So How Much Gold Is Actually In The Olympic Medals?By Sarah Benali of Kitco News
Friday August 05, 2016 12:40
(Kitco News) -The 2016 Rio Summer Olympics kick off in just a few hours and aside from talks of Russian athletes being banned or concerns over Rio’s poor infrastructure, the symbolic gold medal might itself lack a little luster.
Athletes from all over the world are gearing up to compete for that top prize but this year’s coveted medal, created by the Brazilian Mint, barely has any gold in it and is almost entirely made of silver.
According to Victor Hugo Criado Berbert, production manager of the Olympic medals at the mint, the medals are only about 1.2% gold.
Speaking with Kitco News in July, he said the gold medal is made up of 494 grams of silver and only 6 grams of gold. However, to give the award its lustrous look, Berbert explained a gold-plated layer was added on top of it at the end of the process.
Meanwhile, the second-place medal is made entirely of 92.5% pure silver.
Nearly 100 grams heavier than the 2012 London Olympic medals, Berbert noted that the 2016 Rio Olympic medals weigh 500 grams each.
At current prices, with gold trading roughly at $43.04 a gram and silver at $0.63 a gram, the gold medal is worth $569.46. The silver medal is worth about $315.
The third-place Bronze medal, Berbert continued, contains 475 grams of 93.7% pure copper and 25 grams of 3% pure zinc. All three medals are 85 millimeters in diameter, 11 millimeters high in the center and 6 millimeters high on the edges, he added.
However, it is difficult to put a price tag on the intrinsic value of these exclusive sporting awards, not to mention the potential endorsement and sponsorship deals a lot of the Olympic medalists get post-games. Most decorated Olympian Michael Phelps’ net worth stands at around $55 million, and Forbes puts world-record holder Usain Bolt’s net worth at over $32 million.
Berbert's team, responsible for making the medals, consists of about 100 workers, 80 of whom are working around the clock. "Engineers, designers, artists, managers, and 80 people working in shifts 24 hours a day," he said.
Of course, he added, this wasn't an opportunity the Brazilian Mint was going to pass up. "When the country [and Olympic Committee] asked us if we could make them, we said 'the Olympic medal? Let's try it!'” he exclaimed.
In total, the Brazilian Mint used almost 172 ounces of gold to create 812 gold medals; at the same time, more than 1.6 tonnes of silver were used in the gold medals and the 812 silver medals. That amounts to over $230,000 worth of gold and over $1 million worth of silver at current prices.
The 2016 Summer Olympics will be held in Rio de Janieiro, Brazil, from Aug. 5 to Aug. 21.