Forget the Diamond Myths. Here Are the Diamond Facts.

By Constance on April 12, 2018 at 2:53 pm

Your diamond is out there, and we know how to find it. Even if you never thought a diamond could turn your head. Even if you’re worried about diamond mining’s negative impact on people and the environment. Even if you’re put off by our culture’s messaging about diamond engagement rings (read: all those cringe-inducing, stereotype-enforcing, exclusionary myths about diamonds).

We know we can find your diamond because we expertly and ethically source every one to order. Yep, that’s right: We search out and choose each diamond for each custom jewelry client after we meet and talk about you and your ideas.

 

Rosecut Halo Rings

Our Rose Cut Diamond Halo Ring has a center stone encircled by smaller diamonds in a pavé setting “” and all of them are traceable.

 

If you’re worried about the human and environmental toll of diamonds and confused by the diamond 4Cs, we’ve got you covered in this post. If you just happen to be shopping for a diamond ring, there’s plenty of style inspiration below too! After all, choosing a new piece of jewelry or designing custom jewelry with diamonds should be a happy creative time, not a stress-maker.

FINDING AN ETHICALLY SOURCED DIAMOND

We love that there’s more awareness than ever about bad labor practices and unjust economies tied to diamond mining. But we also get that many people have no idea where to start with making sure they are buying an ethically sourced diamond. That’s where our diamond expertise and knowledge “” and determination “” come in.

All of Bario Neal’s diamonds are either recycled or fully traceable to an ethical source.

 

Rough Raw Diamond Cube

An ethically sourced rough diamond awaits your dream custom jewelry design
We’ve partnered with small suppliers who care as much as we do about ethically sourcing diamonds, big and small. Even with greater awareness about conflict diamonds, many suppliers don’t want to invest in tracing smaller stones for, say, bands. That’s not good enough for us. Our diamond suppliers are willing to go above and beyond to verify the standards of their stones. In South Africa, our supplier visits the mines in person to make sure we have conflict-free diamonds. (If you love our Baguette Diamond Band, read about how our search for ethical diamonds took us to Canada and Surat, India, in our blog post on traceable baguette diamonds.)

 

Even though we’re totally confident in our partners’ ethical sourcing, we still reach for recycled diamonds (unless you ask otherwise) first. Using recycled diamonds in custom jewelry means less mining, less impact, more sustainability. Recycled diamonds can come from old pieces of jewelry or even the stock of a defunct jeweler.

 

WHAT ARE THE 4Cs of DIAMONDS?

The 4Cs of diamonds are carat, color, clarity, and cut. At Bario Neal, the diamonds we use in all our jewelry pieces have a color grade of I or higher, SI1 clarity, and a Good cut. What does all that mean? Read on for how to think about the 4Cs when you’re shopping for a diamond.

 

Diamonds are weighed in carats. Simple. One carat is one-fifth of a gram. (For those who’ve never been Star Baker on “The Great British Baking Show,” it takes four grams of sugar to fill up a teaspoon.)

 

Color is best known by letter grades for diamonds, from D to Z, with a D being the most colorless diamond and the end of the alphabet having the most color. The larger the diamond, the easier it is to see the diamond’s color, so if your perfect diamond is .02 carat, you could opt for the middle range of the alphabet. Bario Neal uses diamonds that have a letter grade up to I in our made-to-order jewelry because diamonds up to the letter grade I appear colorless.
Diamond clarity refers to natural parts (or lack of) of the stone that “” counter to diamond myth “” don’t necessarily equal poor quality. Where some see “flaws” or “inclusions,” we often see unique characteristics that make up your diamond’s identity. Think of it like a fingerprint. When it comes to clarity, we use SI1 or better diamonds. The “SI” stands for “slightly included,” but no matter how much of your coffee break you spend staring at your new stone (perfectly acceptable, we assure you!), you won’t even see these natural parts of the diamond. Unless you’re wearing a magnifying glass, which we do not recommend while drinking coffee.
The cut of a diamond determines its overall appearance. Cut shouldn’t be confused with diamond shape, but a diamond cut does affect how light plays off the stone. (There’s a reason that in the jewelry business, the pros use terms like “fire” and “scintillation” to talk about cut.) Cuts get a grade too: Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, and Poor. As we mentioned, we don’t go below Good.

 

When you consider the 4Cs, there are endless combinations. We know most of you don’t walk around with a loupe (a jeweler’s magnifier), so whenever we meet with clients, we make lots of time to chat about the 4Cs and how they fit into a client’s style.

 

Asymmetrical Avens Linea Diamond Pave Band

When it comes to considering the 4Cs, there’s no one way to think about carat, color, clarity, and cut. Pictured above: Our Asymmetrical Avens Ring and Linea Band.

 

CHOOSING A DIAMOND RING STYLE

Naturally, you want a diamond ring to reflect who you are, what you love, how you see the world. To find your design groove, start by checking out some of our most popular diamond rings, sorted by style type below. Embrace these as is, or think of them as a starting point on the way to your custom-designed diamond ring.

Classic Rings
If you lean to classic design and your secret weapon is your quiet strength, check out our Avens Solitaire Ring. The round cut diamond ring has a delicate simplicity, but also the steadfastness of a lifetime-lasting look.

 

The Diamond CLuster Ring in 14KY and 14KW.

We can use a family gemstone you provide in your custom cluster ring.

Cluster Rings
Cluster rings are super popular right now. Maybe it’s a desire to escape today’s crazy-making headlines? Because with seven ethically sourced diamonds, our Diamond Cluster Ring certainly has an ahhh-inducing, dive-into-this-waterfall feel. (Tip: You can make this ring even more you by mixing in your heirloom gemstones.)

Halo Rings
Some of us love to be the center of attention “” and some of us strive to be low-key noticed. For that second crowd, we’ve got the Senna Diamond Halo Ring, our take on the halo ring. It pops without a crazy-big diamond. For a more throwback halo ring, check out the antique style of our Rose Cut Diamond Halo Ring.

Contemporary Rings
We know not everyone wants a ring to be so, well, centered. So one of our contemporary diamond ring designs, the Pear Trillion Ring, turns the traditional diamond-in-the-middle look on its head by pairing pear and trillion diamonds. (P.S. We’ve designed in a little notch that makes this ring perfectly stackable.)

 

Rings with Raw Diamonds
We don’t expect (or even really want, if we’re honest) life to be perfectly smooth. Enter rough diamonds and their appealing ruggedness. Our Raw Asymmetrical Avens Ring is proof that “different” doesn’t mean unstylish or inelegant.

 

Eternity Rings
Why limit yourself to one stone when you can have a pretty row of small, pave diamonds (jewelers often use the industry term “melee”), like our Channel Narrow Diamond Band.

 

Remember, whether you want a contemporary diamond ring or a classic diamond band, a ring with a rough diamond, or a cluster ring, we take the time to get to know what our customers want “” before we start searching for your ethically sourced diamond and handcrafting your ring.

Elemental Opals

By Jenny on April 5, 2018 at 3:30 pm

Opals, though pale and mellow, show up with fiery sparkles of all the colors of the rainbow when shaped and exposed to light. Pulled from the earth, these ethereal moonlets dance with the sun’s light like a tiny universe”“ a perfect mirror of the earth’s magic. These flashes are caused by light interacting with the tiny balls of silica that make up opals structure. Formed when silica gel fills crevices in rocks, as the gel evaporates it leaves behind the silica which is what we know as Opal. Being formed in this way, opals can contain as much as 20% water! (Scorpios, the fiercest water sign in the zodiac, may also want to take note.) What does this mean in practical terms? When used in jewelry, be careful not to let the opal experience drastic changes in temperature or rough treatment, as they are very sensitive gemstones.

Opal_Morganite_Cluster_Stack_Bands_W-1Our Opal and Morganite Cluster Ring paired with our Diamond Cluster Band.

Let’s discuss where on earth these incredible gems are found and their impact. We source our Opals from Ethiopia’s Sherwa province. Ethiopia began producing Opals in the early 1990’s. Since then, deposit discoveries continue to cement its reputation as an opal hotspot. First known specifically for producing characteristic reddish brown opals, white and black/blue opals similar to those found in Australia, have since been discovered, with notable deposits being found as recently as 2013.

A driving force in the development and promotion of ethical sourcing, our supplier’s chain reaches many places in Africa, connecting us with mining collectives, women’s organizations and minority-owned businesses directly supporting their activities. These include improving working conditions, making mines a safer place to work, and educating miners about the value of the minerals they extract.

Crafting Change One Ethical Ring at a Time

By Constance on March 29, 2018 at 2:23 pm

Next time you splash water on your face and catch your ring’s reflection in the bathroom mirror, think of this: Where you buy your jewelry matters “” to that tap water, to gold and gemstone miners, and more.

If that ring in the mirror is an ethical ring, then it’s connected to clean water, clean air, and fair and safe working conditions for miners.

To make our ethical rings, Bario Neal uses Fairmined gold and ethically sourced gemstones. Both make for a safer, cleaner jewelry option that supports, not endangers miners, and isn’t as damaging to the environment as most traditional mining. More than that, your Bario Neal ethical ring means fair trade and female empowerment, and benefits nonprofits that support miners and a more sustainable planet.

 

 

Rough Diamond Garnet Ethical Ring

This Custom ethical ring crafted with a Raw diamond, Fairmined gold and Tanzanian garnets has real-world impact.

 

One traditionally mined 18k gold ring creates 20 tons of waste. One ethical ring? Not even close.

When you buy an ethical ring, more money for food, shelter, and education goes to the miners and their families “” instead of into the pockets of large corporations. Buying an ethical ring handcrafted with Fairmined metals or recycled metals and recycled gemstones or traceable gemstones helps create a more just economy.

Together, Bario Neal designers and our clients are carving an ethical path forward for the jewelry industry, one handmade, ethical ring at a time.

Thankfully, we’re not alone! Ethical rings were a focus at the Jewelry Industry Summit in NYC in March. Our co-founder Anna Bario organized the very first summit, and we gather there annually with our fellow industry trailblazers.
Anna Bario and Page neal Craft change one ethical ring at a time.
Anna Bario and Page Neal are industry leaders in sustainable jewelry. Photo by Cody Guilfoyle for Domino Magazine.

 

This year, we were so happy to see two familiar faces there as keynote speakers: Jen Marraccino from Pure Earth, a nonprofit that’s addressing pollution in low- and middle-income countries, and Cristina Villegas of Pact, a nonprofit that helps poor and marginalized people in 40 countries. We support the work of both organizations with donations and gemstone purchases.

 

“Emerging and Independent Jewelers” was the theme of the 2018 Jewelry Industry Summit.

 

Marraccino spoke about Pure Earth’s current focus on training artisanal gold miners about alternatives to using mercury. Mercury is an easy, cheap way to separate gold from other materials, but it’s highly toxic and endangers the environment and the health of these small-scale miners.

 

An ethical ring uses gold mined without mercury.
See the difference between gold recovered using mercury (left), and without? Photo courtesy of Pure Earth.

 

According to the United Nations, at least a quarter of the world’s gold supply comes from artisanal gold mining. The UN estimates that about 20 million gold miners, including 4.5 million women and 600,000 children, are poisoned by direct contact with toxic mercury. The released mercury also makes its way into our rivers and oceans.

 

your Bario Neal ethical ring means fair trade and female empowerment, and benefits nonprofits that support miners and a more sustainable planet.
A team from the Gemological Institute of America and Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Pact traveled to the Tanga Region in Tanzania to help more than 40 female miners make their work more lucrative. Photo courtesy of Pact.
Villegas discussed Pact’s outreach to the Tanzania Women Miners Association about responsible gemstone sourcing. Pact helps women, many of them novice miners, who are working to feed their families by selling what they find. The nonprofit educates them on accurately identifying and caring for higher-quality stones so their work can become more lucrative. (Check out Pact’s noteworthy Mines to Markets program.)

 

The 2018 Jewelry Industry Summit

At the 2018 Jewelry Industry Summit, we discussed abuses occurring across the jewelry industry as detailed in the recent Human Rights Watch report, “The Hidden Cost of Jewelry.”

 

This year’s Jewelry Industry Summit reinforced how vital it is for us to stay vigilant about avoiding metal and gemstone sources connected to unjust economies “” and offering our clients beautiful ethical rings that make a positive difference to people and the planet. When you work with us on a handcrafted wedding ring of ethically sourced gemstones and Fairmined gold, you really are helping to change the world for the better, for women miners in Tanzania, for nonprofits like Pact and Pure Earth, and beyond.

 

Behind the Ring: White Sapphire and Diamond Alternatives

By Constance on November 7, 2017 at 10:47 am

Feeling a little put off by the pressure surrounding engagement rings and weddings in general? Believe it or not, we’re actually with you. Most of the mainstream marketing systems and tactics to date are not good for women, men, marginalized peoples, nor the collective future we want to see. Combine two giant, problematic industries “” fine jewelry and weddings “” and you get a monoculture largely incongruent with everything we stand for.

In this article, we’ll challenge the assumption that diamonds are synonymous with proposals and explore a natural diamond-alternative: the White Sapphire.

 

 

Bario Neal White Sapphire Illustration

 

 

Diamonds were first seen in India in the 4th century BC, but scientists believe these magical pieces of earth dust formed around 3-4 billion years ago. Used for thousands of years for human decoration, tools, and trade, this ancient mineral is one of the hardest known materials in the world. But how the diamond became de rigueur for a modern betrothal is a tale of good old-fashioned “late capitalism.”

 

Bario Neal White Sapphire Rings

Our commitment to unite design and values demands that we make only what truly exemplifies our mission and integrity.

 

In the 1930s and 40s, diamond supplies were plentiful, sales were down, and one company, De Beers, controlled the market. The era’s leading advertising agency, N.W. Ayer, coined the slogan, “A diamond is forever”, plastering it everywhere. This “slogan of the century” is the reason that diamonds are now considered the only choice for an engagement ring. The ad campaign squarely hit its target market of arguably repressed, middle-class women, and the diamond engagement ring industry was born. Then, in the 1980s, they “struck gold” again with a template for how big your diamond should be according to your social status, thereby introducing the two months’ salary concept. Fast forward to today, and the trend shows no sign of stopping; nearly 80% of engagement rings sold contain diamonds.

 

de-beers-diamond-engagement-ring-1

A highly gendered and status-focused De Beers Diamond Engagement Ring Ad from 2001:  “When you’ve found the woman of your dreams, give her the diamond of her dreams. Two months’ salary guideline helps you find a diamond of quality, brilliance and breath-taking beauty.”

 

There you have it: a carefully manufactured tactic to create market authority and demand, promoting conventional femininity, sexuality, classism, wealth, and social status “” and we haven’t even begun talking about the well-documented, true price of blood diamonds.

 

All that being said, like us, you still love jewelry, engagement rings, and you really care about doing the whole wedding thing “” but in a way that actually represents who you are. Maybe you also like the look of a colorless center stone, but you are feeling unsure about a diamond for all of the above reasons.


2017_White_Sapphires_Mixed_Gemstones-H-4622

Rest assured –  we never, ever use conflict diamonds and strive for the utmost traceability. We do have diamonds to be proud of.

 

But you’re wondering, are there other options out there for a long-wearing, heirloom-quality, clear gemstone? Yes. Most people don’t know all that much about the origins of these incredible, world-changing, milestone-marking molecules, so let’s take a dive into explaining the Sapphire.

 

Sri Lankan White Sapphires

Our Sri Lankan White Sapphires in three distinct cuts: Oval, Pear, and Half-Moon.

 

Sapphires are one of the “cardinal stones” (amethyst, ruby, emerald, and diamonds make up the others), gemstones that have traditionally been considered precious above all others; and are second only to diamonds on the hardness scale. Though they are known for being blue, sapphires actually come in all colors. Fun fact: the Ruby is actually a Sapphire! If we lost you, it’s because Sapphires and Rubies are both made of the same material, known by a way less cool name: Corundum. Sapphires of any color and Rubies, which are also Corundum, get their color from chemical impurities. Rubies are red because they contain chromium. They must contain at least 1% chromium to exhibit a deep red color, and if the chromium content is lower, the stones are lighter and are classed as Pink Sapphires. If traces of titanium are also present, the stone will have a more purple hue, although attempts are sometimes made to reduce this effect via heat treatment. Blue Sapphires are blue because of a mixture of iron and titanium; if only iron is present, the stone will be a pale yellow color. Only 0.01% of iron and titanium needs to be present for a stone to be blue, which is a small amount when compared to the 1% chromium required for deep red rubies. The type of Corundum that is free from impurities is colorless or “˜white,’ so a white sapphire is Corundum in its most pure and rare form.

 

Bario Neal White Sapphire Rings

The Trillion, Trillion Dyad, Half-moon and Half-moon Dyad white sapphire rings.

 

So there you have it, white sapphire is the most natural, hard, rare gemstone second only to diamonds. Though not imbued with the same properties or “fire” as a diamond, they are more affordable and are therefore more attainable in larger stone sizes with pristine clarity that can be designed with custom cuts.

 

Bario Neal White Sapphire Illustration by Tessa Kennedy

White sapphires don’t come with all the trappings of diamonds and can be a conversation-starter with a unique story.

 

But that’s not all. There are more reasons for why we are so excited about White Sapphires! Bario Neal has the maxim”“  4 C’s & an “S” or the Source. For us, a perfect gem needs a perfect source, and we are pretty proud of this one. Choosing one of our white sapphires directly supports an artisanal, family-run mine in Sri Lanka.

 

Bario Neal has the maxim”“  4 C’s & an “S” or the Source.

 

Sri Lankan White Sapphires

Sri Lanka’s gem industry has a long and colorful history. The South Asian Island, once called Ratna-Dweepa, or “Gem Island,” was called “Ceylon” under British colonial rule until 1972, a term now synonymous with sapphires.

 

All of our natural, high clarity white, pink, yellow, apricot, and a variety of blue sapphires are extracted and cut by an artisanal, family operation that helps to protect the ecosystem of this island paradise. Here, the father, though older, still participates in this three-generation operation, that started 60 years ago on his grandfather’s land. So how does this differ from a Diamond mine?

 

“Diamond mining, for the most part, is on a giant scale, creating huge pits in the earth, using large-scale machinery, with a huge environmental impact. This type of small-scale mining, however, removes the precious gems using a combination of hand tools and small machinery, creating minimal environmental impact.” ““Kerin Jacobs of The Raw Stone

 

Since only a very small area of earth is removed, making an environmental impact that is usually smaller than the footprint of the average US home per year. No heavy machinery is involved, so there are no emissions, no fuel usage, and no noise pollution. No suction machines are used, as these can cause instability of river banks.

 

Instead of being run by a far-away shadowy company, operating on borrowed indigenous land, these owners are involved in all aspects of the mine’s daily operations and have a vested interest in keeping the methods sustainable”“ their future depends on it. Because they are licensed by the government, yearly inspections ensure everyone is using up-to-date equipment in a clean, safe environment.

 

Cutting White Sapphire Half Moons at the Sri Lankan Mine Photo Courtesy of Kerin Jacobs The Raw Stone

Cutting White Sapphire Half Moons at the Sri Lankan mine. Photo Courtesy of Kerin Jacobs/The Raw Stone

 

Plus, all cutting and polishing are done on-site at the mine, eliminating outsourcing to a cutting facility where human rights abuses often occur. Human rights abuses can include forced labor, child labor, forced child labor, poor hygiene at busy sites, poor and dangerous working conditions, low pay, indentured labor, violence and intimidation, and removal of local people from the area. Keeping things in-house also allows for custom-cuts and design right at the mine despite being thousands of miles away! Orders are placed and conducted over video, meaning the supply chain for these magical gemstones go beyond current “mine to market” standards. We have gorgeous custom cuts in magical, gleaming shapes – that are born out of our relationship with our source in Sri Lanka.

 

Though it might never end up as the slogan of the century, we think you will be pretty stoked to say, “Actually that’s a White Sapphire.” Stay tuned for our upcoming in-depth interview with Kerin Jacobs of The Raw Stone and shop our White Sapphire Collection.

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A Better Path For Brazil’s Mining Industry

By Edward on August 30, 2017 at 1:26 pm

Maybe you missed it in the recent overabundance of bad news, but last week, Brazil opened up a swath of the Amazon rainforest the size of Denmark to mining interests. Today the court just suspended this decree among an outcry from activists and Brazilian celebrities like Gisele.

 

“The Amazon forest helps maintain the balance so life can continue on our planet.” From Gisele’s Post on Instagram.

The Amazon, often described as the

The Amazon, often described as the “lungs of the Earth”, is the largest rainforest in the world.

 

“The federal court in the capital Brasilia said in a statement it was suspending “‘possible administrative acts based on the decree” signed by President Michel Temer.”

 

Though things are looking up, we have to stay alert. To understand the potential environmental toll this presents, just do a quick search for “gold mining impact” or read this recent article on the perils of the Latin American gold rush.

 

Coal mines like the Lumbung Mine are having a huge impact on local and indigenous populations in Indonesia, destroying the environment and polluting river water, normally used for cooking. Central Kalimantan, Borneo. June 8th 2013. The World Development Movement is campaigning for banks and other parts of the financial sector to be forced to disclose the carbon footprint of their investments.

Coal mines like the Lumbung Mine (above) are having a huge impact on local and indigenous populations in Indonesia, destroying the environment and polluting river water.

 

From The Guardian article:

“Illegally mined gold has overtaken cocaine to become Peru and Colombia’s most lucrative illicit export, according to a new report that warns the shift from drug cultivation to criminal mining in many Latin American countries is fuelling “staggering” human rights abuses and wrecking the environment.”

Though promises from the officials involved in the decision, to protect conservation and indigenous land areas, mean very little, a little knowledge of the issues and strong activism can offer hope for the future.  While undoubtedly bad news overall, the hard work of artisanal miners and others in the sector over the last 10-15 years has meant that there is a new precedent for mining that does not damage the environment and respects local communities.

 

No matter what, mining has a tremendous impact on the environment .

No matter what, mining has a tremendous impact on the environment.

The activities of groups in neighboring Colombia have set the tone for what those inside the industry hope will become a characteristic of some of the extraction due to take place in Brazil.  As recently as June, Revista Semana, one of Columbia’s most read publications looked at the groundbreaking, advances taking place within its mining sector:

 

“A group of artisanal miners demonstrated that artisanal mining and environmental destruction are not two sides of the same coin. They seek to protect the biodiversity of their territory and prove that artisanal mining can be done responsibly. Through these practices, they have secured sales of their ecologically-mined gold to ethical jewelers at the international level.”

 

 

While there will undoubtedly be abuses, corruptions, and confrontations it’s down to consumers and businesses, to demand greater transparency and the implementation of hard fought for reforms and best practices for ethical mining.

Fairmined Gold that Gives Back

By Constance on August 8, 2017 at 2:56 pm

Need a little cheering up? Just look down at that certified Fairmined gold ring on your finger. We spent a little free time getting down with the annual report to see the improvements from money collected for the reinvestment in Fairmining communities. Here’s a small breakdown of where your support went.

Aug 8_Fairmined_Pride_Casting_grains

 

  • Aurelsa (Peru) focused its investment on geological and environmental studies, which allowed to include more artisanal miners in their mining concession.
    The certified mining organizations of La Llanada (Colombia), used the Premium to buy highly expensive safety equipment, which would have been impossible to acquire without this financial resource. The cooperative also invested in its workers and the community with the creation of a fund and a bonus for the mine workers to improve their houses.

Aurelsa Mine_Peru_2

 

  • Sotrami (Peru) invested in the construction of treatment plants for residual water in the mine, a water pump for the mining community and improvements in the living area for their workers. Furthermore, they supported the local educational facility and bought protection equipment for the women’s mineral sorting Association “Nueva Esperanza”.

  • In Iquira (Colombia), the Premium helped to finance the management system for occupational health and safety, environmental mining studies and loan funds for unexpected events. It was also used to support educational and religious facilities.
  • The certified mining organizations of La Llanada (Colombia), used the Premium to buy highly expensive safety equipment, which would have been impossible to acquire without this financial resource. The cooperative also invested in its workers and the community with the creation of a fund and a bonus for the mine workers to improve their houses.

Coodmilla Mine_1_Fairmined

 

“Responsible mining means doing fair mining with nature, that doesn’t work with violence or forces us to work. Here we don’t use mercury or cyanide, we do reforestation and we work hard to not contaminate the water. It’s all about making things grow”. – Henry Guerrón, Chief at Coodmilla Mine.

Information was provided by the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) annual report. ARM established the Fairmined Standard and is a leading expert on small-scale and artisanal mining. They set standards to make sure that the miners and their families and communities are economically and socially improving while staying environmentally responsible.

Explore the annual reports on Fairmined Gold reinvestment here.

 

Positive Design, Perfect Packaging

By Constance on July 6, 2017 at 2:11 pm

The power of positive energy is a core company belief”“ infusing every one of our handmade items with thoughtful, responsible intent. Naturally, our packaging design will follow suit.

 

Bario Neal Packaging Porcelain Box

We strive for our beliefs to shine as bright as the ethical diamonds in our Diamond Cluster Ring.

 

We want the protection offered to our meticulously crafted, handmade jewelry to be every bit as conscious of a positive impact as our pieces. That’s why we are so excited to announce a new way to present and display our finest, modern heirlooms. Our exciting new exclusive porcelain boxes are hand cast by a small studio in Portland, Oregon, and arrive enclosed in our signature paper box.

Designed right here in our Philadelphia studio, each handmade box fits one ring or pair of earrings. The fine, white porcelain box and display is stamped with a subtle Bario Neal logo, indicating that every one houses an object of lasting value, with minimal environmental impact.

 

Bario Neal Packaging Porcelain Box

Contemporary craft and a positive ethos are at the core of every Bario Neal design.

 

The reveal of an engagement ring or special gift is a big moment and carries with it a lasting story. We think this beautiful, minimal box adds a tactile and thoughtful touch to make the memory perfect. And because we care about the future, our positive design ensures that story will continue to live on as an heirloom and home for your beautiful, one of kind jewelry.

 

Bario Neal Packaging Porcelain Box

Our handmade enclosure protects your jewelry, through shipping and reveal, to everyday use and display. 

 

If you choose not to purchase the porcelain box, you will still find your item perfectly packaged in our new signature paper box”“ also thoughtfully designed for minimal environmental impact and manufactured in the U.S.A.

 

Our signature paper boxes are made in North Carolina from recycled materials.

Our signature paper boxes are made in North Carolina from recycled materials.

 

It was no small feat to find a domestic, small-scale eco-friendly manufacturer of paper packaging. We’re happy to say our signature paper boxes are made in North Carolina with eco-friendly, recycled paper by a small manufacturer. Also, though most are manufactured overseas, we found small businesses in Massachusetts and Rhode Island to make the fabric, foam, and paper that goes inside our boxes. These may seem like small details, but it matters to us.

Shop our new Porcelain Box here or add it to any Bario Neal piece in our “Packaging” section, when building your item.

 

Get Ready to Fall in Love with Emeralds

By Sarah on October 13, 2016 at 9:56 am

This season we introduce our Helia Collection, featuring emerald cut, octagonal cut, and pave emeralds, sourced from a mining collective located in the Province of Northern Zambia.

 

The Ray and Sol Emerald Rings, shown in 18kt and 14kt yellow gold.
The new Sol and Ray Emerald Rings

 

At Bario Neal we go above and beyond to create a high standard of ethics focused on traceable diamonds, colored gemstones, reclaimed precious metals, and Fairmined gold. Inspired by the majestic emerald hue, we diligently searched for an emerald source that adheres to our environmental and labor standards.

After many years of research, we proudly release our star of the new Fall Collection, Helia: celebrating both the natural beauty of the emeralds and our partnership with the Zambian collective. The mining collective processes rough gemstones without introducing harmful chemicals to the environment, while rehabbing the mine’s waste areas by planting new trees in fresh soil. Moreover, the mine supports two local farms, and provides both a school and teachers’ quarters to the local mining community. This particular collective’s miners use screens to sort and pick the finest emerald crystals by hand, providing us with the lush hues showcased within the Helia Collection.

Co-founder and designer, Page Neal, describes this collection as being “inspired by architectural drawings and photographs of transoms and window frames.” From there, our enchanting Zambian emeralds led the way. Emerald is the green to greenish blue variety of beryl, a mineral species that also includes aquamarine as well as beryls in other colors. Emerald, most commonly know as the birthstone for May babies, is first known to have been mined in Egypt as far back as 330 B.C.

“Cleopatra was known to have a passion for emerald, and used it in her royal adornments.” – GIA

 

The Ray Studs, in 14kt yellow gold and tiny bead-set emeralds with the Sol necklace and Ray pendant.
The Ray Studs, shown with the Sol and Ray Pendants

 

Our Ray Studs and Pendant are yellow gold bursts, adorned with tiny bead-set pave emeralds. The Ray Ring features a traditional emerald cut stone held tightly by eight soft prongs. This minimal setting showcases the gemstone’s rich depth of color.

Sisters to the Ray pieces, the bright, shiny Sol Pendant, Hoops, and Ring, radiate glimmering flares of sunshine on any day. The Sol Ring features a large, octagonal cut emerald. With this piece, our design team explored unconventional stone setting options, resulting in the emerald being set low, table side-down, and secured by twelve prongs in various sizes. This uncommon setting style highlights our stone’s mesmerizing, magical glow.

One of our team’s challenges this season was seemingly simple: gold hoops. And after many, many rounds of prototyping- we rocked it. Inspired by Caribbean style and mobiles created by the prolific artist, Alexander Calder, we hand fabricated our giant Circ Hoops from solid square wire. They may be big, but they are as light and airy as they look.

The Circ Hoops in 14kt yellow gold.
The Circ Hoops in 14kt yellow gold.

 

Up next, meet the Forma Collection, an eye-catching array of modern treasures, defined by graphic shapes set with precious, ethically-sourced diamonds. All our white pave diamonds (also known as melee diamonds, weighing under .18ct each) are fully traceable and of recycled, Australian, and Canadian origin. We worked extensively to find a reliable black pave diamond supplier that meets our rigorous standards, sourcing through a trusted ethical buyer who travels to three different mines in Brazil, Canada, and Australia. To us, an ethical diamond isn’t just certified as conflict-free. We go deeper; working with a fully traceable supply chain, from mine to market.

 

The Forma Collection: Lau Necklace in 14kt yellow gold & sterling silver with white diamonds, Lau Studs in 14kt yellow gold with white diamonds, Aira Studs in 14kt yellow gold with white diamonds, Linea Pendant & Studs in 14kt yellow gold with black diamonds.
The Forma Collection: Lau Necklace and Studs, Aira Studs, and the Linea Black Diamond Pendant and Studs

 

Our Lau Studs and Necklace might be teeny tiny, but these delicate classics symbolize Bario Neal’s values bigtime. Inspired by the Fairmined gold logo and our longtime support of LGBTQIA rights and worldwide marriage equality, the rainbow shapes are channel set with 1mm white diamonds.

Fairmined is an assurance label that certifies gold from empowered responsible artisanal and small-scale mining organizations. It transforms mining into an active force for good, ensuring social development and environmental protection, providing everyone with a source of gold to be proud of.

Since our classic Aira Ring motif is so beloved, we decided to rethink it and shrink it, creating the mini Aira Studs. These diminutive diamonds are perfect for a second or third piercing. With this pair, our team envisioned affordable and timeless diamond studs, since we believe that everyone should be able to own jewelry of lasting value and ethical origins.

 

 

Aira Studs and Ring
Our Aira Studs and Classic Aira Ring

 

Other Forma Collection rockstars are the Linea Pendant and Studs. Our designers describe this bold pendant as a gestural squiggle, a quick scribble, and a border line- but what can’t be denied is how glam the black diamond/yellow gold combo is. And if the pendant wasn’t striking enough, how about the killer matching asymmetrical Linea Studs? The duo might just give you vixen super powers.

In case you haven’t noticed, we are cluster crazy. If you head over to our Diamond Ring, Gemstone Ring, Personalizations, or Custom pages, you’ll find a captivating array of sparkling, clustered constellations, designed for their lucky owners to wear and admire.

 

The Cluster Collection: Hex Cluster Studs, Ring, and Necklace in 14kt yellow gold. This collection features an array of blue-green and seafoam sapphires, aquamarine, and champagne diamonds.
The Cluster Collection: Hex Cluster Studs, Ring, and Necklace

 

Inspired by our most popular cluster, the Hex Sapphire Cluster Ring, is the Hex Cluster Pendant: a geometric bouquet of ethically sourced sapphires, and one champagne diamond surround a sublime Montana (Go USA!) hexagonal cut sapphire. Enter our new Hex Cluster Studs, featuring color-coordinating gemstone bunches”“ one champagne diamond, and one aquamarine adorn two blue-green sapphire sprinklings”“ the perfect, asymmetrical pairing.

While you’re checking out the new collections, please remember that when you shop with Bario Neal, you support the craft and manufacturing community of Philadelphia, environmentally conscious studio practices, and the responsible mining and sourcing of diamonds, gemstones, and metals. Thanks for helping us design an ethical way forward for the jewelry industry, one handmade piece at a time.

Want to see more? Explore the new collections in our Fall Lookbook.

Worthy Causes: Pure Earth and Planned Parenthood

By Constance on April 11, 2016 at 11:01 am

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The Pure Gold Auction + Benefit Bash

 

Happy Monday! This week we switch out the winter wardrobe for spring party attire to celebrate two of the most worthy causes we can imagine:  The Pure Gold Auction + Benefit Bash and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern PA’s annual spring fundraiser. 

First, we teamed up with Pure Earth’s Pure Gold Auction and Benefit Bash to prevent mercury poisoning caused by gold mining. You can bid from wherever you are on our “nuggets of pure gold,” the Bog Earrings in 14kt Fairmined, until the actual benefit on Tuesday, April 12.

“Mercury and gold mining are inextricably linked. A quarter of the world’s supply of gold comes from artisanal gold mining, which leads to the release of approximately 1000 tons of toxic mercury a year. Of the 20 million artisanal gold miners, an estimated 2.5 million are women and over 600,000 are children.” ““ www.pureearth.org 

To learn more about the dangers of mercury exposure through artisanal mining and our efforts to avoid it by using Recycled and Fairmined gold, read Pure Earth’s recent interview with Anna Bario and our existing blog post. 

Visit the  Auction + Benefit Bash page to see event details, bid, donate and watch a video detailing the hazards of mercury globally and mercury’s relation to gold mining.

 

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Swing into Spring at the Young Advocates of Philadelphia

 

This weekend brings a chance to dust off the dancing shoes right here in Philadelphia at the Young Advocates of Philadelphia’s Annual Fundraiser in support of Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania. Women’s reproductive health is very personal cause for the staff at Bario Neal and we are so proud to be a sponsor for what is sure to be the event of the spring.

Please consider supporting Planned Parenthood at a local or national level, and if you are in Philly, maybe we’ll see you at the William Way Center on Saturday night?

See event details for the Planned Parenthood benefit here or on Facebook.

Ideas Form Actions at Jewelry Industry Summit

By Constance on March 18, 2016 at 10:21 am
Bario Neal team members pose with Anna at the Jewelry Industry Summit.
 Actions and the agents of change, BN team members at the recent Jewelry Industry Summit.
At last weekend’s Jewelry Industry Summit, stakeholders from across our industry came together to create a shared vision of responsible sourcing across our industry. The summit coalesced knowledge from our industry and others, as well as NGO and government organizations so that we can learn from an build on others’ experience.
Attendees separate their thoughts into strengths, opportunities, and actions.
 Participants discuss and identify key issues. Photo courtesy of the Jewelry Industry Summit.
One of the summit’s greatest accomplishment was to support traceability, transparency and sourcing initiatives in order to produce materials in a manner that both protects and sustains the environment; and benefits the individuals and communities where our jewelry is mined, manufactured, traded, and sold.
Attendees separate their thoughts into strengths, opportunities, and actions.
Groups separated their thoughts into strengths, opportunities, and actions. 
Several groups at the Summit committed to advancing specific issues within the supply chain, including helping gem cutters in developing countries who need education and equipment to avoid silicosis, a disease that occurs from inhaling stone dust. Another specific initiative created an artisanal colored gem mining site project in Brazil that adheres to responsible social, ethical, and environmental practices.

 Anna Bario presents at the Jewelry Industry Summit.Anna Bario, key summit presenter and organizer, spoke of the urgent need for progress.

 

Overall, the summit was a spark”“ a much-needed first step toward greater transparency in our industry and greater benefit to the entire supply chain.  Anna reminded the attendees of the importance of a long-term investment in sustainable advances in her talk:

 “Time is the biggest investment. Not just to do it, but to tell the story.”