Broken Mirrors to X-Ray Plates: The Making of Rio Olympics Medals

Take a look at the making of Rio Olympics medals through pictures.

Published
Photos
3 min read
A worker takes out gold-plated Olympic and Paralympic medals. (Photo: Reuters)

Ask athletes what goes into Olympic gold medals, and they will likely say sweat and years of training. For Brazil’s National Mint the answer is simpler: recycled silver.

The 500-gram (17.6-ounce) Olympic gold medals that Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps and other athletes will be competing for in Rio de Janeiro are nearly 99 percent silver. They contain just 1.2 percent gold, mostly used as plating.

Each of the 5,130 Olympic and Paralympic medals takes about 48 hours to make, says Victor Hugo Berbert, who is responsible for making medals for the Rio Olympics. He has an 80-strong team working shifts around the clock.

The medals are the most sustainable in Olympic history. Much of the silver is recycled from old mirrors and X-ray plates. The gold is free of mercury, which is often used to separate gold from ore and can poison local ecosystems if not carefully disposed of.

Nike, the winged goddess of victory in Ancient Greece, is minted on one side below the five Olympic rings, while the discipline for which the medal has been won is engraved along its edge. The other side bears the Rio 2016 logo.

It’s a sense of great satisfaction that our work will be worn on the chests of athletes who have given everything to win.
Nelson Neto Carneiro

The Quint takes a look at the making of Rio Olympics medals through pictures.

The Sculptress Designs the Medal on Her Computer

 (Photo: Reuters)
(Photo: Reuters)

Craftsman Nelson Carneiro Works on the Olympic Medal Mould

(Photo: Reuters)
(Photo: Reuters)

A Worker Handles Plates While Preparing the Medals

(Photo: Reuters)
(Photo: Reuters)

Molten Metal is Poured into a Mould

(Photo: Reuters)
(Photo: Reuters)

A Machine Engraving An Olympic Medal

(Photo: Reuters)
(Photo: Reuters)

A Worker with Gold-Plated Olympic and Paralympic Medals

(Photo: Reuters)
(Photo: Reuters)

Finishing Touches

(Photo: Reuters)
(Photo: Reuters)

Cleaning the Olympic Medal

(Photo: Reuters)
(Photo: Reuters)

Medals Are Ready!

The Rio 2016 Olympic medals are pictured at the Casa da Moeda do Brasil (Brazilian Mint). (Photo: Reuters)
The Rio 2016 Olympic medals are pictured at the Casa da Moeda do Brasil (Brazilian Mint). (Photo: Reuters)

(With inputs from Reuters)

(The Quint is available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)

Stay Updated

Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.

Join over 120,000 subscribers!