At the Center of Each 2024 Olympic Games Medal Is a Slice of the Eiffel Tower

In the lead-up to the 2024 Summer Olympic Games in France, luxury jeweler Chaumet and the Paris 2024 Athletes' Commission were tasked with coming up with a medal design that would truly symbolize the City of Light. And their final concept seems to be right out of the playbook of the recent NFL and MLB championship rings, where a piece of Super Bowl turf or World Series game ball leather is actually embedded into the collectible.

In this case, every one of the 5,084 medals to be awarded at the Summer Games will include at its center an 18-gram hexagonal slice of iron from the actual Eiffel Tower.

"We wanted these medals to be truly unique, to bear the Paris 2024 signature," said Tony Estanguet, President of Paris 2024. "To achieve this, we married the strongest symbol of the Games, the medal, with the ultimate symbol of Paris and France around the world, the Eiffel Tower."

Unveiled at the 1889 World's Fair, the 300-meter-tall Eiffel Tower impressed the world with its stature and innovation. During the 20th century, the structure underwent renovation work and certain metallic elements were removed and carefully preserved. The Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel contributed these veritable pieces of the history to the Olympic Games Paris 2024 so they could enjoy a second lease on life.

The original iron of the Eiffel Tower was cut into a hexagon and that's why the slice of iron on the medals mimics that shape. Stripped of its “Eiffel Tower brown” paint, the iron has been restored to its original color. The greyish iron color contrasts with the gold, silver and bronze to give the medals a two-tone look.

The hexagon iron is affixed to the medal by a “claw setting,” which was traditionally used by the House of Chaumet for its high- jewelry creations. Six metal appendages are stamped on the surface and placed at the six corners of the hexagon. For the Paris 2024 Games, claws in the shape of “Clous de Paris” (pyramid squares) are reminiscent of the famous rivets on the Eiffel Tower.

The rays that radiate from the center of the medal are struck rather than engraved to give the medal a 3D effect and to add sparkle.

The Olympic medals are all engraved with the name of the sport, discipline and event of the medallist on the edge.

The other side of the Olympic medal tells the story of the revival of the Games in Greece. A traditional figure on the medals since 2004, the goddess of victory, Nike, is depicted in the foreground, emerging from the Panathenaic Stadium, where the Olympic Games were revived in 1896.

The 2024 medals measure 85mm in diameter and have a thickness of 9.2mm. The gold medal is the heaviest of the three types of medals at 529 grams (1.16 pounds), while the silver medal weighs in at 525 grams and the bronze medal at 455 grams.

Contrary to what many people believe, a gold medal awarded at the Olympics contains just 6 grams of gold. The core of the gold medal is actually made of 99.9% silver. Silver medals are completely silver, and the bronze medals are made of copper.

There was a time when Olympic gold medals were made of solid gold, but the last ones were awarded in Stockholm, Sweden, way back in 1912.

The Summer Games will take place in Paris from July 26 through August 11.

Credits: Images courtesy of Paris 2024 / Ulysse Périer.

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