St. Patrick's Guild | Inspirational Gifts, Books & Church Supplies

Inspirational Gifts, Books & Church Supplies

Family-owned Since 1949

Call Our Store: 1.800.652.9767

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Click on a link for some answers about Jewelry:

Types of Jewelry:

Solid Gold

Pure gold is 24kt (or 24 karat), however it is extremely soft.  Most pieces of solid gold are sold in 18kt, 14kt, or 10kt.  This allows the metal to still contain the benefits of solid gold yet the durability to last generations.

Gold Filled

Gold filled jewelry is the next best jewelry to solid gold.  Gold filled jewelry is manufactured by laminating a sheet of gold over a base metal.  The total amount of gold must be at least 5% of the total weight of the piece.  Most pieces we sell are 18kt gold over sterling silver.  Gold filled jewelry will last for many years and is a good quality metal.  For many individuals, the piece will last a lifetime.  For those who perhaps perspire more than average or wear the piece everyday and in the shower, the gold may eventually wear away leaving the base metal exposed.

Gold Plated

Gold plated jewelry has less quality then gold filled jewelry.  Although there are many different processes of gold plating, basically gold plated jewelry has a thin layer of gold on top of a base metal.  Electroplated pieces have at least 7 millionths of an inch of gold on significant surfaces.  Gold plated items do not carry the same quality as solid gold or gold filled items.


Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc, normally containing 2/3 copper and 1/3 zinc.

Sterling Silver

When a metal is designated as sterling silver, then it minimally 92.5% pure silver.  Such high quality silver will tarnish.  Routine cleaning is essential to maintaining the luster of pure silver.  Most sterling silver pendants have a “Sterling” or “925” stamp on the back to signify the quality.


Pewter is a tin alloy originally consisting of tin with a little lead, although now more often tin with copper, antimony, or bismuth.  Pewter has a slightly dull look, and can never be polished to the fine luster of sterling silver.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is an alloy of steel containing at least 10% chromium that makes the alloy resistant to corrosion or rusting associated with exposure to water and moist air.  Stainless steel is stronger than sterling silver and pewter, so most pendants we sell come with a standard stainless steel chain.

Other Definitions:


Gold is measured on a 24 part scale.  Each part is called a karat.  If a metal is 18kt, then it contains 18 parts pure gold and 6 parts other metals.


Some metals have a chemical reaction with the air and form a patina called oxidation.  For instance, copper turns green.  To prevent this, store your jewelry in airtight packages or clean it regularly.


Tarnish is anything that dulls the luster of a metal.  For example, sterling silver will blacken as it gets tarnished.  The oils of your skin will get on any metal that you wear.  The higher the karat of gold, the less tarnish occurs.  However, all silvers (even the purist) tarnish. All good quality metals can be easily cleaned to remove the tarnish.  Please see the care instructions below.


A small percentage of the population is allergic to any given metal.  A rash or swelling normally occurs within a few hours to a day.  Symptoms usually disappear when the metal is removed.  For further information, please consult your doctor.

Care of Jewelry:


Mix mild soap, water, and a drop of ammonia and wipe with a clean soft cloth.  For gold-plated and gold-filled pieces, be sure to use non-abrasive cleaning materials.  If a cleaning substance is too strong it may remove the gold. 

Sterling Silver

All Sterling silver will oxidize and tarnish unless finished with a protective layer.  Many of our medals are protected with a layer of rhodium to help prevent tarnishing. However over time this coating may breakdown.  Commercial dips or polish will restore the original color and luster.  However, much of the time this can be accomplished by mixing mild soap, water, and a drop of ammonia and wipe with a clean soft cloth.  Never use vinegar.


Pewter can be cleaned much the same as Sterling silver.  However, pewter will never clean to the same shine as sterling silver since pewter is naturally a little duller of a metal.

Stainless Steel

Simply moisten a cloth with undiluted white or cider vinegar and wipe clean.


Most conventional polishes coat the raw metal with a thin film of oil to help inhibit future tarnishing. Additionally, most metal polishes contain solvents and detergents to remove the tarnish, mild abrasives to polish the metal, and oils to act as a barrier between the raw metal and air. Note that brass can turn black when cleaning due to over-use and misuse of polish.

Tricks and Hints:

The jump ring which connects the chain to the medal is the weakest part of the chain. This ring is not a solid ring. You may take the necklace to a jeweler who can then solder the jump ring to make it exceptionally stronger. There are also jump rings connecting the clasp to the chain.
Chains of length 20 inches or less commonly have a clasp. The jump rings around the clasp are most often the point where chains break.
Chains of length 24 inches or longer commonly do not have a clasp. The wearer slips the chain on over their head. These chains are stronger than clasped chains.
We sell quality chains which rarely break. However, any chain under extreme circumstances will break. Be careful with your jewelry and it can last a lifetime

Most Common Size Chains

(in inches)





Adult Women


Adult Men