Daniel Nagy on medals

November 18, 2020

Daniel M. Nagy, the Executive Director of Brilldor, spoke to us about the precision work that goes into making medals.

“A coin, which has deeper background and higher face or text, numbers, picture plus frame, is not simple to make. The tool is quite expensive to produce, but every stamped result is low in cost and beautiful in appearance. So although it is necessary to make an expensive tool it takes almost no handwork to stamp a coin. This is why it costs very low to create tens, hundreds or thousands of coins or coin-like pieces, which can be the basic part of a pendant or other jewelry. The type of metal doesn't matter once the tool is ready. But it is not possible to make any changes to the design later. It is not possible to change the numbers, sizes, texts or images unless the coin is just the middle part, and we make a frame, a hanger, or anything additional. This can offer many ways to customize the basic coin. The coin can also be "drilled" in order to get a hole in the middle, making it possible to put any varying middle piece somehow. The Nobel medals are made using this technic.

There is another way, another method, where no expensive tool is needed to stamp, but only round, flat pieces to be engraved by machine, which is costly manual work. This repeatable, variable work cannot produce similiar results like above, where the background is deeper. In this case, the pattern, text, number or frame is deeper than the background. The depth is shallow, just a line of engravement. There are some further ways of engravement, like CNC milling, but the traces of milling tool can be seen, thus the final result is not that beautiful.

Ah yes, it is important to talk about a third method. Hand engravement, which can be slightly deeper than diamond tip machine engravement, has a special shine. Deeper lines mean more durability and longer life.”