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.

 

Rethink Pink: Reclaiming the formerly femme hue

By Constance on January 4, 2018 at 1:14 pm

Millennial pink is the color of a generation. But can Pink– formerly a symbol of the saccharine-sweet or a girly-girl cliche– become a powerful statement? Umm… yes! It’s time to rethink pink as both a fashion and forever jewelry choice and we couldn’t be more excited about it.

Re-think Pink with Bario Neal RingsMany of our designs Rethink Pink using ethical gemstones like Morganite, Tourmaline and Sapphire.

 

Pink is not just all about girl-power, though embracing the feminine is empowering for everyone. People of all genders who want to feel beautiful and celebrate pink can reclaim the hue. Same with the pressure surrounding diamond engagement rings– play with pale or bold color for your wedding palette if that’s who you are every day. And as for everyone’s favorite holiday– Valentine’s Day– try to embrace it as more than just a commercial romantic cliche, but as an opportunity to show your S/O, yourself, or your BFF some love.

 

Re-think Pink with MorganiteLike the pastel pink that’s now unavoidable on Instagram and ubiquitous on Pinterest, pale pink Morganite is abuzz.

 

Found in the eastern states of Rio Grande de Norte and Minas Gerais in Brazil, Morganite is a member of the Beryl family of minerals, the same family as Emerald and Aquamarine.

Unlike Emeralds, which are often full of inclusions, Morganites are readily available as eye clean stones and thus differentiated more for their intensity of color than their clarity. Rarer than Aquamarine and registering 7.5 – 8 on the MOHS scale of mineral hardness, it is an ideal choice for jewelry, both bridal and every-day jewelry.

 

Re-think pink

People of all genders can reclaim the pink hue with both gem and metal choice.

Although emerging as a thoroughly modern choice, Morganite and its discovery are steeped in the finest and most prestigious traditions of the jewelry industry and mineral exploration.  The mineral was discovered in the early part of the last century and in 1911 was named Morganite after J.P Morgan, who sponsored the activities of legendary gemologist George Kunz, who discovered the stone.

 

Re-think Pink with a Bario Neal Stack

Morganite is known primarily as a pastel-colored gem in light, soft shades of pink, purplish pink, and orangey-pink. It looks great with opals, green and blues.

 

Associated only by name and by virtue of him being an avid collector of precious gems, Morganite mining was never a commercial interest of Morgan’s and to this day the mining of the stone is done almost entirely by small scale mining operations run by local people and not by large, faceless corporations.

At Bario Neal, we support small miners and source our Morganite through a GIA graduate gemologist who has an intimate knowledge of the gemstone extraction, processing and manufacturing cycle and who operates a multi-pronged approach to fair-trade practices and sustainability.

 

Re-think pink with ethical tourmaline

The Trillion Triad Cluster and Hex Sapphire Linear (above) rings feature our perfect pink tourmaline.

 

Next, we move to another magical pink gemstone – Tourmaline. The new Hex Linear Ring and Dyad Cluster Ring feature a striking sunset-pink variety, but the gem itself can be one (or two or three!) of 60 natural colors. Found all over the world, they are one of the most versatile and diverse gemstones around.

Tourmalines are often dichroic or pleochroic which means they show two different colors in one stone. Although this effect is less pronounced and sometimes not noticeable in pink stones than it is in green, blue or green-blue tourmaline. It is even possible to get tourmaline that shows multiple colors in one crystal. The best known of these to jewelry lovers are watermelon tourmaline which has a red core surrounded by green.

The Tourmalines that we use in our Hex Sapphire Linear and Trillion Triad Cluster Rings are recycled gemstones, in that they have already be involved in the jewelry production process and we are reusing them. This approach means that no new mining is required thus eliminating the potential for damage to ecosystems and labor issues.

 

Re-think Pink with pink sapphire

#Roseallday? Choose a Pink Sapphire Filigree in reclaimed 14kt. Rose Gold.

Lastly, we turn to another gorgeous, natural, forever gemstone: the Pink Sapphire. Basically, a Ruby that’s not red, (Bonus points for anyone who already knew that Rubies are technically Sapphires) Pink Sapphires get their color from containing chromium. Rubies must contain at least 1% chromium to exhibit a deep red color and if the chromium content is lower, the stones are lighter and classed as Pink Sapphires. Ours come from a small mine in Madagascar. Our Pink Sapphire Filigree Ring is also set in reclaimed 14kt Rose Gold– to help us all (millennial or not) maintain a rosy outlook.

Want to see them blush at a bespoke beauty? We can create a custom design in a range of rosy hues, like this gorgeous stack, featuring white diamonds, deep garnets and a variety of ethical pink gemstones:

 

Re-think pink with a Custom Bario Neal design

Rethink Pink with this crazy beautiful stack of recent Custom Cluster rings in a powerful palette of Whites, Pinks and Reds.

Want to dream up a way to reclaim pink from “blush and bashful”? Check out more new custom work featuring ethical diamonds, rubies, garnets, sapphires and tourmaline, then design your own concoction using our Custom Design Questionnaire.

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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October Offers Earthly Magic in our Linear Rings

By Constance on October 4, 2017 at 10:54 am

Have we talked about how lucky October kids are in the birthstone department? You get the ultimate twofer: Opal AND Tourmaline. If you think about it, it makes sense- October is a magical month to be born– and the zodiac signs couldn’t be more different or distinct. So whether you are a gentle Libra or wild Scorpio, you’ll find rings that showcase both in our stunning new Linear Rings.

 

New Linear Rings

These colorful, pure gemstones encompass the earth’s majesty in our new Linear Rings.

 

First, let’s explore the personality and paths reflected in these new designs. Inspired by our Linear Diamond Ring (straightforward and direct!) The new Linear Opal Ring suspends White Round Diamonds, Oval Opal, Pale Pink Morganite, Champagne round diamonds in a sweep of pale, peaceful beauty. Enter The Hex Sapphire Linear Ring: juxtaposing pink tourmaline with natural sapphires in a mix of fantastical colors and shapes.

 

If our new Opal Linear is a morning meditation, a whisper, a lull, a sunrise. Then the Hex Linear is a symphony, a dance, a jète of earth and sky colors, a sunset.

 

Bario Neal Linear Opal Cluster Rings

 

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.

 

Ethiopian Opal from the Sherwa Province

Ethiopian Opals are different from Australian opals, as they were formed as a result of volcanic activity as opposed to sedimentary formations.

 

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.

 

Knowledge about the product is a huge challenge for miners who are too isolated from the market to realize the value of their labor.

 

Next, we move to another magical color-changing birthstone for October: Tourmaline. The new Hex Linear Ring and Dyad Cluster Ring feature a striking sunset-pink variety, but the gem itself can be anyone (or two or three!) of 60 natural colors. Found all over the world, they are one of the most versatile and diverse gemstones around.
Pink Tourmaline from Brazil

Pink tourmalines can also be known as Rubellites.

 

Brazil has famously been the source of some of the most impressive tourmalines ever discovered however more recently, deposits in Africa have yielded some of the best pink tourmalines. Namibia is home to world-class Tourmaline deposits along with Nigeria, Madagascar and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

 

Tourmalines are often dichroic or pleochroic which means they show two different colors in one stone. Although this effect is less pronounced and sometimes not noticeable in pink stones than it is in green, blue or green-blue tourmaline. It is even possible to get tourmaline that shows multiple colors in one crystal. The best known of these to jewelry lovers are watermelon tourmaline which has a red core surrounded by green.
The Tourmalines that we use in our Hex Sapphire Linear and Trillion Triad Cluster Rings are recycled gemstones, in that they have already be involved in the jewelry production process and we are reusing them. This approach means that no new mining is required thus eliminating the potential for damage to ecosystems and labor issues.
2017_Fall_Blue_Sapphire_Hex_Cluster_Stack_Seafoam_Eternity_H-4258

Expand your horizon: a pop of Pink Tourmaline completes this line-up of Montana and Australian Sapphires in bright hues and mixed shapes.

 

Each ring is a carefully selected configuration and selection of high-quality, traceable gemstones. We see our jewelry as a tiny link between you, every hand that touches it and the earth. The Linear Series is a part of our new Ceremony Collection, now available online and in all Bario Neal locations.

A New Signature Setting: The Lash Collection

By Constance on September 27, 2017 at 12:17 pm

In an ode to playful minimalism, we’ve re-imagined The Lash into a new collection featuring ethical Diamonds, Sapphires, Garnets and Andalusite. These bright and colorful gems shine when showcased in our subtly asymmetric, surrealistic, signature setting. An instant classic for modern celebrations calling for equally expressive, interesting jewelry.

 

New Bario Neal Lash Collection Featuring Ethical Diamonds, Sapphire and Garnets
This season, we refined and evolved the Lash into a shiny fleet of endearing, enduring options.

With a wink and a nod, the Lash setting debuted last year with our simple studs. Created to showcase our collection of ethically-sourced Emeralds, Andalusite, Champagne Diamonds and Iolite, with a twist– moving beyond an ordinary setting. The Lash’s unexpected, balanced asymmetry shines as a solitaire, grouped into a linear design or mixed with other settings for a brilliant cluster.

“The Lash setting grew out of a desire to move beyond the classic prong or bezel settings and to innovate with something that plays to BN’s proclivity for balanced asymmetry.” -Anna Bario, Designer and Co-founder

The story behind the collection’s origin matches the luster of these incredible gems. We’ll begin our new favorites for wedding season– Lash Dyad, Triad and Linear Cluster rings feature ethically sourced, neutral-toned gemstones in fresh, energetic combinations. These sparkling jewels, harvested from beautiful locales with the utmost care and intent are ready to ride high as you as you toast to your new forever.

 

New Bario Neal Lash Collection Featuring Ethical Diamonds, Sapphire and Andalusite

Our Lash dyad, Triad and Linear Cluster rings include Champagne diamonds from Australia, Half moon Sapphires from Sri Lanka and Andalusite from Madagascar.

 

Kimberley in Western Australia was once so abundant in diamonds that it is the only location in the world where Ant Hill Diamonds have been observed. (Yes, diamonds were once mined by ants!) After these early discoveries and prospecting, a human-sized mining operation was installed and today the Argyle diamond mine is famous for producing the most prized diamonds in the world.

 

 

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Known the world over for its unique pink and red diamonds, the mine produces many shades, including the champagnes we use in our Lash Diamond Cluster Ring.

 

The Argyle mine is close to the end of its commercial life, due to close in 2020, the diamonds produced from the mine are bound to become even more prized and valuable. Because the mine is in one of the world’s richest, most developed nations, it is subject to strict working and environmental standards and regulations. Traditional families and elders retain genuine control and empowerment over the exploration and development process, with the future of the land always in mind. As of 2011, all mines in Australia must follow a mine rehabilitation program for creating another use for the area when mining has ceased.

As for our other sparkler, Sri Lankan White Sapphire, we did a deep-dive into the story of the Sri-Lankan white sapphire in a recent feature with Catalyst Wedding Co. In a nutshell, these are the most-diamondy-diamond-alternatives you can get straight from the earth and cut into these cool half-moon shapes, with close to no environmental impact.
New Bario Neal Lash Collection Featuring Ethical Diamonds, Sapphire and Andalusite

We use Pleochroic Andalusite from Madagascar for its hues of red and green, sourced from an ethical jewelry pioneer who spent time in Sierra Leone developing a traceable diamond supply chain.

 

We segue from the diamonds once mined by ants, to the only gemstone still mined by those cute, tiny workers– Ant Hill Garnets. As the name suggests, these garnets from the Four Corners Region are brought to the surface by ants building new colonies. The ants dig out the stones, carry them to the surface and then deposit them at the top of their ant hills. They are then washed down to the bottom of the pile and cleaned by rainwater, ready to be collected by gem hunters. Generally small in size, because the ants dig around the bigger stones and leave them put, ant hill garnets are rarely more than 1ct in size when cut.

 

Ant Hill Garnets

Our new Lash Linear Garnet, Lash Solitaire Garnet and Garnet Cluster Rings feature Arizona’s Ant hill garnets.

 

While we can’t vouch for the working conditions of the ants involved in this process, (we assume most colonies enforce rigorous health and safety protocols and workers are paid fairly) we are able to tell you exactly how these stones make it from the moment they are collected to when they are set here in our studio.

Being from inside the US, the stones are free from any issues surrounding conflict minerals and you won’t find a more environmentally friendly, less invasive mining process. We source our Arizona Ant Hill garnets from a true innovator in the field of ethical gemstone sourcing and production. Once collected, the stones are sold to gemstone cutters and polishers, otherwise known as lapidarists, to be prepared for the jewelry market.

 

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Meet our new Signature Sapphire Solitaire- it plays well with everything and can be personalized with almost any gemstone!

 

Another gem proudly mined in the USA features in our new signature solitaire, the Lash Blue Sapphire Ring. Discovered by gold prospectors 150 years ago, these Sapphires are a sought after dark blue from Rock Creek, Montana. We adore working with different sapphire colors and shades, Montana is such an exciting ethical source, given it has the widest variety of color of sapphire anywhere on earth.
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Our Lash collection is colorful, playful, minimal and classic. Have fun mixing and matching it up!

 

In addition to being designed as suites or companions, the Lash Collection is designed to show off almost any of our ethical gemstones. Want to create a Lash Diamond Solitaire, a Blue Sapphire Lash Dyad Cluster or a Lash Linear Emerald Ring? Just fill out our Custom Design Questionnaire with your idea for Personalization and we’ll get back to you right away.

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.

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  • 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.