So you have decided to give Alabaster or TruPd or some other 950 palladium jewelry alloy a fair try. Perhaps like many jewelers, a few of your customers have a gold budget but find 950 purity an appealing concept. Or maybe you are concerned about nickel sensitivity. Palladium is not difficult to work, but the caster and the bench jeweler must know the basics of 950 palladium.
When you are designing your models, remember that palladium is very light as compared to platinum, slightly lighter than 14k. The specific gravity is 12.3(?) The material in general has a strength approximating that of 90/10 platinum, or palladium 14kt. You can take advantage of this in a number of ways. Heat treatable palladium alloys will allow the advanced fabricator to make fascinating shapes.
Everyone working with this material must use platinum level eye protection when soldering or casting. Do protect yourself from the metal fumes with either good ventilation or a proper mask for metal fumes.
14kt gold casts at about 950C. 950 Palladium cast at 1350c. Platinum at 1780 C. When molten for casting, (at about 1350 or 1400C) 950Pd presents a color unfamiliar to us all when casting. So the eye takes some training to cast 950Pd with a torch well. If you overheat it, you will find cracks in the item, despite a soft texture overall. That just might be a hot tear caused by excessive shrinkage. Whatever it is, you can avoid cracks by casting right at the lowest temperature that fills your designs with your chosen 950Pd.
It is only a matter of time until we start getting chain and bracelets in to be fixed. Settings will be need assembly into rings. For this purpose, solder for 950Pd can be found at PMWest, developed specifically for and made from Alabaster. In a pinch the bench jeweler can use 1100 or 1200 platinum repair solder to assemble or repair palladium jewelry.
Polishing 950Pd is a lot like polishing palladium white gold in terms of time and effort required. Use platinum rouge for a fast final polish.