Palladium is a rare and lustrous silvery-white grey metal. Palladium, along with platinum, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium and osmium form a group of elements referred to as the platinum group metals (PGMs).
Palladium is similar in color to platinum, but is a bit more gray. If we use the CIE lab system to refer to “whiteness” in metals, where zero is black and one hundred is white, pure silver rates 93, platinum alloys are about 87, palladium alloys are around 84 or 85, and most white golds range from 78 to 83. Like platinum, palladium will develop a hazy patina over time. Palladium is much more affordable than platinum. It isn’t as dense as platinum, though it is about 12% harder.
We encourage customers to opt for palladium over white gold because it is a pure metal with naturally white properties, giving it no need for rhodium plating. White gold by itself is an alloy of gold and at least one white metal, usually nickel or palladium. Like yellow gold, the purity of white gold is given in karats. (Karats refer to parts out of twenty-four, so 14k gold = 14 parts out of 24 parts pure gold, or about 58% pure gold.) White gold’s properties vary depending on the metals and proportions used. As a result, white gold alloys can be used for different purposes; while a nickel alloy is hard and strong, and therefore good for rings and pins, gold-palladium alloys are soft, pliable and good for white gold gemstone settings, sometimes with other metals like copper, silver, and platinum for weight and durability.
Almost all white gold jewelry is rhodium-plated since gold alloyed with palladium or nickel never comes out true white, but tinted brown, therefore requiring a thin layer of rhodium to mask the tinted shade and make it true white. About one person in eight has a mild allergic reaction to the nickel in some white gold alloys when worn over long periods of time. White gold alloys made without nickel are less likely to be allergenic.
The rhodium is very white and very hard, but it does wear away eventually. To keep a white gold ring looking its best it should be re-rhodium plated approximately every 12 to 18 months.