Holiday Give to Education Sale: December 9th-23rd

By Alyssa on December 3, 2015 at 3:38 pm
image (5)
 Art by students in the Congreso after school program
 Our Holiday Give to Education Sale is almost here! December 9th-23rd Bario Neal, will offer a 25% discount on boutique jewelry and a 10% discount on fine earrings & necklaces with your donation of an art supply to benefit Congreso After School Program, a Philadelphia education initiative. This percentage will be donated to the Malawi Dzone development project to benefit the education and health of communities surrounding the Chimwadzulu Mine, a major source of our sapphires.
sapphire slice stud earrings
Please note, this sale is in stores only. Our New York Showroom will be open for walk-in shopping December 12th-13th & December 19th-20th from 11-6! Philadelphia location open extended hours.
Congreso’s art supply wishlist includes: beads, comic drawing pages & books, markers, drawing paper, construction paper, drawing pencils, colored pencils, tie dye kits, white tee shirts, paint (tempura & acrylic), tissue paper, pipe cleaners, elmer’s glue, & small paint brushes. Not only will you receive a discount for your donation to Congreso, but we will donate a portion of the proceeds from this sale to the Malawi Dzonze development projects– you give and we give to education.
Congreso is a non-profit 501 (c)3 organization based in Philadelphia, PA and founded in 1977 with the mission of strengthening Latino communities through social, economic, education and health services, as well as leadership development and advocacy. Congreso offers countless invaluable services to adults, families, and youths in the Philadelphia community, and your donation will specifically go to its after school program, which offers vital enrichment and educational support in academics, dance, music, visual arts, sports, science, and technology. Students in the after school program benefit from well respected programs including Girls Today, Leaders Tomorrow (GTLT), Transitions Program, Family Engagement, and Tutoring and Senior Project Support. Congreso’s numerous awards include Philly.com’s top work places for 2014 and 2015, and NLCR Affiliate of the Year Award, and Leap of Reason.
 image (6)
 Art projects completed by students in the Congreso After School Program
The Malawi Dzonze Development Project was established in 2008 by Nyala Mines Limited in collaboration with Columbia Gem House, a mining, cutting and marketing company committed to corporate social responsibility (csr). The Project’s mission is to raise funds for projects that will directly benefit communities surrounding the Chimwadzulu Mine, a producer of sapphires and rubies where Bario Neal sources many of our colored gemstones. Focus areas for funding include agriculture, education, environment, health, sports, and drinking water projects, and the project is directed by the managing director and local community nominees. The Project has delegated funding to the Kandoma Primary School to help pay for the employment of qualified teachers and assistants, teaching and learning materials, construction of school water and sanitation facilities, construction of two classroom blocks, and over 300 desks for students. Funding comes directly from the sale of Nyala rubies and sapphires. Columbia Gem House also conducts fundraising through specific promotions for its retail clients. With these two combined sources, the Project has 1 million US dollars budgeted for projects through 2020, making the Malawi Dzonze Development Project the most successful CSR model in Malawi.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Hospital in Malawi
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
School (two classroom blocks)
Consider donating one of these supplies to receive 25% off boutique jewelry or 10% off fine jewelry earrings and necklaces.

Sourcing Spotlight: New Traceable Baguette Diamonds

By Alyssa on November 3, 2015 at 2:49 pm

 

ethical baguette diamonds demi baguette ring

Introducing our new Demi-baguette Diamond Band

Fans of the Baguette Diamond, we have really big news! Until now, traceable baguette diamonds were unavailable on the market, but after two years of determined research and collaboration, we can now offer fully traceable, ethical Canadian baguette diamonds. Our technique involves sourcing rough Canadian diamonds, then creating custom cut baguette shapes in a Jeweltree-approved facility in Surat, India. To celebrate this achievement, we proudly announce the re-design of the popular Baguette Eternity Band and the NEW Demi-Baguette band, both featuring our exclusively ethical stones.

A little background on the facility and certification: The Jeweltree Foundation creates rigorous standards for ethics and safety in the industry. Because our baguette cutting and polishing facility has been evaluated by Jeweltree, we know that the company has established strict labor policies. Jeweltree-certified companies ensure that all workers are over 18 and paid a living wage, receive paid vacation, maternity, and sick leave; and are provided a safe, sanitary environment, with proper protective equipment and necessary training.

To compliment these origins, the baguette diamond stands out as one of the most avant-garde diamond cuts. Earning its name for its long, rectangular shape, the French word baguette means “long rod,” from the Latin baculum, meaning “a stick.” The baguette cut gained popularity in the 20’s and 30’s during the Art Deco era. Its predecessor was the hogback cut, which dates as far back as the 16th century. It featured a long rectangular table with a simplified crown characterized by either a ridge or a single row of steps. In the earliest uses of the hogback, jewelers created crosses, letters, and figures.

 

8d3221310de0e2e33b982e4f9a89c215

Art Deco diamond pendant necklace, c. 1925, Christie’s

 

 

Later, baguette diamonds lent themselves to the bold geometry, symmetry, and rich colors of the Art Deco movement when they became widely used as side and accent stones. Advancements in cutting techniques in the 1920’s and 30’s yielded diamonds that were more brilliant and dazzling than ever. Casting technologies became more accessible as well, allowing jewelers to create complex designs more efficiently. Following the sensuous curves, soft pastels, and intricate lacey filigrees of the Art Nouveau and Edwardian movements, jewelry became a way for women to assert their individuality during the Roaring 20’s and in the 30’s. Stylish and fun, Art Deco jewelry took on a new boldness and masculinity reflective of the energy and progressiveness of the era.

 

Baguette Diamond Eternity Band

Our newly re-designed Baguette Diamond Band

Today, the clean, streamlined elegance of the baguette diamond still carries these associations. It can convey a 1930’s retro feel, and it’s clean lines and minimal aesthetic can also be incorporated into designs that are very contemporary. We decided to treat the cut differently, elevating the baguette from its former position as an accent, to the spotlight stone. Add that our distinctive Canadian baguette diamonds are fully traceable from the mine to your hand. What could be more now?

Moonstone Mile: From Mystical to Ethical

By Alyssa on October 12, 2015 at 9:34 am

Moonstone

 

Not to be confused with moon rock, which actually comes from the earth’s moon, moonstone is an undoubtedly terrestrial gemstone characterized by an optical phenomenon called schillerFrom German for “twinkle,” schiller describes a bronze-like luster, sometimes with iridescence, that comes from beneath the gemstone’s opalescent surface when light is refracted by its layers of feldspar. Because of it’s below-the-surface quality and connection to the moon, moonstone is characterized as soft, mysterious, protective, and a talisman of the inward journey.   

 

 

Papillons et Chauves-souris', an enamel, moonstone and gold pocket watch by René Lalique, circa 1899-1900

Papillons et Chauves-souris’, an enamel, moonstone and gold pocket watch by René Lalique, c. 1899-1900.

 

Moonstone has been used in jewelry for thousands of years, dating back to ancient civilizations. The Romans and Greeks associated moonstone with their lunar gods. The Romans believed that moonstones had the power to bestow love, wealth, and wisdom, and in the Middle Ages moonstones were used to treat a variety of afflictions, from consumption to marital troubles. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, moonstone was particularly popular in Art Nouveau jewelry and was prized by René Lalique and other jewelers during this time. 

 

moonstone dais ring bario neal

An iridescent new addition: The Moonstone Dais ring.

 

Because of its neutral color and cool tone, moonstone is highly complementary while offering a luminous and eye-catching quality. Moonstone has been used in every kind of jewelry you can imagine, from pins and amulets to opulent chokers and rings. Bario Neal’s  Moonstone Dais engagement ring (above) joins the bezel-set, Moonstone Studs in our collection, making for a romantic duo. We’ve also incorporated moonstones into many of our custom pieces.

 

More than magical, we ethically source our moonstones from Tanzania through a trusted dealer of rough stones. The rough stones are cut and polished in a facility in China that is regulated and owned by a U.S. company, ensuring safe working conditions and competitive salaries.

 

The Moonstone Dais pairs nicely with its collection partner, the Dais Narrow band and the just released Milla Ultra Thin Round band. Or, for maximum impact, rock it with our Black Diamond Channel Narrow band.

Certifiably Beautiful: Ethical Origin Namibian Diamonds

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

namibian round cut diamonds

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

New Ethically Sourced Fairmined Sapphire Engagement Rings

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

 

White sapphire rings trillion half moon

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

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

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

Passing the test with flying colors, this Sri Lankan sapphire mine performs its operations on an artisanal scale. A combination of hand tools, and some machinery for more substantial digging, are used. Compared with open pit mines, this type of small-scale mining has a very low environmental impact.

The images below, from our supplier’s recent visit, illustrate the workers in their working environment, the depth of the mines, and the type of mining activities employed:

 

Sri Lanka Mine and workshop for white Sapphires

 

Sri Lanka Mine and workshop for white Sapphires

 

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

 

Sri Lanka Mine and workshop for white Sapphires

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

Sri Lanka Mine and workshop for white Sapphires

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

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

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

Same Sex Marriage Legalized Nationwide

By Alyssa on June 26, 2015 at 11:18 am

Supreme-Court-gay-rights-gay-marriage-Defense-of-Marraige-act-June-2013_094231

We are thrilled by the news this morning that the Supreme Court has declared same sex couples have the right to marry in all 50 states.

Read more on this breaking story here:

NPR

Washington Post

Boston Herald

Wall Street Journal

Image From Freedom to Marry, the incredible campaign.

Jewelry Industry Summit

By Alyssa on May 15, 2015 at 11:58 am

Screen Shot 2015-05-15 at 11.55.46 AM

On March 10-16, 2016 a summit on Sustainability and Responsible Sourcing in the Jewelry Industry will take place in New York City. Attendees will be from all walks of the international jewelry industry, from manufacturers and producers, to retailers, and everyone in between. The Summit Planning Committee is representative of this wide range of participants, and Anna Bario, co-founder of Bario Neal, is on this committee.

The committee has convened twice so far, once in January and once in March of this year, to plan the summit and define its scope. Committee members have collaboratively developed a working definition of “responsible sourcing,” which encompasses the following:

  1. procuring products that are sourced in a manner that protects and sustains the environment, respects and benefits the persons and communities where these products are found;
  2. engaging in actions designed to promote and sustain development of the people and communities where jewelry products are sourced, traded, and sold;
  3. actively engaging in and managing a business’s supply chain in order to implement legally compliant and transparent business practices and ensuring honest dealing

The Planning Committee invites those interested to submit questions and comments to be incorporated into the planning process, and hopes that you’ll spread the word about this event to increase participation–the bigger the event, the more inclusive the discussion will be. The summit will address current challenges in all sectors of the industry, provide information on the supply chain integrity systems that are currently in place, discuss expectations of government regulators, shed light on banks that finance the industry, and discuss consumer participation and attitude towards responsible business practices.

The overall goal of the summit is to provide a platform for open discussion across industry sectors, old and new, regarding challenges and opportunities in the jewelry industry. This open discussion and exchange of information will hopefully lead to increased best practice standards and will enable the development of tools to assist industry members in achieving those higher standards. Additionally, the high attendance this summit hopes to achieve will demonstrate to governments, civil society, the banking community, and consumers that the jewelry industry as a whole is actively working towards sustainability and ethicality, thereby benefitting people working at all levels of the supply chain.

JA New York, the premier trade show for high end jewelry, is providing registration services at no cost for this event, and will grant summit attendees admission to the trade show, which will follow directly after the summit from March 13-16.

If you’re interested in supporting this summit, please visit the indigogo campaign page.

Registration is $400. Please refer to this website for updates and more information.

 

Iquira-ARM Fairmined Workshop: Part 1

By Alyssa on May 11, 2015 at 10:16 am

Anna Bario, co-founder of Bario Neal Jewelry, attended the Cooperativa Multiactiva Agrominera de Iquira–Alliance for Responsible Mining Workshop in Colombia last November, 2014. Iquira is a gold and silver mining cooperative that was formed in 2004 in collaboration with the coffee farms in the town of Iquira—in fact, many of the miners and their families alternate seasonally between artisanal gold mining and coffee cultivation. The goal of the cooperative was to create a platform for community organization, enabling the development of safe and environmentally sustainable mining and cultivation practices that also yield a fair and livable income. Iquira has since achieved Fairmined certification. Anna will recount her experience at the workshop in three posts, first giving an introduction with an inside look at Iquira’s Fairmined practices, followed by a walk through the mining tunnels, and finishing up with a look at the processing plants. Each section will finish with a quick Q&A. We hope you enjoy!

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 10.09.47 AM Continue reading Iquira-ARM Fairmined Workshop: Part 1

MSDS Transitions to New and Improved SDS

By Alyssa on April 21, 2015 at 10:48 am

self_adhesive-2_3

If you’ve ever worked in a darkroom, art studio, chemistry lab, farm, car garage, or any other place that requires the use of chemicals, you’ve likely seen a big binder labeled MSDS (acronym for Material Safety Data Sheets) laying out safety guidelines for the handling of hazardous chemicals. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the main federal agency responsible for the enforcement of safety and health laws such as MSDS. The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) requires all chemical manufacturers, distributors, or importers to provide MSDS laying out the hazards of hazardous chemical products. Two things: first, MSDS are now known as SDS (Safety Data Sheets), and second, as of June 1st, 2015, the HCS will require new SDS to be in a uniform format, and include section numbers, headings, and associated information, as laid out by HCS (find more details on that here).

This is important to Bario Neal, and the jewelry community in general, because until now there was very little information in MSDS about jewelry chemistry disposal, such as liver of sulfur, pickle, acetone, and other chemicals, and every jewelry community across the country seemed to deal with handling differently. This made it very difficult for jewelers and metalsmiths to know how to protect themselves from and dispose of these chemicals properly. Additionally, many of the toxic chemicals jewelers use were not subject to rigorous testing because they were not determined to be “hazardous.” In this way, MSDS were misleading, because many of these chemicals are in fact detrimental to our health and the environment. The new SDS will include product composition and suggested disposal processes, making them more comprehensive and enabling a standardized way of handling.

Schools, arts and craft centers, studios, workshops, etc, will have until June 1, 2016 to transition studio MSDS binders to SDS, and to review expanded hazard information with staff and employees to ensure safe use, storage, and disposal of hazardous materials. It’s also important for jewelers to note that companies they source studio chemicals from, like Rio Grande, Otto Frei, and others are required to provide new SDS this year.

For more information on the new SDS, see OSHA’s website.

Mongolian NGO Obtains Fairmined Certification

By Alyssa on April 8, 2015 at 10:12 am

Ecological-gold-from-Mongolia-group-inside

 

In February 2015, the first mining organization from outside of South America obtained Fairmined Certification. Over the past couple of years, the Mongolian mining NGO XAMODX has been working very hard to meet the requirements of the Fairmined Standard, and is now celebrating its achievements.

From the outset, the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM), the non-profit organization responsible for creating the Fairmined model, has focused on facilitating the implementation of Fairmined standards and certification in mines in South America, where there are currently three Fairmined organizations. While any gold mine anywhere in the world can apply for Fairmined certification, achieving the rigorous standards that enable Fairmined certification is difficult. With the help of the Sustainable Artisanal Mining (SAM) Project of the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation in Mongolia, XAMODX has become the fourth Fairmined organization in the world, and is currently the world’s only producer of Fairmined Ecological Gold, a special label of the Fairmined Certification reserved for Fairmined Gold produced without the use of mercury or cyanide. Continue reading Mongolian NGO Obtains Fairmined Certification