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Rio 2016 Olympic Gold Medals Feature Very Little Gold

July 26, 2016 | Hannah Abrams


This year’s Olympic gold medals feature a very small amount of gold. (Image via The Associated Press)

This year, the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro has taken a different approach to the prized bronze, silver and gold medals. This year’s medals are aiming for environmental sustainability, as well as ethical material sourcing. However, this also means those prized gold medals are not so gold, after all.

According to USA Today, the gold medals only are plated in a tiny amount of gold. But why?

“Our operators and some of our developers had the same question,” said Victor Hugo Berbert, a member of the Brazilian Mint team that managed the medal-making process. “We can produce medals out of pure gold. But we know how expensive they are. So, gold medals … are not exactly pure gold.”

USA Today did the math, and it turns out Berbert has a point: Each medal would have cost $23,500 each to manufacture in pure gold. With the shift to gold plating, each medal costs about $600. These gold-plated medals are still high quality—the gold must be certified to have a certain amount of purity.

It’s very common for the host country’s national mint to be in charge of the Olympic medals, as was the case this year. According to Berbert, the entire medal-making process took about two years.

Product Showcase

It’s safe to say your business probably would like to avoid doling out $23,500 gold medals to your top stars. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t reward your best employees with something sparkly. Take a look at these awe-inspiring gold medals for some ideas.

1) 2″ Academic Performance Medal MVP in Gold

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2) 2 1/2″ Vibraprint Insert Medal in Gold with coin edge


3) Victory Medal Gold



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