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.