A medal is made up of seven basic parts. These parts are the Obverse, Reverse, Suspension, Suspension Ring, Ribbon, Top Bar, and Brooch.
Not all medals have all of these parts, and some medals have more items such as buckles, devices, and attachments.
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The Obverse is the front of the medal. This is the side that faces out when worn by the person.
The Reverse is the back side of the medal. This is the side that is against the body when worn. It is often engraved with the recipients name.
The Ribbon connects the suspension to the brooch. Ribbons were originally made of silk but are now predominately made of man-made materials such as polyester.
The Top Bar
Many medals have a Top Bar that helps attach the brooch to the ribbon. Many top bars are etched or engraved with names or places. Not all medals have top bars.
The Brooch is used to attach the medal to the uniform. It is some form of pin.
You can see a wide variety of brooches here: Types of Brooches
The Suspension is used to attach the medal to the suspension ring. It comes in several versions including Narrow Cylinder, Tappered Narrow Cylinder, Wire, Thick Wire, Knob, Beveled, Barrel, Beveled Lug, Tab, Ball, Small Ball, Two-Ring and others.
The Suspension Ring
The Suspension Ring is used to attach the medal to the ribbon. The ribbon is folded through the suspension ring during the mounting process.
Some medals may have the rim engraved with the name of the person the medal was awarded to, or have a number stamped or etched into it that may be traced back to the person it was awarded to.