While we’d never turn down a slice of layer cake, our favorite way to layer, no surprise, is stackable rings. In a simple pair or a tower of four, stacking rings shows off your style and personality. And with Bario Neal’s new Vibrant Collection, there are even more ways to mix and match gemstones and metals in a ring stack for any finger (all fingers?). To create these sapphire rings, we took already loved designs of many of our ethical rings and added new gemstones: blue sapphire, fuchsia sapphire, apricot sapphire, and yellow sapphire. (We had to work in white diamonds too.) Here, nine ideas for creatively piling them up.
Stackable Rings Idea #1
The Bend Fuchsia Sapphire Ring and a Reticulated Two Band (on index finger) make a strong duo. With just one special gemstone among them, there’s enough flair to make this a perfectly stackable wedding set. Organic and natural, this couple is like a favorite TV twosome who we never want to break up.
Stackable Rings Idea #2
Bring primary color vibes to your stackable rings with Aira Mini Blue Sapphire Ring and Reticulated One Yellow Sapphire Band (on ring finger). These delicate thin stacking rings prove that doubling up doesn’t have to mean a heavy look. Total alignment isn’t necessary in a ring stack. We love the openings created by pairing these shapely sapphire rings.
Stackable Rings Idea #3
The Vibrant Collection means more looks for this classic Bario Neal jewelry coupling: the Open Lash Ring and Ray Fringe Ring. Fuchsia is sometimes referred to as “magic pink,” and we definitely see something enchanting about layering these vivid fuchsia sapphire rings.
Stackable Rings Idea #4 and Stackable Rings Idea #5
Triple your sophistication with stackable bands in a single color like this set of Channel Narrow Blue Sapphire Band, Eternity Narrow Blue Sapphire Band, and Half Eternity Blue Sapphire Band. Although fully tracing melee stones (the smaller gemstones used in eternity bands) is atypical in the jewelry industry, Bario Neal works with trusted suppliers on sourcing to make sure we’re creating ethical rings for you. If a modern spin on “something blue” doesn’t grab you, this Vibrant Collection mix comes in fuchsia sapphire too.
Stackable Rings Idea #8 and Stackable Rings Idea #9
Part of the fun of stackable rings is pulling apart and putting together different rings to see what sparks you to smile or what goes with a different outfit or occasion. Take the above image of the towering stackable rings, for instance. Depending on the day or your mood, deconstruct higher ring stacks into tamer twosomes, like our Fishtail Fuchsia Sapphire Ring and Reticulated One Fuchsia Sapphire Band (first and second ring), or the Ray Fringe Fuchsia Sapphire Ring and Dais Narrow Fuchsia Sapphire Band (third and fourth ring). As pairs, these sapphire rings highlight how a contrast of metals works well in stacks, whether that’s putting a braided band with one that’s smoothly undulating or mixing up metal colors.
There’s something irresistibly individual about stacking rings. As our new Vibrant Collection came to life, we couldn’t resist sharing the inspiration for how to cleverly build with these sapphire rings. Shop all Bario Neal’s ethical rings today to create your own perfect stack.
Engagement rings have been lost and then foundwashed up on beaches, in thecrack of a sidewalk, and around at leasttwogarden carrots. One even turned up in anice bucket. We get why these stories make headlines. Engagement rings and wedding bands are such a meaningful purchase for couples, and the thought of losing or damaging your ring is pretty scary. You don’t have to bundle your hand in bubble wrap though. All you need is a few do’s and don’ts on ring care, and we’ve made the short list of tips memorable with help from incredibly talented illustrator K-Fai Steele. These beautiful drawings reflect the personal style that Bario Neal brings to custom jewelry. “At the end of the day, jewelry is about people and relationships, not about the individual pieces of gold,” K-Fai says. We totally agree.
Jewelry Care Tip #1 — Yes, sometimes you have to take your engagement ring off.
Your engagement ring or wedding band is likely designed for daily wear. (When you’re picking out your ring or working with us on a custom design, the Bario Neal team will talk about which ethically mined metals and gemstones best fit your lifestyle.) That said, protect a ring by taking it off when doing activities that could damage the metal and/or gemstones.
You will want to remove your ring when gardening (see “carrots,” above), doing the dishes, working out, rock climbing, and sailing. H2O lovers, note: There’s a reason you seemetal detectors on the beach. Rings easily slip off as fingers shrink in the water at the ocean (or in a swimming pool). We also recommend you take your engagement ring off while sleeping and before bathing (that water warning!).
To stow your wedding rings temporarily at home, put them in the same safe and secure spot every time. Don’t put your jewelry by the sink or within a child’s reach! (See ourSenna Tall Black Enamel Band andOctillo Studs resting easy in a dish on a high cabinet in illustration below.)
Jewelry Care Tip #2 — Cleaning your engagement ring is easy.
Wearing your ring every day means that it will get dirty and need a good cleaning. Do NOT use any kind of chemical cleaner. This can damage your ring. Most jewelry should be cleaned with a gentle little bath. Put a small amount of regular dish soap into a bowl of barely warm water, and soak for 5 minutes. Gently clean behind the settings and around the stones with a soft bristled toothbrush. Then wipe dry with a soft cloth. One strict exception: opals. If you have a piece like our Cluster Opal and Morganite Ring, remember that opals should never be submerged in water. (Just use a very soft brush dampened with warm, soapy water to wipe clean, and speak with us directly about a more thorough cleaning.)
You can bring your ring back to that brand-new look with a professional cleaning at Bario Neal too. If you take it to another jeweler for cleaning, be sure to give them the details on ALL the stones in your ring. This should ensure they won’t do any damage.
Jewelry Care Tip #3 — Get a checkup for your engagement ring.
We use our hands constantly, so daily wear and tear means you’ll need to put some love and repair into your ring. Don’t panic if you notice a loose stone in your engagement ring. Bumps to the ring can shift or loosen stones over time. Do have the stones checked for security annually.
If you lose a stone, see any damage, or find cracks in an enamel ring, get in touch with the Bario Neal team to have your ring spruced up. Definitely wear your rings with care—and don’t try to DIY!
Jewelry Care Tip #4 — Getting insurance for your wedding rings is a simple stress reliever.
Protect your purchase—and know that you’ll be covered even if your engagement ring gets knocked into a lakebecause you took it off to eat a big, juicy burger. (Errr, see Tip #1 above.) You can add your wedding rings to your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy, or get a dedicated policy specific to jewelry. If you need additional paperwork, or want information on getting an appraisal, get in touch with the Bario Neal team.
Jewelry Care Tip #5 — Yes, you can refresh your scratched engagement ring.
Like you, your ring will change over time. The first place where this is noticeable is in the finish. Daily wear creates tiny scratches on the surface of the metal, giving every ring its own unique patina. High polish and matte finishes will all move toward a satin finish over time. If you’d like to refresh your finish for your wedding or another big event, get in touch with us!
Your wedding rings are special, and they should definitely bring more happiness than worry. Our engagement ring and wedding band clients stay part of the Bario Neal family. So if you’re ever concerned about jewelry care, please get in touch!
People have recognized the energy and healing powers of gemstones for thousands of years. A connection between that naturally formed mineral beauty and the zodiac’s four elements—fire, water, air, and earth—makes sense. So while Bario Neal works with plenty of clients on custom birthstone rings and similar jewelry gifts (gemstones matched to the month), we also love taking cues from the zodiac for our designs. We’re kicking off this series with the fire signs of the zodiac.
Each zodiac sign has complementary gemstones whose metaphysical properties mean enhancing and supporting the best self. The three fire signs—Leo, Aries, Sagittarius—are associated with strength, passion, and bravery. Here are three gemstones, along with jewelry designs, that can fuel those bright flames.
Gemstone for Leo: Tourmaline Jewelry (July 23 – August 22)
The folks atTarot.com recommendtourmaline for Leo because, they say, “it enhances compassion, happiness, and serenity.” Noting that Leo equals creativity, they add that, if you’re born in late summer, the stone acts as a muse and gives you a friendly push if your imagination is stuck.
Lucky fordrama-loving Leo, tourmaline comes in an inspiring multicolored palette, from black to green to pink, and there are plenty of ways to play when it comes to jewelry.
On a more delicate note, a recycled princess cut tourmaline added the perfect hint of pink to the mix in thisCluster Trillion Triad Ring (starts at $1,970). (Bario Neal often uses recycled gemstones, sourced from jewelry settings gone by, to create our eco-friendly jewelry.)
Gemstone for Aries: Diamond Jewelry (March 21 – April 19)
According to the metaphysicists at Tarot.com, the durable diamond shares everlasting strength with Aries. If your birthday is early spring, they say, diamonds can help drive you to your goals (youalready have a never-give-up attitude), and also support you in “attaining spiritual clarity and speaking your heart’s truth.”
Put aside any preconceived notions about diamonds only being for engagement rings or the most special of occasions. The Bario Neal team has loved working with clients who visit our showrooms or shop online to buy diamond jewelry for themselves. You don’t have to spend a bundle to tap into this gemstone’s power either.
There are two diamond necklaces, a diamond bracelet, and a stud pair of diamond earrings in our Lau Diamond Collection (starting at $368), which uses a channel setting and a semicircle shape for a design that’s reminiscent of an electric arc (energy) or a rainbow (those dreams you’re dreaming!). If you want to go full circle and a bit bolder, check out these Aira Studs ($195).
Gemstone for Sagittarius: Topaz Jewelry (November 22 – December 21)
Topaz, according to Basmati.com, a site that focuses on health and the environment, has Sagittarius energy. If you were born under this sign,writes Stasia Bliss, choose topaz for “increasing connection with soul truths, strengthening the body, healing any discord and simply finding peace and happiness within.” That influence makes sense when you learn that topazis also thought to stimulate honesty and straightforward communication.
Our Ceres Collection sings with truth, and we used blue topaz and white topaz for a few Ceres pieces. (Yep, theexplorer in you has color choices with this stone.)
These topaz, tourmaline, and diamond jewelry designs show off just a few of the ways Leo, Sagittarius, and Aries can keep a healing gemstone close. Shop our rings, earring, necklaces, bracelets, and custom jewelry for more. If you fall in love with another piece shown with some other stone, ask us about getting it made with your zodiac match, which we’ll ethically source. And check back with the Bario Neal blog in the future to see what gemstones work for Earth, Air, and Water. Heads up, Cancers, Scorpios, and Pisces: Check back with the Bario Neal blog in September, when we’ll cool things down a bit with our gemstones for water signs.
With all the romance of our favorite black-and-white movies (new andold), sparkly yet opaqueblack 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 inspirepersonalized 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 tiredrules about wedding rings, and thisCustom 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.
Picture cleanly and simply accessorizing your favorite black suit or dress.
Now take that style to jewelry with this oh-so-put-togetherCustom Linear Emerald Cluster Ring. Like every good basic in your closet, the black diamond seems like a staple in this ring — vital, not boring.
We source black diamonds like the one that refuses to be upstaged by a white or champagne diamond in thisCustom 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.
Clichéd OK, but still so meaningful when you look at thisCustom 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.”
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 ofour 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 usereclaimed 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 afamily-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
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-basedCharles & 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 thisCustom 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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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 todiamond facts.)
If you’re looking for a trueantique cut in a reclaimed gemstone, look to diamonds. The 1990s-born moissanite and more newly popular white sapphires come primarily in modern-day cuts.
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.
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 ourcustom design questionnaire or by making an appointment tovisit us (remember: first-date stories welcome!) in our Philadelphia or New York City showroom today.
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 othercolored 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.
“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.”
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).
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.”
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
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.