New Palladium Alliance champions its use in jewelry industry

Industry advocates of palladium jewelry formally launched the Palladium Alliance International (PAI) June 5 in an early morning session filled with close to 600 jewelers, designers, manufacturers, and representatives jewelry trade organization. They predicted that as awareness of the metal grows, palladium will become the industry’s most-sought-after white metal in a year.

“Palladium is as precious, white, and bright as platinum,” said Frank McAllister, chairman of the Stillwater Mining Co., Billings, Mont., the continent’s largest producer of palladium and the world’s biggest producer of high grade palladium. Yet, noted he and other speakers, it’s less dense (i.e., lighter) than platinum, easier to work with and produces more jewelry. Its market price (about $355 in early June) is also almost 75% less than platinum (about $1,250), meaning between margins and profitability for retailers.

“All palladium needs is a champion” to raise awareness of it with jewelry retailers and consumers.

The PAI made its debut at The JCK Show, at the Venetian Hotel, in Las Vegas (June 3-7), where at least six major jewelry manufacturers unveiled new collections of palladium jewelry, including bridal jewelry.

Despite the early hour (7.30 a.m.), seating in the large ballroom where it was held filled quickly and there was standing room only when the “Platinum Facts” seminar began. The program’s panel included McAllister, Kay, Daniel Ballard, national sales manager of Precious Metals West, and Stewart Grice, mill and refining director of Hoover & Strong. Veteran trade journalist David Federman served as moderator,

Supporters of the PAI, which hopes to do for palladium, what the Platinum Guild International has done for platinum in the past 30 years, include leading jewelry designers, manufacturers, caster and organizations, such as Johnson Matthey.

The PAI’s mission is to promote understanding and use of palladium in the jewelry industry, inform retailers and consumers, and serve the educational and research needs of palladium.

The one-hour opening session was designed–in the words of well-known platinum jewelry designer/manufacturers Scott Kay, who has become also an ardent advocate of palladium—to dispel the “confusion and misconceptions” about palladium. Outside of the seminar John R. Stark, PAI’s chairman and a Stillwater vice president, called palladium “the perfect metal for the jewelry industry. All that’s needed is for the industry to shake off misconceptions about this precious metal and grasp what palladium can mean to their company image, brand, creativity, design offerings and—most important—the bottom line.”

A full story about palladium’s effects on the jewelry industry will appear in the July 2006 issue of JCK.

For more information about the PAI, which has opened an office in Shanghai to deal with China’s mushrooming demand for palladium, go the website (www.luxurypalladium.com).