While modestly off their all-time highs, current gold, silver, and copper prices remain at relatively high levels. However, that certainly didn’t deter the Vancouver Olympic Committee from creating a very worthy medal for the top athletes on snow and ice.
Weighing between 500 grams to 576 grams (depending on the particular medal), the Vancouver medals are the heaviest medals ever. The prior record: medals from the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, which weighed between 454 grams and 567 grams. (Note: 454 grams = 1 pound.)
Olympic gold medals actually contain more silver than gold. The International Olympic Committee requires gold medals to be made up of 92.5% silver and just 6 grams (0.19 troy ounces) of gold.
Based on prices the day the Vancouver Games began (Feb 12), this year’s gold medal contains $210 worth in gold and $290 in silver ($501 total). That’s a vast contrast to the gold medals from the Salt Lake City Olympics, which had $59 in gold and $82 in silver ($141 total) – based on metal prices from February 8, 2002, the first day of those Winter Games.
Bottom line: while the weights of the 2002 and 2010 gold medals are fairly comparable, the rise in metal prices over just the last 8 years have made this year’s gold medals approximately 2.5 times more expensive to produce today. Since the 2002 Olympics, gold futures have soared 258%, while silver futures are jumped 247%.
Total Medal Value: Beijing vs. Vancouver
The Winter Games have always been a more intimate event than the summer games. Case in point – at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, more than 10,000 athletes participated in over 300 events, dwarfing the over 2,600 athletes now competing across only 86 events in Vancouver.