Olympic Gold Coins Worth Their Weight in Gold?

July 18, 2012 – Next week in London, the Olympic games will bring athletes from around the world together as they vie for the gold medal. But, it appears the Olympic gold medal is actually composed mainly of silver.

An Olympic gold medal weighs 412 grams, about the weight of a can of green beans. The gold medal, however, is only 1.34 percent gold, or about 6 grams of gold.

The rest of the medal is 93 percent silver and 6 percent copper.

The meltdown values of the Olympic gold medals at today’s market values are worth about $650 total for the raw materials used.

The silver medal, with is also 93 percent silver and about 7 percent copper is worth about $335 in meltdown value. The bronze medal, however, is worth less than $5 in meltdown value.

The last time the Olympic games gave solid gold medals was in the 1912 summer games in Stockholm, Sweden.

The 2012 Olympic medals are composed from nearly nine tons of metal from Rio Tinto’s Kennecott Utah Copper mine in Salt Lake City and its OyuTolgoi mine in Mongolia.

British artist David Watkins fashioned this year’s design on the front of the medal. The back features a depiction of the goddess Nike, Greek avatar of victory, as she steps out of the Parthenon.

The Royal Mint located in South Wales pressed the medals in a 10-hour procedure requiring 1,400 degree Fahrenheit furnace temperatures and almost 1,000 tons of weight in a specialized coin press.

The 2,300 Olympic medals pressed, the end of a long process of the metals being mined, the design being made by the British artist Watkins, and the Royal Mint pressing the design, are being held under guard at the Tower of London in anticipation of the games commencement on July 27.

Resales of the Olympic medals are rare, but they do of course happen. Typically, because of the Olympic medal’s status, it fetches far more than its meltdown value in resale.

A gold medal worm by Mark Wells, member of the 1980 US men’s hockey team, fetched $310,700 at auction two years ago. Anthony Ervin, a medalist in swimming in 200, auctioned his gold medal to raise $17,000 for victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami that devastated Indonesia in 2004. Ken Spain, a member of the 1968 US basketball team sold his medal for $26,000 last year.

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