Using palladium alloys to make jewelry is nothing new and I would
like to tell a little story about how and why I have come to the
belief that platinum and/or gold repairs and restorations should not
be attempted by the untrained. This happened well over 30 years ago.
After the my first 5 or 6 months on the bench, I was still not
allowed to do a lot of sizing. Mostly, I was doing bangle bracelet,
pocket watch, wrist watch case and chain repairs. Sizing was still
pretty much shuffled around myself and my peer who shared our double
bench. We worked on a quota system and were willing to attempt just
about anything that would increase our dollar production, but that
work that seemed to be productive was generally given to those with
One day the fellow sitting next to me was given a job for a half
shank. He was pretty excited about this job. The metal appeared to
be platinum. In those days, a platinum half shank was a $35 job.
Soldering a chain was $1 and we were only awarded 1/4 of these
amounts as long as we maintained a decent speed in production. The
metal could be brought to a white heat before melting. He set about
rolling out some platinum. He dovetailed his joint and started to
weld it. The nipped end of the original shank melted away from the
new metal and he had a lot of trouble getting a good weld. In the
end, both side diamonds were burned beyond recognition and the
center diamond was badly milked. Turned out that it was a palladium
ring. A very costly error.
Some may suggest that only an idiot could have made such a mistake.
I don’t think that the man was any kind of an idiot. He studied
jewelry and had made jewelry his life before he was 19. At that time
I would have made the same mistake. I watched him do it and I was
just as puzzled as he.
Bruce D. Holmgrain
JA Certified Master Bench Jeweler