What’s in Olympic gold medals?

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Olympic gold medals are mostly made of silver with gold plating and contain at least 0.21 ounces of gold. The composition varies, with the London 2012 medals containing 6% copper, 93% silver, and 1.34% gold. The shape and size of medals have changed over time.

Contrary to what most people think, Olympic gold medals are mostly made of silver and not gold. They haven’t been made from solid gold since the 1912 Stockholm Olympics. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has mandated that Olympic gold medals contain at least 0.21 ounces (6 g) of gold, but are usually silver with gold plating.

What other materials are used?

The actual composition of the medal varies from one Olympic to another. For example, the London 2012 Olympic gold medals contained 6% copper and 93% silver, with only 1.34% gold. Aside from the gold plating, a gold medal and a silver medal have pretty much the same makeup; the silver medals replace the gold with more copper. Exotic materials have been introduced in other Games’ medals, including jade for the 2008 Beijing Games.
More Olympic Medal Facts
The ancient Olympians were rewarded with horseshoe-shaped olive wreaths (called kotinos) which the victor (there was only one) wore on his head.
At the first modern Olympic Games (in Athens in 1896), the winner was awarded a silver medal. The 1904 Olympics in St. Louis, Missouri featured the first gold medals.
The shape and size of Olympic medals have changed over the years. Today they are round and about 2.75 inches (7 cm) in diameter, but in 1896 they were less than 2 inches (48 mm) in diameter. In 1900, medals had a rectangular shape.

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