The medals awarded at this year’s Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games will feature a hexagon-shaped piece of iron taken from the original Eiffel Tower at their center, organizers said as they revealed the design on Thursday.
The 5,084 gold, silver and bronze medals from the Paris Games will feature a six-edged metal medallion that will be set like a precious stone with the design of the elite French jewelry house Chaumet.
“We wanted to offer all the medal winners at the Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games a piece of the 1889 Eiffel Tower,” the head of the local organizing committee, Tony Estanguet, said in a televised ceremony.
They will be “a combination of the most precious metals of the medals – gold, silver and bronze – with the most precious metal of our country, of this treasure that is the Eiffel Tower,” he explained.
The design by Chaumet, whose creations have adorned aristocrats and the wealthy since 1780, also features a circular arrangement of ridges meant to catch light and evoke the sun’s rays.
The iron hexagon, a shape reminiscent of the contours of continental France, is held in place by six spurs at each corner that are intended to resemble the rivets used on the Eiffel Tower.
The metal was taken from a Paris warehouse used to store cuttings by the operating company that maintains the 330-meter (1,083-foot) landmark, affectionately known as the “Old Lady” in France.
“We discovered that over the years, during the maintenance of the Eiffel Tower, they were forced to remove part of the original structure,” explained Thierry Reboul, director of brand and ceremonies, during a preview of the medals for AFP and other media. media.
“We use these pieces. “There were more than enough.”
The medal design is a key part of the aesthetic of each Olympics, along with the logo, mascots and opening ceremony.
Since 2004, the reverse of all medals shows the Greek goddess Nike flying towards the historic Panathinaikos stadium in Athens, home of the original ancient Olympic Games.
Paris organizers obtained a concession from the International Olympic Committee, allowing them to slightly alter the design to add an Eiffel Tower to the stage.
All the metal used in the Paris medals, which weigh around half a kilo, has been recycled.
At the recent Tokyo Olympics, Japanese organizers also incorporated recycled metal, with each medal molded from alloys extracted from used consumer electronics such as mobile phones and laptops.
‘Like a precious stone’
Although designed by Chaumet, the medals will be manufactured by the French national mint, which has strongly denied a recent report that it has had difficulty finding a non-toxic agent with which to coat each one.
The cast iron used in the construction of the Eiffel Tower in particular needs protection from air and moisture to prevent it from rusting.
“We haven’t had any problems with this,” Joachim Roncin, head of design for the Paris Games, told reporters.
Chaumet, which counted tower designer Gustav Eiffel and Napoleon’s family as clients, is one of more than 70 leading luxury brands owned by French conglomerate LVMH, a major sponsor of the Paris Olympics.
“What we present today is not a medal. “It is a work of art that encapsulates the spirit of the Olympic and Paralympic Games,” Antoine Arnault, an LVMH executive and son of founder Bernard Arnault, said during Thursday’s ceremony.
Based in Paris’s exclusive Place Vendome, Chaumet’s job typically involves handling one-off orders from royalty and multimillion-dollar diamond-encrusted fine jewelry for weddings and high-society parties.
“We knew that everyone would be paying attention to this event in 2024 and we knew we couldn’t afford to make a mistake,” said Chaumet jewelry workshop director Benoit Verhulle.
“We decided to treat the piece of the Eiffel Tower like a precious stone. We set it up using our experience as a jewelry store,” she said.
Other LVMH brands, including Berluti, Dior and Louis Vuitton, will also participate in the Paris Olympics thanks to the company’s sponsorship deal.
The Eiffel Tower will play a central role during the Games that will be held from July 26 to August 11 and the Paralympic Games from August 28 to September 8.
At the opening ceremony, the national teams will sail down the Seine River and disembark in front of the monument, while there is speculation that the Olympic flame will remain on the tower during the Games.