Close-ups of Olympic medals

Medals were first awarded as prizes for Olympians at the 1896 Games. Since then, each Olympics has had its own unique medal design, differing in size, imagery and material. Here we take a closer look at the medals from recent Olympic Games.

Olympische Spiele Athen 2004

The front of a gold medal from the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

London Olympics gold medal

In this image made available by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games on Wednesday July 27, 2011 shows London 2012 Olympic gold medal designed by British artist David Watkins. The front of the medal is on the right, all medals are 85mm in diameter. (AP Photo/LOCOG, HO)

Gold medal

The gold medal for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. (AP Photo/Greg Baker)

Olympische Spiele Athen 2004

Close-up of the back of a gold medal from the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. (Photo by Vladimir Rys/Bongarts/Getty Images)


Silver, gold and bronze (from left) medals of the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympic Games are unveiled to the media at the Mint of the Finance Ministry in Osaka, western Japan, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 1997. (AP Photo/Kyodo News)

1988 Olympics Gold Medal

A closeup of a Gold Medal for the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea. (Photo by Allsport)


This is a set of the 1996 Olympic gold, silver, and bronze medals, seen Wednesday, June 12, 1996, in Taunton, Mass., at the Reed & Barton factory. Reed & Barton produced 1,838 medals for the Centennial Olympic gamesin Atlanta. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)


A close-up of a gold medal from the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. (Getty Images)

Sebastian Coe, an du Plessis

Sebastian Coe, right, chairman of the London 2012 Organizing Committee, and Jan du Plessis, left, Rio Tinto mining company chairman, pose for the photographers holding a gold medal of the Games, during a photo op at the Tower of London, in London, Monday, July 2, 2012. The company is responsible for the production of the precious metals for the London 2012 Games, and has handed over the final Olympic and Paralympic medals to LOCOG for secure storage in the vaults at the Tower of London during the Games. The gold, silver and bronze medals which will be awarded to the athletes at Games-times, will remain there until they are needed for the Victory Ceremonies. In total, 4,700 medals have been produced and will be awarded in 805 Victory Ceremonies that will take place in over 30 London 2012 venues across the UK. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)