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The Metal Palladium

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Palladium enjoys the status of being a precious metal along with platinum, gold and silver. It is blessed with a metallic silver white colour that is bright and wholesome.

William Hyde Wollaston discovered palladium in 1803 and named it after the asteroid Pallas discovered a couple of years earlier in 1801. Pallas was the Greek goddess of wisdom.

Palladium belongs to a family of six metals clustered closely around platinum in the periodic table and called the platinum group of metals or PGMs. Ruthenium, rhodium, palladium, osmium, iridium, and platinum together make up the platinum group metals.

Palladium occupies group 10, period 5 and block d in the periodic table and is classified as a transition metal. Transition Metals display the common properties of being ductile, malleable, and conductors of electricity and heat.

All transition metals also share the property of being capable of forming colored compounds mainly by anodizing. The technique consists of creating oxide layers of varying thickness and refractive properties on the metal surface. This feature is useful for making jewelry in myriad colors.

Palladium occurs in nature in the ores of copper, nickel, gold and platinum & these ores are found in Canada, Australia, Africa, South & North America.

One very unusual property of palladium is that it can absorb up to nine hundred times its own volume of hydrogen. Hydrogen easily diffuses through heated palladium and this provides a way of purifying the gas.

There is something virtually magical about the properties of Palladium and human life has become a lot dependent on this unusual metal.

It is commonly used in fabricating electric contacts, surgical instruments, non-magnetic elements of watches etc. It functions silently in the catalyst converters of our automobiles to lower air pollution; it works in water treatment factories to clean our ground water thus helping our environment; it provides fuel cells so we can drive pollution free, high energy efficient hydrogen fuel cell cars; it may also produce cold fusion energy to replace our fossil fuel energy sources.

In recent years palladium has grown to be very well-liked among jewelers, jewelry designers and jewelry users for a number of good reasons.

Palladium is classified as a precious metal. Its monitory value is similar to that of gold and it is around 1/3rd the value of platinum.

It does not respond to oxygen and hence it is impervious to tarnish. This property is specifically useful in case of intricate designs which become tricky to clean or polish.

Palladium jewelry is created out of ninety five percent pure metal. The high degree of purity helps make the jewelry hypoallergenic which means that it does not elicit any allergic responses from the skin.

It has a stunning white metallic luster very similar to that of platinum. The pure, vivid white color of palladium augments the sparkle of diamonds and other valuable gemstones to great effect.

It is very malleable and ductile and is a member of the platinum group of metals.

Palladium has a much lower melting point than platinum. The lower melting point means that artisan jewelers and designers can work with it without the need of special tools and crafting out jewelry of intricate patterns becomes possible.

White gold is often prepared as an alloy of gold which has been decolorized by the addition of palladium.

Palladium is a magical and romantic fairy tale Cinderella Metal which humanity cannot live without.

By Zulekha Alam

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