Palladium & Continuum
Arpaia Jewelry fabricates many custom designs in Palladium rather than in Platinum or White Gold. Platinum might be the most luxurious white metal for heirloom designs, but Palladium is more affordable and possesses many of Platinum’s attributes. Also, Palladium has several superior qualities over White Gold, most notably, its natural luster, pure silvery-white color, and hypoallergenic nature.
What is Palladium?
The following Information and Images are sourced from Palladium Alliance Resources.
Palladium is in the Platinum Family
Palladium is a rare noble metal in the same family of precious metals as Platinum. The “Platinum Group of Metals” is comprised of Platinum, Palladium, Rhodium, Ruthenium, Iridium, and Osmium.
Palladium was discovered in 1803 by William Hyde Wollaston, and named after the asteroid “Pallas” first sighted in 1801. Palladium is found in Canada, Australia, Africa, South America and North America. Palladium is largely used in the United States, and mined at The Stillwater Mining Company in Montana; the mine has received awards for green mining practices.
Palladium is Tough
Palladium has been used in jewelry since 1939. Palladium shares many attributes of Platinum including its strength. It is also durable and malleable with relatively low density in comparison to other white precious metals, so it is lightweight and more suitable for bigger and bolder jewelry designs that can be worn more comfortably than if made in another metal.
Palladium is a natural silvery-white pure metal
Palladium is a pure white metal by nature, so it does not need to be mixed with another metal to appear white, such as how white gold is created. There is no expensive maintenance to keep Palladium brilliant white for life – Palladium jewelry stays white over time and it does not tarnish.
Palladium can be cast using a metal alloy made with 95% pure Palladium (referred to as 950 Palladium), or 75% pure Palladium (750 Palladium), and recently 55% pure Palladium (550 palladium). The lower the Palladium content, the more affordable the alloy.
Palladium’s current market price makes it a great value
Palladium is becoming the metal of choice for a growing number of fashion-forward jewelry designers – it is naturally lustrous and strong with beautiful silvery-white color. The combination makes it ultra appealing in jewelry. Plus, it is less expensive than platinum, making it the preference for savvy shoppers who want affordable luxury. At current market prices, Palladium is even more affordable than 18kt Gold and about the same as 14kt gold. However, there are higher manufacturing costs with Palladium and also constraints in fabrication and repair procedures. The industry consensus is that Palladium is undervalued and so a very good price right now in jewelry and as a commodity. It has been theorized that some of the difficulties working with Palladium account for its relatively low market price given its rarity and fine attributes. Research and new technology in the jewelry industry are continually abating Palladium’s casting and bench constraints, and as a result, abating some of its higher manufacturing costs.
Palladium is Hypoallergenic
As a pure metal, Palladium is “skin sensitive,” which means that it typically can be worn by people who are allergic to other metals, especially white gold. As mentioned, Palladium gets its white color and luster from nature. Other metals that are not naturally white, such as white gold, are mixed with nickel to appear white, and nickel can cause allergic reactions.
Caring for Palladium Jewelry
Use a mild ammonia solution (one part ammonia to six parts water) and a soft toothbrush to gently clean inside intricate designs and under white diamonds. Rinse well and wipe dry with a soft clean microfiber cloth.
Do not use ammonia, detergent or any other cleaning agent to clean Palladium jewelry set with colored gemstones, pearls, other organic jewelry, or if paired with silver. Extra care must be taken when cleaning delicate materials. For these items, use only a clean, soft microfiber cloth and warm soapy water (detergent-free). Rinse well and dry with cloth.
Arpaia Lang is now using Continuum as a preferred sterling alloy in hand-fabricated silver designs.
What is Continuum?
Silver is one of the most beautiful precious metals in the world, and it is affordable. Arpaia Jewelry often fabricates in fine silver (99% pure silver) as well as sterling silver. Sterling is a silver alloy composed of minimum 92.5% silver. The remaining 7.5% is typically copper to increase strength since pure silver is soft and often not strong enough for most jewelry designs. The addition of copper to the silver usually results in a lower white color closer to light gray. Copper is much more susceptible to oxidation and corrosion than silver, so sterling silver tarnishes more easily (faster and sometimes darker) than fine silver.
Argentium sterling silver has been available for several years. It was one of the first alloys to significantly improve the tarnish resistance of sterling.
Many of the major silver alloy producers are advancing their own-patented brands of sterling, and each has its place in the marketplace of jewelry design and fabrication. Some of the more revolutionary sterling silver alloys are being introduced to achieve one or more of the following: (1) further increase tarnish resistance, (2) enhance color by making the alloy appear whiter (less gray), (3) improve hardness so luster appears brighter and finish lasts longer, and (4) increase strength. Strength is especially important in designs set with gemstones.
The newest sterling alloy being used with more frequency at Arpaia Jewelry is Stuller’s Continuum Sterling Silver. Continuum contains over 95% precious metal. It is a European-friendly sterling since it contains no nickel, and it is a grade 1 bright white metal. Continuum’s mechanical properties fall between those of 14kt yellow gold and most other sterling silver alloys. As a result, it is very versatile from a manufacturing perspective – it remains ductile after hardening so a good metal for high quality jewelry components that require spring (E.g. earring clutch backs and clasps), and it can be easily age-hardened making it comparable to the “as-cast” hardness of 14kt gold. Also, Continuum is more tarnish resistant than traditional silver and Argentium.
Continuum’s superior attributes taken together - enhanced hardness, strength and tarnish resistance – make Continuum better suited than traditional sterling for use in setting high quality stones, including diamonds, and its finish will last longer.