Just booked aBario Neal appointment at our Philadelphia studio to talkengagement rings orwedding bands? We’vecreated 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.
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
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
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
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
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
Moon + Arrow — This socially responsible/environmentally conscious boutique emphasizes the artisan in curating their clothes, accessories, home furnishings, and body products.MAP
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 stylishElena 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
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
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
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
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 nearbyWhole 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
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 ourCustom 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 representingthe power of life — understandable given our red blood — the sun, and thestone 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 ourCustom 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.
ThisCustom 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 theTanzania Women Miners Association.)
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 ofearrings 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.
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.
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 Nealwanted to change the shopping experience for all customers.
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.
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!
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:
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.
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 ourMilla 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 modernAllium 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.
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. OurHalf Eternity Narrow Diamond Band is classic, while the texturedQuill 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 andMilla Shoulder Narrow Band .
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 ourSenna Narrow Band.
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. OurLinear 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.)
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 theNikko Curved 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. Aswe 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 outthis 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.
Break This Rule: You need two rings: an official engagement ring and an official wedding 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 aHalo Aquamarine Ring, aLinea Diamond Band, and aStackable 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 ourFAQs for what that means for finishes and for gemstones, and how we can help if you want a refresh.
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 ourMilla Thin Band, Shield One Band,Filigree Curved Band,Aldine Band,Senna Tall Band, andIcon 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 onlineCustom 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.
When it comes to weddings, there’s anentirely 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 thatlegalized gay marriage in all 50 states, we knowthat fight’s not finished. We also are certain that inclusiveness benefits every person. Studiesshow 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 emailBario 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. Asubtle band of Fairmined gold. Avibrant 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 begincustom 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 designingaffordable 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.
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 agemologist 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 percentrecycled metals orFairmined gold. Not interested indiamonds? 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 onlinecustom design questionnaire will help you get started, andwe 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.
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.
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 ourBend 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.
Custom Rose Cut Diamond and Sapphire Cluster Ring
Bario Neal client Stephanie purchasedthis 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 commissionedthis 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 inthis ring. The lesson: Spontaneity has its rewards.
Custom Horizontally Set Tourmaline Solitaire Ring
The beauty inthis ring is its singular focus of a lone tourmaline — and the fact that the stone was cut byTop 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 Sonihere, and check out ourblog 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 inthis 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.
Custom Moissanite Linear Cluster Ring
What happens when two scientists get engaged? You geta 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. Andthis 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.
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. Thename 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
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.”
“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.
Back down to Earth a bit, Ceres Collection uses our ethical emeralds in another way. Bario Neal’s recently releasedOpen Lash Ring has been so popular that we took the chance to push its design further with soulful pear cut emeralds. TheOpen Lash Emerald and White Topaz Ring features a princess cut white topaz, andwe love the way a fancy cut pentagonal phenakite sparkles in theOpen Lash Emerald and Phenakite Ring. The phenakite was cut by the wildly talentedTop 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
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 ourLash 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.
TheLash 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 ourCustom 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.
Of all the colors, “green” is one of the most evocative when it comes to the English language. We use the word to signify a variety of feelings and concepts. Green means go. It’s associated with nature, money, luck, and health.
Fittingly, the best-known green gemstone, the emerald, is also known for variety (and for being the May birthstone — spring, renewal, get it?).
The stone has a storied past. For centuries, it’sbeen tied to religious rites and was considered something of a superpower. Cleopatra and Queen Isabella of Spain were said to be fans, and emeralds were mined in Egypt in B.C. times.
Emeralds have long been associated with plundering colonizers and conquerors too, fromZambia toSouth America. This history hasn’t been fully erased from our industry today. That’s why Bario Neal works diligently to ensure an ethical mining supply for emeralds, or we reach for recycled gemstones. We launched our firstemerald jewelry collection in fall 2016 only after finding a mining collective that values people and the environment in Northern Zambia.
Emerald is the green to greenish blue variety of a mineral called beryl. (The bluer variety of beryl is the aquamarine;see that stone set in our Aquamarine Halo Ring.) But “green” alone, for its myriad meanings, can’t do the emerald justice. Depending on inclusions and variety, the stone can be bright green or pale green or smoky green. Inclusions mean that emeralds, while quite hard and hard to scratch, are often passed over when it comes to daily wear pieces because of durability. But we love emeralds in engagement rings. (You’ll see why when you peek at the emeralds in this custom ring and this one.) They’re a colorful flip side to diamonds, and many people wear emeralds every day trouble-free. Trust your instincts on what will work for you.
Emeralds are on the list of so-called“cardinal stones” (along with amethyst, ruby, sapphires, and diamonds), gemstones that have traditionally been considered the most precious. Our emerald rings and emerald earrings are a hat tip to that rareness — but true to the Bario Neal ethos, our designs are accessible and intended to feel special and authentic but not affected.
Our customEmerald Sol Ring captures the multi-definitioned green with its prongs. The ring setting’s like an eclectic embrace for the contemporary octagonal cut emerald at the center.
TheRay Ring sets off its emerald with a metal fringe. Tip for May babies: The stylish folks at Catalyst Wedding Co.think this emerald ring “pairs together the sun imagery with your birthstone perfectly.” If you’re the type to celebrate your birthday with apink cocktail, look at our rose gold band option for the Ray Ring.
Emerald Earrings & Necklaces
OurRay Studs were part of the collection launch mentioned above, and we’ve never fallen out of love with these emerald earrings. At the time, Bario Neal co-founder and designer Page Neal said the designs were “inspired by architectural drawings and photographs of transoms and window frames.” The Ray Pendant carries the look with a strong fringe design on a necklace. And our Ray Drops are elegant earrings that dangle with a purpose.
Whether or not you have a May birthday, our emerald designs make great gifts or presents to self. (Note: Even though emeralds are among the costliest gemstones, our emerald jewelry prices fit many budgets.) Pick a new piece because it’s spring. Or because you love color. Remember, green means go. Loosely interpreted: Order now.
Just when you got used to seeing that engagement ring on your finger, it’s time to find it a mate. You and your partner fit so well together. Your unique wedding ring set should equal that combo. As you think about wedding band designs, here’s some helpful advice about everything from ordering to popular pairings.
When Should I Order My Wedding Band?
We get it. Planning even a low-key wedding can end up adding an astonishing number of to-do’s to your calendar. That’s why we’ve worked to shorten our lead times to a wow level. For clients not doing a custom design, wedding rings and bands from our collections can be ready in just two to six weeks. If you’re starting by browsing the rings on our website, click on the “Lead Time & Returns” to find out how quickly we can create your ring. And if online shopping is your happy place, great. You can order wedding bands through our site or by phone.
For our most time-crunched clients, we recently introduced the Ready Ring. Made of recycled (eco-friendly) sterling silver, and crafted in our Philadelphia studio, Ready Ring bands are always in stock and ship in two days. They’re even available for same-day pickup in our Philly showroom. Ready Ring’s a solution even if you’re awaiting your custom-ordered dream ring because you can return it when that forever ring arrives, for a full refund and no charge.
We can walk you through all the details in either our NYC or Philadelphia showrooms. In fact, we’re now extending our hours in NYC to make time for the summer wedding boom. Be sure to make an appointment at either location to shop wedding bands and engagement rings.
Should My Wedding Band Match My Engagement Ring Exactly?
Pairing couples and jewelry is an art. So when we say “fit together,” we mean that in the most creative, goes-with-your-style sense. There’s no reason your unique engagement ring and wedding band can’t sing on their own while still making an impressive pair. (Some of our band and ring designs look fab as a trio too.) Our rings and bands come in many shapes. You might even pick gemstones for your wedding band that are different than what you have in your engagement ring.
Creating Your Unique Wedding Ring Set
Beyond finding a unique engagement ring and wedding band pairing, you’ll have other decisions to make. Most of our bands have several metal options, including yellow gold, rose gold, white gold, and silver — and all are designed with the planet and people top of mind.
We use either 100 percentrecycled metals or Fairmined gold. We work with refineries that take precious metal scraps and turn them into the materials we use to create jewelry. That means less mining, less impact on the environment. And theFairmined gold label means better working and living conditions for miners. Likewise, all the gemstones in our wedding bands and engagement rings are ethically sourced. (Read about what goes into crafting our ethical rings.)
There’s the polish finish of your rings to consider too. Do you favor super shiny (high polish) or subdued (matte)? If the idea of wearing a band every day makes you or your partner squirm, by the way, we also havewedding bands designed for comfort. If you want to get more personalized, Bario Neal offers engraving services for your wedding band and engagement ring too. (If you’re stumped on the message, here are some ideas.)
Now, on to the inspiration! The unique engagement ring and wedding band sets below are some of our most popular, but don’t be afraid to bring your own style of creative to our showrooms. This might be the most fun mix-and-match game you’ve ever played.
If you’re thrilled to be getting married, but don’t see your lives together as a three-legged race, pair ourReticulated One Diamond Band withReticulated Two Band. (“Reticulation” means the metal is heated and then quenched to get that organically wavy shape. We see a certain romance in the process.) You don’t need to do everything together, and your engagement ring and wedding band don’t need to be in lockstep.
Together, theSenna Halo Diamond Ring and theSenna Narrow Band prove that opposites can attract in all the right ways. An ethically sourced diamond encircled in black enamel and a band of white glass enamel are a study in clash-free contrast.
Ring stacking, sure. But stone stacking? Yes please. Pair ourCluster Opal Ring, with its oval opal and emerald-cut sapphire, with the Icon Hex Diamond Ring and you’ve got a diamond-opal-sapphire tower that you’ll never tire of.
Sometimes the road to betrothed is winding. Hey, that just means you’ll have a more interesting story to tell at your 50th anniversary celebration. If you’ve never been two to follow a straight line, put ourCluster Diamond Band with our Cluster Diamond Ring. (Not that you’re counting, but that’s a total of 15 conflict-free diamonds.)
We’re not really sticklers for jewelry rules at Bario Neal, which is why we ditched the whole “ring = a circle” thing when designing ourIcon Narrow Band. The squared band was made to go with thePear Trillion Ring, which has a notch in the design for stacking.
TheIcon Band is the little black dress of jewelry because it goes with everything. This geometric band is for perfect stackability, with any engagement ring, even the flowing Cluster Hex Sapphire Ring.
If your wedding planning strategy is more simplification than complication, then you’ll love our beautiful, go-with-the-flowNikko Curved Band. You can pair it with aNikko Diamond Ring for a classic-leaning twosome. Or, if you want to stand just a little taller, top them off and make a trio, with theIcon Hex Diamond Ring.
Think life should be a Broadway show? Not too much drama, please, but definitely applause-worthy? Then here’s your ticket. Our classic solitaireAvens Round Diamond Ring sets the stage and theCluster Fringe Diamond Ring lights up like a marquee. Standing. O.
Pssst. Over here. This engagement ring/wedding band set reminds us of a playful aside, but still has absolutely what it takes to shine front and center. TheLinea Diamond Band, with 17 bead set .005 carat diamonds, is ideal for many of our cluster and solitaire rings. Try it with theCluster Opal and Morganite Ring to add some other pretty gemstones into the mix.
A valley’s where you go to drink in the view of a beautiful mountain. Enter ourRay Fringe Band, a half halo band that pairs ever so naturally with our Ray Ring (add anOpen Lash Ring to the stack for a trio). Or climb out of that valley on steps of opal and sapphire by opting to join the Ray Fringe Ring with ourOpal Cluster Ring.
For more inspiration or to start mixing and pairing on your own,shop all of our bands online andfollow us on Instagram. While you do, know that what we most love at Bario Neal is designing and creating jewelry that’s meaningful to our clients. Many people don’t wear two rings. Rings don’t have to match. A wedding ring and wedding band don’t even have to be an Official Wedding Ring and an Engagement Ring. After all, we squared a circle for ourIcon Narrow Band.