Where Did the Winter Olympics Gold Medals Come From?

The closing ceremony for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games is scheduled for Feb. 23, but there are still plenty of medals to be won in the meantime.

In fact, by the time the Olympic torch is extinguished, 1,300 medals will have been awarded, the most in Winter Games history.

But who really cares about who won gold in figure skating and silver in the decathlon? The jewelry industry wants to know how the medals were designed and what each one is composed of!

Sochi’s gold medal design (photo courtesy of Sochi 2014)

The medals weigh in at 531 grams, which means that a gold medal would be valued at $583, according to NBC’s Today. Appraisers might up the value after taking into consideration the 18 hours it takes to produce one medal on average (it should also be noted that gold medals contain 525 grams of silver with a 960 hallmark and 6 grams of gold with a 999 hallmark).

How much is a bronze medal worth? Less than $5.

The quilted design featured on each medal is meant to reflect “a mosaic of national designs from the various cultures and ethnicities of the Russian Federation,” according to the Winter Games’ official website. The design is applied with a laser inside the transparent polycarbonate material.

Oh, did we happen to mention some gold medals will feature small fragments of a 10-ton asteroid that crash-landed in Russia’s Chelyabinsk region last year?    

According to Sports Illustrated, officials in the Chelyabinsk region struck 50 medals and would hand 10 out to athletes who won gold on February 15, the anniversary of the strike.

Unfortunately, Olympic officials spoiled the fun by ruling that the winners would have to wait to receive their special medals until after the Olympics, according to CBS News.

While you wait for your meteorite medal, here are some other fun facts:

  • The precious alloys for the gold and silver medals, as well as the copper and zinc for the bronze medals, were mined in Russia, and the medals were manufactured by Russian medals producer Adamas.
  • The thickness of each medal is 10 mm, and each one has a diameter of 100 mm.
  • The Paralympic Olympic Games medals contain inscriptions in Braille.