By Ethan Wolff-Mann
Value is a funny thing.
Olympic medals are handed out every two years. As the anthem plays and tears fall, the camera often focuses in on the medals—the gold one especially—and naturally, viewers are bound to wonder how much is that thing worth?
As with anything, a gold medal’s true value depends on your point of view. The organization that hands out medals may value them very differently than the individual who wins one. How much a collector is willing to pay for such a medal is a different animal altogether, as is how much the medal’s metal would be worth if it were melted down.
The point is, there are many different ways to value an Olympic gold medal. Let’s break it down.
The Scrap Value: $501
The first and easiest way of calculating the value of a Olympic gold medal is figuring what the metal is worth if one were melted down. Since the Mexico games in 1968, the medals have averaged 65.8 millimeters in diameter, 6.5 millimeters in thickness, and 176.5 grams in weight. London’s were the largest, at between 375 and 400 grams.
But gold medals aren’t made of gold, not entirely anyway. Only about six grams of each medal are 24-karat gold; the rest is sterling silver.