For athletes, though, there is no better piece of jewelry that you can have in your possession than an Olympic medal. As the Olympics are in full swing, a whole new set of athletes are securing these sets of medals. Like jewelry, Olympic medals have become more stylish throughout the years. In the first Olympics games of the modern era in 1896, silver medals were given out to the winners. It wasn’t until later Olympics that the gold for first place, silver for second and bronze for third system was adapted.
Up until the 1990’s Olympic Saint Hubert medals were usually St Hubert Medal rather benign. They were usually one color and printed with a symbol and the name of the Saint Hubert Olympic city. It wasn’t until the 1992 Winter Olympics that this changed. The Albertville, France hosted games were known for quirky designs, and their glass infused medals were no different. In fact, the medals were more glass then precious medal. Athletes didn’t seem to mind as they were beautifully crafted and, hey, an Olympic medal is an Olympic medal.
The 1994 and 1998 Winter Olympic Saint Hubert medals continued this quirkiness, and it wasn’t until 2008 until the usually more traditional Summer Olympics utilized foreign materials in the medals. The highly praised 2008 Beijing Olympic Medals utilized jade, which gave them both a modern and classical look. Since China spent billions of dollars trying to prefect everything about the games (at least on the surface), it’s no surprise that they provided some of the most beautiful medals in Olympic history. My guess would be that London, the host of the 2012 Olympics, presents medals that are more in line with the classical medals instead of using foreign material as the Chinese did.
More Olympic medal trivia to impress your friends: the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy was the first to feature Olympic medals with holes in the center of them (they were circles and rather fetching). The Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic medals are the first to be “wavy”. They feature engraved emblems of the sports for which the winners participated in and are struck nine times to get their wave feature. Trust me, they look better then you might think.