Melt your medal: How much is Olympic gold really worth?

The Momentum UK Team 16 August 2012

As a champion Olympic athlete fallen on hard times, what would you do with your medal? Melt it down for its precious metals? You might be disappointed with the results.

Due to the nature of its components a 2012 Olympic medal- bronze, silver or gold- may be worth significantly less than you may think.

At meltdown value the precious metal components of the Gold prize come in at just over £410, that’s £64 less than the 2010 average weekly household expenditure in the UK as reported by the Office for National Statistics.

This time around the medals weigh between 375g-400g, have a diameter of 85mm, and are 7mm thick. In 2012 they’re bigger than ever, but an Olympic gold medal is made up of just 1.34% gold, with the remainder consisting of silver and copper.

In fact, the Olympic silver and gold medals contain proportionally identical amounts of silver, at 92.5%- with the remaining portion of the silver medal made up by copper.

Meanwhile a Bronze medal- 97.0% copper, 2.5% zinc and 0.5% tin- at meltdown value could buy you a strong coffee if you’re lucky, at a price of around £3.00.

You’d probably get more for your prize by selling it at auction as Olympic memorabilia. You could even skip the years of training and sacrifice and buy a piece of someone else’s glory instead.

However, for many athletes the Olympic games represent the opportunity to compete for much more than financial gain. Olympic gold, silver, bronze, the value is of course not in the metal. A medal is made of more than that.