There are numerous golden awards we fancy earning through our lifetime dream, but have you ever wondered if it’s really made of the good-old gold?
Starting with the most famous, if not the oldest, gold medals. These medals were originally awarded to exceptional victories or accomplishments within the military. Later in the 18th century, those medals found their way to the civil society. They were awarded to brilliant students as way for the public to give a degree of financial freedom for those outstanding students. Nowadays, most of these medals are only for the fame and prestige, with some or little cash. It looks like the 21st century society gave up helping by handing material values, and is being content with just giving psychological support.
The Olympics, Pulitzer and even the Medal of Honor are all not entirely gold. The Nobel Prize Medal, an exception among these medals, is made of 18 carat green-gold. It is made of the gold-silver alloy that gold percentage is around 75%, and plated pure 24 carat gold which might be considered gold if compared to other medals.
The Olympic Gold Medal, is actually 92.5% silver plated with 6 grams of pure gold. Each of the London 2012 Olympic gold medals was estimated to worth around $708, according to the World Gold Council. Too bad for athletes who used the bite test! However, a 1980 Olympic gold medal was sold for over a $300,000.
The Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal, awarded only to newspaper for Public Service and the most prestigious, is a 3/4 inch diameter and ¼ inch thick silver plated with 24 carat gold. That’s almost 19 grams of silver, little over half an ounce of silver, and not gold.
These well-known medals have their value for their names more than the metal used in casting. It is more psychological, as the prize itself has no or little material value. But the epic journey of earning this prize is what counts.
Ironically, the highest military honorary medal in the U.S. and the most patriotic and prestigious, the Medal of Honor, is a simple copper star gilded with gold! Although the monthly pension almost worth the price of an ounce of gold, the medal itself get weary by the passing of time. While it’s a symbol and the people who earned it doesn’t care if it’s tin or platinum medal, the least to be done for war heroes who put their lives on the line is to hand them a fine-crafted badge that could last for the next generations to remember.
The Congressional Gold Medal, one of the highest civilian awards, is gold medal worth $30,000 while its militaristic twin that awarded for men of extreme bravery in extreme times is only $30! Veterans who have these extraordinary medals wouldn’t care less, but a real gold star might be a better gesture of appreciation of their deed. Otherwise, it would be a discrimination against military personnel, which is against the very basic principle of the American Dream.
Gold medals were originated as a military custom to award patriots with the most valued in these times. The gesture was copied from barracks to educational institutions and other cultural fabrics to help building a more peaceful world. They even became symbols of peace and unity in the world, such as the Olympics.
Other examples of famous golden awards are the FIFA World Cup, the Oscars, Grammy and Emmy. The World Cup, the award of the most popular sport tournament winner, is a 5 kg of 18 carat gold. However, the winner soccer team gets a gold-plated replica rather than the real thing. That’s because the real cup was stolen before, TWICE! The first was in 1966 in England, and it was recovered by Scotland Yard. The second time was in 1983, and this time in Rio de Janeiro after Brazil won the tournament for 3 times and earned the right to have the real thing home. It was never seen again, and a rule of handing a replica to the winner team has been enforced.
The entertainment business trio awards; the Oscars, Grammy and Emmy are all plated trophies. The Oscars, has always been a 3.85 kg tin statue with a small percentage of copper, then plated with gold. However, it shines very well in the hands of actors. The Emmy is mostly copper and nickel 3.08 kg statue plated with gold. The Grammy was originally a gold-plated lead gramophone then it was made of a stronger gold-plated alloy that looks bigger in the hands of present-day musicians.
Trophies and medals are usually custom made by new specialized companies in designing and manufacturing them. Others might be made in private or governments mints, depending on the country and the nature of the award. There are mints and online stores that offer to make custom gold trophies and medallions. For instance, some famous gold dealers in India make their own gold coins, and custom-made gold accessories.
The bottom line is, it might not be important what the award is made from, what’s important is what it stands for. However, it might be important to consider making the award from gold, for its emotional effect on the receiver. Gold has always been a fine and a valued metal, if not the most valued, emotionally speaking.