Gold, silver and bronze, the Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games medals presented on Thursday (8) will also be “from the Eiffel Tower”, with a hexagonal piece of the ‘Iron Lady’ embedded in each of the 5,084 decorations.
The face of the medals is decorated with an iron hexagon from the Eiffel Tower and the Paris-2024 logo, from which rays engraved in the metal of the medal emanate.
On the back, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) requires the representation of the Greek goddess of victory Niké, the Panathinaikó Stadium and the Acropolis, but Paris-2024 obtained exceptional authorization to add the design of the Eiffel Tower.
The discipline for which the medal is awarded is inscribed on the edge of the medal.
For Paralympic medals, the figures are not imposed on the back of the medal, so the design will be a bottom view of the Eiffel Tower, with the inscription Paris-2024 in universal braille.
The president of the Olympic Games Organizing Committee (COJO), Tony Estanguet, explained that the idea of the Eiffel Tower “was received with consensus”.
‘A piece of France’
“To take a medal is to take a piece of history, but now to take this Olympic medal is also to take a piece of France, a fragment of our heritage”, declared enthusiastically to the press Martin Fourcade, president of the athletes’ commission of the games’ organizing committee and Olympic champion.
The 18 grams of Eiffel Tower embedded in each medal were extracted from pieces of the ‘Iron Lady’ from the monument’s renovations and which were kept under top secret in hangars on the outskirts of Paris.
“It’s a historic day, a unique project and the perfect representation of the ambition we put into this sponsorship”, declared Antoine Arnault, vice-president of the board of directors of the Christian Dior SE group, which controls LVMH.
This luxury group announced its sponsorship of the Olympic Games. Jewelry company Chaumet, owned by LVMH, was responsible for designing these medals, which will be manufactured by the national monetary institution Monnaie de Paris.
Each will be 85 mm in diameter, 9.2 mm thick and have different weights: 529 grams for the gold medal, 525 grams for the silver medal and 455 grams for the bronze medal.
Weight, size, shape, representations on the back of the medals or the prohibition of piercing the object are conditions imposed by the IOC.
Make the athlete shine
“This limits us in the creative process, but it’s what makes it fun,” explains Benoît Verhulle, head of the workshop. The creation was carried out in the utmost secrecy, as only five people were aware of this “very special order” at Chaumet, highlights Clémentine Massonnat, responsible for the creation.
It was necessary to delve into the archives of this jewelry store present for 250 years on Place Vendôme in Paris, and which counted among its customers Gustave Eiffel himself. The creators were inspired by wedding or commemorative medals created at the beginning of the 20th century, by the radiant appearance of tiaras, the house’s specialty, or by the hexagonal emeralds of the 1950s and 1960s.
It was decided to place the piece of the Eiffel Tower “in the center of the medal, give it a hexagonal shape reminiscent of France and place it as a center that radiates faceted rays in gold, reminiscent of the brilliance of France”, explains Clémentine Massonnat.
The medal’s rays and faceting also allow “to draw the eye to this part of the Eiffel Tower and make the medal reflect the light when the athlete has it around their neck”, he adds.
“The DNA of our house is to bring inanimate pieces to life,” explains Benoît Berhulle. “It was necessary to play with the light (…) when we manipulate or play with the light on this medal, the rays capture that light and return it in a completely different way”, details the head of the workshop.
“We hope this allows the athlete to shine even more after the achievement”, he says with pride.
Everything should remind you of Paris, even the small details. Therefore, the rays are reminiscent of the city of lights and the “claw setting” method, used to inlay the piece of the Eiffel Tower, simulates finishing each of the vertices of the hexagon with small golden nails, a reference to the rivets on the Eiffel Tower.