Every Day is Earth Day

By admin on April 22, 2016 at 12:20 pm

Behind the scenes images of plants and jewelers in the workshop studio. Earth Day

The annual Earth Day buzz is back, kickstarting Spring and a season of environmental support. Here at Bario Neal, we try to maintain the earth-loving fervor year-round by reading, watching and listening to stay informed, caring for our own green life in our home and work spaces, and visiting our favorite outdoor spots for a breath of fresh air and celebration dance. We took some time out to compile a few of our Philadelphia favorites to share with you.


The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert, 2014.

Anna | It’s one of the best environmental crisis books I’ve read in years. I listened to it as an audiobook three times.

Green Philly, an environmentally-minded blog promoting a sustainable Philadelphia through local connections and posts on news, events, lifestyle, food + recipes, recycling, health + beauty, biking, and more.

Hidden City Philadelphia, an online publication and organization committed to revealing, celebrating, and improving our city’s most remarkable places.

Constance | Great for some urban exploring.


Greensgrow and Philly Foodworks, two of many incredible young Philadelphia organizations fueling the urban agriculture movement and supplying our city with urban farms, jobs, CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture), farmstands, community kitchens, and nurseries.

Hannah | It’s a win-win. Support Philly farms and food access by getting fresh produce delivered to your neighborhood in a box with your name on it.


+ NPR’s Science Friday podcast, from Public Radio International. Educational and entertaining stories on science and technology.

Constance | Anyday.


Build a School in the Cloud, a 2013 TED Talk in which Sugata Mitra shares his vision for Self Organized Learning Environments and a learning lab in India.

Page | It’s about how we can change our ideas of education to adapt to our current reality & prepare the next generation of problem solvers.


Laurel Hill Cemetery is a beautiful stretch of green situated up above Kelly Drive and is considered a historical and horticultural resource of Philadelphia. Victorian picnic destinations with clifftop views up and down the Schuylkill… what could be better?

Forbidden Drive, or the Wissahickon Valley Trail, follows Wissahickon Creek through the length of the park and makes for a beautiful ride or hike through the trees.

Sara | Forever and beyond, all the way to the horse stables.

Washington Avenue Pier, FKA Pier 53, on the Delaware River. The ribbon was cut last August for the waterfront greenspace. Check it out for public art, panoramic views, and “places to touch the water.”

Sara | You’re in the Walmart parking lot and then what? It’s like a history show. First there was nature, then there was industry & immigrants, then not much, then campers and drinkers, then a path and replanting. You can still see all of it.

Belmont Plateau, an expansive grassy knoll in West Fairmount Park that offers a skyline view you feel like you should pay for.

Ridgway Pool at 13th and Carpenter is great for a dip on a hot day, as is any of the city’s other 70 outdoor public swimming pools open throughout the summer. There aren’t great resources for information on the pools but, like this article suggests, your best bet is to just show up.

Gray’s Ferry Crescent Trail Park is one of the best and only access points to the Schuylkill River in Southwest Philly. The space has open space for casual activities, trails for biking and running, a skatepark, and fishing locations.

Sara | The bridges remind you you’re in a city, the river and trees remind you of what was there first. Go at dusk. And go for the summer movies.

+ Get healthy, beautiful, organic plants from local garden centers Urban Jungle on East Passyunk and City Planter in Northern Liberties.

+ For a good run, start at Penn Treaty Park, head down the waterfront, and finish at the tip of Race Street Pier with a stretch. Even without the running, Penn Treaty is great for a picnic or a game of kickball. Check out the free yoga classes offered through the summer on Race Street Pier. Another favorite running/biking/walking route is any portion of the Schuylkill River Trail.

Constance | Especially excited to try the new University City connection (on the Schuylkill River Trail).

+ The expanse of Fairmount Park offers so much, it can be easy to forget some of the more hidden spots.  Surrounded by this green landscape, the Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse is a mansion-sized dream-come-true for kids with free admission.  East Park Reservoir and it’s surrounding 13 acres, a thriving habitat for bird species, was reopened to the public this past December after 45 years and is the projected site for a 2017 opening of Philadelphia’s Discovery Center.

Bartram’s Garden, America’s oldest living botanical garden is in Philadelphia. A 45-acre National Historic Landmark.

Hannah | Their spring plant sale always takes my breath away because I get to bring so much green beauty back home with me. (Coming up: Saturday, April 30th)

Batsto River in New Jersey’s Wharton State Forest for heavenly canoeing and kayaking. Part of the region’s Pine Barrens, the state forest is wonderful for hiking and camping too.

Page | I love the Pine Barrens. Such a magical & beautiful area between Philadelphia & the ocean.

Sedgley Woods, a historic disc golf course in East Fairmount Park. Public and free!

Emily | The trail goes all the way back into a bird sanctuary where you can often see a pair of hawks that call that place home roaming the skies. Its the perfect combo of outdoors, hiking, disc throwing fun, and meeting other Philadelphians in the park.


We keep plants close for days we can’t go to the plants.

These are some of our favorite ways to enjoy our environment in Philadelphia and celebrate the foundation of Earth Day all year long.  We wake up with the earth every day and we know now more than ever how significant our hand is in helping or hurting it.  The Earth Day zeal of each Spring can turn into a year-round effort of motivating each other to take care of the planet.  Building a meaningful impact requires time, turning actions into habits that will resonate with everyone.

The foundation of our work at Bario Neal is seated in such environmental responsibility. Our conscious decision to create jewelry through a process free of harmful impacts to human or environment extends beyond the products themselves and on to the cause of improving the methods of the industry. Bario Neal works with ethically sourced stones, 100% reclaimed metals, and Fairmined gold whenever possible. Recent metals and gemstone mining industry initiatives, dedicated to improving transparency and accountability, have addressed the need to develop sustainable mining practices, conflict-free gemstones, and push for labor initiatives to improve quality of life for both miners and workers in the cutting and polishing industries. Because these initiatives are still new to our industry, we remain committed to further research on sourcing with the utmost accountability.

Happy Earth Day from Bario Neal.


How to Get Involved this Earth Day

By admin on April 18, 2016 at 11:14 am



Earth Day 2016 is fast approaching and if you are like us, you might be looking for ways to spend the occasion helping the environment. If so, all week in Philadelphia Earth Day volunteer opportunities abound. Consider one of the following:

Tuesday, April 19th:  Delaware River Clean-Up at Pier 68 at Pier 70 Blvd, hosted by United By Blue

A Philadelphia outdoor lifestyle brand, United By Blue gets us hype with pride for our city. Their flagship store in Old City and two other locations feature their environmentally conscious apparel and accessories and serve their edition of locally roasted Reanimator Coffee. For every product sold, UBB removes one pound of trash from the world’s oceans and waterways- what a deal. They host clean-ups year-round and not just in Philadelphia- in states around the country.

Friday, April 22nd:  Hunting Park Clean-Up hosted by the Philadelphia Science Festival

The annual nine-day Philadelphia Science Festival is back with a ton of awesome events and activities for all-ages. Check out their site for more info on special exhibitions, lectures, and this clean-up in Hunting Park on Friday.

Saturday, April 23rd:  Darby Creek Clean-Up hosted by the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge

Tucked down by the Philadelphia airport, the Tinicum Marsh is a natural landscape of freshwater tidal marsh, mudflats and woodlands that support hundreds of animal and plant species.  The John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge settled beside the marsh in 1972 to preserve and develop this natural area within its urban setting of oil refineries, industrial sites and city life.  The refuge operates sustainably in its management of the wildlife habitat and focuses on providing environmental education on location in their classroom facilities and in Philadelphia and Delaware Counties.  They consistently involve the community in their cause, through events such as the Darby Creek Clean-Up on Saturday.

Saturday, April 23rd:  Naturepalooza! Family Earth Day Festival hosted by the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education

Hosted by the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, this Family Earth Day Festival will be an all-day outdoor event with fort-building, an animal show, two hikes and a pond exploration.  In partnership with the Philadelphia Science Festival, it’s bound to be fun and full of information.

Also, check out this great list of Philadelphia-area Earth Day events for the whole family at Metro Kids


Consider volunteering at Penn treaty park this Philadelphia Earth Day

Philadelphia’s Delaware River could use your help this Earth Day. 

More than just upcoming Earth Day events, this list features some of our city’s amazing environmental organizations to keep the charge going year round.  These orgs employ and engage hardworking people committed to improving the environment and helping others get involved here in Philly. They hold events and classes to educate us, remediate our water and land, improve animal habitats around us and are always looking for more hands on deck.

If you can’t help out this week, there will always be more opportunities. You can easily work a clean up into your daily routine, taking an afternoon off to volunteer along the Schuylkill with United By Blue. Or just get outside any weekend, spending a Sunday on a bird walk or taking a hike in Fairmount Park. If you just can’t find the time, consider making a monetary donation to support existing efforts. Whatever you choose, celebrate Earth Day by supporting those working hard to clean our environment right here in Philly.

This is Part 1 of our Earth Day 2016 series. Stay tuned for Part 2 this Friday.


Matching Wedding Rings?

By admin on March 9, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Do I have to have a matching ring & metal to my fiancé? What if we like different things?

While the option of getting matching bands made for you and your partner is certainly there, it’s also quite common for couples to get bands in different styles or metals.  A wedding band is a significant, weighted object that will be worn for a very long time.  It is important that you each find a band that you will be able to wear comfortably everyday.

We offer bands that compliment each other well if you are concerned with having the bands relate to one another. If you are each interested in a different metal or width than each other it is definitely possible for the bands to still have a common thread in style and aesthetic and vise versa.

Another option to bring a common ground to the bands is to get them engraved. This is a great way to bring a personal element to each band whether they are similar or not.

The most important thing is that each person is wearing a band that they love and want to wear forever. Your band should be significant to you and reflect your own personal style.  If you and your partner do agree on matching rings we are more then happy to accommodate sizing the bands appropriately.


Reticulated Narrow Band One


Reticulated Band


In the past we have had customers choose the Reticulated Band and the Reticulated Narrow Band One. These bands are not the same but have a very similar texture and style. We have made many variations of this style band and, as always, are ready to work on any custom ideas you may have to make a band that you will never want to take off.

Metal Properties

By Emily on February 21, 2012 at 4:24 pm

This article describes in detail the precious metals we use at the Bario-Neal studio, and we hope it will be helpful in choosing the right material for your commitment band or engagement ring.

What does the karat refer to? Karat is a unit of measurement for gold. 24 karats is pure gold, or 100% gold. The higher the karat, the more pure gold a metal contains. Because pure gold is quite soft, 24kt gold is not used in jewelry but simply used as a reference for measurement. The most popular gold, 14kt yellow gold, is 14 parts pure gold and 10 parts other metal (also called alloy). So 14kt gold is 14/24 karats, or 58.3% pure gold. 18 karats can be figured out the same way: 18/24 = 75% pure gold.

What type of metal should I get if I am hard on my hands? What is the hardest metal? What metals resist scratching best? If you are hard on your hands, we recommend platinum or palladium.  Because of their ductility, platinum and palladium will not break or wear thin the way gold will. Platinum and palladium will sooner bend or deform than crack, which is usually an easier repair.  All metal will scratch overtime but you may notice it most on softer metals such as sterling silver.

What type of metal should I get for my engagement ring if it is a delicate setting style? Because of its strength and density, platinum is the best metal for rings with delicate settings.  As mentioned above, platinum will not wear away so the prongs will never become thin, as they would if they were in gold.  Palladium is not recommended for delicate setting styles. If you are interested in a yellow metal, then 18k yellow gold is a good choice as well.  If platinum doesn’t work with your budget and you’re interested in a white metal, 18k white gold or 14k white gold are also good options.

Will a brass or bronze ring turn my finger green? Yes.  Brass and bronze react with acids in your skin when you sweat.  The oxidation of the metal then rubs off on your finger turning it green. This is the same type of oxidation that happens to bronze sculptures or copper roofing, but instead the bronze is reacting with acids and chemicals in the air. In the past we have made rings with an inner band of gold and the outer band made of brass. This is a great solution if you really love the color of brass but want to avoid the skin discoloration.


How do I know if I am allergic to nickel?  If you’re allergic to nickel, your skin will turn red and become irritated where you come in contact with the metal. About 1 in 8 women have a nickel allergy. White gold is the only metal we work with that is alloyed with nickel so all other metals are considered nickel free. Therefore, platinum, palladium, 14kt yellow, 18kt yellow 14kt rose, 18kt rose and sterling silver are safe to wear if you have a nickel allergy.  Sometimes wearing a necklace that has a 14kt white gold chain is not always the best judge to decide if you have a nickel allergy because it is not worn every day. Because of this, customers in the past who thought they did not have an allergy discovered that they did indeed after wearing the ring for a couple months. If you are unsure about having an allergy or not, consider wearing jewelry containing nickel for a longer period of time, rather than just a day or two. If your skin becomes irritated from a ring that does not contain nickel, consider having it cleaned or cleaning the ring yourself.

Platinum: Platinum is a very strong and naturally white precious metal. It is also very dense and therefore the heaviest. It does not tarnish and is hypoallergenic. All of these qualities contribute to platinum being the best metal to work with- especially for prolonged wear. It is the purest precious metal we work with, containing 95% pure platinum and 5% ruthenium. Ruthenium is of the platinum family and is alloyed with platinum to make it harder.

Continue reading Metal Properties

Reading the 4c’s: How to Choose a Diamond

By Page on July 13, 2010 at 8:21 am

Carat Size Chart:



The Cut actually refers to two separate aspects of a diamond’s appearance:  shape, and the quality of workmanship.

Shape :

Popular diamond shapes include Round, Marquise, Princess, Radiant, Pear, Oval,  and Emerald.

Quality of the Cut:

Excellent or very good: If you want quality and beauty- go for very good to excellent make.

Good: If you want a larger stone for your money- go for good make.

Fair or Poor: If you want the lowest grades- we do not recommend fair to poor makes for engagement rings due to a noticeable lack of brilliance and fire (even when color and clarity are very high).


The color of diamonds varies from colorless (most rare and precious) to many shades of yellow (less rare). Slight tints of yellow make a diamond less rare, but some people prefer the personality it gives a stone of good make and clarity.

D: If you want perfection regardless of cost, go for D Color.

E,F: If you want excellent quality and beauty- go for E of F colors (still colorless to any eye).

G,H,I: If you want a larger stone for your money without sacrificing appearance- go for G, H or I colors (near colorless, esp. in a gold setting).

J,K,L,M: If you like very faint yellow tints, go for colors like J, K, L or M (you can see the slight tint when next to a more colorless diamond or set in a white metal).


Every diamond has some internal or external “flaws,” but you should decide based on how much they are visible and how much that means to you. Usually, flawless to the naked eye (SI-1 or better) is quite sufficient for anyone concerned about beauty but not wanting to pay extra for rarity you can’t see.

Flawless and Internally Flawless: If you want perfection regardless of cost, go for flawless or internally flawless.

VVS1, VVS2: If you want it to look flawless under a loupe but not pay for flawless- go for VVS1 or VVS2 (still flawless to an untrained eye under a 10x loupe).

VS1, VS2: If you want to see very little with a loupe and nothing to the naked eye- go for VS1 or VS2.

SI1, SI2: If you just want it flawless to the naked eye- many people really only want this degree of flawlessness.

I1: If you don’t mind some small inclusions that might be visible to the naked eye and want a larger stone that still sparkles- go for I1.

I2, I3: If you’re interested in the lowest grades- we do not recommend them for engagement rings because they lack brilliance and crack or chip more easily due to larger structural flaws.


Ring Sizing Tips

By Anna on December 4, 2009 at 11:24 am

Ring sizing can be confusing, so we’ve laid out some tips below to help you get the most accurate read on your ring size.


Finger size can vary depending on the season, the temperature, the time of day, and the design of the intended ring. Fingers tend to shrink a bit in the cold, so:

-Measure rings sizes when your fingers are warm towards the end of the day.

-Keep in mind that a more delicate ring will fit more loosely; a more substantial ring will fit more tightly.

-Generally, the average woman’s ring size is around 6, and the average man’s size is around 10.

The best way to find your ring size is to go to a local jewelry shop to get sized. Although jewelers’ measurements may vary slightly, this is the most accurate method. There are several online printable paper ring sizers, but these are usually inaccurate.

If you are trying to get your partner’s ring size without letting them know:

-Measure the inside diameter of one of their existing rings. Wikipedia has a helpful measurement and size conversion guide.

-Ask around. Your partner’s family and friends might know.

If you purchase an engagement or commitment ring from us, and it doesn’t fit, we’re happy to resize it for you within 30 days.

Book Report: The Ethical Jewelry Handbook

By Page on February 23, 2008 at 12:24 pm


Marc Choyt, President of Reflective Images, Inc. & writer of the jewelry blog www.fairjewelry.org, recently released “The Ethical Jewelry Handbook,” a resource guide for the jewelry sector wishing to adopt exceptional standards and radical transparency: The Fair, Responsible, Ecological (FRE) System. We are very thankful to Marc for sharing his resources and inviting others to build upon his work.

One of the pertinent issues discussed in the Handbook is the confusion over the definition of fair trade/ ethical jewelry.  For example, when you google “fair trade jewelry,” sites pop up featuring everything from handmade artisan jewelry to socially responsible diamond engagement rings. It’s unclear to consumers and jewelers alike what these labels mean or if the same standards apply to all the divergent sectors of the industry. Truth be told, no consistent certification systems currently are in place.  As we’ve discussed in earlier blog entries, the process to develop certifications will take time and negotiations amongst the many factions of the industry.

We appreciate Marc’s call for radical transparency. He writes, “Though millions of websites reference ‘fair trade jewelry,’ the designation is, at this point, too ambiguous for all but a few main stream jewelry manufacturers to use. The consumer interested in ethically sourced jewelry needs to look for detailed information as to sourcing, labor and environmental practices. At present, transparency is often more valuable to the consumer than any designation.”

Marc then walks you through his own rating system, FRE:

The FRE Rating System addresses this current lack of standards with a format for giving your customers detailed insight into your supply chain, from the mine to the showroom, for all components of every finished piece of jewelry your company sells. FRE empowers your customers to make decisions based on a product’s: F=Fair labor; R=Social Responsibility and E=Ecological Impact.

Beyond the discussion of transparency and certification systems, the Handbook provides tips for jewelers on responsible practice, as well as entries from Marc’s blog describing some of the developments and issues in the jewelry industry.

FRE is open source—so anyone can use it for free. If you would like a copy, email me at page@rust-belt.org

Please Note: You may not collect any royalties from FRE.  Marc Choyt is credited as the originator of the system. See www.fairtradejewelry.org for more information.

Working the Egg: Oxidize Silver without the Chemicals (or the stench of liver of sulfur)

By Anna on July 11, 2007 at 9:54 am


This is easy and about as safe as you can get. Hard-boil a few eggs. The number depends on how much silver you’re oxidizing, and how dark you want the silver to get. Place the hot & freshly boiled eggs in a container (this can be a plastic food container, a plastic zipper bag, anything that seals) with the silver you want to oxidize. If you’re using a plastic bag, seal it most of the way, but leave a crack for hot air to escape. Smash up the eggs, shell and all, making sure to get the yolk nice and mashed to release the sulfur. Then seal the container completely.
The amount of time you leave the silver in depends on the color you’re aiming for. If you play around with timing, pulling the silver after only a minute, or 10, or 30, you can get great variation in color from yellow to black. Make sure to turn the silver, or rearrange it in the container at least once during the process. Silver that’s touching other silver, pressed against the container, or coated in egg-white may not get evenly oxidized. Wash off the silver and eat or toss the egg. To remove the oxidation, pickle the silver in citric acid (see posting below), and scrub. Huge plus: your studio won’t smell like the sulfuric cloud that hangs over a paper mill!