Figure of the month: 1.34 per cent

News Arnulf Hinkel, Financial journalist – 01.03.2018

At the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, the two most victorious nations, Norway and Germany, each won 14 gold medals. With a total of 39, Norway was the most successful country in the medal count. But how much gold does a gold medal actually contain? According to the regulations of the International Olympic Committee IOC, a gold medal consists of 92.5 per cent silver, 6.16 per cent copper and 1.34 per cent gold. The largest gold medal ever produced – for the 2012 Olympic Games in London – contained no more than 6 grams of fine gold at a total weight of 550 grams.

So why do they call it "gold medal"?

Since the dawn of mankind, gold has been the epitome of something particularly valuable and is therefore well suited to distinguish an internationally recognised achievement in sports. But this is not the only reason: when the tradition was originally introduced, gold medals were actually made of pure gold. Medals of pure gold were awarded for the last time at the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm.

How much is a gold medal worth?

The already mentioned record-breaking (in terms of size and weight) gold medals of the Olympic Summer Games in London 2012 have a pure material value of around €500. The exact value varies, of course, as it depends on the current prices for silver and gold. However, whether or not a gold medal represents a worthy investment depends on the idealistic value rather than the pure gold content. While old gold medals are often sold for just a few hundred euros on the Internet, that of Mark Wells, a member of the "Miracle on Ice" US ice hockey team, which was victorious at the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow, yielded no less than $310,700 at an auction. If gold medal sales had been an Olympic discipline in their own right, Mark Wells would easily have won another gold medal at the auction for the price he obtained.

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