A global network of jewellers have come together in a unique project to thank frontline healthcare workers.

Staff with jewellery from the Hand Medal Project
Staff with jewellery from the Hand Medal Project

The Hand Medal Project comprises 1584 individual jewellery makers who have made small metal hands as a token of appreciation for the efforts of caregivers, nurses and doctors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

So far, the metal hands have been distributed to 309 hospitals around the world, including in countries such as Argentina, the UK, the US, China and South Africa.

The Royal Melbourne Hospital was kindly chosen as an Australian hospital Hand Medal Project recipient.

Doctor in full PPE with a hand medal
Doctor in full PPE with a hand medal
Sacred heart ex-voto from Mexico
A sacred heart ex-voto from Mexico

The metal hands are an ex-voto – traditionally a votive offering to a saint or divinity. They are placed in a church or shrine in thanks for a miracle received. They are popular in Mexico and South America – in particular Argentina, where the Hand Medal Project was conceived.

"The design is drawn from a historical Argentinian ex-voto. Hands themselves have been powerfully present in the battle against coronavirus. They are symbols not only of how our bodies have become weapons to be washed, sanitised and gloved, but also of their innate power to heal and to connect.”

“Please accept these gifts to honour your service and sacrifice.”

Each Hand Medal has a unique number which corresponds to the jeweller who made it. Medal recipients can log in and type in the number of their hand to track down the name of the jeweller.

The distribution of the hands to Australian hospitals was organised by the The World Crafts Council Australia.

Mobile Stroke Unit with Ambulance Victoria paramedic and the RMH Stroke team
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