Bario Neal is now a member of an organization called the Jeweltree Foundation. Founded in the Netherlands by Mike Angenent, Jeweltree provides a new model for the jewelry industry that guarantees supply chain transparency, social responsibility, and ecological sustainability while supporting small scale mining initiatives in developing countries. We are pleased to be a part of an organization that espouses a new and innovative model to help our industry improve its impact.
Before we get into the specifics of how Jeweltree works, here is a little background on the founder: Angenent resigned from the Responsible Jewelry Council when the Kimberley Certification Process Scheme (KCPS) continued to allow Zimbabwe to be a member despite the widespread knowledge that the country was using funds from its diamond trade to finance civil war and violence. Against what Angenent and many others believed to be the founding principles of KCPS, it continued to certify diamonds from Zimbabwe that were mined out of devastation and tragedy in the Marange diamond fields. Looking to increase the ethical standards of the jewelry industry, Angenent went on to found Open Source Minerals, an organization that supplies the industry with traceable, ethically-sourced diamonds. He also started his own brand called Wishes Jewels, which sells fully traceable jewelry made from metals and gemstones that are mined by small-scale artisanal miners and polishers whenever possible. Angenent then created the Jeweltree Foundation with friends and colleagues who had similar desires to reform the jewelry industry into a transparent, equitable, environmentally conscious trade. 
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This is a great interview from Fair Jewelry Action with Mike Angenent of Open Source Minerals and Jeweltree. We’re looking forward to working with stones from the Diamond Development Initiative and DC Diamascorp.
Those wishing to have a diamond which aligns with the values associated with engagement and marriage often choose Canadian diamonds, despite their impact on the ecology, and the fact that Africa needs the diamond trade for their economic development. Though there are a few notable exceptions, when large scale diamond mining companies operate in Africa, most of the economic benefit derived from the mine leaves the country.
A few organizations have been attempting to work with small scale mining communities in order to produce a principles and standards within a chain of custody for fair trade diamonds. Mike Angenent has been at the forefront, and has recently announced that a fair trade diamond will be coming to market. Here is what he has to say about the project.
Can we start with where are these diamonds coming from?
For starters, South Africa and Sierra Leonne.
What key agencies are you working with to bring this diamond to market?
There are a few projects in the pipeline. One with DC Diamascorp concerning small scale and artisanal mining in South Africa and a project with Diamond Development Initiative (DDI) concerning artisanal mining in Sierra Leon.
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Here are a few resources that give us solutions we can practice in our every day lives to help with global climate change. Please feel free to add to the list!
The Natural Resources Defense Council has a great website that gives tips on things you can do in your every day life to help the environment. This one happens to focus on global warming: http://www.nrdc.org/globalwarming/solutions/
The Sierra Club also has a guide on their site for simple steps you can take to be a part of the solution, not the problem (: http://www.sierraclub.org/energy/tenthings/default.aspx
The blog Treehugger has a guide on how you can cheaply winterize your home–anything to increase efficiency (and decrease your costs) also helps reduce emissions: http://www.treehugger.com/slideshows/green-architecture/green-your-home-winter-best-treehugger-and-planet-green/
If you’re interested in learning about the issues, the International Panel on Climate Change will give you more than enough reason to mobilize yourself and all your friends and possibly everyone you know to join the cause–it’s not the most exciting reading, but all the facts are there. Don’t get discouraged! http://www.ipcc.ch/
And for good measure, here is an article on Treehugger about the decreasing cost of solar energy: http://www.treehugger.com/renewable-energy/solar-power-should-be-cheaper-than-coal-gas-nuclear-by-2018.html
We are very excited to have added a stunning selection of new earrings to our collection this fall!
Picture Canada. What comes to mind? Perhaps the vast boreal forests, or crystal clear lakes reflecting stars from unpolluted skies, or maybe the herds of caribou leaping across the tundra–not to mention the maple leaves and hockey, of course. Like their country of origin, Canadian diamonds have a pristine image. They are considered one of the most ethical and environmentally conscious choices for diamonds, the truly conflict-free alternative to African diamonds. They are also one of the most expensive diamonds on the market. So, is it worth it? We have written up the main pros and cons below so that you can form your own opinion, and if you are shopping for a diamond, feel more empowered to choose a diamond that’s right for you.
There are six diamond mines in Canada, including the Diavik Mine, Ekati Mine, Snap Lake Mine, and Gahcho Kue Mine Project in the Northwest Territories; the Jericho Mine in Nunavut; and the Victor Mine in Ontario. The three transnational mining companies that run the Canadian diamond industry are Rio Tinto, BHP, and to a smaller degree, De Beers. While these companies have a history associated with exploitation of people and lands, the issues of the diamond industry have since been exposed and today these companies are under a lot of pressure to invest heavily in ethical practices. We offer Canadian diamonds that come from the Diavik, Ekati, Snap Lake, and Victor mines in the Northwest Territories and Ontario. We are only able to source Canadian diamonds that are .50ct and higher, and because of the limited supply we are not necessarily able to guarantee the exact color and clarity requested by a customer, but we’ll do our best!
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At Bario-Neal, we have a high standard for ethically sourced materials. One of the more traceable ethically sourced materials that we work with is our rough diamonds. Many of the human rights abuse issues associated with the diamond industry happen in the cutting and polishing process. With rough diamonds, there is no cutting and polishing, virtually eliminating these possibilities. You can read more about our ethically sourced rough diamonds in Alyssa’s interview with Kerin, here.
Working with rough diamonds in fine jewelry is relatively new. Most of the information and research on diamonds is specific to cut and graded diamonds. Aside from that, there is very little information on the internet about rough diamonds and how they are used in jewelry. Because of this, it is easy to misunderstand or under-appreciate rough diamonds.
Rough diamonds come in a vast variety of sizes, shapes and colors and each of these characteristics contributes to a stone’s rarity and thus its cost. Unlike cut diamonds, there is no certification system available for rough diamonds and so the dealer inspects and determines the color and clarity of each diamond. Once diamonds are cut, inclusions are a lot easier to hide because of the facets of the stone. In their rough state, inclusions are easy to detect to the naked eye. This is not necessarily a bad quality (as it would be for a cut diamond), but rather contributes to the natural beauty and brilliance of the stone.
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Complete with new chalkboards… Hope you are all enjoying the weekend!
Check out the beautiful Dalmatian Shield Stones that we just got in stock. Earrings coming soon!
Working with recycled precious metals is an important part of our process at Bario-Neal. We focus on sourcing the most environmentally and socially responsible metals and stones possible. One hundred percent recycled precious metals are the best option currently available, as they don’t require additional mining.
Our recycled silver, gold, palladium, and platinum come from two primary sources: Abington Reldan Metals, a refinery about 40 minutes from our Philadelphia shop, and Hoover and Strong, a refinery in Richmond, Virginia. These refineries take in scraps of precious metals, dust and filings from jewelers’ workshops, old or unwanted jewelry, silverware, silver from photo processing, as well as metals from electronic devices. The refineries collect, sort, melt, and refine these materials into forms that jewelers like Bario-Neal can use again, such as casting grain, sheet metal, and wire.
Our refineries aren’t only committed to producing 100% recycled metals, they are also invested in the environmental and health impacts of their facilities. We’ve visited both refineries, and we’re impressed with their advances in reducing waste and energy use. Hoover and Strong has been in business since 1912, and their recycled metals are third-party certified to ensure the recycled content. They maintain four large fume scrubbers to reduce emissions that cause air pollution. Hoover and Strong also uses the Miller Process (http://bario-neal.com/bn/blog/?p=12) to refine gold, which reduces acid use by 85%. Abington Reldan Metals is a LEED Silver certified facility, and they’ve been operating for over 30 years. They also use waste heat from the refining process to heat the manufacturing plant and for domestic hot water, as well as for the sludge drying and water evaporation process. This heat recovery has reduced their energy consumption by about 20-25%. Both facilities maintain a closed loop for water, meaning there is zero discharge and all the waste-water is treated and re-used in the refinery.
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