinum and very different then gold or silver. I
have successfully combined 14k with the palladium soldered to it with
gold solders, but i do not rely on just the solder seams, i fabricate
the pieces so they fit and key in to each other and then flow the
solder in. i also use between 1mm to .65mm at it’s thinnest, usually
my metal is thicker, a personal choice. that seems to have worked by
accident. there is the palladium alliance that you could log into
that is similar to the Platinum association to help the goldsmith
populous educate and inform, I think their address is in Orchid and
they are based in the west coast. there is some papers and info in
the German series of informative booklets, Practical goldsmith #6 is
the palladium issue available at Frei and Borrell good beginners
info. before i forget, My beginning experience with it was very hard
just because i had made all the mistakes of assuming it is in the
platinum family so it must be working similar to PT. but it also
turned out that there are many different alloys out there, even
though there is only 3 in the info you get. each refiner has their
own little recipe even though they claim it is the same 950 alloy,
well color does not match from one caster to another, or Hoovers
metal to pm west or united, they all do some thing a little
different, just like all the yellow gold colors you can get from all
the different vendors, this is pretty much the same. i was surprised
at that, it is nothing like platinum, and in the beginning I lost a
few dollars because the clients kept complaining that it was not
matching what they had bought before… rule of thumb on that, find
a good refiner /vendor and stay with them for that particular metal.

hope it helped

Hi Jo,

Here are a few notes from my experience…

  1. The palladium solders used with 950 Pd are not a good color
    match, you get a detectable grey line. So try to make your piece
    with inconspicuous solder seams. Daniel Ballard form PM West
    explained that as a problem resulting from your not being able to
    heat palladium too close to it’s melting point without it becoming
    brittle, so even the hard solder has a relatively low Pd
    content…accounting for the crappy color match.

  2. Seams don’t laser weld well, they can become brittle. Again I
    think it’s because the heat zone of the weld is heated to a point
    that the welded area becomes brittle. Although you can laser surface
    imperfections without any problem.

  3. For a good color match you can use 20K white weld. I would be
    reluctant to use it to fabricate a whole piece but I’d consider it
    if I was forced to seam in the center of a shank for instance.

  4. Particularly if it’s a ring, make it heavier than you would if it
    was 14K white or platinum. We have found that 950 PD just doesn’t
    wear as well as we had hoped. Rings that are on the delicate side
    really do not seem to hold up well if worn everyday. If we make them
    a bit more substantial they seem to fair better when we send them
    out into the world.

Have fun!

Thanks Mark and “All Who Responded” to my palladium question. You
all had some great advice.

I’m planning on using it to make a one of ,magnetic pearl clasp,
with bead set diamonds and no visible seams.

I’m going to start today. I’ll post a pic when I’m done. Thanks again
to all of my Orchid Peeps.

Jo Haemer

You may not want to beat on a ring for an hour to get it in shape for
setting, but if you TIG weld the joints, you can. This ring started
as Hoovers 950 TruPd bar stock. It was rolled a bit and then roughly
bent to a size one. After hammering, notching, and general
manipulation, it turned out to be a work hardened, pit free, no
solder seamed, all the same color, decent looking, size seven ring.
If you want to fabricate in Pd you’ll have to take the time to learn
to TIG weld. Check it out.