Palladium and platinum belong to the same group of metals. Both are white metals that are hypoallergenic and can be used in jewellery. As of 2010, palladium costs less than half as much as platinum. Palladium resists scratching, while platinum will scratch over time and take on a distinct patina (sheen produced by age or use). Both metals are ideal candidates for engagement rings because of their strength—palladium or platinum prongs generally don’t have to be replaced after years of daily wear—but platinum is still considered superior because it is easier to work with in casting and repairs.
Look for a hallmark on your jewellery. In a ring, the hallmark is inside the band. On necklaces and bracelets, it is generally on the clasp. On earrings, it is generally on the post. You may need a jewellers’ loupe or magnifying glass to make out the hallmark. Palladium is generally marked 950 PALL, 950 PALLADIUM, PALL or PALLADIUM. Platinum is generally marked 950 PLAT, 950 PLATINUM, PLAT or PLATINUM.
Examine the colour of the metal. Both are white metals, but palladium has a distinctly grey tone while platinum’s tone is slightly whiter.
Weigh the jewellery. Palladium weighs about half of what platinum weighs. A palladium ring will weigh noticeably less than a platinum ring in the same style. You can weigh jewellery on a jewellers’ scale, or any scale that measures grams.
Conduct an iodine test. If you have a ring, test the inside of the band. Place a drop of iodine on a clean surface on the jewellery metal. As iodine evaporates and dries, it may take on a colour that will assist in the identification of the metal. Iodine will turn black on 950 Palladium and will remain colourless on 900 or 950 Platinum.
Be careful when looking at the hallmarks on palladium and platinum jewellery because they can be very similar. Both usually consist of 95 per cent of platinum or palladium with 5 per cent ruthenium, iridium or other alloys. Palladium’s hallmark is usually 950 PALL or 950 PALLADIUM, while platinum’s hallmark is usually 950 PLAT or 950 PLATINUM. Platinum can also be marked 900 (meaning it is 90 per cent platinum and 10 per cent alloy) or 999 (meaning it is 99 per cent platinum and 1 per cent alloy).
Some jewellers will not work with palladium because it can be difficult to work with in casting. If you decide to get a palladium engagement ring, you may want to check around with local jewellers and see if they will be willing to do repairs or sizing on your palladium ring.