Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Behold! 1 oz Rhodium Bullion in my Hands!

My first attempts to own rhodium failed. First I attempted to purchase it; yet it existed no where for the layman slash everyday investor to buy. My search took me to the dark, undercover areas of Tokyo, Japan. I was given a tip in Osaka that rhodium was available in small vials in "sponge" (powder) form, but I came home empty-handed. Imagine the horror. During this 2008-09 search rhodium was at just $750 an ounce.

Next I attempted to buy bulk, looking for 4 other investors to go in with me and we each pay 20% and each get one 2 oz bar. I only found 2 other people. Finally, my search led me to Eitan Cohen, owner of the Cohen Mint. We spoke on the phone and I learned he had rhodium coins on the way! But, not only were they only one gram, I received several emails from buyers who had to wait months to have their orders filled (no, I'm not affiliated with Cohen Mint, but I assure you a) it's damn hard to make a rhodium coin and b) they WILL get it to if you're patient). Either way, I decidedI'd buy my 1 gram coins from an Australian reader of this blog. I didn't know him, but I trusted him enough to buy a few coins. The product was good, so I bought the rest of what he had.

Cohen Mint 1-Gram Rhodium Round

But I was still several grams away from one ounce! So, when finally Cohen announced the 1 ounce rhodium bullion bar I contacted the company and made arrangements to purchase one. You need a cashier's check sent overnight (to make sure there's no huge price fluctuation) or else a bank transfer. I chose the former and FedEx (man, I hate FedEx!) didn't inform me that the don't ship to P.O. Boxes. So, I didn't get my cashier's check back until the next week because FedEx sucks. Then I had to pay to ship it with the Post Office. It was a pain getting my $30 back from FedEx too! Next time I do bank transfer!

1 oz Rhodium Bullion

Email communication with Cohen Mint was good. Many readers of this site expect hourly replies. Sometimes that just isn't possible and I understand that, so I don't mind waiting a few days for a reply. After 2 months, my 1 oz Rhodium bar showed up at the local post office! I picked it up on my way to work and left it in my glove box where I thought it would be safest. Never had a break-in but the rhodium bar is worth nearly as much as the car!

Cohen 1 oz Rhodium Bullion

The coin is well-formed and smooth. There are intricate details on the coin that I wasn't expecting. I would have been happy with a slab of it stamped "Rh .999 pure" and a "Cohen Mint" somewhere on it. That's how Engelhard did their silver; and it was fine for most of us. Needless to say, it's a beautiful piece of rhodium. The bar is smaller than 1 oz of gold, which makes sense considering rhodium's density is 12.41 g·cm−3 and gold is 19.3 (UPDATE: I was told I'm wrong on my physics here, but I'll just keep it that way for now!) Here is the size of the one ounce rhodium bar vs. the 1 gram rhodium coin. Notice the paler color of pure rhodium vs the nickel and quarter.

When I made this purchase Cohen Mint was kind enough to inform me that they could not sell me a coin because they hadn't designed any yet, but that they had some in the works. I feel this is really respectable because if I had wanted a coin I could have waited for one (or four, actually, so that I'd have an ounce). Truthfully I kind of like the bar, but here's a preview of what the Cohen Mint has up its sleeve!

Yes, that's a man on a horse stabbing a dragon. Let's hope they can make it this awesome!
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