The Diamond Pro

Palladium vs. Platinum Wedding Bands

By Michael Fried
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Bottom Line Recommendation

While palladium has its advantages, we don’t recommend it for your wedding band. Because it’s such an uncommon metal, it can be difficult to find jewelers in the United States that offer it as a metal for wedding bands or engagement rings. Palladium is also extremely difficult to resize, meaning it can be tough to find a jeweler that can resize your ring after you’ve bought it.

Palladium is also significantly more expensive now than it was a few years ago due to relatively low supply and strong demand. This means most of the cost advantages that palladium used to offer over platinum are no longer valid.

In general, platinum is the better choice of the two metals if you’re only other choice is palladium. The best option (especially when you’re buying engagement rings) would be 14k white gold, which has a similar appearance to palladium and almost identical appearance to platinum with less risk of scratching, more affordable price, and overall better value. Compare this platinum taryn wedding band with the white gold version. The only discernible difference is the price.


Thanks to their durability, scratch resistance and unique tone, palladium and platinum have become popular wedding band materials over the last few decades.

Visually, palladium and platinum rings look fairly similar, with a natural white sheen that sets them apart from other metals commonly used in wedding bands.

However, despite their nearly matching looks, these two metals have several differences that can make one or the other a better choice. Below, we’ll walk you through:

  • The basics of palladium and platinum as precious metals
  • The key differences between palladium and platinum
  • How these two metals compare in terms of affordability
  • The best affordable alternatives to platinum and palladium

Palladium and Platinum: The Basics

Palladium and platinum are both hard, durable and desirable precious metals with a long history of use in jewelry.

Palladium

Palladium is a precious metal with a white, silvery appearance. It’s one of six metals classed as platinum-group metals (PGMs). Palladium was discovered in 1803 and was first used in jewelry in the late 1930s.

Visually, palladium looks similar to platinum. In fact, if you were to put a palladium ring beside a platinum ring on a table, most people wouldn’t be able to tell any difference between the metals by looking at them.

Palladium is a hard metal, with a level of 5 on the Mohs hardness scale for pure palladium and a level of 5.75 when alloyed. For comparison, 18k white gold measures 2.75-3 on the Mohs scale, while 14k white gold (a common metal for wedding bands) measures 3.5 to 4.

While palladium can and often does scratch, the metal that’s affected by scratches is displaced rather than lost. This means that palladium rings don’t wear down over time — instead, they tend to develop a pleasant, attractive patina.

Despite looking similar to platinum, palladium is significantly lighter in weight. This makes it a good option if you want a comfortable wedding band that doesn’t put any extra weight on your finger.

Pros & Cons of Palladium Rings

Palladium’s unique characteristics as a metal give it certain upsides and downsides when used for an engagement ring or wedding band. We’ve listed these below, starting with the key pros of palladium rings:

  • Appearance. Palladium rings have a beautiful silvery-white sheen, as well as a slightly darker color than platinum (this is very difficult to perceive — to the naked eye, both of these metals look virtually identical).
  • Durability. Palladium rings are extremely durable. Palladium is also slightly harder than platinum, giving a palladium ring a very small durability advantage.
  • Affordability. Until recently, palladium was a much more affordable metal than platinum, especially for jewelry. However, recent increases in demand for palladium (mostly due to its industrial uses) mean there’s no longer much of a difference in price.
  • Permanent color. Unlike white gold, which needs to have its rhodium plating maintained to keep its color, a palladium ring will naturally maintain its color over time and can often develop an attractive patina as it ages.
  • Lighter weight. Palladium is lighter than platinum and similar in weight to gold, meaning a palladium ring will feel relatively light on the finger.
  • Low risk of triggering allergies. Palladium doesn’t contain any nickel, meaning it’s less likely to trigger allergic skin reactions than gold (particularly 14k gold) or other metals commonly used for engagement rings and wedding bands. 

Like all metals used for engagement rings and wedding bands, palladium also has several main disadvantages. Cons of palladium rings include:

  • Rarity. Palladium is about 15 times rarer than platinum and 30 times rarer than gold. As a result, it’s not a common metal for engagement rings or wedding bands. This means it may be hard to find a palladium ring in a style that suits you due to limited supply.
  • Difficulty resizing. Palladium rings are difficult to resize, both as a result of the metal’s characteristics and because relatively few jewelers work with it regularly.
  • Lighter weight. This is a subjective one, but some people don’t like the lighter weight of palladium compared to the extra heft of a platinum ring.

Platinum

Platinum is one of the most common precious metals used for wedding bands like this unique ring from James Allen. Like palladium, it’s one of the platinum-group metals (PGMs). Platinum has been used for thousands of years, with archaeologists noting traces of platinum in the gold used in ancient Egyptian burials.

Like palladium, platinum is a hard, durable metal. It measures 4.5 on the Mohs hardness scale, making it significantly harder than other common wedding band materials such as 14k gold and sterling silver.

Platinum resists wear and corrosion well. When scratched, platinum becomes displaced and not lost, meaning the total volume of platinum in a wedding ring won’t decrease as its scratched and scuffed over time.

Like other metals commonly used in jewelry, the platinum used in wedding bands is an alloy of platinum and other metals. The most common platinum alloy for wedding bands is 950 platinum, which is made up of 95% platinum and 5% additional metals.

Pros & Cons of Platinum Rings

Just like palladium, platinum has its own range of advantages and disadvantages as a metal for engagement rings, wedding bands and other jewelry. The main pros of platinum rings include:

  • Durability. Like palladium, platinum rings are extremely durable. Although palladium is a slightly harder metal, both palladium and platinum rings are very strong and can tolerate a significant amount of stress.
  • Appearance. Platinum’s beautiful silvery-white color and lovely sheen are some of its biggest advantages, especially if you love the look of white metals.
  • Low risk of triggering allergies. The platinum used for engagement rings and wedding is typically 90 to 95% pure, meaning there’s only a small quantity of alloy metal that can trigger skin allergies. Most platinum jewelry does not contain nickel.
  • Permanent color and graceful aging. Platinum maintains its color naturally and ages beautifully, with many platinum rings developing a gorgeous patina over time that adds to the ring’s character. Platinum is also easy to polish once it becomes worn. 

As with palladium, platinum also has a couple of unique disadvantages. The biggest cons of platinum are:

  • Weight. Although this technically isn’t a con, platinum weighs more than palladium and a platinum ring will feel heavier on the finger. Many people actually like the extra weight of a platinum ring and view this as a benefit.

Palladium vs. Platinum Ring: The Key Differences

Palladium and platinum differ in several ways, from their appearance (look closely and you will be able to spot several differences) to their durability, weight and cost.

The biggest difference between palladium and platinum wedding rings is color. Although they look almost identical to the untrained eye, palladium has a slightly darker tone. Another notable difference is their resistance to scratching, with palladium slightly more resistant to scratching than platinum.

We’ve explained these differences between the two metals, as well as several others, in more detail below.

Appearance: Which metal looks better?

To the untrained eye, palladium and platinum look identical. If you put a palladium ring next to a platinum one, the average person will see very little difference between the two. However, when you look closer, there are a few small differences in appearance between these metals.

The biggest of these is color. A palladium ring will be ever so slightly darker than a ring that’s made from platinum. This is often easier to see by looking at the inner side of the ring, which typically isn’t polished and shows the metal’s natural color more than the outside. 

Platinum has a lighter tone, meaning it’s usually a better choice of metal for rings that contain colored gemstones. 

Overall, neither metal looks “better” than the other — instead, each offers a similar but unique aesthetic.

Palladium vs. Platinum Ring: Hardness & Scratches

Palladium and platinum are both extremely durable metals. Compared to a gold wedding ring, you’ll get a significantly higher level of durability from either palladium ring or a platinum one. 

However, palladium is very slightly harder than platinum, meaning a palladium wedding band will usually be a small amount more resistant to scratches than a platinum ring.

Palladium and platinum are both extremely durable metals. However, palladium is very slightly harder than platinum, meaning a palladium wedding band will usually be a small amount more resistant to scratches than a platinum ring.

From a raw strength standpoint, platinum is a slightly stronger metal than palladium, with better corrosion and rust resistance. However, the differences are relatively minor.

The metal used for palladium and platinum rings doesn’t wear off when scratched. Instead, it simply moves around on the band. This means that palladium and platinum rings won’t wear down over time, as can happen with a gold wedding band.  

Overall, both materials are hard and durable. It’s important to remember that any wedding band will get scratched over time. Both palladium and platinum develop an attractive patina if they’re scratched, making both metals a good choice if you value durability and aesthetics.

If you don’t like the look of this patina, it’s easy to get your palladium or platinum ring polished to restore its original shine.

Which is heavier?

Platinum is a much more dense metal than palladium, meaning it weighs significantly more. On average, a platinum wedding band will weigh close to twice as much as a palladium ring of the same size.

While some people like the weight and presence of a platinum wedding band, others prefer the lighter weight of a palladium band.

Which is less likely to trigger allergies?

Palladium and platinum are both hypoallergenic metals, meaning that neither of them is likely to trigger metal allergies.

Metal allergies can be triggered by the additional metals used in gold and other metal alloys. If you have sensitive skin, it’s best to look for palladium and platinum rings that have no nickel content, as nickel is one of the most common triggers of metal allergies.

Palladium vs. Platinum: Color

Palladium and platinum have a similar appearance, albeit with a few small differences. From a color perspective, palladium is ever so slightly darker than platinum. Platinum has a lighter tone that’s usually a better match for colored gemstones.

Overall, neither metal looks “better” than the other — instead, each offers a similar but unique aesthetic.

Does palladium tarnish?

Palladium is a very durable metal that resists tarnish very well. If you choose platinum for your engagement ring or wedding band, you can wear it with confidence that it generally won’t wear down over time as it’s exposed to air or moisture.

Over time, it’s normal for palladium to develop a patina as a result of scuffs, scratches and other wear and tear. Many people like this appearance. If you don’t, it’s easy to get your palladium or platinum ring buffed and polished by a jeweler to restore its sheen.

Resizing rings: Palladium vs. Platinum?

There’s a common misconception that it’s impossible to resize a palladium ring. This isn’t true. It is possible to resize palladium rings. However, resizing a palladium ring is a difficult process that can often be quite expensive. 

Because palladium is so difficult to work with, many jewelers will charge a premium to resize an engagement ring or wedding band that’s made from palladium. Others may not offer resizing for palladium rings at all, either due to the difficulty or due to a lack of trained staff.

If you’re considering a palladium engagement ring or wedding band, it’s important that you know your fiancé-to-be’s ring size ahead of time to avoid any resizing issues. 

In comparison, resizing a platinum ring is a simpler process that usually won’t cost you as much as a consumer. While resizing a platinum ring is more difficult than resizing a ring that’s made of gold, it’s a far more popular service that most jewelers can perform.

Palladium vs. Platinum vs. White Gold

If you’re considering buying a palladium or platinum engagement ring or wedding band because of their color, it’s also worth considering white gold. 

White gold has a similar appearance to palladium and platinum. Although it doesn’t look exactly the same, a rhodium-plated white gold engagement ring or wedding band has a similar shine to palladium or platinum jewelry. 

In terms of pricing, white gold is significantly more affordable than either metal. On average, a solitaire engagement ring or wedding band made using 14k white gold will cost 30 to 40% less than the same ring in palladium or platinum.

White gold is significantly less durable than palladium or platinum. Not only is it easier to scratch on hard surface — it’s also less resistant to wear from everyday use or chemicals. Over time, it’s also important to have the rhodium plating on a white gold ring maintained. 

Which Metal is More Expensive?

Until quite recently, palladium was a significantly less expensive metal than platinum. However, the price of palladium has risen recently due to a massive increase in demand for palladium by industrial customers. 

Although palladium is best known as a metal for jewelry, its most common use is in cars. About 85% of all palladium is used to produce car exhaust systems, specifically components designed to reduce emissions of toxic pollutants.

With restrictions on vehicle emissions growing more strict, there’s been a huge increase in the demand for palladium by car manufacturers. Palladium is also heavily used in the production of electronics, dentistry equipment and other products. 

Until the last year or two, you’d generally pay less for a palladium ring than you would for a ring of the same style made in platinum. Today, there’s much less of a difference in price, with both metals priced similarly when used for engagement rings and wedding bands. 

Currently, rings made from either metal are significantly more expensive than those made from 14k or 18k gold. 

It’s important to remember that the prices of precious metals can fluctuate, meaning there’s no set price difference between palladium, platinum, gold, silver and other metals commonly used in wedding bands. If the demand for palladium or platinum changes in the future, one metal might become a more cost-effective option than the other.

Palladium and Platinum: Which is Better?

Just like the different purity levels of gold, there’s no “best” choice out of palladium and platinum for every situation.

Palladium and platinum both offer their own unique advantages. If you’re looking for a wedding band that’s lightweight, durable and affordable, you’ll probably appreciate palladium rings more than rings made from platinum.

If you have a higher budget and you’re looking for something heavier and more luxurious, you’ll probably prefer platinum.

Overall, both metals are appealing choices that look great in a wedding band. The best choice is the one that looks and feels the best on your finger, whether it’s a lightweight palladium ring or a heftier platinum wedding band.

14K White Gold: A Better Alternative to Palladium and Platinum

Palladium is a fairly uncommon metal, meaning that not all companies will offer it as an option for engagement rings and other jewelry.

It can also be difficult to find jewelers that work with platinum in the United States, especially if you live in a rural area.

Instead, many jewelry companies use 14 karat white gold as an alternative to palladium. With a similar appearance to platinum and a lower price, white gold is a common affordable choice when buying an engagement ring and other jewelry.

Beyond its near-universal use by jewelers, 14k white gold offers several advantages over metals like palladium and platinum:

  • It’s durable. 14 karat white gold in wedding bands is an alloy composition (mixed with more durable metals) which makes it harder than palladium and platinum, giving it the best scratch resistance of the three metals.
  • It’s stylish. Most white gold used in engagement rings and other fine jewelry is rhodium plated, giving it a beautiful sheen and none of the light yellow tinges of natural white gold like you see in this beautiful ring from James Allen.
  • It’s affordable. Because 14k white gold contains 58% gold, it’s more affordable than pure and nearly pure metals such as palladium and platinum.

Need help choosing the right engagement and wedding jewelry? Reach out to our experts, who can help you find jewelry that matches your tastes, needs and budget.

About the author
Mike learned the diamond business from the ground-up at Leo Schachter Diamonds - one of the world's top diamond manufacturers. He has been recognized as a diamond industry expert by Time, PeopleMoney, The Daily Mirror, NerdWallet, The Times Herald, Yahoo Finance Australia, The Art of Charm, The Washington Diplomat, The Next Web, and more. See more
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