Rio Olympics – what are those gold medals worth?


Well, that’s a surprise.

Those gold medals athletes are working hard for at the Rio Olympics are not pure gold – just gold-plated silver. In fact, the of the Rio Olympics gold medals is 98.8% silver and only 1.2 % gold.

According to Compound Interest (The Composition of the Rio Olympics Medals):

“Giving out pure gold medals would be financially crippling for the International Olympic Committee, so unsurprisingly some compromises are involved.”

Olympic gold medals haven’t been 100% gold since the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm.

“Since then, they’ve actually been mainly made of silver, with a gold plating on top to give them the expected appearance.”

“Compositions are variable at different Olympics; for example, at the London 2012 Olympics the gold medals consisted of gold (1%), silver (92%) and copper (7%). The value of the Rio Olympics gold medal, based on its metal composition, is approximately $565. Contrast this with their value if they were composed of pure gold: their current market value would be $21,200!”

Seems like a lot of work is involved in moving from second to first place just for a thin plating of Gold.

Still, it’s the thought that counts.

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2 responses to “Rio Olympics – what are those gold medals worth?

  1. A Lisa Carrington medal will be worth a feather – a feather in the cap for the people who stopped fluoridation in Tauranga before she was born.


  2. David Fierstien

    I was just looking at that the other day. My reason for looking into it was the massive size of those medals and the cost involved if those were pure gold. Rio can’t even afford bleach to clean the diving pool and the host country is responsible for the medals. Still, they spent a lot on medals. The gold medals must have at least 6 grams of pure gold with 0.925 grade sterling silver.

    Gold Medal Regulations

    The National Olympic Committee (NOC) allows quite a lot of leeway in the production and design of Olympic medals, but there are some rules and regulations that they impose. Here are the rules for gold medals:

    Gold medals are awarded for first place.
    The gold medal is at least 60 mm in diameter.
    Each Olympic gold medal is at least 3 mm thick.
    A gold medal consists of composed of silver, which must be at least .925 grade (Sterling silver).
    Each gold medal is covered with at least 6 grams of pure genuine gold.
    The name of the Olympic sport is written on the medal.
    Each host city gets to design its medals, but the NOC gets the final word on whether or not the design is accepted.
    The host city is responsible for minting the Olympic medals.


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