8 Great Jewelry Design Ideas With Black Diamonds

By Sarah on August 20, 2018 at 12:51 pm

Black Diamond Rings Bario NealWith all the romance of our favorite black-and-white movies (new and old), sparkly yet opaque black diamonds bring a high-contrast look to custom jewelry. We love this versatile gemstone for wedding bands, cocktail rings, and stacking rings. We’ve even been known to get all eyes widened and jaws dropped in awe of black diamond engagement rings.

For those reasons and more, Bario Neal is bringing black diamonds to some of our most popular ring designs this month. Clients can now shop the Aira Mini Black Diamond Ring, Bend Black Diamond Ring, Ray Black Diamond Ring, and more.

Black diamonds have the wearability of a white diamond but at bigger sizes are more accessibly priced. They might seem like the opposite of a champagne diamond or pink diamond, but they’re all part of the fancy colored diamonds family with all the durable properties.

Here are eight design ideas that show off our new black diamond ring collection and will inspire personalized rings too.

Black diamond engagement rings aren’t everywhere.

But maybe that’s exactly why you want one. A lot of our clients looking for a darker stone ask for a sapphire, but if you’re intrigued by black diamond jewelry, you should feel free to pick the gemstone that’s totally you. At Bario Neal, we love breaking tired rules about wedding rings, and this Custom Linear Diamond Ring with Black Eternity Band is proof that black diamond engagement rings can work so beautifully.

Stacking rings get personalized with black diamonds.

The Open Lash Black Diamond Ring and Open Lash White and Black Diamond Ring (a black and white diamond destined for each other) are newcomers to Bario Neal that lay the perfect foundation for stacking. For a look that’s rooted in the classic but has a hint of edge, mix a solitaire white diamond engagement ring like our Avens Round Diamond Ring with the Open Lash Black Diamond Ring.

Custom Black Diamond Engagement Rings
Picture cleanly and simply accessorizing your favorite black suit or dress.

Now take that style to jewelry with this oh-so-put-together Custom Linear Emerald Cluster Ring. Like every good basic in your closet, the black diamond seems like a staple in this ring — vital, not boring.

Black diamond jewelry can be a family affair.

Our Linea Black Diamond Ring update was an easy choice. The asymmetrical setting is a perfect home for the more uncommon black diamonds. Plus, we know just how well the design works already thanks to our Linea Black Diamond Pendant and Linea Black Diamond Studs. We’re calling it now: 2018, meet your new power trio.

Black diamonds can be ethically sourced.

We source black diamonds like the one that refuses to be upstaged by a white or champagne diamond in this Custom Three Stone Bouquet Ring from mines we trust in South America. (Gemstone fact: Most rough “black diamonds” start out as dark diamonds that are cut and irradiated to get a true black. The stones sit for a period of time after the process so they’re not radioactive when distributed.)

Black diamonds make for a nontraditional wedding band.

We already love our Channel Narrow Black Diamond Band and Eternity Narrow Black Diamond Band and their noir rows. With our black diamond jewelry update, we have more wedding band and stacking band choices: Reticulated One Black Diamond Band (a very accessible wedding ring with shapely flair), Half Eternity Narrow Black Diamond Band, Half Channel Narrow Black Diamond Band, and Dais Black Diamond Band.

Black Diamond Wedding Bands and Rings.
Black goes with everything.

Clichéd OK, but still so meaningful when you look at this Custom Rough Diamond, Garnet, and Black Diamond Ring. People frequently mix black diamonds with white diamonds, but this custom ring shows what you’re missing if you don’t invite other colorful gemstones to the cluster.

There’s no “wrong” metal for black diamonds.

You may think the gemstone adds a bit of mystery to a ring, but one decision is clear: Black diamonds shine in yellow gold, rose gold, platinum, and white gold.

“Black diamond jewelry might not be for everyone,” admits Genna Fischer, Bario Neal gemstone sourcing coordinator, “but, if black diamonds are for you, you just know.”

Diamond or Not? White Diamonds Aren’t the Only Gems for Unique Engagement Rings—Look to Natural Diamonds, Moissanite, and White Sapphire Rings Too

By Sarah on August 8, 2018 at 3:27 pm

Engagements aren’t just a matter of the heart. Don’t get us wrong. We live for our clients’ stories about finding each other and falling in love. (Seriously, tell us more. You met how???) But getting married can be a think piece all in itself, and your head might quickly start to spin when you think about big decisions, like choosing an engagement ring. When you visit one of our showrooms, in Philadelphia or New York City, to look at engagement rings, expect to have fun. But we’re also ready to answer serious questions about ethics, sustainability, and sourcing that you might have as you choose the right gemstone for you.

Diamonds are the most popular choice for engagement rings, but there are two other lovely colorless gemstones you can also consider: moissanite and white sapphire. We’ve made unique engagement rings using all three. Each can work for a couple who’s thinking about how communities and the environment are impacted by gemstone mining.

  • Moissanite is a colorless gemstone that is produced in a lab, so there’s no new mining involved.
  • For many Bario Neal diamond engagement rings, we use reclaimed diamonds. These are stones previously set in other jewelry, and buying reclaimed is the eco-friendliest choice. Not only do you avoid more mining, you’re not tapping into the energy involved in lab manufacturing either.
  • We source our white sapphires from a family-run sapphire mine in Sri Lanka that works on a small scale and strives to have a light environmental footprint. If you buy a white sapphire engagement ring, you’re supporting ethical small business owners and in turn their community’s economy. Mining means jobs for the miners and financial stability.

You’ll want to make the decision that feels like a fit for you, and when you visit our Philadelphia or New York City showroom, we’re happy to help you find an engagement ring gemstone that works for your heart and head. To start, here’s more on these three gemstones along with some design inspiration.

 

Moissanite Engagement Rings
L to R: Custom Moissanite Linear Cluster Ring, Custom 2-carat Oval Moissanite Cluster Ring with Diamonds
Moissanite Engagement Rings

Even if chemistry class made you yawn, it’s impossible to not be intrigued by a gemstone growing in a lab. Moissanite is actually a natural mineral, silicon carbide, though it’s rarely found in nature anymore. A chemist, Henri Moissan, is credited with first identifying it — at the site of a meteor strike in Arizona in 1893. In the 1990s, some scientists (who probably did not fall asleep in front of their Bunsen burners in high school) figured out a way to produce the silicon carbide crystals that Moissan, when he first saw them, thought were diamonds. North Carolina-based Charles & Colvard filed a patent and started growing moissanite in a lab and selling the stones as an accessibly priced alternative to white diamonds. The company is Bario Neal’s source for moissanite today.

If there’s a giant stone in the perfect custom engagement ring design you have in your head, and budget is top of mind, a moissanite could be your go-to at about half the price of white diamonds. (A half carat diamond ring in a four-prong setting at Bario Neal retails for around $3,000. The same jewelry with a moissanite would start around $1,750.)

That accessibility has inspired some truly inventive collaborations with Bario Neal clients over the years, as you can see in this Custom Moissanite Cluster Ring. If you’re ready to swear those are diamonds in that ring, well, you’ve got good company.

“Most people can’t tell a difference between a diamond and a moissanite,” says Genna Fischer, Bario Neal gemstone sourcing coordinator.  

Diamonds and moissanite are so twinning, you can easily mix them in a stack — or even in the same ring. The double-take proof is in this Custom 2-carat Oval Moissanite Cluster Ring with Diamonds.

At larger sizes, moissanite does tend to throw off rainbow vibes when sparkling, whereas a white diamond has a truer white/silver sparkle. Moissanite is nearly as hard as diamonds (at 9.5 on the Mohs hardness scale vs. a diamond’s 10) so they’re completely durable for a daily wear ring. If you’re passing on diamonds altogether but want smaller stones in your wedding band or encircling your center stone, moissanite comes in tiny melee sizes too.  

Diamonds have been the stars of engagement rings for decades and big marketing bucks go into generating a mystique around them, but we think moissanite has its own story to tell as unique-to-the-lab stones.

Two Bario Neal clients who happened to be scientists agreed. As a nod to their shared profession, they chose moissanite for this Custom Moissanite Linear Cluster Ring. Catalyst Wedding Co. called the engagement ring “seriously one of the coolest ideas we have heard.”

 

L to R: Custom Trillion Cut White Sapphire Bouquet Cluster Ring, Trillion Dyad Ring, Nikko Pear White Sapphire Ring
L to R: Custom Trillion Cut White Sapphire Bouquet Cluster Ring, Trillion Dyad Ring, Nikko Pear White Sapphire Ring
White Sapphire Engagement Rings

Sapphires are most famous in blue, but a white sapphire is another tempting and colorless gemstone for engagement rings, especially if you want a white diamond look without the diamond.

“White sapphires tend to have a bit more of a gray-blue undertone than a diamond, and you can see that,” Genna says. “A white sapphire looks different from a diamond or a moissanite. It’s its own thing. It’s more understated.”

We’re all for everyone being their own thing, so maybe that’s why white sapphires get us every time. There’s nothing not pretty about those undertones either, as you can see in our Custom Trillion Cut White Sapphire Bouquet Cluster Ring. There’s a reason that our Trillion Dyad Ring and its white sapphires stop wedding bloggers in their tracks.

Like moissanite, white sapphires are also more accessibly priced than white diamonds. They bring a less fiery but no less inviting look to an engagement ring, such as our Nikko Pear White Sapphire Ring.

“White sapphires don’t have the across-the-room flare of diamonds, which make them a budget-friendly option for someone who wants a colorless gemstone that’s subtler and less sparkly,” Genna says.  

 

Quince Ring
Quince Ring
Diamond Engagement Rings

By using reclaimed white diamonds, heirloom diamonds, and Canadian-mined white diamonds, Bario Neal maintains high standards about ethics and sourcing and gives our clients plenty of diamond engagement ring choices.

Our Quince Diamond Ring might not look guilt-free, but it is — right down to the tiny diamonds in the halo. Many jewelers can’t assure that such small stones, called melee, are ethically sourced, but Bario Neal makes sure ours are 100 percent traceable and ethical. (For a complete takedown of diamond myths, check out our helpful guide to diamond facts.)

If you’re looking for a true antique cut in a reclaimed gemstone, look to diamonds. The 1990s-born moissanite and more newly popular white sapphires come primarily in modern-day cuts.

L to R: Avens Asymmetrical Raw Diamond Ring, Kalmia Raw Diamond Ring, Avens Raw Diamond Ring
L to R: Avens Asymmetrical Raw Diamond Ring, Kalmia Raw Diamond Ring, Avens Raw Diamond Ring

Raw Diamond Engagement Rings

Raw diamonds bring a more rugged or natural look to an engagement ring. While you might be well aware of the harm that mining can bring to people and the environment, there’s, unfortunately, room for abuse in the processing of stones too. Unfair labor practices are connected to cutting and polishing diamonds in many places. Bario Neal’s ethical jewelry standards mean that we fully trace our gemstones as they make their way to us, so if you’re buying from us, you can trust that’s not the case for your engagement ring. Still, raw diamonds have their own aesthetic appeal, and their shape and appearance open up different setting designs with a natural glimmer.

 

Raw (or rough) diamonds in an engagement ring make for a quiet contrast between delicate and tough in our Avens Raw Diamond Ring and our Kalmia Raw Diamond Ring. If you prefer cluster to a solo look, look at our Avens Asymmetrical Raw Diamond Ring, which puts a raw diamond with sapphires.

 

We know you’ve got the heart part of this engagement ring business down. We’re here to help you sort through details like gemstones and metals and design — and ethical sourcing and sustainability. Get started by filling out our custom design questionnaire or by making an appointment to visit us (remember: first-date stories welcome!) in our Philadelphia or New York City showroom today.

Bario Neal Creates New Bands and Rings With Champagne Diamonds

By Sarah on July 19, 2018 at 3:17 pm

Hand wearing Halo Rose Cut Diamond Ring with Eternity Champagne Diamond Band

We’ve got something to toast this Summer: our new champagne diamond collection. Summer’s the perfect time for this fancy color stone to shine. And while we’re always happy to work with you on designing a custom ring, this addition means our clients get more gemstone choices in more of our ring and band designs — from the Myrtle Champagne Diamond Ring to the Eternity Champagne Diamond Band.  

The gemstone is a spectacular alternative to a colorless (aka white) diamond, is at home set in all types of metals, and looks lovely next to other colored stones too.

When it comes to wear, champagne diamonds are just as durable and hard as colorless diamonds. Just like other fancy color diamonds, they are diamonds — 99.95% carbon. Colorless diamonds are graded for their lack of color, with the most colorless being the most expensive. But as the grade gets lower, noticeable color tones show — typically in yellow, gray or, you guessed it, “champagne.”

“Champagne diamond is referring to a pale brown essentially,” says Genna Fischer, Bario Neal gemstone sourcing coordinator. “We typically use C2 to C4 gemological grading for champagne diamonds. The scale goes C1 to C8, with C7 and C8 being more cognac.” Though you can create color in diamonds with various treatments, Bario Neal’s champagne diamonds come by their color naturally thanks to trace elements during formation.

Stack of Bands with Champagne Diamonds.

“Champagne” and “cognac” are marketing speak of course. “My pale brown diamond” doesn’t exactly dance off the tongue. If you’ve ever bought paint for your home, you’ll recognize that kind of (usually ridiculous) color branding. Who hasn’t painted their home “Chantilly Lace,” “Shoji,” or “Ultra Pure” to only realize that their walls are white. Just white. The champagne diamond marketing terms were coined in the 1980s by an Australian mine that’s also the source of Bario Neal’s traceable, ethical champagne diamonds.

Frankly, we don’t need the sales pitch. Whatever you call the color, we love champagne diamonds because they have the sparkle of a colorless diamond while being more of an easy neutral. So do many of our clients who want a gemstone with an effortless subtlety. “A really bright, sparkly colorless diamond, you can see that across the room,” Fischer says. “A champagne diamond has that sparkle and that fire without being blinding.”

Hand wearing Reticulated One Champagne Diamond Band, Lash Triad Ring and Half Eternity Champagne Diamond Band.

Here are 8 great reasons to choose champagne diamonds
  • Champagne diamonds, at larger sizes, are more affordable than colorless diamonds.
  • Champagne diamonds at Bario Neal are ethically sourced and traceable. We have a longstanding relationship with an Australian mine. Larger champagne diamonds come with a certification verifying they were mined and cut responsibly in Australia. Clients who have ties to the country get an even more personal story with the gemstone too. (P.S. If you want a ring or band with a recycled gemstone, champagne diamonds can be tougher to find because they haven’t been as popular in the past and there’s just not as many antique jewelry pieces to pull stones from as there are with colorless diamonds. But it’s not impossible — just ask!)
  • Champagne diamonds don’t carry the “perfection assumptions” that add pressure to shopping for colorless diamonds. “There’s plenty of room for all types of champagne diamonds. The ‘lighter’ isn’t necessarily the ‘more valuable,’” Fischer says.
  • Champagne diamonds pair well with any metal color. In a yellow gold, they have an antique feel. In a rose gold, they take on more of a pink undertone. In platinum, they take on cooler notes and look more modern.
  • Champagne diamonds are fun. “Clients have asked for their ring to look like sparkling rosé, and I’ve put a champagne diamond in rose gold. It’s exactly what you would think of,” Fischer says.
  • Champagne diamonds mix well with other gemstone colors too. “I’m struggling to think of something I would not put champagne diamonds with,” Fischer says. “It’s as versatile as the colorless diamond.”
  • Champagne diamonds easily stand alone as a stunning center stone in a ring. They can be any shape or size you want.
  • Melee champagne diamonds, smaller accent stones, work beautifully in rings and bands (and, in fact, are already shining in many Bario Neal designs).

Hand Wearing Channel Narrow Champagne Diamond Band, Fishtail Champagne Diamond Band, and Open Lash Champagne Diamond Ring

We’re happy to see the sometimes underappreciated champagne diamond finally getting more attention. If you make Fischer pick a favorite, she says she’d go with the Open Lash Champagne Diamond Ring. “It’s both a ring and a band. It can be worn on its own very nicely, but it fits around and with many solitaire or multi-stone engagement rings very well.”

We’ll toast to that — and you should feel free to pop at a cork too at our Philadelphia flagship or New York showroom while you shop our new Champagne diamond rings and bands.

Bario Neal’s Guide for Where to Eat, Shop, and Play in Philadelphia

By Sarah on July 11, 2018 at 11:37 am

Just booked a Bario Neal appointment at our Philadelphia studio to talk engagement rings or wedding bands? We’ve created a shop where everyone will be comfortable, where there’s no pressure and no preconceived notions, and where you’ll have fun creating a custom designed jewelry piece or browsing our collection. So why not make a day of it?

Whether you’re coming from 20 blocks away or another state, explore the neighborhood we call home before or after your appointment. We’re big fans of local businesses like us, and there’s plenty of great spots to grab a bite, shop for sustainable goods, and just soak up why we love Philly.

We’ve designed this neighborhood guide to help you plan your visit. These are the places we eat, shop, and play too. Each map link will give you walking directions from Bario Neal.

EAT/DRINK
Jenny's Pick: Essene Market
Jenny’s Pick: Essene Market

Essene Market & Cafe — Find healthy/vegan/macrobiotic options aplenty at this specialty food store. There’s a self-serve buffet too. MAP

Rally — This coffee shop sells Pennsylvania products. Plus, they’ve got kombucha and pop-up shops with goods handmade by Philly-area artisans. MAP

Nomad Pizza — Go here for wood-fired brick oven goodness, with locally grown organic produce and all-natural meat toppings. MAP

Bistrot La Minette — Just steps from the Bario Neal shop, this is where we love to happy hour! On a pretty day, head for the patio at this traditional French food eatery where the escargot never disappoints. MAP

Red Hook Coffee & Tea — Sink into a comfy couch and dig into a hummus-topped bagel or vegan curried chicken wrap at this cozy cafe for breakfast or lunch. MAP

Kate's Pick: Alyan's Restaurant
Kate’s Pick: Alyan’s Restaurant

Alyan’s Restaurant — Our go-to for fresh Middle Eastern cuisine, from falafel to chicken shawarma, this is the type of eatery locals in the know want to keep a secret. But we have to share because how can we deny you their toasty warm pita? MAP

Di Bruno Bros. — A 75-year-old South Philly icon, this Italian Market shop is fun for the eyes and the taste buds. Hanging meats. Antipasti. Jars of colorful sauces. And so many cheeses that they had to produce a whole catalog about them. MAP

Shot Tower Coffee — This coffee shop gets the balance of modern and warm and super-friendly baristas exactly right. MAP

John’s Water Ice — No FD&C Red 40 here. John’s take on the frozen Philly classic is simple: Fruit, water and sugar = best summer treat. MAP

Claudio Specialty Foods — At this Italian cook’s heaven, you can buy everything from a bamboo cutting board to a basket of pasta. If you’re into prosciutto, ask them about the “Parma pigs.” MAP

Genna's pick: Famous Fourth Street Delicatessen
Genna’s pick: Famous Fourth Street Delicatessen

Famous Fourth Street Delicatessen — City delis overuse “famous,” but here the description is truly deserved. Visitors come from all over for the unbelievably stacked corned beef and pastrami sandwiches. Even vegetarians should go — for the chocolate chip cookies. MAP

Federal Donuts — Would you walk nearly a mile for a peanut butter malt donut? The Bario Neal team would (and does). Foodies also trek here from all over the world for their Korean-style fried chicken. MAP

Comfort & Floyd — Grab the wholesome breakfast basics and upscale-ish comfort food at this luncheonette. MAP

South Philly Barbacoa — You’ll be eating elbow to elbow with in-the-know diners at this taco and torta spot. (They’re so popular, they’re looking for a bigger place.) MAP

The Good King Tavern — For a day of sparkle times two, go from your Bario Neal personalized engagement ring appointment to this French-inspired pub where the happy hour deal is oysters and bubbly. MAP

Ariel's pick: Hungry Pigeon
Ariel’s pick: Hungry Pigeon

Hungry Pigeon — We’re kindred spirits with this delicious restaurant. Just as Bario Neal is committed to ethical sourcing of our gemstones and metals, Hungry Pigeon makes sure 99 percent of what they serve is from trusted small producers. MAP

Southwark — Go for the creative dishes at this true neighborhood joint — and stay for the cocktails. The bartenders here are as serious about design as we are. MAP

Isgro — A century into making and selling pastries, this shop knows cannoli. MAP

Sabrina’s Café — Don’t miss the stuffed challah French toast at this kid-friendly diner-y city favorite (with locations in several Philly neighborhoods) where you definitely need to bring a big appetite. MAP

Emily's Pick: Tattooed Mom
Emily’s Pick: Tattooed Mom

Tattooed Mom — With graffiti-and-paper-covered walls, local beers on tap, and a cheeky cocktail menu, this bar is a place where everyone feels welcome, ink or no ink. Vegans will find something to love in their causal bar food, and everyone gets to drink in the community art. MAP

Square Pie — This self-described “Brooklyn born, Philly perfected” pizza place sells a thick-crust, Sicilian-style pie. MAP

Ela — A star Philly chef is in the kitchen at this rustic-modern restaurant whose menu changes with the season. The happy hour cocktails are among the best-priced in the city. MAP

Woodrow’s Sandwich Shop — Although their cheesesteak is highly rated, we choose from the tasty slate of sandwiches here, which includes a Coffee BBQ Brisket and a Falafel Sub. MAP

SHOP

Moon + Arrow — This socially responsible/environmentally conscious boutique emphasizes the artisan in curating their clothes, accessories, home furnishings, and body products. MAP

Constance's pick: Little Moon + Arrow
Constance’s pick: Little Moon + Arrow

Little Moon + Arrow — This kid-focused offspring of the environmentally conscious Moon + Arrow has adorable handmade toys and clothes. (P.S. We truly believe kids value plastic-free gifts, which is why we created a line of jewelry for children.) MAP

Retrospect Vintage — Wear or decorate your home with treasure-worthy pieces from this vintage shop. Recent cool finds: black-and-white vinyl diner chairs and a pair of rainbow platform shoes. They’ve got cassette tapes too! MAP

Brickbat Books — Whatever Kindle — words on paper still make us swoon. Pick up new and used books and check the link for a schedule of author readings and live music. MAP

Bus Stop — You’ll see that a shoe boutique owned by a shoe designer just makes sense when you slip your feet into one of impeccably stylish Elena Brennan’s limited edition pairs. MAP

Beautiful World Syndicate — Maybe you’re old enough to have bought your turntable brand-new. Maybe it’s your favorite used throwback purchase. Either way, record lovers, this is the place to expand your vinyl collection. MAP

Sarah B's pick: Greenwich Letter Press
Sarah B’s pick: Greenwich Letter Press

Greenwich Letterpress — We’re so lucky to be near the Philly outpost of this NYC stationery business. Pick up fabulously witty greeting cards or put in an order for custom letterpress event invitations. MAP

Yowie — This home/accessories store is less about trends and more about pieces of lasting value by independent designers. (Hmmm … sounds a lot like a jewelry studio we know.) MAP

Fante’s Kitchen Shop — Get anything you need to cook or dine at this family-owned store, where the owners and staff are walking encyclopedias of all things cookware to cutlery. MAP

RareCo — You’ll want to live in this store, but remember that the vintage furniture, art, and home goods here are for you to buy and take home. MAP

Cactus Collective — Shop vests, tees, dresses, and more from more than half a dozen vintage clothing vendors. MAP

Sarah F's Pick: Sazz and Briar Vintage
Sarah F’s Pick: Sazz and Briar Vintage

Sazz Vintage — The fashion experts at Sazz maintain a stock of 1950s-1970s duds for all genders, and they seriously crush on “wearable cotton pieces from the ‘60s and ‘70s.” Right across the street from us, we love stopping in to see their picks along with their shop mates Briar Vintage MAP

DO

Fleisher Art Memorial — Take in an exhibit at an institution that views art as a community builder and something that should be accessible to everyone. That’s a mission worth framing. MAP

Juju Salon & Organics — Like Bario Neal, Juju is working a daily commitment to sustainability in an industry that’s often anything but. The salon is 100 percent wind-powered. Bonus: They’re fume-free, so a manicure or haircut won’t give you a headache. MAP

Three Queens Yoga — If you’re visiting Bario Neal from out of town, here’s a little travel advice we swear by: Nothing grounds you after a long journey like a yoga class. This lovely studio is named after the goddesses Kali, Saraswati, and Lakshmi, who represent dissolution, creation, and sustenance. MAP

Tessa's pick: Theatre of the Living Arts
Tessa’s pick: Theatre of the Living Arts

Theatre of the Living Arts — Philadelphians refer to this intimate music venue simply as “TLA,” and you can catch up-and-coming artists from all genres here. MAP

Cianfrani Park  — We applaud, and you will too, the friends group that nurtures the ornamental trees and ambitious gardens at this urban oasis. MAP

Seger Park — If you’ve got a car and kids, park (two hours free!) at the nearby Whole Foods, grab some picnic food there, and walk one block to this park that kids and dogs love. On really hot days, they turn on all the sprinklers. MAP

Delaware River Waterfront — We’re not too far from this river, but you can drive and park to enjoy a waterside rink where visitors roller-skate or ice skate depending on the season. MAP

Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens — Step into another world at this renowned art museum/gallery where a mural of found objects and thousands of mirrors stuns every visitor. MAP

Old City — Venture about 1.5 miles to this neighborhood to our north for cute boutiques, and a big dose of U.S. history. This is where you’ll find the Liberty Bell, the country’s first major museum devoted to black American history, and Betsy Ross’s house. MAP

Fabric Row — Stroll Fourth Street near the Bario Neal studio for a concentration of shops that have been selling textiles for generations. MAP

Wissahickon Valley Park — Up for a nature walk? You’ll need to drive here from Bario Neal, but there are acres and acres of beauty to stroll in this park. MAP

Boathouse Row/Kelly Drive — For nature more central to the city, pick up a bike-share ride near us, and pedal to this great path for wheels or a walk along the Schuylkill River. BIKE MAP

Every Ruby Ring Isn’t Red (But That Just Means More Colorful Rubies!)

By Sarah on July 5, 2018 at 2:59 pm
Three custom rings by Bario Neal featuring rubies.
L to R: Custom Trillion Cut White Sapphire Bouquet Cluster Ring, Custom Diamond and Ruby Cluster Ring, Custom Solar System Ring

There’s a reason Dorothy’s magic slippers in “The Wizard of Oz” were changed from silver in the book to ruby red for what Judy Garland wore in the movie: Rubies make a bold statement. (They also pop against a yellow-brick road.) Those famous kicks are probably one reason that, when you picture rubies, you don’t think pink. Yet most rubies aren’t deep dark red and could be better described as magenta, fuchsia, raspberry, or jewel-tone pink.

RUBY CUSTOM RINGS

There are rubies, of course, that fit the image in your head, but they’re extremely rare (example: this Elizabeth Taylor ruby ring). At Bario Neal, we see the more accessible pink-hued stones as a powerful standalone in ruby engagement rings and ruby wedding rings. Rubies of all shades pair prettily with other gemstones too. Check out the pink ruby color in our Custom Trillion Cut White Sapphire Bouquet Cluster Ring holding its own at a unique gemstone party.

Rubies carry symbolism well beyond the birthstone for July babies. When it comes to giving a ruby meaning, cultures throughout time have seen them as representing the power of life — understandable given our red blood — the sun, and the stone of kings. The notion that rubies are a protective talisman even fits with Dorothy’s red shoes.

One of our most vivid ruby ring inspirations is our Custom Diamond and Ruby Cluster Ring. The ring has what’s called a “pigeon blood ruby.” The name makes us squirm, but the oval ruby represents one of the truest deep red rubies — and happens to make a gorgeous partner to an Australian rose cut diamond.

This Custom Solar System Ring shows what you can do with a mix of colorful gemstones, including heirlooms. For this personalized jewelry with multilayered meaning, our client used gems from her collection. The ruby was her mother’s. (One of Bario Neal’s own sources for rubies has been the Tanzania Women Miners Association.)

Rings and Earrings by Bario Neal with Rubies and Garnets
L to R: Cluster Garnet Ring , Lash Linear Garnet Ring, Lash Garnet and Tourmaline Power Studs, Lash Mini Raspberry Sapphire Studs, Shield Ruby Slice Earrings
RED GEMSTONE GIFTS

If you’re set on having some shade of red in your custom jewelry, think about garnets too. People might easily mistake a garnet for a blood red ruby, but the garnet will be a fraction of the price. (We used garnets to spectacular effect in two pairs of earrings for our new one-of-a-kind Ceres Collection.) You might also try a raspberry sapphire. Rubies and sapphires are basically sisters. They’re both composed of the mineral corundum, but the presence of the element chromium makes the ruby color. In the U.S., rubies earn that label with a certain color saturation, but you’ll be forgiven if you call a raspberry sapphire a ruby. These distinctions weren’t even made till the 20th century, and the definitions are still a bit squishy.

Whatever the ruby color, if you’re searching for ruby jewelry for a July birthstone gift, shop our Shield Ruby Slice Earrings, Ruby Slice Pendant, and Ruby Slice Studs too. For these pieces, we set a just-right sliver of ruby into yellow gold (which happens to be our favorite metal pairing for rubies). And if you’re ready to work with us on a custom ruby engagement ring or ruby wedding ring, start by filling out our Custom Design Questionnaire or make an appointment at our Philadelphia or New York City shops today.

Bario Neal Teams Up With Artist Xavier Schipani To Help Us Show Why LGBTQIA Visibility Matters In the Wedding Industry

By Sarah on June 27, 2018 at 11:49 am

Image of couples with various ethnicities, genders and orientations in a kiss.With Schipani’s “Infinite Love” print, Bario Neal will donate net proceeds to Voices4. This organization’s mission statement is one we can get behind: “Voices4 is a nonviolent advocacy group aimed at achieving global queer liberation. We envision a world where every queer person, regardless of where they live, will be able to fully express and embrace their identity how they choose and without fear, discrimination, or persecution of any kind. We utilize direct action to affect change, both nationally and internationally, around the treatment of queer people while building an interconnected global coalition of queer activists working to challenge the systems of power that enable and sanction queer persecution.”

Our intern, Taylor D’Amico, took the opportunity to interview Xavier Schipani about his work, why representation matters, how pop-culture and activism co-exist, and their experiences as trans* people shopping in traditionally gendered spaces. 


Did you know that the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation shows that more young Americans are rejecting traditional gender labels? 20% of 18-34-year-olds identify as socially fluid, queer, bisexual, or pansexual and 12% identify as transgender or gender nonconforming, all within the LGBTQIA lexicon.

Illustrated story of two men selecting their rings and getting married.

As some of you can imagine, shopping for traditionally gendered things as a trans* person can not only be difficult and stressful but can be dysphoric and be embarrassing at times. Being a transgender woman myself, I and many other trans*/queer people have experienced this situation one too many times. Anyone who doesn’t fall in the cisgendered norm of Male and Female knows this feeling all too well, whether you’re trans, non-binary, gender fluid, intersex, etc. For a transgender woman having to go out and buy her first bra, or a non-binary person going to a jewelry store and picking out their engagement ring, the situation can become very stressful. Specifically, in jewelry, we have to worry about things like the assumption of gender, sizing, and representation when we’re doing something as special and monumental as picking out an engagement ring. Since the jewelry industry is so traditional and gendered, Bario Neal wanted to change the shopping experience for all customers.

Two men share the experience of shopping for Bario Neal wedding bands.When dealing with gender and buying traditionally gendered products like jewelry, it can feel as if everything is so black and white, and by black and white we mean “male and female.” Men’s categories and Women’s categories are outdated and exclude gender non-conforming/non-binary people. Bario Neal focuses on describing the jewelry, not the identity of those who wear it. When products are organized into categories, Bario Neal uses more inclusive descriptions: Masculine or Feminine. Identifying men can shop in feminine, identifying women can shop in masculine, and gender non-conforming people can shop in either masculine, feminine, or gender neutral.

Two women in love selecting their engagement rings.

Same-sex couples also have many struggles when it comes to jewelry shopping, especially engagement ring shopping. Luckily, since the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in June of 2015 to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states, shopping for engagement rings as a same-sex couple in 2018 is a lot less gut-wrenching than it was in 2008, just a decade ago. 10.6% of adult same-sex couples are married, coming close to the 13.6% of adult heterosexual couples in the US who are married. Same-sex couples don’t apply gender roles when searching for the perfect engagement ring, they don’t have to, and neither should cisgendered heterosexual couples. Social advances and the visible inclusion of the LGBTQIA community has encouraged many cisgendered heterosexual couples to kick these gender binary “rules” to the curb as well. If you see that special piece that gives you goosebumps or makes you smile as soon as you see it – go for it!

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When given the opportunity to interview Xavier Schipani, I was over the moon to have an important conversation relating to trans*, queer, and non-binary issues from two people who are actually within the community through Bario Neal’s platform. Having the platform to talk about LGBTQIA inclusion from someone who’s actually within the community is vital to the conversation of LGBTQIA related issues.

Taylor: Recently you collaborated with us here at Bario Neal for an upcoming campaign for Pride month, what’re some of your current favorite Bario Neal pieces?

Xavier: I really love the creativity of the settings on the rings! I was looking at them specifically because my wife and I have our 2nd Wedding Anniversary coming up this month. We both have September birthdays, so I love the Nikko Pear White Sapphire ring, I had never seen a white sapphire before, our birthstone!

Taylor: Your work is such a fantastic blend of activism combined with sex and contrasts of high and low design. Who are leaders in activism and sexual expression that inspire you?

Xavier: When I think about activism it’s important for me to understand the progress that has been made, what we are doing now and what needs to be done. Marsha P. Johnson is someone that comes to mind when I think of trans progress, she is what I would call my trancestor. For “Now” I am really inspired by a group called “Voices 4” they are based in New York, that focuses on amplifying the voices that are often suppressed within the LGBTQI communities all over the world. Emma Gonzales’ speech was incredible in the wake of tragedy, her voice and others from that generation give me hope for the future collective thought. I also think that this younger generation is helping create a conversation that is exciting about gender fluidity and sexuality, it’s fresh and open minded and so necessary.

Taylor: In modern times, how can we make representations of sex and gender revolutionary? How can brands participate in a meaningful and sincere way, while also supporting artists like you?

Xavier: I think that it is important to be inclusive, I think that there are a lot of identities that fall through the cracks even within the LGBTQIA community and are often left out or not even considered when it comes to representation. I think that a lot of brands are taking strides to be inclusive but there is always room for growth. I think that brands should want to have as many perspectives as possible, for example if I see a brand using a trans model in a campaign I am more likely to support it because I feel supported by it.

Taylor: What have your experiences with the wedding industry been like as a trans man? Being as though shopping for traditionally gendered things, like shopping for wedding or engagement jewelry, can be a lot for LGBTQIA people. What things would you want to change in the wedding industry overall?

Xavier: I had a really enjoyable experience, I know that isn’t the case for everyone however. I loved designing my wife’s engagement ring, I worked with one of her friends who also happens to be queer. I think that when you are in love and you choose to celebrate that publicly, you should do what feels right and find ways to make it comfortable and special for YOU. I think the one thing I would change is the level of pressure we put on ourselves for things to be “perfect” and to make up our own traditions as we go.

Taylor: Looking through your work, you depict so many gender representations and sexual orientations. Why do you think it’s important to explore this as an artist?

Being a creative artist as well as a voice within the art scene for trans/queer people, do you ever find it challenging to make art that is understandable to its audience? Or to find that certain voice/message for each of your pieces?

Xavier: I think that visibility is REALLY important, which not only means being seen by others but being represented, recognized and acknowledged in society. My point of view gives me a unique perspective and I feel passionate about sharing that through my work. Art can help us create language in a conversation that we don’t quite understand or feel like an outside participant, inclusion is so important in transcending barriers put up by a binary society. Something I tell myself and others is that “I see you always, in all ways” which I shared with Bario Neal while working on this campaign. I think this message is important in terms of what it means to transition not only in gender/identity but in all aspects of life.

Taylor: You reference a lot of pop culture and politics in your artwork, is this a personal choice to pay homage to people who inspire you within the community? Or is there more of an underlying message to reflect the way society interacts with celebrities?

Xavier: I think that pop culture and politics with the help of social media have become married in a huge way, which has its ups and downs I mean look at our President…he is a perfect example. I definitely like to pay homage to my queer peers, transcestors and those fighting the good fight within our current tumultuous political climate. We are in an interesting time where people are truly being held accountable for their actions in a way like never before and I think artistic expression is a powerful, energetic and educational tool that creates unity for change.  

Taylor: You recently did a collaboration with Refinery29’s 29Rooms that features a big project of yours, what was this process like for you to work with Refinery29 and to have such a powerful message of queer inclusivity when dealing with bathrooms?

Being as though Pride month is officially here, do you have any upcoming projects that you’re excited to share that you can tell us about?

Xavier: 29rooms will be in San Francisco for pride in a couple weeks and then the show will continue on to Chicago in July.

Collaborating on “Gender Neutral” room was important for me as a part of the LGBTQ community and it was an honor. The “bathroom” as a physical space holds a great range of meaning to different identities. For many of my peers it is a place where anxiety and fear holds them captive when they feel most vulnerable. This installation was about visibly telling a gender story of inclusion and a representation of bodies that are often seen only in turmoil. It is about creating a safe space.

Creating a safe space for someone to be in means more than telling them that it is safe, you have to show them that it is. Working with Refinery29 on this was amazing, they have such a great team and an amazing platform. They are a huge catalyst for the LGBTQIA community in terms of visibility and continue to show an incredible amount of support through education, storytelling and coverage within the community.

I have an upcoming solo show in that opens in June at the Lora Reynolds Gallery in Austin, TX. The show will be a combination of paintings and installation and is a commentary on the “fall of man” and toxic masculinity!  I just finished working on LadyLand a new queer festival that will take place during NYC pride, doing all of the branding! So June will be a very PRIDE-FULL month for me!


Be sure to follow Xavier to stay updated on all his upcoming and exciting projects here:

Instagram

Website

Buy Xavier Schipani’s print “Infinite Love” to benefit Voices4. Available for a limited time.

12 Reasons We Love Breaking the Old “Rules” About Wedding Rings

By Sarah on June 13, 2018 at 9:00 am

We’re not big fans of restrictions or stereotypes when it comes to creating jewelry for our clients at Bario Neal. To counter the wedding industry’s marketing myths, we work extra hard to banish the notion of the so-called “perfect engagement ring.”

What matters to us: You love whatever wedding jewelry you buy (if any). What doesn’t: Tired rules about gemstones and sizes and prices and styles.

Whether you’ve always followed your own tastes instinctively, or you’re someone who is dipping your toe into breaking with tradition, here are 12 old rules about engagement rings and wedding bands that we know you’ll have fun leaving in the past.

Allium Round Engagement Ring with Milla Thin Wedding Band
Allium Round Diamond Engagement Ring with Milla Thin Wedding Band
Break This Rule: The metals of your engagement ring and wedding band must match.

Wearing only all gold or all silver jewelry is as unnecessary as gendered wedding parties. Take one peek at our Milla Square Rims Band, created with a wide strip of platinum, palladium or white gold that’s trimmed in 14k yellow or rose gold, and you’ll see how different metals work well together. We also like our modern Allium Diamond Round Ring in 14kt yellow gold with a band of another metal. Whatever your perfect metal mix, with Bario Neal, your rings and bands will be made with reclaimed or Fairmined solid precious metals.

 

Quill Wedding Band and Half Eternity Diamond Wedding Band in Bario Neal Box
Quill Band and Half Eternity Narrow Diamond Band
Break This Rule: Spouses have to have matching wedding bands.

Maybe you two have the same taste in music. Or clothes. Or art. Maybe you don’t — and that’s exactly what makes you work as a couple. If your aesthetics aren’t totally in sync, don’t force yourselves into matching wedding bands. If everyone had the same taste, after all, we wouldn’t create so many band styles. Our Half Eternity Narrow Diamond Band is classic, while the textured Quill Band makes a more natural statement.

There’s another way to break this old rule but still keep a hint of likeness: You might pick similar band shapes but each choose a different metal or different finish. One band might be polished, the other matte. For inspiration, look at our super-popular Milla Shoulder Wide Band and Milla Shoulder Narrow Band .

 

Icon Wide One Band, Icon Wide Two Band, Icon Narrow Bands, Lau Diamond Bracelet
Icon Wide One Band, Icon Wide Two Band, Icon Narrow Bands, Lau Diamond Bracelet
Break This Rule: Engagement rings require gemstones.

An engagement ring is an engagement ring because you both say it is. There are no carat quotas. No sparkle mandates. You might skip a gemstone and focus on metals and finishes, or different shapes. You may say “no thanks” to diamonds and love the tone that white glass enamel brings to our Senna Narrow Band.

Some of our clients have stacked two or more plain bands. Together, our Icon Wide One Band and Icon Wide Two Band shine without a gem in sight.

 

Wedding and Engagement Stack of Linear Hex Sapphire Ring, Open Lash Ring, Lash Solitaire Blue Sapphire Ring
Linear Hex Sapphire Ring, Open Lash Ring, Lash Solitaire Blue Sapphire Ring
Break This Rule: Your engagement ring and wedding band need to have the same gemstone.

This rule’s as anachronistic as a black and white television. Our Linear Hex Sapphire Ring proves there’s power in going full color, with its blue sapphire, green sapphire, pink tourmaline, and orange sapphire. (Rule-breaking bonus points: Gems in the same ring don’t need to be the same shape either.)

One fun way to mix gemstones: Pair our Lash Solitaire Blue Sapphire Ring with gorgeous green accents of emeralds in an Open Lash Ring.

Break This Rule: Keep your engagement ring and wedding bands in the same style lane.

The notion that you can’t mix modern and vintage or antique with new went out with plastic-covered living room furniture and fainting couches. If your style is a mix of throwback and very current, embrace it. You can even up the sustainability factor by wearing an heirloom solitaire ring that’s in your family with a modern Bario Neal wedding band like the Nikko Curved Band.

 

Milla Round Wide Band, Milla Round Hammered Wide Band, Milla Shoulder Wide Band
Milla Round Wide Band, Milla Round Hammered Wide Band, Milla Shoulder Wide Band
Break This Rule: Rose gold is “feminine.”

If your eyes roll at the gender conventions attached to jewelry, you might like to break out of the silver and gold mold with a different metal: rose gold. As we said on the blog in January, “people of all genders who want to feel beautiful and celebrate pink can reclaim the hue.” Rose gold looks awesome on all genders and every skin tone. (P.S. If you love to see stereotypes skewered as much as we do, check out this great blog post from A Practical Wedding that hilariously calls out sexist wedding photography.)

Break This Rule: Your wedding band has to be metal.

Wearing jewelry every day might not fit your work or lifestyle. Many couples prefer tattoos as a visible, creative, and meaningful symbol. We’ve seen dates, initials, band-like designs, and more that looked great in ink. A tattoo is a wonderful, and sustainable choice when you don’t want to wear your Bario Neal ring.

 

Cluster Andalusite Engagement Ring
Cluster Andalusite Ring
Break This Rule: You need two rings: an official engagement ring and an official wedding band.

If buying and wearing two rings doesn’t sound like joy to you, think all-in-one. Our free-form Gale Rose Cut Diamond Ring , Custom Andalusite Cluster Ring, and Senna Umbra Ring are all examples of rings that can carry the day solo.

Break This Rule: First comes the engagement ring, then the wedding band. Then the wait for an anniversary band.

Your wedding “band” might be two stacked bands instead. You could have two engagement rings. Or go for three from day one. (Hint: Forget the “ring finger rule” too.) Our Allium Diamond Ring, Cluster Fringe Diamond Ring, and Icon Hex Diamond Ring make a timeless trio. For a more playful look, mix our Open Lash Ring, Ray Ring, and Ray Fringe Band.

 

Halo Aquamarine Engagement Ring with Linea Diamond Wedding Band and Stackable Wedding Band
Halo Aquamarine Engagement Ring with Linea Diamond Wedding Band and Stackable Band
Break This Rule: You need one special set of rings.

Just like we understand why people pass on all wedding jewelry, we also see many clients think creatively about what a wedding set is. Depending on regular activities, workplace, and other lifestyle factors, some couples want a few rings that they can wear at different times or for different occasions. For example, if you have a Halo Aquamarine Ring, a Linea Diamond Band, and a Stackable Band you might wear all three, or just the Stackable Band, depending on the day.

Break This Rule: Never take off your wedding band.

Call us not superstitious. You should take off your wedding ring to travel, or to work, or to sleep. You might even, oh, take off your ring(s) to clean them. After all, never is a long time. By the way, daily wear does affect a ring over time. Check out our FAQs for what that means for finishes and for gemstones, and how we can help if you want a refresh.

Shield One Wedding Band with Filigree Curved Wedding Band
Shield One Band with Filigree Curved Band
Break This Rule: The amount of money you spend on your wedding jewelry reflects the level of your commitment.

This one’s about way more than rule-breaking. It’s about banishing a misconception built on top of a manipulative marketing scheme. Upending these kinds of exclusionary ideas is part of why Bario Neal was started in the first place. Your rings and/or bands should be something you buy because it’s fun and you want them to be part of your marriage story. There’s no minimum price tag on that. If you agree, check out our Milla Thin Band, Shield One Band, Filigree Curved Band, Aldine Band, Senna Tall Band, and Icon Band.

Breaking the rules is freeing — and will probably get you thinking more creatively about what kind of rings and bands you’d truly love to have. (Notice there are only a few “required fields” on our online Custom Design Questionnaire, and those are just about contacting you.) Follow your own inner style guide — and choose an engagement ring or wedding band right for you, your spouse, and you both as a couple.

Bario Neal Is an Inclusive Jewelry Designer for Every Couple

By Sarah on June 6, 2018 at 2:24 pm

Masculine hand wearing Linear Hex Sapphire Ring, Reticulated Two Band, Open Lash Ring, and Aldine Thin BandWhen it comes to weddings, there’s an entirely too long list of supposed do’s that we’d like to ban right along with any laws that dictate who can marry who. The very last thing you should feel on the happy occasions of getting engaged or your wedding day is uncomfortable or awkward or discriminated against. With Pride Month underway, we’re calling out all the ways that the wedding industry pushes a story of “Mr. & Mrs.” that excludes so many couples.

When our co-founders, designers Anna Bario and Page Neal, started in the fine jewelry business, they knew they wanted to work to undermine the heteronormativity of the wedding industry. We’ve been rejecting stereotypes ever since.

One direct action we take: We make everyone — whether you are a same-sex couple, trans, non-binary, or whatever your gender identity, whoever you’re marrying —  feel at home in our showrooms in Philadelphia and New York City, whether you’re doing some early browsing, have a million questions about engagement rings, or are in a rush to make a purchase. We take this as seriously as we do the ethical sourcing and mining of gemstones and metals.

As we celebrate Pride Month and mark the third anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage in all 50 states, we know that fight’s not finished. We also are certain that inclusiveness benefits every person. Studies show that more equality is good for society as a whole, but we see this as a no-brainer. In the world of weddings, for sure the old wedding do’s and don’ts won’t fit many couples whatever their orientation. Here, six ways we’re crossing them all out.

1. We never make assumptions about your partner.

When you call, visit, or email Bario Neal’s showrooms in New York City or Philadelphia to talk engagement or wedding rings, we welcome you to tell us about your relationship and why you’re shopping. You might visit with a partner, a friend, or a parent. We don’t assume anything about gender, orientation, or age and we look to clients for cues about what a wedding ring means to you and whoever you’re marrying. Our team doesn’t use the word “bride” or “groom” — but of course, we’re happy to have you refer to yourselves with any moniker you choose. We focus on getting to know YOU — who your partner is, which pronouns you prefer — and of course, we wanna know when and where the wedding will be, and if you’ve picked out your dessert. (We have lots of opinions on cake.) We may even be able to connect you with an officiant or photographer you’ll love. Everyone deserves to be who they are and experience enthusiasm for their proposal planning or their big day. We want these moments to feel special for everyone who walks through our doors, regardless of age, orientation, or gender.

2. Our INCLUSIVE jewelry designs don’t have a gender.

For same-sex couples and heterosexual couples alike, we don’t subscribe to gendered jewelry. Pro-tip: Rings don’t have a gender. A subtle band of Fairmined gold. A vibrant cluster of gemstones. You’ll find our cases divided into sections like “Rings with Stones,” “Bands with Stones” and “Bands without Stones.” We want all of our clients to find the rings and bands they love and that have meaning to them. For us, that’s non-negotiable.

3. We don’t believe an engagement ring needs to be a surprise.

Whoever is doing the proposing (maybe you both are!), we love when partners come into our showrooms to shop together for engagement rings and wedding bands. Don’t get us wrong: Spontaneity gives us goosebumps too. If the two of you are into surprises, then we’re on board. However, we understand that buying a ring is a big choice.

There is a way to get the best of both worlds. There’s absolutely no reason that you have to have a ring for a proposal. One of our clients recently brought his partner into our Philadelphia showroom to begin custom designing a ring after they got engaged. He captured the upside perfectly: “Buying an engagement ring is a huge decision so why wouldn’t I want my partner there with me? In the end, we couldn’t be happier with the results, and I know I made the right choice by foregoing tradition and proposing without a ring.”

4. We don’t size up your wallet.

When you walk in our door, we’re not calculating how much money you have, or how much you can or will spend. Yes, we’re aware of the jewelry-industry-fueled myth that you should spend two to three months’ salary on an engagement ring. We just have no time at all for it, and we stay true to our principles by designing affordable rings. Our mission is to make jewelry of lasting value, and we know it can be awkward to ask about prices and talk about budget. We always aim to make visitors to our showrooms comfortable enough so we can talk about cost plainly and presumption-free. Once we have your budget, we stick to it, and we won’t push any rings on you that don’t fit your budget. Seriously, who does that? Rude!

5. The word “upsell” makes a cringe.

When it comes to engagement rings and wedding bands, we want you to be free from rules. You might not be interested in an “official” engagement ring. You might love to have an engagement ring but pass on wedding bands. We’re not going to try to sell you more rings, bigger stones, “care packages,” or anything you don’t want.

6. We won’t sell you on a diamond if you don’t want one.

We’ve made countless beautiful engagement rings without even so much as a glance at a diamond. First, there are so many other gemstones to embrace. There’s also that still a diamond but not the traditional one: champagne diamonds. We’ve made scores of “nontraditional” custom engagement rings over the years, and we love all their stories.

A belief in the right to love and marry whomever and however you choose is one of the core principles of Bario Neal’s jewelry. That’s reflected in our designs and in our showrooms. Stop into a New York City or Philadelphia shop today to see how “at home” you can feel while shopping for jewelry.

 

 

15 Design Ideas for Your Custom Engagement Ring

By Sarah on May 31, 2018 at 4:07 pm

If you’re dreaming of an engagement ring that looks like it came from your heart and your brain and tells your story, but you don’t know where to start, don’t let the words “custom design” intimidate you.

You don’t have to be an artist or a gemologist or a jewelry designer — or even know the difference between a round cut and a rose cut — to create a custom engagement ring with us.

Sure, there are a lot of decisions to make when creating a custom ring. Do you want rose gold or platinum or yellow gold, or do you want a mix? Whatever your choice, we use either 100 percent recycled metals or Fairmined gold. Not interested in diamonds? We have so many alternatives. All the gemstones in our engagement rings are ethically sourced, and we can work with your heirloom gemstones too. At Bario Neal, “custom” doesn’t mean “ridiculously expensive” either. We create custom engagement rings for many budgets.

The point is you’ve got options. We’ve got the expertise to help you. Our online custom design questionnaire will help you get started, and we can talk you through everything from engraving to settings at our showrooms in Philly or NYC, or remotely over the phone or email.

We do approach each custom project with an open timeline so that we can make the best possible piece. We can’t rush or guarantee an end date, though production typically takes a minimum of two months. So contact us as soon as possible if you’re thinking about a custom wedding band or engagement ring.

For inspiration, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite new custom rings. We don’t really buy into the idea of single-purpose jewelry, so some aren’t even engagement rings. But each has its own personality and style and fits the individual or couple behind the design.

Bario Neal Custom Rings
L to R: Custom Cut Granite Cluster Ring with Custom Heirloom Diamond Open Lash Ring, Custom Free Form Hex Sapphire Lash Triad Ring with Sapphire and Champagne Diamond, Custom .64ct Old Mine Cut Champagne Diamond Asymmetrical Avens Ring with Seafoam Sapphires and Cognac Diamond
Custom Cut Granite Cluster Ring with Custom Heirloom Diamond Open Lash Ring

If you can’t avoid collecting shells on the beach or pass a glassy lake without skipping a pebble across the water, this custom ring design story is for you. This stacked ring pair combines heirloom diamonds with a piece of granite our client found on a trip the couple took to Maine. Cutting the granite was risky — we’d never worked with that material before — but the result is mountain-worthy elegance.

Custom Free Form Hex Sapphire Lash Triad Ring with Sapphire and Champagne Diamond

Roman proposed to Kiran without a ring. “I knew in order for her to get something she loved she needed to be part of the process,” he says. Kiran worked with the Bario Neal team (our ethical sourcing brought them in) to create this ring, with a half-moon sapphire, a free form hex cut sapphire, and a round champagne diamond. “We couldn’t be happier with the results, and I know I made the right choice by foregoing tradition and proposing without a ring,” Ronan says.

Custom .64ct Old Mine Cut Champagne Diamond Asymmetrical Avens Ring with Seafoam Sapphires and Cognac Diamond

Here’s a long-distance relationship that totally worked. California client Ethan and his partner loved our designs and our mission, so Ethan visited our Philly showroom while on the East Coast for work, to start a custom ring design. “Over the next four months and a million questions from me, Bario Neal created a ring that was beyond my wildest expectations. They were very communicative and transparent throughout the process. Most importantly they were very mindful of my budget and the style I was looking for,” Ethan says.

Row of 3 Custom Bario Neal Rings
L to R: Custom Pear Rose Cut Blue Sapphire Engraved Engagement Ring, Custom Bend Jacket Rings, Custom .94ct Free Form Rose Cut Diamond Cluster Ring with Gemstones
Custom Pear Rose Cut Blue Sapphire Engraved Engagement Ring

We love breaking wedding ring rules, and this ring’s mixed metals — white gold and rose gold — show why. Starring a rose cut pear sapphire, the ring didn’t break the budget, and the thoughtful engraving heightens the distinctiveness. On the rim of the band “fall in love, stay in love” is on one side, and on the other, “and it will decide everything.”

Custom Bend Jacket Rings

This jewelry story begins with an unfortunate event and ends with a happy client (who, drawn by our ethical sourcing, traveled from Ohio to our Philly showroom to work with us!). First, she replaced a stolen engagement ring with a custom cluster ring design that reflected her family: Four stones represent her, her husband, and their twin boys. Then we made a custom jacket ring (inspired by our Bend Ring) that plays with negative space. Her review: “Craftsmanship is off the chain! Knowledgeable staff with a keen eye for unique designs. We will be back!”  

Custom .94ct Free Form Rose Cut Diamond Cluster Ring with Gemstones

If you like the idea of a custom engagement ring, but you’re not sure where to start, browse our Collection Cluster Rings. You’ll see all of our gemstones and settings that can jumpstart your creativity. The clients who worked with us on this engagement ring, featuring a rose cut diamond and an emerald, say they simply fell in love with our colors and style. Sometimes it’s just that easy.

Bario Neal Custom Cluster Rings
L to R: Custom Rose Cut Diamond and Sapphire Cluster Ring, Crescent Diamond Ring Personalization, Custom Asscher Cut Sapphire and Iolite Engagement Ring
Custom Rose Cut Diamond and Sapphire Cluster Ring

Bario Neal client Stephanie purchased this ring to commemorate earning her master’s degree in nursing. We think the gemstone fireworks happening in this piece are perfectly celebratory for every occasion.

Crescent Diamond Ring Personalizations

We’re very much about family at Bario Neal, in all its forms. (In fact, that inspired our new Bario Neal Baby & Child Keepsake line.) No sibling rivalry here: Three sisters commissioned this ring for their mother. The four gemstones represent each of them. Our favorite detail: Two are twins so one stone does double duty.

Custom Asscher Cut Sapphire and Iolite Engagement Ring

Some of our clients don’t know what they want till they visit our showrooms, and that’s OK. When this client and her partner spotted the iolites we had in stock, the light bulb went off. She asked us to cut them down with a half-moon in mind, to frame a white sapphire in this ring. The lesson: Spontaneity has its rewards.  

Bario Neal Custom Engagement Rings with Heirloom Stones
L to R: Custom Horizontally Set Tourmaline Solitaire Ring, Custom Heirloom Princess Cut Diamond Ring, Custom Heirloom Emerald and Morganite Cluster Ring
Custom Horizontally Set Tourmaline Solitaire Ring

The beauty in this ring is its singular focus of a lone tourmaline — and the fact that the stone was cut by Top Notch Faceting, owned by Jean-Noel Soni. Soni creates award-winning, precision-cut gemstones that are ethically sourced, cut by hand, and created without the use of computer-aided design. (More about Soni here, and check out our blog post about his visit to our Philly showroom in 2015.)

Custom Heirloom Princess Cut Diamond Ring

When you’re thinking about a custom engagement ring, don’t just sneak peeks at fingers. Inspiration can come from any piece of jewelry. The center stone in this ring was one of two heirloom princess cut diamonds in a pair of earrings passed down in a family.

Custom Heirloom Emerald and Morganite Cluster Ring

Our clients’ wish: Use stones from both of their families. This ring and their wedding bands feature diamonds from a family engagement ring, and an emerald from a grandmother’s necklace. We love to see history and emotions working their magic in a cluster ring.

3 Custom Bario Neal Rings with Moissanite and Sapphires
L to R: Custom Moissanite Linear Cluster Ring, Custom Solar System Ring, Custom Star Sapphire Ray Ring
Custom Moissanite Linear Cluster Ring

What happens when two scientists get engaged? You get a ring with two princess cut and one pear cut moissanite stones. Moissanite is a diamond alternative that’s made in a lab. In their nod to the more traditional, our clients also asked for one natural diamond to be part of the design.

Custom Solar System Ring

This client looked to the stars, or to be exact, the planets, for her custom ring design. The ring is a mix of Montana sapphires and heirloom stones she had collected over years. The center stone is Jupiter. The smooth cabochon sapphire is Earth. Mars is a ruby that used to belong to her mother. There’s even a tiny Pluto representative (no matter its reclassification!).

Custom Star Sapphire Ray Ring

When it comes to weddings and jewelry, Bario Neal is more true-to-life than fairy tale. And this ring recap is real. Partner buys woman a star sapphire ring on a trip to India. Stone falls out and is lost. But here’s the twist: Bario Neal recreates the ring with an antique stone and a new setting for their engagement. That’s our kind of narrative, and we have even more to share soon about this couple and their one of a kind ring.

Every custom engagement ring tells a story. Write your first sentence today by browsing our rings and bands. Fill out our custom design questionnaire or make an appointment to visit a Bario Neal showroom in Philadelphia or New York City. We can’t wait to see how this chapter ends.

Our New One-of-a-Kind Ceres Collection Is Set to Inspire

By Sarah on May 18, 2018 at 11:55 am

Photo of woman holding an orchid wearing Bario Neal rings and earrings.

We’re known for our delicate pieces at Bario Neal, but we also love to go big and bold. For our brand-new Ceres Collection, we took our designs to an imagination-expanding scale. The settings of the earrings play with convention. The rings defy restrictions and will make you see clustered gems in a new way.

Ceres gives a home to spectacular emeralds we’ve been saving for years — and mixes them in rings with blue topaz, carnelian, white topaz, and phenakite. That color palette, for the Ceres rings, together with the mauve tones of Ceres earrings makes for a beautifully balanced collection. Striking but never overdone.

“We wanted to create something that was both powerful and bold but also really feminine,” says designer and Bario Neal co-founder Anna Bario. The name Ceres is a nod to the Roman goddess of agriculture and fertility, and an asteroid between Mars and Jupiter that was once thought to be a planet

Like all of our jewelry, Ceres keeps to our high ethical standards for gemstones and metals. The rings and earrings are set in reclaimed 14k yellow gold, and all the stones are reclaimed and traceable. The yellow tones of the metal balance out all the gemstone colors in a way that doesn’t overpower them.

“The Ceres pieces bring new dimension to the design concepts we’ve been working with in our ongoing collections,” Anna explains.

The Ceres pieces are one-of-a-kind, with unique stones, but we can recreate them or work with clients and take cues from them as we shape a new custom jewelry design for you. Don’t think like for like either. You might translate a Ceres ring layout, for example, to a pendant necklace design. Follow what inspires you!

Ceres Collection Rings

Bario Neal Ceres Collection Rings
Left to Right: Lash Vertical Square Cut Emerald, Carnelian, and Blue Topaz Cluster Ring, Open Lash Emerald and White Topaz Ring, Lash Vertical Asscher Cut Emerald, Cabochon Emerald, and Blue Topaz Cluster Ring, Open Lash and Phenakite Ring, Lash Vertical Rectangular Cut Emerald, Carnelian, and Blue Topaz Cluster Ring

“The vertical Ceres rings cover the finger, knuckle to knuckle, but still totally wearable,” Anna says. These rings are a powerful statement, and functional too.”

Egyptian jewelry, which is an influence on the collection, often went big. Carnelian, turquoise, and lapis lazuli were commonly found at the base of the Nile River. Ceres’ color scheme mimics those resources.

Fueled by that big scale and color combo, the designs of three Ceres rings went up, up, up.

“The designs really came together for the rings once we landed on the super strong primary palette of the topaz/emerald/carnelian,” Anna says. “Clusters are such a thing, but no one is taking  them vertical like this. This feels very new.”

Most of the clusters we do at Bario Neal are across the finger in a horizontal orientation. Often, that’s just more wearable for daily life. But we couldn’t resist the vertical clusters you see in Lash Vertical Rectangular Cut Emerald, Carnelian, and Blue Topaz Cluster Ring and Lash Vertical Square Cut Emerald, Carnelian, and Blue Topaz Cluster Ring.

“Looking at our drawings, I thought the vertical rectangular would be my favorite. For me personally, I didn’t think I’d choose the vertical square because of the length. But when I saw it made, I saw how it hits just before the middle knuckle in a perfect way,” Anna says.

The Lash Vertical Asscher Cut Emerald, Cabochon Emerald, and Blue Topaz Cluster Ring stacks stones even more dramatically. Even our stone setters were impressed by these one-of-a-kind designs. “As with any craft, there are conventions, just the way people are used to doing things,” Anna says. “The cuts and settings here reflect how Bario Neal loves to play with conventions.”

Back down to Earth a bit, Ceres Collection uses our ethical emeralds in another way. Bario Neal’s recently released Open Lash Ring has been so popular that we took the chance to push its design further with soulful pear cut emeralds. The Open Lash Emerald and White Topaz Ring features a princess cut white topaz, and we love the way a fancy cut pentagonal phenakite sparkles in the Open Lash Emerald and Phenakite Ring. The phenakite was cut by the wildly talented Top Notch Faceting. It’s name means “the deceiver” from it’s close visual structure to quartz, but this spectacularly cut hexagonal phenakite has a brilliance and soul all it’s own.

Ceres Collection Earrings

Bario Neal Ceres Earrings
Left to right: Lash Garnet and Tourmaline Ear Climber Power Studs, Garnet and Tourmaline Power Studs

The 1970s-ish mauve of Ceres’ garnets lends a softness to ’80s-style power angles in these earrings. The idea for irregular cuts for the garnets led to asymmetrical patterns that aren’t just about going big — but also about finding strength in new directions. Garnet revitalizes feelings and enhances sexuality while emphasizing devotion, understanding, trust, sincerity, and honesty in a relationship.

Designing our Lash Garnet and Tourmaline Ear Climber Power Studs, we knew we had hit on something powerful. These one-of-a-kind asymmetrical studs feature red garnet, rhodolite garnet, and pink tourmaline with our signature lash setting. “These earrings feel like something you’d wear to  a disco breakfast,” Anna says. Our response: Let’s dance.

The Lash Garnet and Tourmaline Power Studs glow brightly. We blended garnets and tourmaline to create studs with off-the-charts LOVE power and pitch-perfect palette harmony. In step with garnet, pink tourmaline brings balance and opens up higher vibrations in the heart chakra.

“All of our new Ceres Collection pieces are powerful objects,” Anna says. “We see them as talismans or amulets.” If the creativity and strength that we felt while designing Ceres is catching, look at the collection as a jumping-off point for your own custom-designed jewelry. Check out our Custom Design Questionnaire online, or visit our showrooms in Philadelphia or New York City today. We always have wild, powerful stones we’d love to share.