How The Nobel Prize Medal Is Made

The most prestigious prizes in the world of Science and Literature are to be given out on 10th of December and the program line-up starts from tomorrow, the 7th. You can check the complete list of winners here, including their Nobel Prize citations. There’s a live webcast link thrown in as well. We’ll give a short program line-up towards the end of this post, but before that we want to tell you how a Nobel Prize Medal is made, just so that you can make your own, if you wanted to!

The procedure to make the medals is documented at the Swedish Mint or Myntverket. They have made all the medals given out since 1901. Here’s a step-by-step rundown.

Step 1: Getting the Gold!

High purity gold is melted and rolled into sheets. The sheets are then flattened to proper thickness, which will become the thickness of the Nobel Prize medal. They are then cut into proper sizes.

The golden sheets are rolled out.

The medals of proper sizes are then punched through. What we have now is a circular piece of highly pure gold of precise thickness and radius. Now for the heat treatment!

Step 2: Hot Foot And Cold Shower

The medal is now imprinted with the face of Nobel on one side. On the other side, is engraved the goddess Isis, who represents Nature. She is emerging from the clouds and the veil from her head is being slightly removed by the Genius of Science. The face of the Goddess is cold and austere and she holds a cornucopia in her hand.

The front and back of the Nobel for the Sciences and Literature. This particular one belonged to Linus Pauling.

This brilliant metaphorical image is underlined by the name of the recipient of the Nobel Prize. Below that is written REG. ACAD. SCIENT. SUEC.standing for The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. On the circumference is the inscription Inventas vitam juvat excoluisse per artes, which loosely translates to And they who bettered life on earth by their newly found mastery. This inscription is present on the Nobel Prizes for Physics, Chemistry, Physiology/Medicine and Literature. The design was conceived of by Erik Lindberg.

The Peace Nobel prize

The Peace Nobel bears instead the inscription Pro pace et fraternitate gentium, which translates to For the peace and brotherhood of men. This design was conceived of by Gustav Vigeland.

The engraving of the name of the recipient is done later. After this heat treatment, the medal is cooled off underwater.

Step 3: Making it shine brighter

The medal is polished so that any dirt or metal oxides might be removed from the surface of the medal. This is a process done by hand and the polishing should be delicate enough to just remove the unwanted surface impurities, not damage the medal itself.

Polishing the medal

At each step the medal is constantly checked for any abrasions. The weight of the gold in the medal at this point is a precise 175 g and this is checked.

Step 4: Engraved for Eternity

Now, the crucial step of engraving the name of the recipient is undertaken. This is done by hand. At the end of the engraving session, the medal is polished slightly and checked for scratches again. It is then approved.

Alfred Nobel approves.

The grizzled Nobel, staring out from a large coin of gold, now honours another momentous human achievement.

The Nobel Prize Medal is ready!  

Line-up for the Ceremony

Now, for the promised line-up of the program leading up to the Nobel Prize ceremony on the 10th of December:

7th December: Nobel Lectures in Physiology/Medicine and Literature. Starts at 1:00 PM CET (7:00 AM EST). The first one is at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, while the latter at Swedish Academy.

8th December: Nobel Lectures in Physics, Chemistry and Economic Sciences. Starts at 9:00 AM CET (3:00 AM CET).

9th December: Nothing

10th December: Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony at Oslo City Hall, at 1:00 PM CET (7:00 PM EST).  Nobel Prize Ceremony starts at Stockholm Concert Hall, at 4:30 PM CET (10:30 AM EST).

Here’s the live video player (reused from site)

Nobel Prize Official site:

Published by

Debjyoti Bardhan

Is a science geek, currently pursuing some sort of a degree (called a PhD) in Physics at TIFR, Mumbai. An enthusiastic but useless amateur photographer, his most favourite activity is simply lazing around. He is interested in all things interesting and scientific.