Gold News

Olympic Medals: The Real Gold, Silver & Bronze Medal Count

As Rio 2016 begins, here's the Olympics' real gold, silver and bronze medal count at current prices...
The RIO OLYMPICS are just around the corner and, as we wait to see how our home nations fare in summer 2016, we began thinking about the value of the medals awarded to first, second and third place winners.
It’s no surprise that the USA, of all the nations competing in the modern games, has won the greatest number of Olympic gold, silver and bronze medals – a staggering 2,403 medals to date from the summer Olympics.
That's just under 1,000 more than the second placed Russia & USSR combined. 
But what is America's pile of gold, silver and bronze medals worth in monetary value? Our latest infographic looks at the bullion value of each nation's summer Olympics medals.
You can't simply count the total, find their weight, and multiply by the current live price however.
Rio 2016's medals, for instance, are the largest ever awarded at the modern games. Measuring 8.5 centimetres in diameter, with an edge 6 millimetres deep rising in a slight dome to 11mm in the middle, the gold would weigh almost 1 kilogram if the Brazilian Mint made it from solid gold, and be worth $39,812 at current bullion prices (£30,161).
But instead, the Casa da Moeda's half-kilo mix of silver (91.4%), copper (7.4%) and a little gold (1.2%, some 6 grams) would set you back $546 (£413) in the wholesale metal markets right now.
Indeed, when it comes to gold medals, only two of the 27 summer sporting events since the ancient Greek games were revived have given each winner a prize of that most precious metal.
The first modern games, held in Athens in 1896, didn't give gold at all to first place, but awarded a silver medal instead (plus an olive wreath), with second-place runners up receiving a copper-based bronze medallion.
The next games, Paris 1900, set the trend for gilding silver with gold to award as first prize. Only the next two games, St.Louis 1904 and London 1908, awarded a true gold medal to Olympic winners.
Since then Olympic gold medals have in fact been mostly silver – gilded with a layer of gold – while silver medals also typically contain a small quantity of copper to help harden them, too.  And while the metallic composition has changed a little across the years, the size and shape of Olympic medals has varied widely.
Typically round, medals at Paris 1900 were instead rectangular, and Stockholm 1912 prizes were oval. The thinnest medals were awarded in Stockholm in 1956 (where just the equestrian events took place, while the other games were hosted on the other side of the world in Melbourne), measuring just 2.5 millimetres in depth. The fattest were awarded in Barcelona in 1992, with a depth of almost 1 centimetre.
London has awarded both the largest medals (8.5cm in 2012) and the smallest (3.5cm in 1908) so far. The UK's tight-fistedness of 108 years ago is understandable, as London 1908 was one of only two modern Olympics to award a genuine gold medal to first-place winners. Weighing 72 grams (2.3 Troy ounces) its metal content would be worth $2,947 at 2016 prices (£1,988).
London 2012's super-size medals also made them the heaviest-ever summer Olympic medals prior to Rio 2016. Cast by the Royal Mint, they gave first-place winners 412 grams of gilt silver!
Although Rio 2016's gold medal is heavier at half-a-kilo, that still makes London 2012 the most expensive first place of recent times. Because when it was awarded, both gold and silver bullion were trading higher than they cost today, making the bullion content worth $651 at the time (then £420) – a record in real terms in recent games.
There aren't any reliable, comprehensive data available for the exact metallic composition of more than a handful of the different medals designed, cast and awarded at the 27 games held since the modern Olympics began 120 years ago.
So in BullionVault's infographic below, for each medal haul outside those two solid-gold years of 1904 and 1908, we've applied the composition used for the gold, silver and bronze medals awarded at London 2012.
That means:
Gold medals are 1.34% gold, 92.5% silver, and 6.16% copper;
Silver medals are 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper;
Bronze medals are 97% copper, 2.5% zinc and 0.5% tin.
Being far more silver than gold means that overall, the total value of medals awarded in the modern games is still worth a whopping $2,488,801 at current metal prices (£1,675,957). Using the same calculations says the United States has a total medal haul worth $620,588 (£418,201).
Take a look below to see how much your nation has earned on the podium!

Share this infographic on your site, e.g., by using the code sample below.

<a title="Olympic Medals: Who's Got The Most & What Are They Worth" href=""><img src="" alt="Olympic Medal Worth infographic" width="960" border="0" /></a><br>From: <a href="">BullionVault</a>


See all articles by Gold Bug here.

Please Note: All articles published here are to inform your thinking, not lead it. Only you can decide the best place for your money, and any decision you make will put your money at risk. Information or data included here may have already been overtaken by events – and must be verified elsewhere – should you choose to act on it. Please review our Terms & Conditions for accessing Gold News.