A day in the life

Olympic Medals

I guess any good blogger, at least any one worth their salt, would have a post about the Olympics. I mean, they only come around every two years. Yes, two years.  The winter and the summer games are staggered so we have them every two years. In 2018, we shall have the winter games. The highlight of every game played is the end result and the awarding of the medals. And about those medals…. It turns out that not all Gold medals are created equal. Well, they are and they are not. I will explain. There are actually some rules on the design of a Gold Medal. Especially in the Summer Olympics. It also turns out that the awarding of the three medals is relatively new to the Games.


The first modern Olympic games did not award gold medals at all. The  awards in the 1896 games in Athens were silver for first and bronze for second, along with an olive branch or a laurel branch, respectively, in homage to the awards given at the ancient games. The 1904 Olympic Games in St. Louis, Missouri, were the first to use actual precious metals in the popular three kinds we know today.


The actual design is up to the host country and each Olympiad has a different design. There has been quite a wide variety of designs for the medals throughout history, but since 1928 all or partly or completely based on Guiseppe Cassonlini’s Triolfo.


The design of the gold medal is decided on by the host country and each Olympiad features a different design for the medals, so that throughout Olympic gold medal history there are a wide variety of different looking medals, although they all contain gold, and since 1928, are all wholly or partly based on Giuseppe Cassolini’s “Trionfo.”The Trionfo design was created by Guiseppe Cassioli in 1928 as part of an International Olympic Committee (IOC) sponsored competition. It features Nike, the Greek goddess of victory in the foreground and the Roman Coliseum in the background, has been the standard design for many Summer Olympic medals.The design on the reverse side is often changed, and in recent years, the background building has been the Greek Panathinaiko Stadium.The London medals feature the goddess Nike in front of Panathinaiko Stadium on one side and the River Thames on the reverse


As for the rules, The IOC has specific requirements when it comes to how a gold medal is composed, so that even though they may look different, there is some consistency. Each medal must be essentially circular, with the ability to attach a ribbon so that the medal can be worn, must be at least 60 millimeters in diameter and 3 millimeters thick, and must be composed of 550 grams of silver covered with 6 grams of pure gold. Basically, the gold medal is the silver medal covered in gold.

2010 Winter Games

The first gold medals weighed 21 grams, while the gold medals for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London weigh around 400 grams, a Summer Olympic record (some Winter Olympic gold medals have weighed in at over 500 grams).
The Winter Olympic games are a bit different because there is no IOC regulation on the designs that these medals can contain. This means that more design motifs can be used, although the snowflake is common. Winter Olympic Games medals have been made of non-precious metals including sparagmite, lacquer and glass.  The only exception to gold, silver and bronze medals for Summer Olympic Games took place in 2008 when Beijing was hosting the Games. The Beijing games used jade in the medals because jade is representative of China and its historical contribution of jade to the world markets.



Rio Summer Olympic Games have medals that  are, of course, different to represent nature and sustainability. The medals themselves were produced use environmentally sustainable methods.  The medals were  made from gold that has been extracted without the use of mercury and which was produced according to strict sustainability criteria, from the initial mining all the way through to the design of the end product.
As for the cost of the medals, there is much speculation and it seems that in today’s market the Gold medal would be worth around $600. There really isn’t that much gold used in the making of the medal.  The current medals are made  494 grams silver, gilded with 6 grams of gold. However, they are truly priceless. They represent excellence and the number 1 athlete in the world in whatever sport. They are truly one of a kind and what they represent cannot be bought.