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Thursday, 14 January 2010

Palladium rings: More bling for your buck

The trend for white-colored metals doesn't seem to be going away, but maybe the high price tag associated with it is. Find out how you can get the look, rarity and durability of platinum at a fraction of the cost.

While hunting for the perfect wedding ring online* I came across a metal I had never heard of before, and I'm guessing that you've never heard of it either. Priced similar to gold, but more like Platinum in its strength and appearance, Palladium offers a little more bling for your buck.

Great marketing and more than a little love from celebrities has helped fuel the growing trend towards using white metals, particularly platinum, in high-end jewelery like wedding and engagement rings. But for most people platinum is a little more than they can afford, and the cheaper alternative, white gold, isn't nearly as desirable.

The problem with white gold is that it's not actually white. It's plated with another metal called rhodium, and eventually this plating wears off and a yellowish color starts showing through. In order to maintain the jewelry's white appearance, the wearer must visit a jeweler periodically to have the piece replated. This kind of maintenance can be a turn-off, especially when buying pieces you intend to wear everyday, like a wedding band. For those set on a durable, white-colored band the high price of platinum seems worth it.

But what if you could get the same look at a fraction of the cost and without the need for routine replating?

Now you can, with a metal called palladium. A newly rediscovered metal on the jewelry scene, palladium is a member of the same group of metals as platinum. It is just as rare, and even more durable. In terms of color, it is actually whiter than platinum. Probably the only difference you'll notice is that it is not quite as heavy. But for large rings and other bulky jewelry this might prove an advantage over platinum, rather than a disadvantage.

Of course, the really noticeable difference is the price! Platinum can cost two to three times more, and even gold is priced slightly higher (much to my dismay as I prefer the traditional look of yellow gold).

So why haven't we ever heard of palladium before?

Palladium rings originally came into fashion during the early 1940s, when platinum was reserved as a war resource. Later, when platinum became available again it was both cheaper and easier for jewelers to work with, causing palladium to fall out of fashion. However, by the mid-2000s, the price of palladium had dropped significantly lower than the price of platinum and new innovations in the casting process had made the metal easier to mold. These factors combined to make palladium a competitive option again.

Still, traditional jewelers seem to have been slow to catch on and the general public appears largely unaware of the new metal. The blogger at suit-swagger.com has an interesting theory for this. According to him, traditional jewelers don't stock palladium because it's not popular enough yet for them to charge a premium price for it, and it's still more difficult to work with than gold. As far as jewelers are concerned, palladium is still more trouble than it's worth.

But online jewelers are another story. As traditional jewelers catch up, the internet seems to be the best place to find a palladium band. No doubt prices will rise once the word spreads, but for now, you can find some awesome deals. Here are a couple places to look:

e-Weddingbands.com is offering 10% off all of their palladium wedding bands if you order before January 31, 2010. Use the coupon code PD950-10 (and maybe show Frugal Fanny some love by noting in the comments section that you found them from this site).

Larson Jewelers has a huge selection and offers a low price guarantee and free lifetime resizing - great if you're worried you might order the wrong size.
Unfortunately for me, my love for the traditional look rules out the white hue of palladium. But I've written this post in the hope that my wasted hours of research will benefit someone. Let me know if you find the perfect palladium ring and where you found it.

Wishing you all the best in your relationship, and hoping you find the ring of a lifetime at a price to remember!


*That's right; I'm getting hitched! And in typical, frugal fashion my fiancée and I are keeping it small. So small, in fact, that the ceremony will be more of a paperwork affair than a wedding. Still, there is one area where I'm not willing to skimp: the ring. That little hunk of metal is going to be sitting on my finger until I die, so as far as I'm concerned I need to like it as much as I like the groom - and that's a lot!