If you ask an Olympian, the answer is that the medal is priceless.
If you ask the governments of countries, the answer is in the millions.
If you ask someone who is interested only in the precious metals in the medals, the answer is a little more pedestrian.
While the gold, silver, and bronze medals of each Olympiad are unique in their design, the IOC has minimum standards for medal composition. The Beijing medals are 70mm in diameter and 6mm in thickness, which is 10mm wider and 3mm thicker than IOC requirements. The IOC requires that the gold medal be made of pure silver and gilded with at least 6 grams of gold. They also have a fair amount of jade integrated into the design. Since there are no reports as to the actual composition of the medal, with respect to jade versus the precious medals, for simplicity I’ll assume the medals are 700mm x 6mm of 92.5% silver and six grams of gold (for gold, and 100% silver for silver). It’s a bit inaccurate but I think we can make do!
Six grams of gold is worth approximately $160 at average prices today and the other 92.5% of the silver is worth at about $60, again assuming average prices. A total price for the gold at $220 puts it higher than previous years in sheer previous metal values.
Or we could cheat and read reports on China spending $1.24M on the six thousand medals, making them an average of $206.66 each. Telegraph.co.uk priced the cost of a gold medal at $393 though this probably includes design, manufacturing and shipping. Compare this to Athens in 2000 when each medal cost $155 and you see how much of an impact gold prices have been.
Medals of Beijing Olympic Games unveiled (with detailed photos of the medals) [Beijing 2008]