Skip to content

The medals and the metals of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

8 August, 2016



The medals of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games are the heaviest summer Olympic Games medals ever. They weigh 500g each, 100g more than the second heaviest (London 2012).

With a diameter of 85mm they are also the biggest summer Olympic Games medals together with the London 2012 ones.

The infographic above focuses mostly on the composition, the ingredients of the medals: the metals that they are made of.

Starting with the gold medals, they are made of sterling silver (98.8%) and an external thin layer of mercury-free gold (1.2% – 6g).

The silver medals are made of 100% sterling silver. Sterling silver is an alloy of silver (92.5%) with copper (7.5%).

Finally the bronze medals are actually made of brass. Bronze is an alloy of copper with tin while the bronze medals of Rio 2016 are made of an alloy of copper (95%) with zinc (5%).

The Mint of Brazil produced 812 gold, 812 silver and 864 bronze medals. In total  2,488 medals were produced weighing 1,244kg and containing 746.6 kg of silver, 470.9 kg of copper, 21.6 kg of zinc and just 4.9 kg of gold.

What metals each medal contains

Gold medal (812 pieces)
Silver: 456.95g (91.39%)
Copper: 37.05g (7.41%)
Gold: 6g (1.2%)

Silver medal (812 pieces)
Silver: 462.5g (92.5%)
Copper: 37.5g (7.5%)

Bronze medal (864 pieces)
Copper: 475g (95%)
Zinc: 25g (5%)

Total metal contained in the medals of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games
Gold: 4.872kg
Zinc: 21.600kg
Copper: 470.9346kg
Silver: 746.5934kg

The National Rio 2016: Making the medals – ‘nothing can match the sensitivities of hand-design’
Seeker 2016 Olympic Medals Have a Recycled Heart
AFP via Astro AWANI Curvy Brazilian women inspire Olympic medal design
Parsons, P. & Dixon, G. (2013).
The periodic table : a field guide to the elements. London: Quercus.

Many thanks to Gary Meenaghan for providing us with the dimensions of the Rio 2016 Olympic medals.

If you found this post interesting, why not have a look at other related posts:
Bigger, thicker, heavier: the evolution of the Olympic Games medals infographic
2012 London Olympic Games: Ticket Prices
A history of the Basketball World Championships (Mundobasket) [1950-2006]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: