The Olympic Games celebrate the very best athletic prowess the world has to offer. From record-breaking performances to iconic images of the world’s leading athletes biting into their medals—the games have it all.
The 2021 Olympic Games held in Tokyo took a sustainable approach to the production of the medals; an approach that took over international headlines and garnered praise from all corners of the world.
Up to 5,000 medals were made with electronic devices contributed by the people of Japan—a global win for e-waste and the sustainability crisis.
Olympic medals have long been the literal and figurative gold standard.
Despite the universal awe of Olympic gold medals, however, that hasn’t always been the case. The 1904 games held in the United States were the first to introduce gold medals to the awards. Prior to this, adding gold to an Olympic medal was considered too expensive.
This meant that winners were given a silver medal, the first runner up received the bronze medal, and the Olympian who came in third had no medal at all.
Even after the introduction of gold in an Olympic medal, the coveted item was only cast in pure gold for a very brief period, between 1904 and 1912.
The last solid gold medals were awarded at the Stockholm Olympic Games in 1912. In over a century since then, the gold in an Olympic medal has been the six grams of gold with which it is plated. The medal itself is cast in silver.
If you’ve ever wondered how much gold is in an Olympic medal, then, there’s your answer: Six grams of our favourite precious metal and 550 grams of silver.
Monetary value aside, Olympic gold medals have come to represent much more than the amount of precious metal it contains. The value of going for gold and bringing it home, after all, is priceless.