Monday, January 26, 2009

Show your mettle!

I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, but my engagement ring is set in palladium. Prior to receiving it, I hadn't heard of palladium, but Eric really picked a winner: it's in the same metal family as platinum, but less expensive and lighter. See? Palladium (#46) is right above platinum (#78) on the periodic table.

I love the color of white gold and platinum, but I've known that platinum is too heavy for me -- my mom got a new ring in platinum a few years ago, and quickly started complaining about its weight, and one day I tried it on for a while and agreed. And don't say I just need to do finger exercises, either -- that stuff is heavy! (And expensive!) And while I love white gold, I do think it's a pain to have to get it re-rhodium-ized so often. I have a tanzanite ring in white gold whose rhodium is starting to wear off, and I really don't want to bring it in to get it replated, but I do wish it was nice and silvery again. (Actually, for the tanzanite ring, I've decided to let it continue to wear for the time being, because I hear white gold develops a nice in-between color after many years.)

So palladium was the perfect choice that I never knew existed, right? And once I discovered its wonders, I knew I wanted my wedding band to match. (Based on the simple realization that it would be annoying to have two rings that wore out differently, and one that I would have to get replated periodically.)

So today, for reasons I'll reveal later, I stopped in to see the jeweler who made my engagement ring, Philip Haas. Because of what we were discussing, I asked about the relative cost of palladium compared to white gold or platinum, thinking that palladium was more expensive than gold. But Philip told me otherwise: platinum, which hit about $2000/oz a year ago, is now down to $900/oz, and gold is about the same, having risen dramatically in the last year.

So I found some charts, and he's right (not that I doubted him):

Gold and platinum are about the same, at $900+/oz, while palladium is hanging out at less than $200/oz. Score!

Interested in some historical graphs? Me too!

Gold prices, 2000-present:
When Eric bought my engagement ring, around July or August of 2007, gold was about $650/oz. Now it's at $900/oz! I've seen those commercials about now being a good time to invest in gold, and ads and newspaper articles about people selling their old gold to pawn shops and the like, but I didn't realize what that actually meant. Too bad I don't have any gold fillings to get rid of... I guess the crappy economy drives people to invest in gold. Or something. I don't know, I know hardly anything about money (like most doctors, sigh).

Platinum, 1992-present (sorry, I couldn't customize the graph to be just 2000-present to match):
In July 2007, platinum was about $1300/oz. Then look at how it skyrocketed in late 2007! Then notice how it dropped to 2004 prices. Now's a great time to buy platinum, if you have any spare change to make investments.

And my favorite metal, palladium, 1992-present:
Wow, I wonder what that peak in 1999/2000 was all about. In July 2007, palladium was about $350/oz, compared to almost double for gold, and over triple for platinum. And soon after, it also peaked, along with gold and platinum. Now, it's a lovely sub-$200/oz, perfect for wedding band buying :)

Fascinating stuff, the metal market. And I'm happy knowing that when Philip calls me in a couple of days to tell me something super-secret, I'm going to be satisfied with the price.