We love meeting in-love couples shopping for engagement rings and wedding bands, but lots of people visit Bario Neal because they’re looking for ethically made, handcrafted jewelry to celebrate a life milestone or serve as a beautiful reminder of a special family member or friend.
There’s so much more to celebrate than what you see in typical jewelry ads, so we’re always excited to work with clients to create rings infused with personal meaning and sentiment that’s not necessarily tied to romance. A brand-new ring can tell the story of a treasured family connection or mark an achievement like a graduation or job promotion. Life is complicated, and some people honor their strength and resilience with new jewelry after a divorce (yes, you can remake that engagement ring), or overcoming an addiction, personal hardship, or illness.
Beth Frederick decided to work with Bario Neal on a custom sapphire and diamond ring after a year of big changes. She retired last June. She had devoted time to caring for her parents as they got older and faced health problems, and her father died at age 98 in August. In October, she visited the Bario Neal showroom in Philadelphia with a diamond necklace and diamond earrings that were a gift from her parents 20 years ago, and the wedding band with a diamond that had been her mother’s.
“I had these items, after however many moves one makes in that many years, and they were in a bag,” Beth says. “I thought, ‘Well, now, this is goofy. Let's do something with this.’”
She used four diamonds from those pieces in a cluster design in white gold and added a gemstone she’d always been drawn to. “The sapphire was new and that was sort of a gift to myself,” Beth says.
If you’re someone who can think of a dozen reasons that you shouldn’t treat yourself to a new piece of jewelry, Beth gets it. She says she hesitated because she worried such a purchase was too selfish. Now, she sees her ring as both a daily reminder of her family and her own journey.
“If someone had told me a year ago that I would spend this much money on a ring, I would have thought they had clearly lost their mind,” Beth says. “Now I think, ‘yes, this is for me.’ I don't feel guilty about it. I think it's a celebration of the memory of my parents, of their lives, but also my life, too. It really is a celebration of a life well lived. There were some really hard years, some really good years, and that's what a good life should look like.”
Our lives may be painted perfectly on social media, but we all run into obstacles. Making it through to the other side of tough times is just as worthy of celebrating as the good news stuff we post about it. You can reclaim an engagement ring after a divorce, for example, by taking gemstones from jewelry that you want to leave in the past and using them for a new ring, necklace, earrings, or bracelet that represents your future.
But you don’t need to get caught up in defining some momentous milestone to buy fine jewelry for yourself either.
"I don't know if I'm ever going to get engaged, and I like jewelry. I like diamonds,” says Tessa Upin, who has three Bario Neal rings. “I don't need to wait for a man to give me this. I want this. I work very hard. I want to spend my money the way I want to spend my money. And this is something that I think is worth treating myself to.”
Tessa used heirlooms diamonds from her grandmother Rivian’s engagement ring when working with Bario Neal. Tessa’s father had proposed to her mom with the same ring, but her mother didn’t often wear the ring, which had a large diamond in the center and two smaller diamonds on either side. When Tessa finished graduate school in Philadelphia 10 years ago, her parents gave her the ring as a graduation present.
“The ring was just sitting in a jewelry box and no one was enjoying it like you should enjoy it,” Tessa says. “It was a beautiful ring, but it really did look like an engagement ring. I wore it probably five times over a decade because it just felt weird to me.”
After her grandmother passed away in September 2017, Tessa decided to turn the ring into pieces she would wear all the time. Her three rings are made with the one larger diamond and two of the smaller diamonds from the original setting. Each has a different metal: rose gold, yellow gold, and white gold. (If you’re worried that a diamond ring will look like an engagement ring, many of our custom diamond ring designs will inspire you to shift from thinking romance to embracing your own bold self, like this Custom Crescent Band with Heirloom Diamond and Engraving or this Custom Gale Rose Cut Champagne Diamond Ring.)
During the design process, Tessa talked to her mother and sister about what she was doing. They ended up using the other two small diamonds for rings of their own. They personalized rings from the Bario Neal collection, including the Allium Diamond Ring, the Bend Diamond Ring, and the Fishtail Diamond Ring. All three love sharing this jewelry connection now, according to Tessa.
“My mom, my sister, and I are all very close. And my sister and mother were close to my grandmother as well. And the ring had also been my mom’s. So we all got a piece of the ring and something that makes us think of my grandmother,” Tessa says. “My grandmother gave me one of her other special rings when she was alive and she said, ‘Wear it in good health.’ That was her thing. I know lots of grandmas probably say that, but she was special.”
Beth, too, believes her father would be happy that she was enjoying her new ring.
“I'm 66 years old, and I'm all about this joy thing,” Beth says. “I'm not extravagant, but this was just something that brought me a great deal of personal joy because it was my story and my life. And it sparkles!”
Getting engaged and married definitely aren’t the only reasons to step into Bario Neal’s Philadelphia or New York City showroom. Make an appointment today to talk with our team about custom designing a ring or finding something in our collection that captures your special event or relationship.