The precious metal ‘osmium’ is a little-known element has only been available for a few years and is already set to provide new opportunities for investors and for the making of premium jewellery.
“Osmium is incredibly rare. It’s one of the rarest metals on this planet,” says Bodo Albrecht in an interview with Kitco News. Albrecht is founder of BASIQ Corporation, a precious metals and consulting firm based in the United States.
Osmium is co-mined with platinum and there are only two cubic metres of osmium minable on our planet. “You have to mine 10,000 tons of platinum ore to get one ounce of osmium. This is how rare it is,” Albrecht iterates.
Osmium in its raw form is an unspectacular grey powder and reacts with air to form osmium tetroxide, a poisonous substance. A breakthrough occurred in 2013 when it became possible to crystallise osmium in a process that renders the metal inert and therefore harmless. The results are beautifully sparkling osmium crystals which reflect light with a distinct blueish-silvery tint.
“This is obviously intended as a jewellery item, but it’s also an investment item now that the metal can be formed into one-ounce round bars and stored, with a very high value density,” says Albrecht.
The German-based Osmium-Institute is marketing the metal globally and working on finding local partners.
“They have partners in 20 countries of the world. They are in the United States, in North America. They are all over Europe. They are developing in Asia, in Australia, and these crystals will be available through wholesale jewellers, through retailers and then a trading market will eventually emerge.”
Crystallising osmium somewhat resembles rearranging carbon atoms when making diamonds.
With artificially grown diamonds currently flooding the market, the timing for alternatives could not be better according to Albrecht. With interest in the metal rising, supplies are likely to struggle to meet demand.
“It is foreseeable that osmium’s rarity will actually increase. So, you will find fewer and fewer osmium and one day it may actually run out because the concentration is getting so low.”
Another advantage of osmium are the high ethical standards for sourcing the raw material. The reason is that the ore containing the osmium comes from the mines that supply platinum for automotive catalysts. These companies underwent comprehensive programmes to ensure compliance with strict ethical and sustainability standards.
This helps preventing issues such as the infamous blood diamonds, an image that the gemstone industry could never quite get rid of.
“It’s guilt free, if you will.”