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JOHN EGGERS COLUMN: Going for the gold? It all depends

Have you been watching the Olympics? Don't you wonder how much those gold medals are worth? Are they solid gold or only part gold or are they just gold colored?

In my many years of antique collecting I purposely haven't looked for gold. I considered it out of my spending range. Jewelry (49 percent of all gold is used for jewelry) was not of interest to me and I wasn't too interested in collecting coins. I have had a few gold coins and some very nice gold jewelry. I tried not to be like Rumpelstiltskin who was mesmerized by his gold.

In case you are wondering how the value of gold is determined a piece of gold marked 24 karat is pure gold. (A karat is 1/24 part of pure gold by weight. Karats are used to measure the purity of the gold.) Most of the gold you will find in the United States will be marked in karats (e.g. K for karat). So, 18-karat gold is 75 percent pure gold; 14-karat gold is 58.5 percent pure gold, and 10-karat gold is 41.7 percent pure gold. The remaining portion of the metal usually is silver, but may consist of other metals or a combination of metals, such as platinum, copper, zinc, or nickel.

You may want to take off your wedding ring and check the karats. If it has a low karat mark, don't blame your spouse. This was probably all he or she could afford. I can't get my wedding ring off so I can't check the value. But what does it matter, right, unless you want to pawn it or sell it? Just remember the higher the karat, the higher the value.

For the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, the gold, silver and bronze medals all weigh roughly a pound and are approximately a third of an inch thick. Starting with the 1912 games in Stockholm, the Olympic medals have been gold-plated, rather than solid gold. Wouldn't you like to have one of those old medals—just as a conversation piece, of course?

So, how much is an Olympic gold medal actually worth? This depends on how you place a value on Olympic gold. The medal itself is made of silver and gold plated with 1 percent pure gold. The medal's scrap value is about $600. However, if you win a gold medal for the United States you also get a bonus check of $37,500 for winning a gold, $22,500 for a silver and $15,000 for a bronze medal (paid by the U.S. Olympic Committee). The country of Azerbaijan offered $510,000 to each gold medalist during the 2012 London Olympics.

If you were to obtain an Olympic gold medal and decided to auction it off, they sell for about $20,000. The price goes up depending upon who won the medal. Olympic greats such as Jesse Owens, Carl Lewis, Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt, for instance, would command much higher prices. A hockey gold medal that Mark Wells won during the "Miracle on Ice," game in 1980 in Lake Placid, N.Y., sold for $310,700.

Medals also carry a high endorsement value. Consider all the endorsements Michael Jordan has had during his illustrious basketball career. As part of the Olympic dream basketball team he earned a gold medal. Jordan is now worth $1.4 billion. This is tops for any Olympic athlete who has won a gold medal.

Gold is the only metal that is yellow or "golden." Other metals may develop a yellowish color, but only after they have oxidized or reacted with other chemicals. Nearly all of the gold on Earth came from meteorites that bombarded the planet over 200 million years after it formed.

Gold is extremely ductile (the ability of a medal to be drawn out like a wire). A single ounce of gold can be stretched into a gold thread five miles long. Gold threads can even be used as embroidery thread. Now you can understand why old antique weavings often used gold thread in them.

Gold has shaped world history. If gold had not been discovered in California, South Dakota and Colorado, the United States may have ended up looking entirely differently. Why would pioneers go West? The terrain was harsh. There were rumors about fierce Indian tribes. The weather was unpredictable. Why not stay in the East where life was easy? There would also probably be no James Bond movie titled "Goldfinger".

What would this world be like without our quest for gold? Think about it. I hope you can see this connection. We would have 17 more living young people in Florida. To quote Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet,

"There is thy gold, worse poison to men's souls,

Doing more murder in this loathsome world,

Than these poor compounds that thou mayst not sell."

We can't deny the fact that the reason we do not have strict gun laws in this country is due to one thing and one thing alone: gold (i.e. money). If not for the hunger for gold, the mass murder in Florida could have (not may have) been prevented. It has poisoned our soul.

So, we watch the Olympics and marvel at the athleticism of our young people all over the world. We hope they capture the gold regardless of what country they hail from and/or just experience the wonder of the Olympic Games. We are thankful that these young people have the opportunity to go for this gold, which represents the best that one can be.

Riddle: Why is someone who borrows money but does not pay it all back like a football player? (Because sometimes he gives you a quarterback and sometimes a halfback.) How sad is it that those moms and dads in Florida will not have their kids back all because someone wants to make a buck or be given a buck?

100 percent graduation rate

A local movement is underway to ensure the area has a 100 percent high school graduation rate. Here's some tips on how you can help us achieve that goal:

1. Remind your kids and grandkids that their No. 1 goal in school is to graduate from high school.

2. Remind your kids that if they need help with anything, they need to just ask a parent, teacher, friend or anyone that cares about them—and to never stop asking.