One of the stories emerging from the diamond and jewelry trade show in Las Vegas the first week in June, was an increasing awareness that Palladium is poised to be the significant metal in the jewelry industry.
Palladium is a member of the platinum group metal (PGM) and has many of the properties of platinum (white metal, easy to work with, hypoallergenic) but has the added qualities of being more plentiful than platinum, less expensive than gold or platinum, and is very strong but lighter in weight than platinum. Palladium metal is currently trading at about one fourth the price of platinum.
Palladium has many non-jewelry uses and is used in gold, silver and copper alloys in dentistry. Alloys of palladium are also used for bearings, springs, and balance wheels in watches. Palladium is used as a catalyst in the manufacture of sulfuric acid. The automotive industry has used palladium in catalytic converters since 1974. When palladium is alloyed with 40% silver it becomes much tougher and wear-resistant and is used in electrical contact materials. Palladium-silver diffusion membranes are used in the purification of hydrogen.
Platinum became a major factor in the jewelry industry due in large part to the marketing efforts of the platinum industry. Time will tell if the palladium industry including organizations like Palladium Alliance International (PAI) will be able to create the awareness and demand for palladium that platinum has achieved in recent years.