MAILBAG: Is a gold medal really gold?

Charles from Grand Haven asks: "Is an Olympic gold medal really gold, or just gold-colored?"
Mark Brooky
Aug 6, 2012


Yes, but not much.

An article from the website, "Not much real gold in Olympic medal" (July 30), says only a mere 1.34 percent of an Olympic gold medal is actually gold. About 92.5 percent of it is silver and the rest is copper, according to Dillon Gage, one of the country's largest precious metals dealers.

Interestingly, the Olympic silver medal is truer to form. It also consists of 92.5 percent silver and the rest is copper. The bronze medal is 97 percent copper, 2.5 percent zinc and 0.5 percent tin.

The last time the Olympic games handed out solid gold medals to winning athletes was in 1912.

This year's medals weigh between 375 and 400 grams, according to CoinWeek. They are the largest and heaviest medals in Olympic history.

If the gold medal contained 400 grams of actual gold, it would be worth nearly $21,000 (using a spot gold price of $52.20 a gram). In reality, calculated the current value at around $650. A silver medal is worth about $330 and the bronze medal is worth just $3.'s "Interesting Olympic Facts" says Olympic medals are designed especially for each individual Olympic Games by the host city's organizing committee. Each medal must be at least 3 millimeters thick and 60 millimeters in diameter.

More from "Not that any of these athletes would actually sell their medals, right? No, they do. In fact, a gold medal worn by Mark Wells, part of the 1980 U.S. men's 'Miracle on Ice' hockey team, was auctioned for $310,700 two years ago, CoinWeek reports. Wells sold his medal years earlier to pay for medical expenses related to a rare genetic disease."

The Royal Mint in South Wales made the 2,300 medals that will be awarded in the 2012 Olympic games.

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