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The manufacturers of insignia have a world-wide reputation. Their work is highly skilled and involves intricate working with a variety of metals. Most of these are made from gold, silver-gilt or pure silver and some are particularly beautiful and highly prized as they are ornamented with diamonds and precious stones. The Victoria Cross is still cast from an old Russian cannon captured in the Crimean War and proves a particularly difficult task due to the age of the metal. There are basically two types of honours, those for gallantry and those for distinguished service.
Medals for gallantry are usually awarded to members of the armed services who have performed outstanding acts of bravery. This category includes the Victoria Cross, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Military Cross and the Distinguished Flying Cross. Medals for acts of bravery in times of peace include the George Cross, the George Medal and the Queen's Gallantry Medal.
Distinguished service normally implies membership of Military or Civil Divisions of Orders of Chivalry. Amongst the most notable of the Orders today are The Order of the Garter, The Royal Victorian Order and The Order of the British Emipre.
Originally these Orders were only open to men of noble birth. Today however, the membership ranges from the Order of the Garter with the Sovereign and 24 Knight Companions, to those having larger memberships such as the Order of the British Empire.