The Commune of Cannes coat of arms
In 1954, the festival decided to present an award annually, titled the Grand Prix of the International Film Festival, with a new design each year from a contemporary artist. The festival's board of directors invited several jewellers to submit designs for a palm, in tribute to the coat of arms of the city of Cannes. The original design by the jeweller Lucienne Lazon had the bevelled lower extremity of the stalk forming a heart, and the pedestal a sculpture in terracotta by the artist Sébastien.
In 1955, the first Palme d'Or was awarded to Delbert Mann for Marty. From 1964 to 1974, the Festival temporarily resumed a Grand Prix. In 1975, the Palme d'Or was reintroduced and has since remained the symbol of the Cannes Film Festival, awarded every year to the director of the winning film, and presented in a case of pure red Morocco leather lined with white suede.
As of 2018, Jane Campion is the only female director to have won the Palme d'Or, for her work on The Piano. However, in 2013, when Blue Is the Warmest Color won the Palme d'Or, the Steven Spielberg-headed jury awarded it to the film's director Abdellatif Kechiche, as well as the film's actresses Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux. This marks the first time multiple Palme d'Or trophies were given out in the festival's history.
The jury decided to award the actresses alongside the director due to a Cannes policy that forbids the Palme d'Or-winning film from receiving any additional awards, thereby preventing the jury from rewarding both the film and the film's actresses separately. Of the unorthodox decision, Spielberg said that "had the casting been 3% wrong, it wouldn't have worked like it did for us". Kechiche later auctioned off his Palme d'Or trophy to fund his new feature film, and expressed mixed feelings about the festival having given out multiple trophies in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
Since its reintroduction, the prize has been redesigned several times. At the beginning of the 1980s, the rounded shape of the pedestal, bearing the palm, gradually transformed to become pyramidal in 1984. In 1992, Thierry de Bourqueney redesigned the Palme and its pedestal in hand-cut crystal.
In 1997, a new design, created by Caroline Scheufele from Chopard, was created; a single piece of cut crystal forms a cushion for the 24-carat gold palm, which was hand-cast into a wax mould and presented in a case of blue Morocco leather.
The winner of the 2014 Palme d'Or, Winter Sleep—a Turkish film by Nuri Bilge Ceylan—occurred during the same year as the 100th anniversary of Turkish cinema. Upon receiving the award, Ceylan dedicated the prize to both the "young people" involved in the ongoing political unrest in Turkey and the workers who were killed in the Soma mine disaster, which occurred on the day prior to the commencement of the awards event.
In 2017, the award was re-designed to celebrate the festival's 70th anniversary. The diamonds were provided by an ethical supplier certified by the Responsible Jewellery Council.