Are Olympic Gold Medals really made of Gold?

1,359 Views Updated: 24 Aug 2017
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Are Olympic Gold Medals really made of Gold?

The Olympic Games is undeniably the most prominent multi-sport event in the world today and every athlete dreams of winning a gold medal in the Olympics for its country.

But have you ever wondered if the Olympic gold medals really gold? And if so, then what is the monetary value of an Olympic gold medal? We are answering all your questions here.


(Image Courtesy: Reference Reference)

There used to be a time when the Olympic gold medals were actually made of solid gold, but the practice is not in use anymore. In fact, it has been more than 100 years since, as the last time an athlete was awarded a medal made of real solid gold in the Olympics was back in 1912, during the Stockholm Summer Olympics.


(Image Courtesy: Nate D Sanders)

But, if Olympic gold medals aren’t really made of gold, then what are they exactly? The organizing committee of the host city determines the precise composition and the design of all the Olympic medals. Though there are quite many liberties allowed in the process, there are also some rules and regulations that are required to be followed.

The rules regarding the composition and design of the Olympic gold medal are:

#1. Gold medals are to be awarded to the holder of the first place.

#2. Each gold medal should have a diameter of at least 60 mm.

#3. Each gold medal should be at least 3 mm in thickness.

#4. The composed of silver used in making gold medals should be at least .925 grade (Sterling silver).

#5. Each gold medal should be covered in at least 6 grams of real gold.

#6. The name of the sport  should be written on the medal.

#7. Though the host city can design the medal, the National Olympics Committee has the right to approve or reject the design.

#8. The responsibility of minting the Olympic medal lies with the host city.


(Image Courtesy: The Japan Times)

Therefore, the gold and silver Olympic medals are about 92.5 percent silver. The gold medals awarded at Rio Olympics were actually 98.8 percent silver, and the gold medal gold content merely attributed to 1.2 percent of it. Thus, the gold medals value based on the precious metal content comes out to be somewhere around USD 550, whereas the silver medals should be worth somewhere around USD 300.


(Image Courtesy: Ask a scientist)

Amusingly, a gold medal wasn’t always the prize for winning sports event in the Olympics, and the tradition of giving away gold, silver and bronze medal only emerged in 1904. While cups and trophies were the prizes during the 1900 Olympics, silver and copper medals were the giveaways during the games of 1896.

You must be intrigued to know that there are medals that are made of real gold like the Noble Prize Medal and Congressional Gold Medal. Until 1980, 23-carat gold was used to make a Nobel Prize medal, but today, these are made from 18-carat green gold and then plated with 24-carat gold.


(Image Courtesy: The New York Times)

Do you think gold medals should be actually made of solid gold? Share your thoughts with us through your comments in the section below.

(Featured Image Courtesy: NBC Connecticut)

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