- What is osmium?
Osmium is a transition metal and belongs to the Group 8 elements (iron, ruthenium, osmium, hassium) of the Periodic Table. The symbol for osmium is Os and its atomic number is 76. Osmium is a primordial chemical element, i.e., it has existed in its current form since before the earth was formed—unlike hassium, for example, which can only been synthesized since 1984.
Osmium is one of the rarest metals on earth. Before its crystallization became possible, it was only available in its non-crystalline, toxic form. The crystallization process was established only in 2013, after 40 years of laboratory work. This finally allowed traders to deal with osmium.
- What are the reflective characteristics of osmium?
In contrast to conventional diamonds, the light shining on an osmium crystal is not refracted but reflected. Some spectral frequencies are absorbed by the osmium crystal. Although a very small amount, this causes the reflected light to have a slightly increased blue component.
This reflection with an increased blue component gives osmium its special luster and thus its nickname “The sunshine element.”
- What is a precious metal?
A precious metal is a rare, naturally occurring metallic element of high economic value. Chemically, precious metals tend to be less reactive than most elements. They are usually ductile and have a high luster.
The following eight precious metals exist:
- Coinage metals: Gold, silver.
- Platinum group metals: Ruthenium, rhodium, palladium, osmium, iridium, and platinum. They have similar physical and chemical properties and tend to occur together in the same mineral deposits. However, they can be further subdivided based on their behavior in geological systems:
- Iridium-group platinum-group elements: Osmium, iridium, ruthenium
- Palladium-group platinum-group elements: Rhodium, platinum, palladium
- What are the most important facts about osmium for investors?
- Osmium has on of the highest value densities of all metals.
- To date, osmium has had a stable price development.
- Extremely difficult to counterfeit (no stable element has a higher density).
- Can be traded across the globe.
- Only a few people possess osmium.
- What makes osmium a viable alternative to gold?
- Compared to osmium, there is a lot of gold; new gold mines constantly open. The gold price is relatively unstable and subject to fluctuations. Gold is already traded on the stock exchanges, but osmium is expected to be listed soon, too.
- Osmium has an extremely high value density. An average sports car is worth as much as only 4 cubic centimeters of osmium.
- Unlike gold, osmium cannot be counterfeited. Because of its characteristic of having one of the highest densities of all materials, it cannot contain a core made from another equally dense material.
- Compared to osmium, gold is not rare and traded by a very large number of people. Currently, it can be assumed that gold will not run out any time soon. However, osmium may no longer be mined in 20 years and will then become extremely difficult to acquire.
- Investment security is another important factor. Even if a piece of osmium is stolen, chances are high that it can be tracked down in the osmium database.
- Osmium has a unique crystal structure that allows any sample to be identified even without a certificate.
- How rare is osmium compared to other metals?
Osmium is not only the rarest precious metal on earth but also the rarest metal in general. Gold occurs 1,500 times as often as the sunshine element osmium.
Another example is the comparison with platinum. In 250 single 40 ton truckloads filled to the brim with platinum ore, you will only find one ounce, i.e., about 30 g osmium.
Since osmium is mined together with platinum, this is the best comparison, because there is no other source for associated mining with platinum or nickel.
- What are the characteristics of osmium?
- Osmium is hard, brittle and has a whitish-silvery-bluish luster.
- Density: One of the densest naturally occurring stable elements (22.61 g/cm3), having a density approximately twice as high as lead (11.34 g/cm3). This means that osmium cannot be counterfeited since every metal core would have less density.
- Crystal structure: Hexagonal close-packed.
- Bulk modulus: Between 395 and 462 GPa, which rivals that of diamond (443 GPa). Correspondingly, the compressibility is very low.
- Why is the crystalline structure of osmium called a “fingerprint”?
Crystalline osmium has a special micro-geometry. Every line of the edge of any single crystal in the structure has a specific angle in relation to the next adjacent crystal. And, in comparison to human fingerprints, which are biological, osmium does not change at all over time. This means that for all practical purposes, the structure will last forever. Therefore, the security for identification purposes is a lot higher than for a biological fingerprint.
- How does osmium react to acids and bases?
At room temperature, noble metals do not react with any chemical reagents, including strong acids and bases. What about osmium?
Crystalline osmium is extremely durable and resistant against strong acids and caustic solutions.
- Is osmium brittle?
A diamond has a Mohs scale hardness of 10 (defining mineral). Osmium only reaches 7, plus it is brittle. Doesn’t that mean that diamonds are much more robust and stable compared to osmium?
No, they are not. The stability is similar inside the crystal structure of both elements. Abrasion resistance is the magic word. Osmium is not as hard as a diamond but has a higher abrasion resistance compared to diamond; osmium wins the game again.
- What do “real diamonds” (carbon) cost in comparison to “osmium diamonds”?
Currently, osmium diamonds cost approximately one tenth of traditional diamonds. Some experts expect that this may completely change in the future. Compared to osmium, diamonds are not rare.
- Can osmium be produced?
If osmium could be "produced" this would devalue the metal and its price!
Osmium cannot be synthesized from other materials for a very simple reason: It is a chemical element, which, by definition, cannot be broken down any further. In addition, osmium is extremely rare.
On the other hand, diamonds can be synthesized by simulating high pressure and high temperature conditions in the earth’s mantle, thus forcing carbon atoms to arrange in a diamond crystal structure. In fact, carbon is the fourth most abundant chemical element in the universe, very much unlike osmium.
- What is the annual production of osmium?
Annual production is approximately 360 kg (120 kg crystalline osmium and 240 kg osmium in form of osmium tetroxide, OsO4). Albeit its toxicity, osmium tetroxide is used for several purposes, including medical applications.
The Osmium-Institut zur Inverkehrbringung und Zertifizierung von Osmium GmbH located in Germany has access to approx. 60 kg to 120 kg osmium per annum that can be crystallized. In addition, the Institute holds options on existing osmium stocks from earlier mining back in the days where there was no use for the metal.
- Does osmium require metal seed crystals for crystallization?
Osmium bars, including osmium diamonds and osmium stars, do not require a specific substrate. As part of the crystallization process, these basic shapes are directly grown on sapphire glass substrates, which are separated from the grown crystals once the crystallization process is completed.
Note that the osmium crystals closer to the original glass substrate have a finer structure than those crystals further away. They look almost flat, but their structure can be seen under a microscope.
- For how long does the Osmium-Institute in Germany have the worldwide Osmium license?
For how long does the Osmium-Institut zur Inverkehrbringung und Zertifizierung von Osmium GmbH (Osmium-Institute Germany) have the worldwide license from the Swiss crystallizer to certify and distribute osmium? In other words, how big is the risk that there will suddenly be a different channel that is in competition with the market structure that we plan to establish?
There is no limitation in time, as long as the Osmium-Institute Germany complies with the law. It is the declared common objective of all involved parties to build up an effective market structure that is secure for producers, distributers and customers alike.
- Since when has it been possible to crystallize osmium?
Since 2013, when a group of Swiss and Russian scientists demonstrated this process for the first time.
- How difficult is it to copy the crystallization process?
It is currently not possible to copy the complicated and delicate process. What’s more, the process is dangerous in laboratory. Temperatures and pressures are extremely high and hard to control.
In fact, more than 160 individual production process steps would have to be identified and copied. First, every step takes more than 3 months, given that one knows what needs to be done and how. And second, it takes at least 40 years to master the entire process chain with almost no option to speed things up.
- What is the current crystallization capacity for crystalline osmium?
The current production rate is high enough for the existing market and can be doubled every three months if necessary. Adjustment of the production capacity will be managed as the demand increases. The bottom line is that every delivery can be arranged if the material is prepaid; in the worst case, delivery times are up to three months.
All available shapes and products can be seen at http://www.buy-osmium.com. So the piece you love can be delivered to you in almost no time.
- Who introduces osmium to the market and controls the process?
This is done by the Osmium-Institut zur Inverkehrbringung und Zertifizierung von Osmium GmbH, an institute with headquarters in Germany and branches all over the world, which are currently being set up. Individual branches work closely together with the headquarters in Germany and can certify and introduce osmium into local markets across the globe.
- What are the main markets for crystalline osmium?
There exist two main markets into which osmium may be sold: Jewelry and investment.
If osmium is used for jewelry, such as an expensive ring or an exclusive watch, this osmium will be permanently taken out of the market.
This means that only osmium stemming from investments can be bought back in the future when production rates will eventually go down. This may lead to price increases, as there is less osmium available with constant or increased demand. This scenario is also referred to as the “Osmium Big Bang.”
- What does the world of finance understand by the term Osmium Big Bang?
The term Big Bang is used to describe a scenario in which prices increase very quickly. In the osmium business, this is the day when osmium can no longer be bought from mines in the future to satisfy demand. Mines have only limited osmium available.
Then, prices may increase if osmium can only be repurchased from investors. Investors may then have an opportunity to have their osmium paid at higher prices. Since from this point on no other sources are available, and since not everyone will want to sell, an extreme price rally may start. The osmium Big Bang should not be confused with a speculative bubble (as in real estate markets, for example), as the shortage will be real at this moment and cannot be compensated.
- Which osmium products are expected to increase most in terms of value over the next couple of years?
There exist osmium medium edged bars, osmium small curved bars (rings), 0.1g osmium diamonds and osmium stars, 30g osmium discs (wafers) and some other shapes. The most exclusive product will be the extremely rare osmium pearl.
Osmium diamonds and stars are suitable for small investments, whereas clients planning to invest more will generally buy disks. These clients have the option to let the disk be cut and then resell the resulting shapes, including 2D shapes such as osmium diamonds and stars, to customers including but not limited to jewelers.
Although it is impossible to make reliable predictions about future price developments, osmium pearls with a diameter ranging from 5 to 21 mm, may increase more in price than other osmium products. The reason is that the production yield for osmium pearls decreases with increasing production rate due to the employed crystallization process.
The total number of osmium pearls on the world market is expected to be only a couple of thousand.
- Can I resell osmium that I have purchased?
This always depends on the market demand. A good strategy may be to have osmium products that are versatile in their use. An osmium diamond, for example, can fit into nearly any kind of jewelry without having to alter its form.
Osmium is sold mainly to the manufacturing industry and the producing jewelers, as well as directly to other investors or collectors.
Each party can be certain that osmium cannot be counterfeited. If an osmium piece has been allocated an Osmium Identification Code, then it is genuine, has its individual certificate of authenticity and can thus be securely sold between private persons. If necessary, local Osmium-Institutes can issue a new, personalized certificate to the buyer.
- Who is willing and able to buy osmium from investors?
Private sales transactions can be organized by buyers and sellers at any time. In addition, jewelers all over the world are likely to be the future buyers. If in the coming years the demand rises, then private individuals and investors may have the opportunity to sell directly to jewelers.
The osmium database is used to facilitate transactions that do not involve an Osmium-Institute to ensure that the two interacting parties have certainty that the specific product is genuine and is sold at the correct price.
- How does trading with raw osmium work?
There is no traditional trade for raw osmium, also referred to as osmium sponge, through investors. Osmium-Institutes buy solely from mines and not from speculators. In addition, raw osmium is toxic and therefore not sold to private individuals or investors.
Osmium-Institutes would not purchase raw osmium for any other reason. The process of ensuring the authenticity of osmium sponge is expensive and very time-consuming.
Therefore, mainly crystalline osmium is traded.
- Is there a price guarantee for osmium?
Since Osmium-Institutes are not dealers but rather certification institutes, a classical buyback option does not exist. The owner will need to sell to a jeweler or other investors in the future. As markets are currently emerging, there may be an opportunity to sell for a higher price in the future.
In addition, a trading platform is under preparation for future selling and buying of osmium between private parties.
Private parties can use the site www.osmium-preis.com to set a price between seller and buyer in a transaction.
- What if I wish to order osmium and there is none in stock?
First, there exist not only the Osmium-Institutes but also private resellers with stock. If there is no osmium in stock, you will receive an option for future purchase at today’s price.
The price is fixed when placing the purchase order. Although it may take some time to crystallize a special piece, you can rest assured that you will receive the specified product, at the price agreed. Payment must always be made in advance.
A key reason why investors buy osmium is, in fact, that osmium may become difficult to obtain and therefore they may be approached by interested buyers in the future.
- Is there a warranty for your osmium shapes?
Since osmium is a chemical element which cannot change or deteriorate in the course of time, our osmium does not come with a warranty. If a customer accidentally breaks an osmium piece (e.g. an osmium disk), the broken osmium pieces can likely be cut into smaller shapes and then be resold. Note that a processing service fee may apply for the cutting. Subsequently, the osmium database will be updated accordingly.
For delivery, of course, every osmium piece is insured and is distributed directly by one of the Osmium-Institutes around the world.
- Can I return the osmium if I am not happy with it, or if I simply change my mind?
Once purchased, the osmium cannot be returned.
- Can a private person sell to another private person?
Yes, this is possible. The buyer will get the original certificate from the seller and compare the specific osmium product against the certificate by means of visual inspection. This is sufficient to confirm that the certificate matches the specific osmium product. Recertification via an Osmium-Institute is another option (a service fee applies).
Osmium products can easily be identified via the Internet by means of the Osmium Identification Code for a particular osmium piece.
Private individuals can verify the price for every certified osmium piece via the Internet.
- What is the osmium bet?
The “osmium bet” describes a scenario where osmium investors are speculating that osmium will become even rarer, that its value will increase, and at the same time the secondary market for osmium, in which osmium is used for the manufacture of jewelry, will grow.
Moreover, these investors expect the market to be much more accessible in the future than it was a few years ago, when osmium was mostly unknown.
- What is the osmium secondary market?
In a secondary market, a group of customers can only purchase a product from members of a primary market. For osmium, the primary market refers to the investor market and the secondary market refers to the jewelry market, because only in the latter the “sunshine element” is used and consumed.
For the secondary market to offer returns which investors may deem acceptable, osmium needs to be used and processed as jewelry. However, osmium stocks should not deplete too soon to ensure availability for investors at affordable prices for some time in the primary market. Therefore, a profitable secondary market from an investor’s perspective requires a balancing act between supply and demand:
Initially, larger quantities of osmium should be owned by investors whilst the jewelry market is relatively small. At the point when investors begin to resell on a larger scale, the secondary market needs to be ready to take up the increased supply without the price falling. So the bet which investors are making also has a time component; when will what happen? If the secondary market is established too late, the osmium price may plummet and then strongly increase. However, a more predictable behavior of the osmium price would naturally be healthier for the markets.
In this context, resaleability decreases at the beginning of the market launch for investors with a short term horizon. If, in time, as supplies deplete, the osmium price increases whilst in the hands of investors, not fabricators, investors with a long-term perspective will benefit from this development. In the transition of the osmium market away from pure marketing towards trading, osmium will inevitably have to find its way first and prices are expected to be very volatile.
Experts therefore generally assume that osmium has the potential to perform well in the first few years. Then, after a consolidation phase in which buyers may be able to purchase osmium at competitive prices, total shortage of osmium may occur, a scenario which is referred to as the osmium Big Bang. At this stage, it is impossible to predict the development of the osmium price because the fact that a metal can no longer be supplied except via investors is new for metal markets and is likely to have a tremendous impact.
- Why is the identification accuracy 10,000 times higher than with a fingerprint?
Impossibility to counterfeit:
Osmium is entirely dimensionally stable in its crystalline appearance and cannot be changed reversibly. This characteristic distinguishes it among other properties of easily malleable gold. A significant advantage arising from this property is the fact that osmium is practically impossible to counterfeit.
Its crystalline surface is recognized with extreme reliability similar to a fingerprint.
The unique structure of the friction ridges of a human finger is used for the recognition of a fingerprint.
For osmium, the edge of any single crystal is the analogue to the friction ridges. Every single such edge is inclined in three-dimensional space, forms a specific angle with the level metal bottom surface and also has a clearly defined surface. Also, each crystal sticks out of the base material with an identifiable length.
Even a standard 3 mm osmium diamond contains already more than 1,000 such macroscopic features. At the microscopic level, there are millions of features. For a larger surface area of an osmium structure, the number of variables multiplies accordingly.
For this reason, while 10,000-fold higher security in comparison to a fingerprint is often mentioned, the actual security is many times higher. Exact numbers cannot be given as, in case of doubt, ever smaller structures could be considered.
With the additional security through the density, therefore one can justifiably claim that osmium cannot be forged.
When gold is forged, a piece of metal of comparable density is often covered with a more or less thick coating. Alternatively, a gold ingot is filled with another metal.
For osmium, only one metal is known that differs from osmium in density by just a hundredth of a gram. This metal is iridium. However, no forgery can be carried out with iridium either, since not only have both metals high melting points but coating them at these temperatures also means that the other metal would lose its shape. However, this case is just hypothetical, because osmium is delivered in very thin structures as bars so that a real "interior" does not even exist.
Attempts to crystallize iridium ingots must also fail because iridium has a different crystallization structure so that it is clear and visible to the naked eye whether it is ruthenium, iridium or osmium bars.
- Is osmium sold in a pyramid scheme or Ponzi scheme?
The answer is a clear no. Revenues are generated only by selling osmium; there are no “joining fees” or financial investments other than the cost of conducting business. There exist two different ways to place osmium on the market: You can either sell osmium as a wholesaler or a retail seller, or engage in intermediary sales by establishing relationships with end customers and receiving a commission.
Stakeholders in the sale of osmium, including but not limited to state institute partners, wholesalers, retail sellers and partners engaging in intermediary sales, are rewarded for their efforts given that each have different roles to play in the import and sale of osmium to the end user.
- Can osmium tarnish (just like silver)?
No, it can't. The tarnishing of surfaces is always a chemical reaction, often with oxygen, whose reaction products are deposited on the surface and change colour and reflection properties there. Under standard conditions, however, osmium does not react with oxygen or any other substances. Even at very high temperatures and with the formation of osmium tetraoxide, tarnishing cannot occur, as the oxide is gaseous and volatile.
All colour differences are exclusively deposits of other metals from the cut or the reaction vessel. Hydrochloric acid removes the differences. Condensation of moisture in the crystal structure can also cause optical effects that change the lustre. Furthermore, crystallization can result in a precise alignment of the crystals, which has visual effects that could look like sediments.
- Is OsO4 produced when using the wire eroding process?
Yes, in tiny quantities. However, it is immediately reduced back to metal on the non-precious wire. The individual osmium atoms are drawn electrically onto the wire and sedimented here. The continuous wire has room temperature and cools the osmium immediately. The process is so fast that osmium tetraoxide production is out of the question. Only a few atoms manage to escape reduction and escape as osmium tetraoxide. The odour of osmium tetraoxide is therefore also not perceived in the wire EDM process, even from a short distance.
- Is the crystallization process patented?
No, it's not patented. A patent explains processes very precisely to be recognized as one. A patent is always obtained if there is a risk that discovery will soon be made and marketed by a second inventor. With osmium, there is more of a risk from a patent itself, because the instructions in the patent explain the process to a possible imitator very profoundly. This increases the risk of imitation. This plagiarizing of the process is then forbidden, but it cannot be controlled and combated throughout the world. In addition, patent procedures take a long time to apply for and enforce. The best thing when dealing with osmium is to leave the process in the black box and not publish it. This way there can be no imitators. Many coincidences and dangerous moments had occurred in the laboratory during the discovery of crystallization, which cannot by chance lead again in the same way to an insight that explains the process of crystallization.
- What is the delivery time for 2D bespoke designs (from order to delivery)?
Depending on the number of orders, standard delivery time for a new model can be seen between one and three months. If osmium ingots are already available and the model has already been generated in CAD, delivery is also possible after a few weeks. As with a sculpture where the stonemason already owns the stone before he starts his work, it is wise regarding short delivery times to already own the osmium for new figures and thus only have to give the order for the wire eroding process.
- Does osmium have a "memory"? What about hysteresis?
Hysteresis occurs when a process moves to the state where it can regulate itself. They occur in measurement and control systems due to time delays and prolonged effects after a change in regulation. In metallurgy, there are memory effects, such as memory metals, which can regain their former form through temperature changes. Also, a tension can arise in a metal, which is generated by mechanical work, which can lead to cracks in the metal. So you can bend a metal several times, and at some point, it will break. This applies to any metal in any form of use, even very good spring steels. Also, it is said in esotericism that metals and liquids can remember effects and then have an influence on humans based on them. All esoteric statements about osmium are nonsense and must under no circumstances be equated with scientific research.
- Which product is recommended for investors?
The decision as to which osmium piece to purchase, which semimanufactured osmium shapes to store for the next generation or which osmium jewelry to buy, should take into consideration one important factor.
When osmium is used in the jewelry industry, by a large manufacturer or just a small jewelry business, it must be possible to cut the desired shape from an osmium disk or an osmium bar.
When cutting, the osmium shapes are positioned in a way that minimizes cut waste, i.e. crystalline osmium which can no longer be used due to its shape. The reason for this is that reusing the cut waste requires a complete re-crystallization into suitable new shapes, which involves considerable effort.
The area of the circumference of each osmium bar inevitably results in waste. Therefore, the attempt is made to cut the objects out of the middle area, which is why this area must be particularly large in relation to the circumference.
Hence: Large bars and discs have less waste and are therefore cheaper for investors. It is therefore absolutely reasonable to acquire the largest possible form with the invested money.
Exceptions to this rule are pre-cut shapes such as small animals, inlays, osmium diamonds or star-rows. These shapes are finished products and can be sold straight away