From the archives: Michelle Kwan Medal Project

Michell Kwan Medal platinum plated
Platinum plated medal given to Michelle Kwan by her fan club.

Opening the plating archives

Over the last 40 years, we have accumulated thousands of pictures of objects that we have plated. After the project is finished, the pictures are filed away and not looked at again. It wasn’t until recently that we began to digitize our archives that we’ve had a chance to look back upon some of memorable projects that we were fortunate enough to participate in. We thought that it would be fun to share some of these projects with our readers. This project dates back to 2002 and features a medallion which was designed and created by a devoted group of fans who wanted to show their appreciation to their idol, figure skating legend Michelle Kwan.

Michelle Kwan Medal
Before: Sterling Silver medal dedicated to Michelle Kwan

It all started with one suggestion

What makes this story truly amazing is that entire process from idea to realization was through consensus of strangers. The tale begins sometime shortly after the 2002 Winter Olympics. A thread was posted in a Michelle Kwan fan forum titled “Let’s do something for Michelle!”. The thread became instantly popular, with hundreds of people posting their ideas. Those ideas turned into serious discussions that led to an unofficial decision that something must given to Michelle as appreciation for the inspiration she invoked in her fans. But what to give her? Sculptures, plaques, jewelry, all these ideas were continually discussed until they were eventually put to a vote. The results of the poll favored a medal. But what should it be made of and what should be on it? What words should be used to describe her? The discussion continued and continued and more polls were taken. Using the votes from the numerous polls, a design committee put together the following:


  • The medal was to be made of sterling silver.
  • Michelle Kwan is “beyond gold”, so the medal should be plated with platinum.
  • The medal represents inspiration, not competition. Exhibition photos of Michelle’s likeness are used.
  • Money left over from the medal would be given to a charity of Michelle’s choice.
  • A scrapbook would be presented with the medal so Michelle could get to know her fans better.

With these decisions made, the design was given to the NWT Mint company for further styling and finally production.  From there, the Michelle Kwan medal was sent to us for plating.

Plating the Michelle Kwan Medal: No room for error.

Michelle Kwan Medal
Michelle Kwan Medal pre-plated with gold per instruction.

The medal arrived to our shop in early November 2002, 8 months after the forum thread began. It was an Olympic sized medal, with a perfect mirror finish. It was simply beautiful. There was only one small problem. Normally, when we re-store and re-plate medals, the medal has a bale or bezel that we can attach a wire to. This medal did not have one. This meant having to custom fabricate a bezel that would fit the specific dimensions of the medal. If the bezel was too tight, it would not plate correctly. Too lose and the medal falls out and is damaged. The thought of thousands of Michelle Kwan fans at our doorstep with torches was not very appealing. In addition, the MK Forum project leaders specifically requested that we photo document each step of our plating processes to ensure that we achieved their symbolic requirements of “beyond gold” by showing the gold plating step we did prior to the medal being plated in heavy layer of platinum.  The brightness of surface detail and depth of the lettering of the medal were beautifully preserved and enhanced by the gray exotic appearance of the platinum plating. In our view, the final results were spectacular!

Platinum plated Michelle Kwan Medal
Michelle Kwan Medal plated with platinum

The Presentation

On May 5, 2003, approximately 14 months after one fan suggested “Let’s do something for Michelle!”, the freshly platinum plated medal was ready to be presented. On the front of the medal reads “Always the heart of a champion, forever the champion of our hearts”. On the reverse side a dedication reads “From our hearts to yours, with pride, The Michelle Kwan Forum 2002”. The event took place backstage at the Champions on Ice show in Atlanta. Along with the medal and scrapbook, the group managed to raise $10,048 dollars to be given to the charity of Michelle’s choice, The Children’s Miracle Network.

As for Michelle’s reaction to the medal and donation check? We’ll let you see for yourself at


*Please note that we are not affiliated with Michelle Kwan nor is this an endorsement of our services, just a heart warming story.


Metal Arts Specialties

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