Bloomberg Businessweek
Ingo Wolf Image Credit: Bloomberg Businessweek
Ingo Wolf Image Credit: Bloomberg Businessweek

Can Ingo Wolf Transform Atomic No. 76 Into The Next-gen Diamond?

Can Ingo Wolf transform atomic No. 76 into the next-gen diamond?

Austin Carr

The band at the 43rd annual International Precious Metals Institute Conference is billed, at least according to the huge glowing sign near the stage, as Abbacadabra, “the ultimate ABBA tribute.” But talented as they are, Ingo Wolf, a 54-year-old German scientist and serial entrepreneur, sees room for improvement. “It’s very difficult to make a copy,” Wolf shouts over a rendition of Money, Money, Money. He wears a hotel-branded polo shirt, a guitar pendant necklace, and a chocolate smudge on his lip from the nearby fondue fountain (sponsored by Pamp, the Swiss seller of gold bars). “Everyone expects you to be as good as the original.”

As we sip Heinekens at a booth at the Peppermill Resort’s Edge Nightclub in Reno, Nev., Wolf and I discuss how the singers’ glittering microphones look almost as if they’re made of osmium, the precious metal he’s come to this trade show to promote. Of course, if they were made of osmium, they’d be worth more than all of ABBA’s music royalties combined. “You have to mine 10,000 tons of platinum ore just to find a sugar cube of osmium,” he asserts. “This is what we call rare.”

Wolf ’s big bet is that the element, which is extracted in vanishingly small quantities as a byproduct of nickel and platinum mining, has commercial potential even greater than that of diamonds. Osmium crystals, which, unlike diamonds, can form o

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