'Like a precious stone': Paris Olympic medals feature pieces of the Eiffel Tower

The medals awarded at this year's Paris Olympics and Paralympics will feature a hexagon-shaped piece of iron taken from the original Eiffel Tower in their centre, organisers said as they unveiled the design on Thursday.

All 5,084 gold, silver and bronze medals for the Paris Games will feature the six-edged metal medallion which will be set like a gemstone in the design by elite French jewellery house Chaumet.

"We wanted to offer to all medal winners at the Paris Olympics and Paralympics a piece of the Eiffel Tower from 1889," said the head of the local organising committee, Tony Estanguet, at a televised ceremony.

They will be "a combination of the most precious metals from the medals -- gold, silver and bronze -- with the most precious metal in our country, from this treasure that is the Eiffel Tower," he explained.

The design by Chaumet, whose creations have adorned aristocrats and the affluent since 1780, also features a circular arrangement of ridges intended to catch the light and evoke the sun's rays.

The iron hexagon -- a shape which echoes the contours of mainland France -- is held in place by six spurs on each corner which are intended to resemble the rivets used on the Eiffel Tower.

The metal was taken from a Paris warehouse used to stock offcuts by the operating company which maintains the 330-metre (1,083-foot) landmark, known affectionately as the "Old Lady" in France.

"We used these pieces. There were more than enough of them."


Read more on FRANCE 24 English

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