Leave it to France.
Long renowned for creating some of the most iconic, luxurious, and fashionable objects in the world—think: Chanel, Hermès, Cartier, and bien sûr!, champagne—the 2024 Olympic host nation might have finally outdone itself.
This summer, the native land of Napoleon Bonaparte, Claude Monet, and Louis Braille (more on him in a minute) is upping the ante on Olympic medals. And what prize could be more emblematic of the City of Light than a genuine piece of the capital’s iconic skyline?
Created by the c. 1780 French jewelry house, Chaumet, this year’s gold, silver, and bronze medals contain an iron fragment from the Eiffel Tower inside, set like a precious stone. The highly coveted awards will be bestowed upon thousands of podium-climbing Olympic and Paralympic athletes this summer, and they’re designed in a way that couldn’t be more intentional.
“It’s influence brings to life the symbol of victory, and spotlights, 100 years later, the return of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris,” explains a video released by the Olympic Committee this month. Paris last hosted the games back in 1924, and before that, in 1900. After this year, it will join London as the only other city in the world to host the Summer Games three times. And it’s pulling out all the stops for the occasion.
Each 2024 Olympic medal will feature a hexagon-shaped piece of the Tour Eiffel, mimicking the borders of France, itself (the country is often referred to as l’hexagon). The choice of Chaumet as designer is also emblematic.
The historic jewelry house was once a favorite not only of Napoleon Bonaparte’s consort, Empress Joséphine, but also of tower designer Gustave Eiffel, who was a regular customer. Shortly after the Eiffel Tower opened as part of the 1889 World’s Fair exhibition, in fact, Eiffel’s daughter was married, and he presented her with a pearl necklace from—you guessed it—the jeweler de jour, Chaumet.
Another fun fact: for Paralympic athletes, the Games’ edition name is embossed in Braille in the design. It’s a wink to Braille creator, Louis Braille, a French educator who created the first writing and reading system for the blind in the 1820s. Finally, each of the Games’ 5,084 medals were produced by none other than the Paris Mint, and comes complete with its own certificate of authenticity.
In other words, if athletes around the globe weren’t amped enough about the chance to vie for their country and Olympic glory, the opportunity to win a priceless French artifact will only sweeten the pot.
Yet one more reason why Paris 2024 can’t come soon enough!