Using Palladium in White Gold Jewelry Means No More Allergic
gold jewelry can cause allergic reactions in some people.
This is due to the fact that the majority of white gold jewelry
is manufactured using alloys containing nickel as the bleaching
agent and a percentage of the population is allergic to nickel.
For these individuals, contact with nickel can result in
dermatological problems that range from a mild skin rash to
severe open sores and permanent scaring. In Europe, there are
laws governing the use of nickel in jewelry. The European law is
known as "The Nickel Directive" and states that no nickel can be
used in a material that sits in an open wound, such as after
piercing, until healing is complete.
What is a jewelry buyer to do when faced with this information?
First of all relax, most people do not have severe reactions to
nickel. And jewelers are starting to use alloys that contain
less nickel to develop white gold jewelry.
Some nickel-free white gold alloys were originally developed in
the 1920s using palladium as the primary bleaching agent.
Palladium is part of the platinum group of metals. It is a
steel-white metal, does not tarnish in air, and is the least
dense and lowest melting of the platinum group metals. Palladium
has very good corrosion and tarnish resistance, and it mixes
well with gold, offering almost complete homogenization
throughout the range of gold-palladium compositions. All these
factors make it a good choice for white gold jewelry
manufacturing. It also yields alloys with excellent mechanical
properties superior in many respects to the nickel-whites which
can be difficult to work with and contain pockets of gold and
nickel because the two metals don't like to be mixed. Jewelry
made from a palladium/gold alloy will not result in allergic
You might be asking: "If palladium is so much better than nickel
to make white gold, why don't all jewelers use it?" The answer
is cost. Palladium is a bit more expensive to use. The cost of
an ounce of palladium is around $300 currently and consumers
don't like paying higher prices for what appears to be the same
jewelry product. However, once people know the facts about
nickel white gold and the allergic risks it presents many are
willing to pay a little more.
Another white metal on the horizon is 950 Palladium. Some
jewelry manufacturers are making product from new palladium
alloys that can be cast into jewelry. This is a wonderful metal
because it is a bright white color, very similar to platinum,
but has a much lower price. It is still relatively new so
jewelers are still learning how to work best with this metal.
Keep your eyes open though, because you will soon be seeing more
of this product, especially with the cost of platinum currently
above $1,000 an ounce.