The Olympic games are here. And for us, the value of gold, silver and bronze Olympic medals have become a central topic of discussion. Olympic medals are an attractive asset for investors and collectors. Their history, origin, production, and value are some of the most recurrent concerns. As a plus, their historical significance due to the necessary effort and time athletes invest in acquiring one has always fascinated the investment industry.
Earning an Olympic Medal is quite an achievement. Every time the Olympic Games begin, athletes seek to obtain the three precious metal trophies to prove their efforts. But, what is the composition of an Olympic Medal? Are they worth anything outside the sports industry? How did this tradition of hanging gold, silver and bronze items begin? We will discuss those and other intriguing topics in this article.
The Origins of Olympic Medals
Many people believe that the Olympic medal tradition began with the first Olympic Games. Well, that is not so. The earliest Olympic Game editions date back to 776 BC. Back then, victors did not receive any precious metal trophy or acknowledgement other than an olive wreath adornment. But these games are not what we know as “modern Olympic Games”. After an interruption in 393 AD, 1503 years had to pass by for them to return. Still, athletes received no medal award when they came back in 1896, in Athens.
The Olympic Medal tradition as we know it today began with the debatable St. Louis 1904 edition of the Olympic Games. However, the first edition of the modern era introduced a silver medal for the first place and a bronze one for the second place. Athletes that ended up in third place in their disciplines left the Games empty-handed. With its appearance in 1904, the gold Olympic medal became the prize for the first place, while silver and bronze went to second a third respectively. The first-place award of pure gold. However, this changed due to high costs—the last solid gold medal made its appearance at the Stockholm Games in 1912.
The design of each Olympic Medal varied throughout the different editions of the Games. The first design, in 1896, showed Zeus holding Nike on the obverse and an image of the Acropolis on the reverse. The designer in charge of the imagery was Jules-Clément Chaplain, and the Paris Mint took control of its issuance.
Although they were not always the same, these Greek images persisted in being present in the Olympic Medals’ obverse. The design on the reverse suffered modifications. Each host used this side of the medal to introduce their logo. Size, weight and thickness were also not constant factors and varied depending on each edition.
As it happens with design, the production of Olympic medals is the responsibility of the host country. Including not only their minting but also the means of getting the required resources is their obligation. For example, in the case of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Game edition, a recycling campaign recurred to an eco-friendly event. It took hosts two full years of collecting used electronic devices, such as notebooks, laptops, and smartphones, to produce the medals from their metal components.
Are Olympic Medals Real Gold?
As we mentioned before, Olympic Medals are not solid gold. However, they used to be this way from 1904 to 1912, with the last solid gold medal. From 1920 onwards, gold medals are made of pure silver with six grams of gold plating due to cost and durability. Their composition is of at least 92.5% silver as an official requirement. This composition is because silver medals are the only ones composed of one pure element. Bronze medals, on the other hand, are 95% copper and 5% zinc.
Disappointing as it may sound for investors or collectors, Olympic gold medals are not pure gold. The image of athletes biting them to prove their purity is just a mimic. However, due to their gold plating, minor dents may appear on the outside of gold medals. This tradition of proving the metal purity is nothing else but a celebration due to their success.
How Much Are Olympic Medals Worth?
When referring to the value of an Olympic medal, we should consider several points of view. First, if we refer to the value of their metal content, the market value becomes essential to the date. If you wish to check how gold and silver markets are today, you can do so on our homepage. Second, as each design varies in weight and thickness, the value of each Olympic medal differs as well. However, original Olympic medals are not usually at sale due to their symbolic relevance. This fact takes us to the following point of view.
Due to their high popularity, rarity, and limited edition, the value of Olympic medals is over the bullion price. However, there were several cases of athletes who presented their awards at different auctions. Therefore, even though the requested fee was not close to the metal spot price, time and condition, of course, also played a crucial role.
Can You Buy An Olympic Medal?
Apart from the case we mentioned before, Olympic medals are rarely on sale. Due to their symbolic value, athletes tend to keep safe from harm to remind themselves of their success. However, there are some coin series that mints release to celebrate and commemorate an Olympic Game edition. These silver items are collectable and may also see their value increased over time.
If you wish to buy a collectable coin series, do not hesitate to contact us. We will gladly help you acquire the item of your preference at the best price. Moreover, if you wish to generate passive income from your assets, you can also read our guide on ideas to do so. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to learn more about silver and gold investments. Follow us on our social media, and subscribe to our YouTube channel to keep in touch with any updates that may help your assets get to the next level.