It took Vancouver one year of R&D to finalize and produce their design. They opted for an undulated (wavy) design that's never been seen in Games past. The shape was inspired by the snow, sea and breathtaking natural environment of British Columbia. To keep with the eco theme, the Vancouver Olympics committee chose to use 6.8 metric tonnes of medal found in landfill destined circuit boards to make the medals.
Here are some other fascinating facts:
- Weighing between 500 and 576 grams each, Vancouver's medals are among the heaviest in Games history.
- 34 Mint engineers, engravers, die technicians, machinists and production experts worked together to make these medals.
- Every medal is unique – no two designs are the same.
- A total of 12 undulated dies had to be computer-sculpted and milled to give the medals their unique shape.
- Given the undulated form of the medals, the motifs and text had to be individually laser engraved.
- The Paralympic Winter Games medals include Braille on the reverse.
- A clear, protective coating was applied to prevent tarnishing.
- Each medal was struck 9 times with 1,900 tons of pressure (the weight of 760 cars piled on top of each other).
And here's a video that gives more in-depth information on how the medal was designed and manufactured.
(Images: Vancouver 2010)