Eve's Insight

All that Glitters is not Gold

Q: When is a gold medal not a gold medal?

A: When you win a modern-day Olympic event.

With the Olympic Games scheduled to begin July 27 in London (They will run through August 12th, 2012), we found it interesting to learn that the modern Olympic gold medal is in fact, actually made mostly of silver, rather than gold. Current Olympic rules for the composition of their medals is very specific.

Interestingly, the last time the winner of an Olympic event was awarded a medal made of solid gold was in the 1912 Olympic games in Stockholm, Sweden.

According to Wikipedia In ancient times they recognized a single winner per Olympic event and the winner was crowned with a wreath made of sacred olive leaves from a tree near the temple of Zeus.  It was supposedly not until the Summer Olympics in 1896 when first place was awarded a silver medal & second place was awarded a bronze medal. Things have since changed.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has created a set of standards and properties for the metal content of each of the 3 medals now awarded. All Olympic medals must be at least 60mm in diameter and 3mm thick.

The “Gold” medal for first place must be at least 550 grams of silver, which can be anywhere between sterling silver (925 parts per 1000 of pure silver) and pure silver (1000 parts per 1000 pure silver). This year’s medals are sterling silver grade (92.5% silver) with the balance, 7.5%, copper.  The medal is then heavily plated with 6 grams of pure gold (24 karat), which is actually quite a lot for a gold plating.  It also contains a small percentage of copper.

The Silver medal for 2nd place is the same composition as the first place medal, but does not have any gold plating.

And third place finishers will receive a Bronze medal, which is actually mostly copper (97%) with lesser amounts of tin & zinc.

Even if it is only plated, we still go for the gold!