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Platinum vs Palladium for engagement rings


#1

would anyone with experience working both platinum and palladium
compare the two regarding their suitability for engagement rings?

thanks,
bill


#2

Bill,

I think they are both generally suitable for engagement rings but
after spending a year working with palladium I threw in the towel. I
was unable to get a satisfactory product that I was happy with all
the time. I was making a piece up two to three times to get
something I was happy with and by that time a lot of the price
differential had been wiped out. I will say though that I very rarely
get a platinum prong setting back in that needs work (except in some
of my really old pieces where they have just simply worn away–and
yes I’m that old) but I did recently get one of my palladium rings
back with a broken prong that was only a little more than a year old.
For what it’s worth.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140
www.spirerjewelers.com


#3

the two are equally suited for an engagement ring/ bridal set :
equally easy to fabricate, inlay, set, rework (, for example, down
the line adding a hinged mounting if in the future the wearer should
contract rheumatoid arthritis) repair, and durability (- i. e. -
slight damages from everyday wear, MOHS ratings too similar to be of
higher status.

The differences are purely aesthetic, monetary and heavily dependent
on the platinum smith’s skills ( and its given that the smith
already has appropriate equipment and no outlay is needed to make one
ring, one time- if Pt is not your usual material-of-choice (vs. the
availability of a semi-mount, etc. from any distributor and popping
in the appropriate sized stones to simplify the process to it’s
fullest !): colour (whiteness), the ability to accept an optional
plating - of ruthenium for instance, to increase the durability of
the ring, and perceived value.

However, and in the end, ultimately, it all boils down to the cost
and buyer’s purse. Palladium being, as of todays spot, less than 50%
of the price per Troy Oz. of Platinum, or a Pt alloy (Pt/Ir, Pt/Ru,
etc. )…money once again is the deciding factor.

Engagement rings are, in general tiffany style or channeled, basket,
and more recently flush set with white diamonds. Perhaps, with or
without baguettes, meelee, etc. and if a “suite”, having 1-2
interlocking bands ( the outer bands fitted to accentuate a standard
mounted tiffany ring, and more rarely having coloured stone accents,
or of non-traditional (in the N. American market ) metals like
mokume-gane, reticulated x or y or engraved bi-metals for instance)
and idiosyncratic elements - like Todd Reed’s parade of raw diamond
cube orientations… so the design is a factor in selling the piece
or ability to transpose the customers wishes into something that is
able to be fabricated and that matches or perhaps even challenges
your skills. !!..I do wonder though if you are asking these
questions about your experience using Platinum and its alloys and
recommend that, unless it’s simple and straightforward you don’t view
this as a testing ground…you would maybe be better off buying the
Hoover and Strong or any other vendor’s pre-fab ring(s).

rer


#4

Hi Bill,

Either platinum or 950 palladium is suitable for a use in an
engagement ring, if the ring is made well. Because platinum prices
have sky rocketed, 950 palladium has been pushed into the market as
a less expensive substitute. Although palladium is nothing new, the
950 palladium alloy is a relatively new alloy.

We have been using 950 palladium heads for most of our center stones
for the last 18 months. We have a no questions asked, lifetime
guarantee on anything we sell. So if we had any problems we would
drop it like a hot potato. We have had no unusually wear problems or
stone loss in that time. We have been making 2-3 custom 950 palladium
engagement rings each month in that time, and again, we have had no
problems with it.

The advantages are that while it has similar properties to platinum,
it costs much less. It is actually slightly whiter than platinum. It
never needs to be rhodium plated (but it can be with some
difficulty). It wears better than white gold and more like platinum,
so the prongs and shank will last longer. It’s lighter than platinum
(the only benefit here is that help keep your costs down).

The disadvantages are that some alloys can be very soft, so you want
to be sure that the engagement ring is reasonably substantial. It’s
not a good idea to make a super delicate engagement ring out of 950
palladium. And the palladium solder currently available can leave a
faint gray line. An experienced goldsmith can work around that, but
it’s possible a ring could be delivered with a gray sizing seam for
instance.

All in all we confident that the 950 palladium rings we send out the
door will last a lifetime. But if it was for my wife, I’d still give
her platinum just because we have so many more years of experience
with it…

Mark


#5

Working with Palladium and platinum on a every day basis. I have
come to these conclusions.Some with trial and error. Solder for
Palladium I use 1500 Platinum. No line. The Palladium solders do not
work that the Manufactures sell.

Often times Palladium prongs Break easier then Platinum.

You can not Rhodium Plate Palladium. The metal polishes very well to
a bright White.

I prefer palladium over white gold because Palladium does not turn
yellow.

Platinum pushes down on the prong easier and does not tend to spring
back as much as Palladium.

On sizing Palladium I charge the same as Platinum, generally. except
for adding sizes.

I prefer Platinum over Palladium over long term. Plus Value.

Try using the 1500 Plat solder you will have no line.

Thanks Johneric


#6

Hi Daniel

I think they are both generally suitable for engagement rings but
after spending a year working with palladium I threw in the towel.
I was unable to get a satisfactory product that I was happy with
all the time. 

I am curious about what specific issues caused you to throw in the
towel. I have feedback from so many bench jewelers that they love the
way the metal polishes and sets, that it’s in fact quicker to work
than platinum. The most significant bench issues that seem to cause
problems (as another part of this thread notes) would appear to be
soldering and sizing.

At this point, the serious areas of challenge are casting and alloy
selection. Both of these can be addressed, however, with the right
casting process and the right alloy formula. And I do mean both. Gee,
does this seem a little like platinum in the early nineties? Casters
were pulling their hair out and bench jewelers were exasperated with
the amount of time it took to finish a piece in comparison with gold.
I think palladium, like platinum, will have its own evolution in
manufacturing, and when it is all said and done, we will have a solid
home for the last precious metal our planet gave us that is suitable
for fine jewelry.

Teresa Frye
TechForm Advanced Casting Technology


#7

Teresa,

Never had a problem with polish or finish (although getting the blue
coloring that happens with soldering out of some of my detail was
problematic). Just the soldering issue, sizing too as there is no
solder I found that wouldn’t show a seam. I don’t do my own casting,
but none of my casters seemed to be able to consistently produce
pieces that I was entirely happy with. Maybe I’m just too fussy
about some things. Plus ultimately it’s just basically a cheap
platinum substitute, so if it’s the least bit problematic for me, why
should I cheapen my work in general by offering it instead of
platinum? But then my market supports those thoughts…I know it’s
not for everyone.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140
www.spirerjewelers.com


#8
Plus ultimately it's just basically a cheap platinum substitute, so
if it's the least bit problematic for me, why should I cheapen my
work in general by offering it instead of platinum? 

There ya go, in a nutshell…Makes a nice white gold alloy,
though.

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#9

Daniel,

If you’re having concerns about soldering 950 Palladium, might I
suggest using 20K White Hard Plumb solder. Many of my largest
Palladium customers use this and they’re quite satisfied with the
results. Good tenacity and color match.

You’re correct as far as some jewelers look at Palladium as a
Platinum substitute, but I look at it as an additional precious metal
resource which has its place in the grand scheme of things. I feel it
answers many of the issues jewelers face with white gold…color,
workability, brittleness, purity and stress corrosion. Compared to
Platinum, it has many of the same characteristics while also being
much easier to finish and polish. And, yes, it is much less expensive
than Platinum. Look at it as being a good value for your customers
while allowing you to maintain or even increase your profit margins
as well as differentiating you from your competition.

Is it a perfect metal? Just like gold and platinum, probably not;
But each has it advantages and disadvantages and each has its own
niche in the industry.

About two years ago, R-Findings made the decision to offer a number
of our findings and mountings in 950 Palladium. Although I don’t have
the final figures yet, we did see substantial growth in the sales of
our Palladium products in 2007 and we will be strengthening our
position in these products in 2008.

FYI, this mornings metal markets: Platinum $1530.00; Gold $840.75;
Palladium $370.00.

Gene Rozewski
Sales & Marketing Manager
R-Findings
East Rochester, NY
800-422-7624 X3023


#10

Gene,

First of all, I did work with the material for a full year before
deciding to can it so I had some experience with it. Not sure totally
whether the stamping laws would still allow it to be stamped 950
palladium if you’re using gold solder on it.

but I look at it as an additional precious metal resource which has
its place in the grand scheme of things. 

So is sterling silver, but I choose not to work with that either.

Look at it as being a good value for your customers while allowing
you to maintain or even increase your profit margins as well as
differentiating you from your competition. 

That was the problem with it. I wasn’t increasing my profit margins.
Because of the fact that I often had to get two castings to insure
that I had one good one and with the problems in production I ran
into, it was turning into a money loser for me. If I had priced it
based on my true labor costs, the prices wouldn’t be that different
than my platinum. And no matter what, I always make more money on
platinum (in much the same way I always made more money on gold than
silver, which is why I dropped that metal as well). I’m already
different from my competition so that isn’t an issue to begin with.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140
www.spirerjewelers.com