The history of palladium
Palladium was first described in 1803 by William Hyde Wollaston, but has only come to the forefront in bespoke jewellery design and manufacture since July 2009 when the United Kingdom Hallmarking Act was amended to include it which was an extremely rare event.
As palladium became only the fourth precious metal in the 700-year history of hallmarking in the UK to have required such treatment, the last being platinum in 1975.
The amendment stated that from January 2010, it would be compulsory for jewellery items made from palladium alloys to be hallmarked if they were to be sold in the UK, the same as gold, silver and platinum.
Because of its rare characteristics, it has been used for making all types of jewellery including diamond engagement rings; however, for me, I felt it was only really suitable for wedding rings and in particular the design and creation of men’s wedding rings.
In fact, over the past ten years 60% of my sales in men’s wedding rings has been using palladium as it offers the wearer durability on par with platinum but with the added advantage that it was lighter in weight and with a considerable saving over the cost of a platinum wedding ring.
What happens next to Palladium?
Palladium sales have risen year on year since 2009 but that rise is about to stall or even fall as during the course of 2018 the price quoted commercially for palladium has climbed by more than 18% and over 30% for jewellers.
This rise has nothing to do with the jewellery trade and more to do with environmental concerns causing a global shift from diesel to gasoline and hybrid vehicles, which use more palladium in catalytic converters.
Because of these vast rises the savings over the same ring made in platinum have virtually been wiped out, and where typically you could have saved over £400 in choosing palladium the savings now are close to £100, therefore, the reality is you probably will only select it now if you prefer the lighter weight and feel.
Unless there is a reversal to these substantial price increases which appeared highly unlikely, then I believe it will spell the end of palladium jewellery with an increase in platinum and gold sales.
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