Certifiably Beautiful: Ethical Origin Namibian Diamonds

By Alyssa on September 28, 2015 at 11:06 am

namibian round cut diamonds

From top to bottom: The Cala, Allium, and Aira Rings feature a round-cut setting, perfect for our Namibian diamonds.


Bario Neal is proud to offer traceable diamonds that are responsibly mined on a small scale in Namibia. Each diamond comes with a Namibian Sol brand certification card verifying the mine of origin, as well as the cutting and polishing facility.

In order to provide jobs to those who live near the mines and cutting facility and to regulate environmental impact, the diamond mining industry in Namibia is highly regulated. This regulation is achieved through the partnership and equal ownership of the diamond mining industry between the Namibian government and what was once de Beers. This partnership is called Namdeb, and this is the governing body responsible for regulating the Namibian diamond industry.

Mines in Namibia are required to have a rehabilitation plan in place that goes into effect once a mine has closed. The environmental team that monitors the mines works closely with external stakeholders, researchers, mining operators, and support services to ensure the viability and longevity of the environmental management at each mine. Namibian mines are certified according to the ISO 14001 standard, or the International Organization for Standardization’s system for environmental management.

Our Namibian diamonds are cut and polished in a state of the art facility in Windhoek, Namibia’s capital. The facility is modern, safe, and comfortable, and workers are paid well and receive comprehensive health benefits. Locals receive training at all levels, including managerial, to provide better employment opportunities, with the ultimate goal of boosting the Namibian economy for the long term. The cutting facility also works to minimize the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic on its workforce–levels of HIV within this community are below the national average.

The sale of Namibian diamonds provides financial support, healthcare, and education opportunities for the people and communities surrounding the mines. Approximately $6 million USD, or Namibian $80 million, goes to mining communities annually in the form of bursaries, sponsorships, environmental funding, town maintenance, wellness, and financial support for the local hospital and school. Children once had to travel many miles to attend school, putting a great deal of stress on both families and children. Thanks to funding from the local diamond industry, there is now a local school with an extensive library, computers, internet access, and teachers employed full time. The purchase of a Namibian diamond makes you the owner of a gem that is valuable in more than one way.

Bario Neal Philadelphia Open During Papal Visit

By Constance on September 22, 2015 at 3:31 pm



Ring of Pope Paul II, 1464–71, from The Metropolitan Museum of Art


All popes wear a special ring, (called the fisherman’s ring after Peter’s initial job as a fisherman) and Pope Francis is no exception. While much of Philadelphia shuts down this weekend for the papal visit, Bario Neal Philadelphia will remain open if you want to check out (and hey, even kiss) a ring of a different sort.

Click Here to schedule an appointment to view our wedding bands, engagement rings, or to plan a custom design.

There is a chance we will close early. Please call us at 215-454-2164 before stopping by.




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Bario Neal Featured in American Craft Magazine Jewelry Issue

By Constance on September 17, 2015 at 2:39 pm


Bario Neal employs a team of skilled bench jewelers. Here, Emily Cobb steam-cleans a ring for the finishing touch. Photo: Constance Mensh for Bario Neal 


The course of true love is rarely conflict-free, but here’s the good news: The rings you buy for those entwined fingers can be. At least they can if your jeweler is Bario Neal, producing designs using responsibly sourced materials.  – American Craft, Good as Gold


We are thrilled to have an in-depth look at our designs, process and ethical mission in the annual jewelry issue of American Craft Magazine.

The entire text of this story will be available online next month, but is available in full with subscription.

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Our New Fall Engagement Ring Collection Has Arrived

By Constance on September 9, 2015 at 3:32 pm



Do you believe in magic? We proudly unveil two of our most enchanting engagement rings to date: The Trillion and the The Half-Moon, each featuring two ethically sourced, custom-cut white sapphires. Recently deemed “drool-worthy” by Philadelphia Magazine, they are the epitome of alternative-bride style.

Want to make these rings appear on your own hand? Shop them here.

Photographed with the equally magical quartz crowns of Elemental Child.


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New Ethically Sourced White Sapphire Engagement Rings

By Alyssa on September 7, 2015 at 11:52 am


White sapphire rings trillion half moon

The Trillion and Half-moon, photographed with quartz crowns courtesy of Elemental Child

This Labor Day, Bario Neal is proud to announce our newest collection of engagement rings featuring our ethically sourced white sapphires. These precious gems come to you from a small family-run mine in Sri Lanka that uses fair labor practices and environmentally conscious methods. 

Sri Lanka’s gem industry has a long and colorful history. The South Asian Island, once called Ratna-Dweepa, or “Gem Island,” was named Ceylon under British Colonial rule until 1972 , a term that is now synonymous with sapphires. Our supplier recently visited Sri Lanka to confirm in person that our source of sapphires upholds strong ethical standards for environmental impact, fair working conditions, compensation, and benefits.

Passing the test with flying colors, this Sri Lankan sapphire mine performs its operations on an artisanal scale. A combination of hand tools, and some machinery for more substantial digging, are used. Compared with open pit mines, this type of small-scale mining has a very low environmental impact. The images blow, from our supplier’s recent visit, illustrate the workers in their working environment, the depth of the mines, and the type of mining activities employed:

Sri Lanka Mine and workshop for white Sapphires

Sri Lanka Mine and workshop for white Sapphires

All cutting and polishing is done on site at the mine, eliminating the possibility for stones to be shipped to a cutting facility where human rights abuses could occur. Because the cutting is done on-site, we are able to provide unique and custom cuts. Workers are well trained and use up-to-date equipment in a clean, safe environment. Occasionally, we also reshape sapphires on Jeweler’s Row, right here in Philadelphia.

Sri Lanka Mine and workshop for white Sapphires

Workers cutting and polishing stones (above) and polishing tools (below).

Sri Lanka Mine and workshop for white Sapphires

Remarkably, none of the sapphires from this Sri Lanka mine are color treated–they come in their pure, natural colors. The rings pictured at the beginning of this article feature white sapphires, but we also source pink, white, yellow, apricot, and a variety of blue sapphires as well.

We hope you are as excited as we are about these new designs, especially knowing that the gems come from a trusted mine with a low environmental impact, where workers are treated well and paid fair wages–a more thoughtful approach to Labor Day, when most of retail is focusing on big flashy sales.

If you have questions or are inspired by our new collection or white sapphires, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below or contact us directly. 

Featuring: New Custom Jewelry and Lookbooks

By Constance on August 26, 2015 at 8:32 am


In the mood for new custom work? Lucky for you, we just added a fresh crop of projects. The above engagement ring is a recent standout, featuring an emerald cut diamond, bezel-set in in 14kt yellow gold, matte finish, with a hammered band. Subdued, yet substantial, this custom Hammered Emerald Cut is one of our favorite customer collaborations.


Custom Open PearCut Ring 18ky  Torque ring



Also featured is the Custom Double Pear Ring. The mod open shape with integrated pear-cut diamonds was handcrafted in our 18kt Fairmined gold. A re-imagining of a wife’s cherished lost ring from the 1960’s, made for a gleaming 50th anniversary gift! View this piece along with a collection of selected work in our brand new Custom Lookbook.

Find even more new featured custom jewelry to inspire a bespoke collaboration here. Or check out our recently revamped personalizations page to explore how our collection pieces might be altered to tell your story.





Dirty Gold: Ojo Publica Exposes London Bullion’s Dark Secret

By Constance on August 11, 2015 at 11:29 am

gold bullion ojo publico

Image Courtesy of Ojo Publico 

The London Bullion Market is the union that sets the price of gold and concentrates

the biggest metal traders in the world.”

Ojo Publico, the well-respected online investigative journal based in Lima, Peru, recently reported on the companies financing the multi-million dollar trade of illegal South American gold in the article, Dirty Gold: Chasing the Trail Of the London Bullion Market.

These traders hail from the US, Switzerland, Italy, and the United Arab Emirates, and the kicker– some are ALSO members of the Responsible Jewelry Council (RJC), which is the only real third party auditing system for large companies in the jewelry industry. RJC, you had one job.

Ojo Publico’s investigation traces the routes of illicit gold trafficking in South America. It also takes a deeper look into how the companies from Switzerland, the US, Italy, and the UAE are responsible for the pollution and destruction of riverbeds in Bolivia that also affect rivers in the Brazilian rainforest, rivers and forests in Colombia, the Namija mountains of the border of Peru, as well as other vast areas of Peru. The damning report documents the amount of illegal gold being exported, where it’s coming from, and where it goes. OP investigators traveled to illegal mining camps in Hueptuhe and La Pampa, the largest illegal mining camps and area of deforestation in Peru. A boat trip up the Madre de Dios, Beni and Madeira rivers, discovered that Bolivian and Brazilian gold dredged there was exported illegally, mostly to the US. They found their way to mines in the mountains of the Cordillera del Condor, near the Peru-Ecuador border, where the gold is smuggled to the US. Peru, listed as the world’s fifth largest supplier of gold, exports such a large percentage illegally, that it’s likely it should actually be listed as the second largest supplier, after China. They were able to get in touch with some higher-ups in the importing companies from the US, Switzerland, and UAE, but most requests resulted only in promises to provide more information.

That this corruption is public knowledge with no consequence to their membership with the RJC is particularly disturbing. From the RJC website:

“RJC Members commit to and are independently audited against the RJC Code of Practices – an international standard on responsible business practices for diamonds, gold and platinum group metals. The Code of Practices addresses human rights, labour rights, environmental impact, mining practices, product disclosure and many more important topics in the jewelry supply chain.”


There are many questions still to be answered, but this report reveals an impressive amount of corruption still present in a highly destructive gold market.


Ojo Publico, reports on transnational organized crime, governmental corruption, threats to public interest, environmental issues, and human rights issues. You can read their in-depth report here.  If you want to join the cause, fill out this petition telling the RJC to clean up its act.


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New engagement rings coming soon: Half Moon and Trillion

By Constance on July 27, 2015 at 9:21 am

Summertime is cooking right along, so let’s take a peak at two of our newest engagement rings that are the epitome of cool-girl style.

First up, The Trillion Ring, featuring two trillion cut white sapphires arranged north-south for a sleek, elongated look:

sapphire trillion ring


Next, the The Half-Moon Ring, also featuring two white sapphires, set in a subtle, stylized crescent shape:


white sapphire half moon


These silhouettes will have you (and everyone else) staring at your hand, inspiring endless bouts of daydreaming and conversation. Stay tuned for the release (ASAP) of these hot-off-the-press statement rings.

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BNstyle: Viva la Françoise!

By Constance on July 14, 2015 at 5:50 pm

It’s Bastille Day, which gives as good excuse as any to kick off our inaugural post with a tribute to BNStyle Icon, Françoise Hardy.

This French muse has been at the top of the list of It Girls since she hit the Parisian fashion and music scene in the swinging 60’s. A seminal influence to a generation of future icons, including Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth, who name-drops Hardy at least a dozen times in her recent memoir Girl in a Band.

Enjoy this little round up of some of Hardy’s most GOLDEN moments. Happy Bastille Day!

Francois Hardy in metallic Paco Rabanne mini dress knee-high gladiator sandals

Francois Hardy in metallic Paco Rabanne mini dress, 1968.

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Maker’s Row meets Jeweler’s Row

By Constance on July 14, 2015 at 10:28 am
maker's row

Leslie setting a diamond in a custom Aparna ring wax.

From Making Ethically Sourced Jewelry in America, recently featured on Maker’s Row:

What does Made in America mean to you? Why is it important to you?

Our jewelry is handmade in our Philadelphia store, which houses our open workshop. In addition to creating our own collections, we also work closely with clients to create custom pieces, including redesigned heirloom jewelry. Certain fabrication techniques are completed with craftspeople on Philadelphia’s historic Jeweler’s Row who are specialized in traditional jewelry processes. Composed of nearly 300 small family-owned businesses, Jeweler’s Row is home to the oldest jewelry district in America (est. 1851) and continues to thrive as a creative and manufacturing hub in the industry. Supporting and learning from our local craftspeople is integral to our business.

We think the ability to make our ideas a physical reality ourselves is powerful.

–Page Neal

Read more

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