The palladium bench
guide reviews the working characteristics of palladium for the jewelry
bench staff and provides an overview of the unique advantages and benefits
of palladium jewelry for managers, sales professionals and consumers. It
is intended to serve as a source for information on the most commonly encountered
palladium jewelry scenarios and the related materials available in the
950 Palladium Alloys Palladium is alloyed for use in jewelry. Standard alloys contain 950
parts of palladium and 50 parts of other metals (this portion of the
alloy may vary among suppliers and origin). The most common alloy component
in the U.S. is ruthenium, which, along with palladium belongs to the
platinum group of noble metals. Ruthenium usually comprises about 4.8
percent of the 5% mixture, leaving room for trace elements of other
metals that improve working, wearing or casting characteristics. The
common alloy ingredient used in China, where palladium jewelry is mass
produced is 950 parts palladium and the balance copper.
Solder Palladium or platinum solder is used for soldering 950 palladium alloys.
Palladium solder is usually supplied in 'hard', 'medium' and 'easy'.
The general flow temperatures for them are:
- Hard - 2,365°F
- Medium - 2,210°F
- Easy - 2,005°F
950 platinum solders are made with gold/silver/palladium or gold/platinum/palladium.
More palladium and platinum is present in the higher melting point or "harder" solders.
Platinum solders used for soldering palladium are 1,100, 1,200 and 1,300
and they have the same general melt and flow ranges as listed above for
When soldering a palladium assembly, do not use firecoating solution
or flux. Use rated No. 5 or darker welding lenses for eye protection.
Palladium loses its polished luster during the soldering process, in
much the same way as karat gold. However, palladium's luster is easily
restored through minor re-polishing. Palladium solder is available in
hard-, medium- and easy-flowing temperatures. You can also use 1100,
1200 and 1300 platinum solder as it has very similar melting points and
When soldering karat gold to palladium, firecoat the assembly as you
would with gold. Standard gold soldering flux and easy flowing gold solders
should also be used. The link being soldered to the pendant in this image
was first tacked in place using an ABI Tack II.
For positioning palladium pieces to be soldered, place them on a platinum
soldering block or hold with high-heat cross locking tweezers.
Pre-finishing, Finishing and Polishing Pre-finishing and polishing requires fewer steps to accomplish as compared to
platinum and an extra step or two as compared to white gold. To finish a
casting, begin with No. 4 cut files and finish with No. 6 cut or fine abrasive
sanding sticks. Grits from 400 to 1,200 are ideal. After using abrasives
of 1,200 grit, polish the piece with Bendicks white rouge. For the final
step in polishing use a 6,000 grit white rouge. For the best results use
files, abrasives and polishing materials dedicated for palladium. Palladium
alloys brighten during tumbling and magnetic finishing procedures. Magnetic
finishing also restores palladium's polished luster after soldering procedures.
No rhodium or other plating is required to improve the color of 950 palladium
alloys. Tools and Equipment For the best results when working with palladium, use palladium dedicated files,
sanding sticks, rotary abrasive materials and polishing wheels. Keep your workbench
clean and free of debris from gold and platinum projects. Use high-heat soldering
tweezers and pads and always use eye protection. Palladium
Iodine can be used to detect the difference between palladium,
platinum and white gold. To use Iodine, place a drop of it on the cleaned
surface of the unknown white metal. As the small drop of Iodine evaporates
and dries, it may take on a body color that will assist in the detection
of the metal. Here are the most common reactions you can expect with a
drop of Iodine after it has dried.
||Annealing Use a high-heat soldering block for annealing and always eye protection.
In this example, a No. 5 rated welding lenses is used to shield harmful
white light. Bring the piece being annealed to an orange color, hold
it for about 20 seconds and allow it to cool.
Wire being annealed
from Hoover & Strong
||Soldering Settings and Retipping Prongs
Easy palladium solder (as shown in image), 1,000 or 1,100 platinum
solder are all suitable for soldering settings in place. Direct soldering
procedures are used. When prongs wear down, it is recommended to replace
the prong or setting. It is best not to risk soldering new prong tips
on prongs if you are uncertain of the stability or identification of
the set stone. However, if it is documented that the set gemstone is
stable, untreated and can withstand the heat of soldering temperatures,
new prong tips can be made of palladium and then soldered in place
using hard white gold solder.
Easy solder, ring and setting from R Findings
||This image shows the soldering process through
a No. 5 welding lens. A torch tip with no vents and an opening of
about 1.2 millimeters is used to directly heat the joint. The torch
is positioned so the hottest part of the flame (the area about a
1/4 inch beyond the blue cone) directly heats the joint. The torch
is moved slowly from side to side. Because of the low thermo conductivity
of palladium, the heat is concentrated in this specific area. The
ring is heated and the solder melted into the joint.
Ring cast by TechFrom, Portland, OR using Johnson Matthey 950 Pd
||When soldering 950 palladium to karat gold, it is important
that cadmium-free solders are used. If not, the resulting joint will
fail under normal wear.
||Sizing 950 Palladium Rings For sizing rings up or down, they are cut at the bottom portion of
the shank and the appropriate amount of metal removed or included.
The ends of the shank should be precisely rejoined with no visible
gaps or spaces. To solder the joint, place it on a ceramic platinum
soldering block or hold with high heat cross locking tweezers. Use
hard palladium solder or 1300 platinum solder. Directly heat the
joint using an oxidizing flame to melt and flow the solder. Use rated
No.5 or higher welding lenses for eye protection.
||When 950 palladium alloys are heated to high-heat ring soldering
temperatures, they may develop a bluish-purple surface discoloration.
It's easily removed by briefly and mildly heating the piece with a
neutral flame. A neutral flame has equal parts of gas and oxygen. The
surface discoloration can also be removed by using fine abrasives.
Ring and Setting from R Findings
||Hallmarking This ring is made from Johnson Matthey's palladium alloy and contains
950 parts palladium, about 050 parts ruthenium with a small amount
of gallium. The appropriate quality marking is 950Pd.
Palladium, like platinum requires high heat when casting so use of
platinum casting materials and equipment is necessary. Palladium
absorbs gas when melted and releases it upon solidification. When
palladium solidifies, gasses can be trapped resulting in pieces that
contain gas porosity. For the best results and to minimize gas porosity
when casting, use an induction melt casting machine with a sealed
melt chamber and an argon cover. Because of the above, palladium
is best cast by properly equipped casting facilities with experienced
TechFrom Casting, Portland, OR
||Laser Welding Laser Welding featuring Brenda Warburton, Austin & Warburton
A laser welder works with palladium however the technique required
for success is different than when laser welding gold or platinum.
When filling voids and pits or building up joints with a laser start
by directing pulses of energy directly into the void. This will melt
the bottom exposing fresh metal from which to build upon. For the best
results use small diameter filler wire, narrow joints and the pulse
shaping feature with your laser. This technique can be used to avoid
over-heating of the material, because the settings begins with high
laser intensity, and then incrementally reduces laser power once the
melting point has been reached. Pulse shaping can also reduce cracking
in the metal which can occur during quick cooling of a weld, important
for 950 palladium alloys.
||Gemstone Setting Setting gemstones in palladium is quite like setting in platinum.
When bending and forming prongs or bezels to secure gemstones,
the metal does not spring back like with most white gold alloys.
This is referred to as "dead-setting". And with palladium's
purity, it is not a candidate for prong failure due to corrosion.
Ring by Novell
Iodine turns black (as shown in example)
900 and 950 Platinum
Iodine is mostly colorless
14- and 18-karat white gold (below a
rhodium plated surface)
Iodine turns brownish
The above reactions will not occur on a rhodium plated finish. If a rhodium
plated surface is present it must be removed at the location where the
test drop is placed.Cost Analysis - Palladium, 14-karat White Gold & Platinum At the time
of this printing, the market prices for metals were:
Market Price (per ounce)
Price Per Pennyweight
14-karat - $363.29
18-karat - $465.75
14-karat - $18.16
18-karat - $23.28
Since metal supplier markups vary, they are not included in this analysis.Considerations
for Palladium Refining For the best return when refining palladium keep
palladium filings, bench sweeps and polishing debris separate from the
same containing other precious metals. Also keep palladium hard scrap separate
from other precious hard scrap. This will maximize your return and speed