Palladium White Gold:

A beautiful alloy for an engagement ring and a perfect choice for people with a skin sensitivity.

sheet wire and casting grain in palladium white gold

Palladium white gold is one of my favourite alloys to work with. And not just because I’m one of those folks that has an allergy to nickel! I love it because of its colour. I feel like the beautiful grey undertone makes a ring look richer and perhaps a bit more antique.

If you think palladium white gold may be the alloy for you too here’s what you need to know:

Hypoallergenic Alloy

For those of us people with sensitive skin palladium white gold is a great alloy. Palladium is from the platinum group of metals, all of which are hypoallergenic. For the most part all precious jewellery is made with materials that will not cause a skin problems, however, about 5% of the population will have an allergic reaction to certain metals that are used in common jewellery alloys.

Alloys are created to make metals harder so that they will stand up to normal wear and tear. Precious metals such as pure gold and silver are very soft. In order to toughen them up other metals such as silver, copper and nickel are added.

It’s very uncommon for pure gold, silver, palladium or platinum to cause a skin sensitivity. The usual cause is the copper or nickel that is added to the alloy. Copper is added to create sterling silver and all karats of yellow gold and rose gold below 24k.

Nickel is added to all karats of nickel white gold to bleach out the yellow of pure gold. It’s the most common alloy of white gold sold commercially. Palladium white gold uses palladium to bleach out the yellow instead of nickel. By removing the nickel, you remove the skin sensitivity.

How do you know if you have a metal allergy if you haven’t worn a lot of jewellery?

If you haven’t worn a lot of jewellery it can be hard to know if you have an allergy. To complicate matters not everyone’s skin pH is the same, a metal that might be fine for one person with an allergy can cause a reaction for someone else.

For me I noticed that the back of my belt buckle or the back of the button on my pants would give me a rash on my stomach. I also noticed that I couldn’t wear sterling silver earrings anymore although I could still wear sterling silver rings without a problem. As I said, it’s different for everyone.

Costume jewellery is not always a good indicator of if you have an allergy or not. Most people have a reaction to the base white metal that is used in costume jewellery.

Sometimes an allergy can develop later. I wasn’t always allergic to nickel white gold but I found that after I had my baby I was suddenly allergic to it! I had worn a ring home from the shop by accident and woke up the next morning to a skin reaction that was irritated and itchy under the white gold ring.

If you’d like to test it out yourself I suggest borrowing an item of white gold jewellery from a friend or family member and wearing it for a period of 48 hours. If after that time you have no reaction you’re probably fine.

I’ve even had a client tape a nickel to her arm and do a patch test to see if it caused a reaction (she did). If you’d like to try this method make sure you find a nickel that was minted before 1982 when they were still made of actual nickel.

Availability

Although palladium white gold is the most common alloy of white gold in Europe it is also readily available here locally in Toronto. Any ring, necklace, pendant, bracelet or set of earrings of your choice can be made using palladium white gold instead of nickel white gold.

Cost

Because palladium is from the platinum group of metals it is more expensive than nickel. This means that palladium white gold is roughly 30% more expensive than nickel white gold. Since writing this post the price of palladium has sky rocketed. Platinum is actually the better value choice these days!

Colour

The most obvious difference between nickel white gold and palladium white gold is the colour. Palladium has a deeper, grey-ish undertone and nickel white gold is a brighter white. But, if you were to compare two highly polished rings, your eye may have a hard time telling the difference between the two. It’s only a subtle difference but there definitely is a difference.

Also, you may have heard about white gold rings needing to be “dipped”. A lot of commercially produced rings are rhodium plated because sometimes the alloy can have a slightly yellowish undertone. It is not necessary to plate palladium white gold. If you’re interested in finding out more about rhodium plating I’ve written a post about it here.

A sampling of rings made with palladium white gold:

So how do you know that palladium white gold is right for you?

Definitely if you have a skin sensitivity you’ll want to consider palladium white gold, pure palladium or platinum. Also if you like more of an ‘antique’ look then you may want to consider palladium white gold. If you are curious about this beautiful alloy or would like to see the colour difference between nickel white gold and palladium white gold in person I’d be happy to help with any questions that need answering.

 

 

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