We are currently in the middle of week two of the Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The games have been so intense and have kept us on our feet! Some of the most exciting and emotional moments have included watching the presentation of medals to the top Olympians. We know that jewelry has existed and evolved over centuries, but the fact that the world’s top athletes, competing in the largest international competition, are decorated with bronze, silver and gold medallions, is a testament to the significance of jewelry across cultures.
Originally, medals were not even awarded to the top athletes at the Olympics. It was only at the 1904 Olympics, in St.Louis, Missouri, USA, that the IOC started handing out medals to the top three athletes for each category. Until this point, trophies and cups were awarded to the winning athletes. The only exception occurred in 1896, when Greece made handed out medals in the following order: first place received a silver medal and an olive branch, second place received a copper medal and third place received a bronze medal.
Although the top athletes have been decorated in medals since 1904, there were a few years where winning gold actually meant winning gold. From 1904 to 1912, the gold medal winner received a pure and solid gold medal.
Today, the first place athlete receives a sterling silver (.925 purity) medal which is plated with 6 grams of pure gold. The second place athlete receives a sterling silver medal (.925 purity) and the third place athlete receives a copper, tin, and zinc alloy medal (only worth a total of $3.00). Current medals measure 60mm in diameter and 3mm thick. Each host city is responsible for minting and designing their own medals, but the National Olympic Committee has the final say for all of the medal designs.
Check out the results!!
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