FAQ & NECKLACE CARE

What is Gold Fill? Why are your pieces more expensive?
Gold fill is not the same as gold plated! Gold fill pieces contain 100x more gold and in order to be legally called gold fill, a piece has to have a minimum percentage of gold in the piece in it! This percentage is based on the total weight of the piece. Since we use thicker than average sheets of gold to make your necklaces, you are getting more gold per piece! This is why our prices are higher than average. Gold fill does NOT flake or peel and with care, they will last for years!  (To see more about the quality of our gold, fill, see here). Our necklaces are nickel, lead and cadmium free. We source our gold ethically within North America. 

Gold fill is made by bonding two sheets of real gold onto a core. This is done through pressure and heat, so it is permanent and will not flake, tarnish or wear off. It's the next best alternative to "solid" gold!

Are your materials ethically sourced?
Yes! We only buy materials within North America. We only buy supplies only if we know where it has come from and if it has certification to prove that it was sourced ethically. We buy our materials direct from the manufacturers so that we know exactly where our raw materials are from. We do not buy from third party sources. 

What are the sizes or bar necklaces you make?



WORD FIT ON BARS:
♡ Our Petite bars only fit ONE name or date. (Roman numerals will NOT fit)
♡ Standard bars will fit 2, possibly 3 names. 
♡ Luxe Grande will fit 3 names, possibly more. 

♡ This is an approximate guide, if you are using a smaller font more words can possibly fit on the standard bar.
♡ Please note that each bar is cut by hand and measurements may vary ever so slightly. 
♡ Please contact us if you have any questions at all and we can help you design a piece that's perfect for you!

 

*For bars with 4 + names, we can fit them! Please contact us to design a piece! 

How do I care for my gold fill necklace? 
Gold fill requires little maintenance other than a quick wipe with a non abrasive, soft cloth. Do not use soaps, abrasives or chemicals to clean it. Although it's okay to forget to take it off for a shower, we recommend taking it off when exposing it to heat and moisture. Do not spray it or expose it to perfume or hard chemicals. If it is exposed to perfume, lotions, and chemicals, it will become damaged. Other than that, this is a piece that you can wear everyday! Remember, gold fill is not solid gold- it is base with a thick sheet of 14k, real gold bonded permanently on each side. This is different than plated- all our pieces are high quality gold fill and meets EU/US standards for gold fill. (To see more about the quality of our gold, fill, see here). Store the necklace away from other jewellery, preferably in its own little zip lock bag, especially when it isn't being worn. Ensure you store it away from other jewellery, as gold is a soft material and it will scratch if it is not taken care of. 

To clean, rinse under water gently and pat completely dry with a non-abrasive cloth. Do not use abrasive cloths such as tissues, shirts or towels. Do NOT rub, as accumulated dirt can cause scratches. Only clean with materials safe for gold filled pieces. 

If you need polishing/cleaning cloths safe for gold filled pieces, you can order one from us here

Avoid exposure to humidity and moisture. Keep out of contact with chemical and products. 

Always store in airtight, dry clean hippie bag when it is not being worn. This is very important and will protect your piece from the humidity and acidity in the air. 

Remember, gold filled is not the same as solid gold, so it is required to be treated carefully. Don't be afraid to wear it everyday- it is meant to be loved! It will last for years and years to come if treated with love and care. 

WHAT'S SO SPECIAL ABOUT OUR BAR NECKLACES? 

 Each Mint & Birch bar necklace is cut by hand in our studio. Each one starts out as a large sheet of extra thick, premium, high quality, 14 karat gold fill or solid sterling silver ethically sourced from reputable mills in North America and is stamped using hand tools. Each Mint & Birch piece is finished and polished in our studio using professional tools and materials. We promise that our necklaces are worth the price!

Here at Mint & Birch, we only use ethically sourced, certified gold fill and solid sterling silver sourced from North American mills. Gold fill jewelry must contain a certain percentage of gold in order to be able to be legally called gold fill. This percentage is based on the weight of the piece. We use extra thick and heavy bars for your necklaces so that the weight and amount of real gold that you are getting per necklace is higher. We create our bars out of thicker than average sheets of high quality gold fill or sterling sheets sourced from North American mills. This ensures a luxurious, long lasting piece that you can treasure for years to come.

We do NOT use gold plated materials, but instead, we use gold fill and solid sterling silver. Gold fill is much more superior to gold plated, and is made by bonding layers of real gold into a base core. Gold plated, which we do NOT use, is simply a microscopic dip into metallic colouring or gold alloy, which is often not real gold, or cannot be certified as real gold because gold plated items are usually sourced overseas. Often, gold plated materials simply refers to the metallic colour in which it has been dipped in, and as such,  especially without certification, could contain heavy toxic metals such as cadmium or lead. Mint & Birch does NOT sell gold plated items. Our pieces are free of cadmium, lead and nickel and do not contain any toxic metals. We use only gold fill or solid sterling silver, as we strive to source the best raw materials in the industry! Our gold fill raw materials are ethically sourced from mills within North America, and we only buy raw materials that can be certified as containing real 14 karat gold, safe to wear, free of toxic metals and ethically sourced

Most importantly, the magic is the process in which we make our bars. We do not use a tumbler, in which many, many pieces can be polished and rough edges removed with little effort by putting multiple pendants into a rotating canister with small steel parts or abrasive compounds such as silicone carbide grit, or ceramic. Tumbling does not always remove all of the rough edges, but simply smoothes them down. Furthermore, tumbling can cause micro scratches and wear down the gold in gold filled pieces, leading to tarnish. We do NOT do this. Instead, we meticulously use hand tools to individually finish each bar. Using hand tools allows us to have a greater degree of control and precision over the piece to ensure that edges are beautifully smooth and that no damage occurs when finishing the piece into shiny necklaces! We have created a unique process of finishing your pieces without a tumbler, but with multiple hand tools, ensuring that quality is delivered. We believe in good old-fashioned hard work done with elbow and grease! Your bar necklace will not flake or tarnish as each one is treated with care individually and not mass manufactured.

The combination of high quality materials we work hard to source, and our unique process of finishing the bars results in necklaces that will last for years to come. We strive to deliver the very best! Mint & Birch also works hard to create unique designs to hand stamp your necklaces with. In fact, some of our designs are even created specifically for us and cannot be found elsewhere! 



Will your necklaces tarnish? What about allergies?
No, your necklace will not tarnish. However, care must be taken because though the surfaces of your bar are completely bonded in gold, the base will show on the sides when it is cut because gold fill is not the same as solid gold - Gold filled sheets are made by bonding a layer of real 14k gold to either side of a base metal. (Imagine a sandwich- the bread is gold, and the insides of the sandwich is the base!)  So when it is cut, the raw edges/base will show on the edges. (Like deli meat on a sandwich after it is cut). To clean any oxidation from the edges, you can use a simple jewellery or polish cloth. This is an industry standard for anything that is cut with gold fill. Base metal is composed of a mix of zinc and copper. There is NO nickel in our jewelry. The alternative is to either choose to buy a necklace that is solid gold, or to purchase plated pieces, in which case the entire base metal is dipped into gold, this covering all surfaces. However, gold from gold plated pieces will flake off and tarnish- unlike gold fill, which is permanently bonded to the base. Gold plated items are usually made in bulk quantities overseas, with little to no regulations and may contain heavy toxic metals. However, gold fill is heavily regulated by the government and cannot be sold as gold fill unless it meets a minimum percentage of gold based on the total weight of the piece. So while the edges show the base, we feel that this is a much better alternative to plated jewellery because it will not peel or flake, and is a much more affordable option to solid gold. We source only the best gold fill and sterling. To read more about the quality of our raw materials, please see here. As such, please store in a zippie bag if you are not going to wear your necklace for a long period of time.  You are still getting the luxurious look that solid gold offers, at a fraction of the price, while not having to worry about your necklace turning. (Handmade, solid gold bar necklaces at the same thickness that ours are at would typically cost several of hundreds). To clean the edges, use a non-abrasive cloth or polish pad to wipe any oxidation from the raw edges. Not to worry, the gold will not peel or flake off. Your necklace will last for years and years to come with proper care.

Can I wear my necklace in the shower, when working out or in the pool?
We would highly recommend taking it off prior to being in environments as humid as the examples above. Gold fill is not solid gold. It is made with a solid layer of gold permanently bonded to a base core. Some people wear them in the shower with no issues. However, this depends on many things, including your body chemistry, the types of soaps or products you use (how acidic it is) and how hard your water is. Though the gold will not flake off or wear off, (unless you take a knife to it!), exposure to water on a regular basis, the water can seep under particularly where the holes are drilled and cause damage. Not to worry though, in most cases a polish cloth will fix it and do the trick! For the above, this is industry standard for anything made with gold fill. 

Can you stamp both sides?
YES! Please select the double sided listing if you would like this. Because of the high quality, thick sheets of gold we use to hand-cut your bar necklaces, we can do double sided stamping for gold fill necklaces. Both sides will be smooth. If you are looking to wear a reversible necklace, and only want one side stamped, please ensure you select the double sided necklace as our double sided necklaces are done with a different process and requires an extra step between stamping. If you purchase a single sided stamped necklace, there will be marks on the back of the necklace, as pressure is applied to the bar with a hammer, and there will be marks on the back as a result. However, if you choose a double-sided necklace, you will be able to wear it reversibly. 

Why is my sterling silver turning dark or look dirty?

Sterling silver, by definition is made out of 92.5% silver and 7.5% other materials such as copper. The sterling we use is nickel free. This is an industry standard. In fact the little "925" stamped into some sterling pieces is to signify that it is made out of 92.5% silver. The reason jewellery pieces are made out of sterling silver, and not 100% silver because silver in its purest form is often too soft to use to create jewellery with. This is why most silver pieces bought anywhere is sold as sterling silver.

Oxidation occurs because of the metal reacting to the air. Silver reacts to sulfur in the air, and this is what causes the oxidation, a black or dark substance or film. Sulfur is in the air because of by-products of pollution and also can be found in the air naturally. Sulfur reacts very quickly with sterling silver. Chemicals that are found in shampoos, creams or even in tap water can cause a reaction to the metal and speed up oxidation.  We recommend not showering or exercising with sterling silver as the salts from your body in the shower can cause rapid oxidation.  Sometimes we see oxidation happen faster during the warmer months, as when the temperature increases, more sweat happens if it’s hot. 

Sterling silver will oxidize. This is not a reflection of poor quality. We hand cut our sterling bars and triangles out of thick sheets of silver, and each one is handcrafted one at a time. The darkening you are seeing is oxidation, and this is something that cannot be controlled, and is due to Mother Nature. Sterling silver reacts to the sulphur in the air, which causes oxidation. This oxidation is the darkening that you see.

There are many old fashioned ways to remove silver. The easiest way to clean it is to use a jewelry polish pad. You can also take it to a jeweller to have it polished in their ultrasonic machine. You can also purchase anti-tarnish strips to store your piece in. To slow down the oxidation, you can also store it in a plastic ziplock bag. Most jewelry stores will also sell silver cleaning solutions. Another tip is to use ketchup to clean your sterling silver piece. The acidity in the ketchup can help dissolve the oxidation. 

If you do a quick google search, you will find that this is a very, very natural phenomenon for sterling silver. (For example, old movies where the women can be seen polishing the silverware before a fancy dinner). A $400 sterling silver piece will oxidize just as a $50 sterling piece will. The finish on our necklaces is very smooth, so oxidation may appear as a film, or dark marks. Oxidation can happen in micro scratches that happen to necklaces naturally through normal every day wear. (Precious metals are very soft, and is scratched easily). It can make the smallest scratch look like an eye sore.

But the good news is that it is removable! Oxidation is out of our control, and is subject to the moisture in the air, the chemical composition of your skin, if you wear it when sweating or moist, and the weather.

To clean it, you can buy jewelry cleaning pads or cloths from your local jewelry store. There was a little polish pad included in your order :)  You can even get anti-tarnish strips that help absorb the sulfur and moisture in the air if you store it with a zippie bag. 

The good news is that sterling silver can be cleaned, and that oxidation can be removed! If you need more polish pads, please let us know as we  have them on the website! If you’d like to send it in for us to clean for you, we can do that as well. Please contact Jessica if you have any questions at all!

 

 


What are the font choices and length options?
See here for a comprehensive list!

What is the length of the necklaces?
The necklaces are all 18 inches, unless otherwise requested. 

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