Readers will recall that when platinum prices started spiking a few years ago, that manufacturers were quick to tout alternative metals that could offer all the benefits of platinum (strength, durability, rarity, beauty) at an affordable price.
White gold, while always a good stand-by, still couldn’t fill platinum’s shoes due to discoloring problems associated with mixing pure gold with pot metal alloys such as copper, nickel, and zinc.
The industry’s knee-jerk solution was to sell diluted platinum or palladium (a platinum metals group; cousin to platinum) to hit consumer price points that platinum could no longer meet. Doped platinum (585 platinum) had a short life when consumers and consumer advocate groups stood up against the inferior product, and the huge manufacturing plants that invested millions in doped platinum, quickly went out of business. Mexican palladium, as it has been so eloquently nicknamed, has proved resilient through vendors such as Kay’s, Zales, and online discounters looking to make a quick buck without informing the consumer of the downside of manufacturing palladium in an unsterile environment with poor quality control. Consumer complaints of rings breaking, cracking and just falling apart within the first couple of years are piling up by the thousands.
In my articles “Platinum Doping I & II” and “Palladium is not your pal”, I pointed out the pitfalls of using inferior metals or quality metals poorly melded together. All that said, the top manufacturers of wedding bands have developed a palladium product called Palladium VP (which stands for vacuum poured and vacuum pressed.) These gurus found a way to take a mixture that is 95% palladium and 5% ruthenium and iridium and vacuum pour it in a sterile environment so neither air or foreign contaminants could enter the mix. Then the product is vacuum pressed to create the tightest sub-atomic bond possible to produce one tough band! The Palladium VP products are only available in men’s and some ladies’ wedding bands but from my vantage point they have hit a home run! The old palladium problems of being too soft, pitting, and cracking, have all disappeared with Palladium VP! They have literally created a product that is hypoallergenic, durable, beautiful, and rare, just like platinum, at half the price! Palladium VP also comes with all the guarantees you’d expect–lifetime sizing guarantees and 100% destruction guarantees! You can run it over with a truck and they will still replace it for free (guarantees vary from vendor to vendor). Palladium VP fits the gap between $600-$800 white gold gents’ wedding band and the $2000-$3000 gents’ platinum band, coming in at a comfortable $1000-$1400 price point for an average 6mm heavy comfort fit band!
The question I keep getting asked is “How do I know if I’m getting sold Palladium VP vs. it’s inferior, south of the border counter part?” Well, it’s simple! Here’s what to look for:
- All Palladium VP is stamped Pal-VP
- All Palladium VP products come with a life time destruction guarantee and sizing guarantee
And finally, look at the price! Counterfeiters could take Mexican Palladium and stamp it VP but they won’t be able to sell it at white gold prices ($600-$800). If the vendor you’re thinking of buying from says they can sell you a 6mm half round heavy comfort fit Palladium VP ring for under a grand, they are probably trying to pull the wool over your eyes. As long as platinum prices are overly inflated, I think it’s only natural to look for an alternative. Palladium VP is to platinum what Ethanol is to fossil fuel gasoline. It’s just a smart way to go!
by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy™