A silversmiths guide to the Olympic medals

Olympic Medals London 2012

Since everyone is talking about the Olympics, I thought I’d put my own silversmiths twist on the day!

Whether you are a fan of the Olympics or not you will know there are three types of medals awarded to the winners gold, silver or bronze. So I wanted to find out, who designs the medals, where are they made, and are they really made of gold, silver and bronze?

Firstly what metal is used to make the medals?

Unfortunately the gold medal is no longer made of solid gold. In fact the last solid gold medal was presented in 1912. Since then all the gold medals are in fact made of silver which is then gold plated to give it its gold colour. The silver medal is also made of silver, so the only difference between the silver and gold medal is a thin plating of gold! The bronze medal is made of bronze which is made up of 97% copper, 2.5% zinc and .5% tin.

Who designed the medal?

The design of the medal is left to the host city but certain standards must be maintain.

  • Gold and silver medals are to be made of 92.5% silver, which is hallmark quality sterling silver.
  • Gold medals must be plated with at least 6 grams of gold.
  • All Olympic medals must be at least 3 mm thick and at least 60 mm in diameter.

For the London Olympics the medal has been designed by British artist David Watkins. The front of all the Olympic medals carry the same imagery. The Greek goddess of victory, Nike stepping out of the Parthenon to arrive in the host city. For this years games the other side of the medal shows the logo of the games which sits on a grid style design with a square and a wave symbol representing the river Thames and a map?? Ya I don’t get it either!

Where are the medals made?

This year the medals have been made at the Royal Mint headquarters in Llantrisant, South Wales. They have produced 2,100 medals for the games. Each medal is engraved around the rim with the sport and discipline of its winner.

Here are some images of the Olympic silverware designed by Nick Munro.

Spoons, Nick Munro

 Olympic Silver Nick Munro



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