Palladium vs Platinum: The Main Differences Between Them

Wondering which is better, palladium or platinum jewelry?

You're in the right place. 

In this Learning Guide, I'll compare these two white metals and answer questions like: 

palladium vs platinum
  • Which Metal is More Comfortable?
  • Does Palladium Make A Good Wedding Band
  • Is Platinum More Expensive Than Palladium?

Key Differences Between Platinum & Palladium

The main differences between Platinum vs Palladium are: 

  • Platinum is its own metal, whereas palladium is part of the platinum group metals
  • Palladium is more rare, whereas platinum engagement rings are easier to find
  • Platinum is a heavier metal, whereas palladium rings are more lightweight
  • Palladium jewelry often has diamond simulants, whereas platinum rings have real diamonds
  • All jewelers will work on platinum jewelry, but not every jeweler will work on palladium

Platinum vs Palladium: Origin

Platinum

Platinum is a naturally white precious metal that has been around since the late 19th to early 20th century. It had been discovered much earlier in the 1700s in South America by Antonio de Ulloa. Earlier than that, platinum was in use by early civilizations. 

Platinum can be found on the periodic table under the abbreviation Pt. The name is derived from the Spanish word, platina, meaning “silver”. The word platinum can also refer to a group of six metals known as the platinum group. 

The platinum group metals are: 

  • Platinum
  • Palladium
  • Rhodium
  • Osmium
  • Ruthenium
  • Iridium

However, only platinum, palladium, and rhodium are used in fine jewelry pieces. Platinum is also the most abundant of these metals. 

Like other natural metals, platinum is mined in different parts of the world like Columbia, Canada, and the United States. It’s usually found in alluvial deposits with other alloy metals. Platinum is often found in nickel ore and others. 

When platinum first started being used in jewelry, only the wealthy and royalty were able to afford it. Up until that point, yellow gold jewelry was the premier jewelry metal. 

Today, platinum is available in most online jewelry retailers, but less at brick and mortar jewelry stores. These retail stores usually can order it upon request. 

Platinum engagement rings and wedding bands aren’t as popular as white gold rings, but some people prefer it. 

Palladium

You might’ve noticed that palladium is one of the metals in the platinum group. Like platinum and other natural metals, it’s also mined. 

Palladium is more rare than platinum. But like platinum, it’s not normally found in its own deposits but in other ore bearing mines. Most palladium comes from nickel-copper mines. 

It was discovered by William Hyde Wollastonin 1803. The word "palladium" is derived from the name Pallos. Pallos was an asteroid discovered around this time. 

Most palladium is mined in Russia but it’s also found in the United States, Finland, Australia, Canada, and Zimbabwe.

Because of its rarity, palladium rings aren’t easy to find. They’re less common than platinum rings. 

Even though palladium jewelry has been around for quite some time, people didn’t really start picking up on it within the last 20 years. My speculation is that it's largely due to the internet. 

Besides jewelry, palladium is used in metal instruments like dental tools and electronics.


Platinum vs Palladium: Appearance

Platinum

Platinum was the first white metal to be introduced to fine jewelry. While it enticed everyone, only few could afford it. It was more rare back then because we didn’t have all the advanced mining tools and practices we do today. 

Because it was so expensive, jewelers sought out to create a more affordable white metal.

Any guesses on what that might be? 

White gold jewelry. Once white gold jewelry came into the picture, platinum jewelry took a back seat. 

There are some who prefer platinum to gold wedding bands and engagement rings. One of the biggest appeals is that platinum rings retain their color. 

Platinum is 95% pure. That’s also why platinum jewelry should be stamped with 950. For platinum rings, you should find it on the inside of your ring shank. Sometimes platinum might be stamped with 900 for 90% platinum with a little bit more alloy metals. 

The other 5% of platinum jewelry’s chemical makeup is platinum alloy metals cobalt and palladium. 

The purity of platinum jewelry allows it to keep its silvery-white color regardless of daily wear. The same can’t be said for white gold jewelry that needs rhodium plating over time.  

Platinum jewelry doesn’t have the same luster as white gold, but it’s definitely striking in appearance.

The density of platinum makes it a heavier metal to wear. Some people like it because of this, and others the opposite. It might not be the best choice for someone who isn’t used to wearing rings. 

Niko Men's Diamond Band

Palladium

Despite being an understudy in the platinum group, palladium has a different colored appearance than platinum. 

Both platinum and white gold have a silvery white appearance. Palladium appears a brighter white color than the others. 

palladium custom ring

Platinum vs Palladium: Price

All valuable metals have a daily spot price that fluctuates. Gold, palladium, and platinum are some of these metals. 

But in fine jewelry, the spot price doesn’t have a direct impact on the cost. That’s due in large part to the jewelry piece itself. 

A dainty platinum engagement ring is likely to be less expensive than a wider channel set platinum engagement ring. It uses more metal than that. 

Unlike gold, platinum doesn’t break into cheaper parts. Even 900 platinum is rare, but it does exist. 

The other reason is because of the density in platinum. It takes more platinum to create an engagement ring or wedding band than it does other metals. The density also makes it heavier. 

A palladium engagement ring or wedding band used to be around half the cost of platinum. Despite its discount, it still wasn’t in demand for jewelry. 

Instead, the platinum group metals are also in demand for vehicle production. Since palladium is more rare to find than platinum, its demand rose. So did the price. 

Since about 2014, palladium has been close in price to platinum and even more expensive. The demand for palladium in things beside jewelry is what is driving it up. For this reason, we don’t have the resources to produce mass quantities of palladium engagement rings and wedding bands. 

The amount of palladium jewelry pieces has definitely increased over the last 15 years, but not enough to become a regular contender of engagement ring metals. 

It’s difficult to pinpoint an exact price of palladium engagement rings because there’s so few options, even online. They also are mixed with different diamond simulants like cubic zirconia or moissanite

Since palladium engagement rings are so difficult to find, I’ve found one on Gemvara for $2670. 

palladium solitaire

It has a split shank made of palladium and a .59 ct diamond. 

I’ve created a similar ring of the same carat weight in platinum at JamesAllen.com. 

They might not be the exact same measurements, but they come out to the same price. So really, the price of a platinum or palladium ring is very close, so don’t make that your deciding factor. 

Platinum vs Palladium: Value

The value of platinum and engagement rings isn’t a lot, despite their rarity. The reason is because they have small amounts of the metals to begin with. You’d have to have a lot of jewelry to make the value worth it. 

Fine jewelry doesn’t have great value over the years. When it comes to high resale value, the focus is more on the stone instead of the setting

It’ll be much easier to resell a platinum ring than a palladium ring. If you buy your platinum engagement ring from an online retailer like James Allen or Blue Nile, both of them have upgrade programs that allow you to trade up. 

Blue Nile has partnered with CIRCA to accept engagement rings for cash or store credit. 

Blue Nile with CIRCA

All in all, you shouldn’t buy jewelry to invest or resell. You’re just not going to get what it was originally worth, unless you have a rare gemstone. 

Besides monetary value, you’ll want to know how each of these ring metals fares out over the years. After all, most of us wear our wedding rings every day for years and years. You’ll want to make sure these metals will hold up well so you don’t have to spend tons on repairs or even a replacement. 

Both palladium and platinum are stronger for jewelry than gold. Some engagement rings may have the main part of the ring setting in white gold and the ring head in platinum. 

Platinum is less likely to break than palladium. As for holding up against scratches, palladium jewelry is better with a hardness rating of 5.75 and platinum with 4.5. 

Platinum needs to be polished over the years because of its softness. Thankfully polishing isn’t one of the more expensive jewelry services. 

Not every jeweler will work on palladium jewelry. You might have difficulty finding one that will and it might cost more than a more traditional metal. 


Conclusion

Still wondering which is better: platinum or palladium?

If I had to choose between the two, my vote would go to platinum. 

Why?

  • More choices with platinum
  • Not all jewelers will repair or work on palladium jewelry
  • Most platinum engagement rings have an option for warranties
  • Most platinum rings are eligible for trade ins or upgrade programs
  • Easier to resell platinum if needed

What it buckles down to is that there’s simply more options for platinum engagement rings. Palladium is a great metal on its own, but it hasn’t picked up the same popularity and is low in demand. That limits your options for ring settings and makes it difficult to craft the perfect ring. 

Not every jeweler will custom make palladium engagement rings either. If they do, your ring is likely to cost more than a platinum built online. Kind of counteracts that whole palladium being cheaper aspect, don’t you think. 

But as for durability and longevity, both of these metals would do well in the long run. As long as they’re clean properly and polished when needed, they can last a lifetime. 

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