2024 Paris medalists will take a bit of France and its iconic landmark home with them. And it’s legit pieces of the Eiffel Tower, in case you were wondering…
The Paris Olympics medals have been unveiled. And they’re monumental.
In all senses of the term.
Indeed, a hexagonal, polished chunk of iron taken from none other than the Eiffel Tower is being embedded in each gold, silver and bronze medal that will be hung around athletes’ necks at the Paris Games and Paralympics that follow.
So, on top of making history at the upcoming Olympic Games, Paris medalists will take a bit of France and its iconic landmark home with them, too.
“Are these really authentic chunks from the Eiffel Tower?”, we hear you ask.
You see, the 330-meter tall tower is made of 18,038 iron parts. But, like everything, it ages.
Built for the 1889 World’s Fair, engineer Gustave Eiffel’s tower was only intended to stand for 20 years.
So, it gets a little rejuvenating surgery from time to time. A cheeky zhuzh, you might say.
For the 2024 medals, the iron pieces embedded in the center of the Olympic medals each weigh 18 grams, and have been cut from girders and other bits that were swapped out of the Eiffel Tower during renovations and stored for safekeeping.
They were stripped of paint, polished and varnished for their second life, as well as stamped with “Paris 2024” and the Games logo.
The five Olympic rings are also stamped on the iron of the Olympic medals. The Paralympic logo of three swooshes, known as the Agitos, is stamped on the medals.
“The concept came after a few discussions,” says Joachim Roncin, head of design at the Paris Games organizing committee. “We realized that there’s one symbol known across the world, which is the Eiffel Tower. We said to ourselves, ‘Hey, what if we approached the Eiffel Tower Operating Co. to see if it’s possible to get a bit of the Eiffel Tower to integrate into the medal?’”
The company agreed, and “the dream became reality,” he said.
“It’s really a bit of metal from the Eiffel Tower.”
Paris jewelry house Chaumet designed the medals.
Six small clasps that hold the iron pieces in the medals are a wink at the 2.5 million rivets that bind the Eiffel Tower together. Around the iron pieces are disks of gold, silver or bronze. They’re crinkled to reflect the light, making the medals shine. Games organizers say the metal is all recycled, not newly mined.
And if you were curious, the Paris Mint is manufacturing 5,084 medals — about 2,600 for the Olympics and 2,400 for the Paralympics.
The gold medals weigh 529 grams and are not pure gold. They are made of silver and plated with 6 grams of gold.
The silvers weigh 525 grams and the bronzes weigh 455 grams and are a copper, tin and zinc alloy.
The medals are 85 millimeters across and 9.2 millimeters thick.
They’ll come in a dark-blue box from Chaumet and a certificate from the Eiffel Tower Operating Co. that the iron pieces came from the monument.
Paris organizers didn’t give a monetary value for the medals.
The 2024 Summer Olympic Games are held in Paris from Friday 26 July to Sunday 11 August. The Paralympic Games will be held from Wednesday 28 August to Sunday 8 September.