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What Materials Are Trophies and Medals Made From?

From the participation ribbon at school sports to the Best Actress Oscar or Olympic gold medal, awards and trophies are a common feature in our lives. When that glorious moment comes and you’re declared Employee of the Year or your team takes first in the roller derby competition, have you ever wondered what your award is made from?

What are medals and trophies made from?

There is no one answer – medals and trophies are made from a variety of materials including plastic, metal and wood. Prestigious sports trophies such as Olympic medals, or the Rugby World Cup, are made from or plated with precious metals including sterling silver or 24 karat gold, while the ARIA award trophies are solid stainless steel. For award ceremonies on a smaller scale, more affordable materials are used.


Injection moulded plastic is a common material allowing for affordable, intricate and lightweight designs. Molten plastic is poured into a steel dye, and hardens into its finished shape. The plastic can be coloured or coated with metallic finishes, and metal or gypsum weights can be added in the base. Plastic can also be engraved easily, and its hardwearing properties also make it suitable for outdoor use.


As well as precious metals, nickel, pewter, bronze and stainless steel feature in trophies or medals. These are often cast using molten metal and polished to a high shine. Metal awards can also be engraved on directly for complete customisation. When gold or silver are unavailable, brass or nickel are good substitutes with a similar finish. Metal plates are commonly used as sports awards  – we’ve all seen that iconic photo with the plate held proudly above the winner’s head.


Wood is easily customised and is able to be shaped, engraved and stained for a variety of effects. It is commonly used as a base for trophies, shields that are awarded to a different person on an annual basis, or in corporate prices such as pens and clocks.

Glass, acrylic and crystal

Clear materials may be chosen for a sleek, modern design. Glass and acrylic prizes are usually moulded, while crystal is ideal for carving large 3D shapes. Of course, glass and crystal are more fragile products and can break if dropped. Acrylic is less likely to shatter, but the surface can be more easily scratched. Glass also comes in a variety of colours and individually blown pieces can be created for a truly stunning result.

Customised medals, trophies and awards

NQ Plaques and Trophies offers a wide array of awards, from ribbons and rosettes to elaborate crystal pieces. Personalised engraving is available on all of our products, and business logos, recipient names, and dates can be requested during online checkout.

We offer nationwide shipping with tracking via Australia Post as well as free collection from our Townsville store. Bulk discounts are also available for school or sports club events.

Drop into our store or get in touch with us online to find out how NQ Plaques and Trophies can make your next award ceremony an event to remember.

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