With American, Virginia Thrasher winning the first gold medal at Rio in the 10-metre air rifle contest, just how much is it worth?

In making the medals that will be awarded athletes at the ongoing Rio Olympics, a team of about 100 people – including sculptors and machine operators – have been working in secret inside the Brazilian Mint to produce more than 5,000 medals ahead of the Games.

First, the mold for the medal is fashioned, a task that can be completed using a computer. But for the Rio Olympics, the molds were crafted by hands using precision tools, because this allows for more control over the design.
Once the hand-sculpted mold is finished and scanned into a computer, a CNC router, and a computer-controlled cutting machine which cuts the metallic mold. After this, the mold is scrutinised under a microscope for quality control before heading to the factory. Here, factory workers then use a loud press machine to strike the mold three times with 550 tons of force to create the coveted round symbols of victory.
The gold medals then go through an extra step called the bath of gold to give it that gold shine you see. But in reality, the gold medal is actually made of 6 grams of 24-karat gold, and the remaining 494 grams of sterling silver (Sterling means 92.5% silver and the rest being copper). If melted, it will be worth $366 (about ₦120,00) in current market prices. But the London 2012 gold medals, if melted, will have a current market price of $501 (over ₦160,000) in terms of the pure value of gold.
But when these medals are sold at an auction to collectors of Olympic gold medals, they could sell at anywhere from between $10,000 to $2 million, depending on who won it. For example, one of the four gold medals won by the American sprinter, Carl Lewis, was auctioned off for $1.47 million (₦473 million) – the highest so far!

What if gold medals were really made of solid gold? It’s estimated that it would be worth around $76,000 (about ₦25 million). Yet, gold medals haven’t always been silver, electroplated with gold. The last time Olympic medals were made of pure gold was during the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden.

 

See Also: What Will It Take For an Athlete To Be Successful At the Olympics?