Bario Neal Marks 10 Years of Handmade Jewelry, Ethical Engagement Rings

By Jamera McNeil on October 3, 2018 at 9:00 am
Anna Bario and Page Neal 10 years ago
Page Neal and Anna Bario, 2008

Designers Anna Bario and Page Neal didn’t set out to craft the new Dez Opal with Rainbow Halo Ring and Dez Half Eternity Round Rainbow Band for the 10-year anniversary of their jewelry company, Bario Neal. They simply put pencil to paper and started their usual creative process “” one that’s intentional, honest, and can’t be rushed. Yet the new rings are so vibrant, joyful, and unreservedly unique that they can’t help but symbolize what Anna and Page have accomplished in the 10 years since they launched their jewelry design label.

With showrooms in Philadelphia and New York City, Bario Neal has evolved “” Page and Anna wouldn’t want it any other way “” since its start in 2008. But as the co-founders designed collection after collection and worked with countless clients (in person and long distance around the world) on custom personalized rings, they’ve grown without ever straying from a core belief that it’s possible to create beautiful jewelry of lasting value that is also ethical and environmentally friendly.

“The Dez Opal with Rainbow Halo Ring and Dez Half Eternity Round Rainbow Band are so exciting,” Page says. “They reflect our optimism as a company. We’ve earned the space to play, to have fun.”

Creating a Jewelry Company to Last

From the start, Anna and Page have never hurried jewelry design. Make Page pick just one word to describe their jewelry, and she says “thoughtful.” They ask a ton of questions when they’re creating new rings, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. They endlessly ponder proportion. They search for sources of gemstones that benefit miners and their communities. They dissect shapes. Not one prong setting escapes attention.

“We work hard to be what we present ourselves to be,” Anna says, “and we come to everything we do with strong intentions.”

Page thinks that’s one way Bario Neal stands apart from many in the jewelry industry. “We take a lot of care in our design process to ensure we are building jewelry to last,” says Page.

Designs from Bario Neal’s very first collection, like the Avens Asymmetrical Ring, show that from the start, Anna and Page were laying a design foundation of cleanly modern yet classic, along with subtle asymmetry.

“The Reticulated One Diamond Band is another ring that represents the sculptural space from which many of our designs develop,” Anna says. “The Avens and the Reticulated One Band might not exemplify what our design aesthetic is in 2018, but it’s amazing how some of the first pieces that Page and I designed together really carry through into today’s collections. Yes, we’ve created more signature settings and identifiable “˜Bario Neal touches’ over the last decade, but even in our earliest collaborations you can see the elements coming together.”

In the beginning, being new to jewelry making gave Anna and Page a fresh design perspective “” and a freedom from rules. (That rule-breaking has become something of a theme for Bario Neal. See 12 Reasons We Love Breaking the Old “˜Rules’ About Wedding Rings.”

“In the beginning we were coming from a more artistic and less technical background,” Anna says. “We didn’t have preconceived ideas about “˜this is how you do this.’ Then, and continuing today, we love to make unrealistic plans. We’ve always had ideas larger than the framework of a small design label.”

The pieces that Anna and Page each wear give a peek at their inspirations “” architectural elements, industrial design, lettering, sculpture, even shoes “” as well as their design aesthetics. Gold Circ Hoops are a go-to for Page. She loves that the earrings with their shapely wave are “playful and vibrant, but also classic,” and she appreciates the balance of structure and fluidity. Anna regularly reaches for her Sapphire Slice Studs. “There are other pieces of ours that are more statement,” she says, “but the sapphire studs are unusual and the marbling of the material is really interesting.”

Page and Anna don’t just love designing stackable rings at Bario Neal “” they are big fans of wearing stackable rings too. Page likes to stack an Eternity Diamond Band on top of her white enamel wedding band, combining a traditional classic with a throwback vibe she dubs “’70s sundress.” Anna mixes her plain gold wedding band (Bario Neal has shoppers for simple gold wedding bands well covered) with an Aldine Thin Band and a Half Eternity Narrow Diamond Band.

“I also wear a lot of pieces that are custom or that we made as models during our design process,” Anna says. “I have a custom enamel hexagon ring that I really love. And a half-octahedron rough diamond ring that’s a middle finger ring I always wear.” (Bario Neal doesn’t have these exact rings today, but talk to us about designing your own custom ring and we’ll tell you all about raw diamonds, shaped-to-fit-you gemstone cluster rings, and more.)  

Page’s Senna Round Ring with black enamel is a good example of what Bario Neal is all about, she says. “It’s simple, it’s classic but it’s also modern and uses the skilled technique of enameling,” she explains. “When I look at jewelry that’s out there in the world, I am often disappointed by the lack of nuance in the design. We’re about being intentional, taking our time, and understanding how the negotiation of small measurements and techniques can make or break a design.”

Anna Bario and Page Neal 10 years ago
Anna Bario and Page Neal, 2008 and 2010
Building an Ethical Jewelry Business

There’s a reason that Bario Neal’s rings are in so many pretty online photo roundups about ethical engagement rings and sustainable jewelry.

“One of the primary inspirations for starting the company was that we had deep questions about the origins of the materials that we were working with and the people and places they passed through,” Anna explains.

Anna and Page launched Bario Neal in 2008, but they started working on becoming ethical jewelry designers a few years before that. They did research and went to conferences to figure out as much as they could before officially opening their doors. They’ve been glad to see increasing awareness in the last decade of how a lot of gemstone mining hurts miners and their communities. And they continue to focus on ensuring that all Bario Neal jewelry is made with ethical, sustainable materials.

“We’ve been very involved in the last few years in the annual Jewelry Industry Summit,” Anna says. “It was one of the first industry-wide conversations recognizing all the challenges that we face and all the opportunities we have to create benefits beyond just our companies and our clients, to all supply chains that we work with.”

They are both proud that, after collaborating with the Alliance for Responsible Mining, Bario Neal was part of the consortium that negotiated the first import of Fairmined gold into the U.S. Anna even had a chance to visit Fairmined-certified mines in Colombia. Anna’s engagement ring even owes something to their pursuit of ethical sourcing. The yellow-peach citrine in her ring came from the Tanzania Women Miners Association, a group that works to make sure their community is helped, not hurt, by mining.

With human rights central to the mission, the right for every person to love who they choose has also been something Bario Neal has stood for from the start. Looking back on the changes in the last 10 years, Page says one of the most exciting moments was when same sex marriage was legalized in the U.S.

For Page and Anna, ethical and sustainable aren’t trends or marketing ploys. As they look ahead to the next decade of Bario Neal, these principles will remain at the center of their jewelry design. “There are many more ways we can directly and tangibly support initiatives connected to the environment and human rights,” Anna says. “I’d like to devote even more time to that.”

Designing Bario Neal Engagement Rings

When Anna and Page first launched Bario Neal, they weren’t focused on engagement rings, but when they did decide to design wedding jewelry, they started with the simple, classic Avens Round Diamond Ring. That was just the beginning. Since then, hundreds of happy couples have worked with Bario Neal to create personalized rings for marriage proposals and wedding bands.

“Anna and I both got married in the past 10 years,” Page says. (Her rough diamond engagement ring is matte gold with a simple prong setting.) “So we were also at a time in our lives when a lot of our friends got married. Having our work be part of other people’s ceremonies is very powerful. The rings that we make are a significant part of people’s lives and to me that is incredibly inspiring.“

Anna, Page, and many on the Bario Neal team have even been lucky enough to see some proposals over the years.

“At our New York shop, we see so many clients celebrating with City Hall weddings, and there’s real romance to that,” Anna says. “We had a couple who needed rings fast, and they had ordered an engagement ring and bands. So it wasn’t a surprise, but they hadn’t really done any ceremony around the proposal. When they saw the rings, they said, “˜Can you excuse us for just a minute?’ And they went out in the hallway and came back with tears in their eyes. It was truly sweet.”

Many couples decide to pass on a complete surprise proposal and instead come into Bario Neal together to pick out an engagement ring or talk about custom designing a ring or wedding band. That doesn’t mean the process can’t have as much meaning and emotion. Lots of couples plan a whole fun day around their appointments. (We’ve got tips on planning a memorable engagement ring shopping appointment!)

Jewelry is, of course, part of the special life moments for Page and Anna too. Page got a new pinky ring that matches her Eternity Diamond Band to celebrate the birth of her daughter. Bario Neal’s new-this-year Keepsake Collection, engravable heirloom bangles for babies and children, echoes that family feeling. Anna and her husband add engravings to their wedding rings every couple years. She says her husband’s Milla Shoulder Hammered Wide Band is his most prized possession.

 

Bario Neal 10 Years Halo Release

Going for Another Decade of Ethical Jewelry Design

Bario Neal fans should expect to watch their favorite jeweler keep breaking the rules and pushing jewelry design.

“We’ve worked hard to build a strong foundation,” Page says. “We have a fantastic staff right now. I am excited to see the business thrive and continue to grow with other people.”

Page and Anna want to keep collaborating with other artists, like they did recently when they teamed up with Xavier Schipani on a print to raise awareness about LGBTQIA issues in the wedding industry, and commissioned K-Fai to illustrate tips on jewelry care.

“It’s interesting to see other people interpret your work, to see it reflected through their eyes,” Anna says. “It shifts your perspective and that’s fascinating.”

As they’ve come up on this 10-year anniversary, Anna and Page have been exchanging old emails they sent to each other when they were starting the company “” and laughing over their abbreviations and silly codes. Yes, there was some stress, they admit, but that was a motivator. At the end of the day, they say, they each had a perfect business partner.

“Anna is amazing at remaining calm and grounded and positive,” Page says.

“Page is so good at keeping us moving forward, reminding us when something seems really challenging, that all we have to do is try,” Anna says.

Every Day is Earth Day

By admin on April 22, 2016 at 12:20 pm

Behind the scenes images of plants and jewelers in the workshop studio. Earth Day

The annual Earth Day buzz is back, kickstarting Spring and a season of environmental support. Here at Bario Neal, we try to maintain the earth-loving fervor year-round by reading, watching and listening to stay informed, caring for our own green life in our home and work spaces, and visiting our favorite outdoor spots for a breath of fresh air and celebration dance. We took some time out to compile a few of our Philadelphia favorites to share with you.

READ:

The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert, 2014.

Anna | It’s one of the best environmental crisis books I’ve read in years. I listened to it as an audiobook three times.

Green Philly, an environmentally-minded blog promoting a sustainable Philadelphia through local connections and posts on news, events, lifestyle, food + recipes, recycling, health + beauty, biking, and more.

Hidden City Philadelphia, an online publication and organization committed to revealing, celebrating, and improving our city’s most remarkable places.

Constance | Great for some urban exploring.

EAT: 

Greensgrow and Philly Foodworks, two of many incredible young Philadelphia organizations fueling the urban agriculture movement and supplying our city with urban farms, jobs, CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture), farmstands, community kitchens, and nurseries.

Hannah | It’s a win-win. Support Philly farms and food access by getting fresh produce delivered to your neighborhood in a box with your name on it.

LISTEN:

+ NPR’s Science Friday podcast, from Public Radio International. Educational and entertaining stories on science and technology.

Constance | Anyday.

WATCH:

Build a School in the Cloud, a 2013 TED Talk in which Sugata Mitra shares his vision for Self Organized Learning Environments and a learning lab in India.

Page | It’s about how we can change our ideas of education to adapt to our current reality & prepare the next generation of problem solvers.

GO:

Laurel Hill Cemetery is a beautiful stretch of green situated up above Kelly Drive and is considered a historical and horticultural resource of Philadelphia. Victorian picnic destinations with clifftop views up and down the Schuylkill… what could be better?

Forbidden Drive, or the Wissahickon Valley Trail, follows Wissahickon Creek through the length of the park and makes for a beautiful ride or hike through the trees.

Sara | Forever and beyond, all the way to the horse stables.

Washington Avenue Pier, FKA Pier 53, on the Delaware River. The ribbon was cut last August for the waterfront greenspace. Check it out for public art, panoramic views, and “places to touch the water.”

Sara | You’re in the Walmart parking lot and then what? It’s like a history show. First there was nature, then there was industry & immigrants, then not much, then campers and drinkers, then a path and replanting. You can still see all of it.

Belmont Plateau, an expansive grassy knoll in West Fairmount Park that offers a skyline view you feel like you should pay for.

Ridgway Pool at 13th and Carpenter is great for a dip on a hot day, as is any of the city’s other 70 outdoor public swimming pools open throughout the summer. There aren’t great resources for information on the pools but, like this article suggests, your best bet is to just show up.

Gray’s Ferry Crescent Trail Park is one of the best and only access points to the Schuylkill River in Southwest Philly. The space has open space for casual activities, trails for biking and running, a skatepark, and fishing locations.

Sara | The bridges remind you you’re in a city, the river and trees remind you of what was there first. Go at dusk. And go for the summer movies.

+ Get healthy, beautiful, organic plants from local garden centers Urban Jungle on East Passyunk and City Planter in Northern Liberties.

+ For a good run, start at Penn Treaty Park, head down the waterfront, and finish at the tip of Race Street Pier with a stretch. Even without the running, Penn Treaty is great for a picnic or a game of kickball. Check out the free yoga classes offered through the summer on Race Street Pier. Another favorite running/biking/walking route is any portion of the Schuylkill River Trail.

Constance | Especially excited to try the new University City connection (on the Schuylkill River Trail).

+ The expanse of Fairmount Park offers so much, it can be easy to forget some of the more hidden spots.  Surrounded by this green landscape, the Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse is a mansion-sized dream-come-true for kids with free admission.  East Park Reservoir and it’s surrounding 13 acres, a thriving habitat for bird species, was reopened to the public this past December after 45 years and is the projected site for a 2017 opening of Philadelphia’s Discovery Center.

Bartram’s Garden, America’s oldest living botanical garden is in Philadelphia. A 45-acre National Historic Landmark.

Hannah | Their spring plant sale always takes my breath away because I get to bring so much green beauty back home with me. (Coming up: Saturday, April 30th)

Batsto River in New Jersey’s Wharton State Forest for heavenly canoeing and kayaking. Part of the region’s Pine Barrens, the state forest is wonderful for hiking and camping too.

Page | I love the Pine Barrens. Such a magical & beautiful area between Philadelphia & the ocean.

Sedgley Woods, a historic disc golf course in East Fairmount Park. Public and free!

Emily | The trail goes all the way back into a bird sanctuary where you can often see a pair of hawks that call that place home roaming the skies. Its the perfect combo of outdoors, hiking, disc throwing fun, and meeting other Philadelphians in the park.

Studio_Shop_Jewelers_Plants-23_Web

We keep plants close for days we can’t go to the plants.

These are some of our favorite ways to enjoy our environment in Philadelphia and celebrate the foundation of Earth Day all year long.  We wake up with the earth every day and we know now more than ever how significant our hand is in helping or hurting it.  The Earth Day zeal of each Spring can turn into a year-round effort of motivating each other to take care of the planet.  Building a meaningful impact requires time, turning actions into habits that will resonate with everyone.

The foundation of our work at Bario Neal is seated in such environmental responsibility. Our conscious decision to create jewelry through a process free of harmful impacts to human or environment extends beyond the products themselves and on to the cause of improving the methods of the industry. Bario Neal works with ethically sourced stones, 100% reclaimed metals, and Fairmined gold whenever possible. Recent metals and gemstone mining industry initiatives, dedicated to improving transparency and accountability, have addressed the need to develop sustainable mining practices, conflict-free gemstones, and push for labor initiatives to improve quality of life for both miners and workers in the cutting and polishing industries. Because these initiatives are still new to our industry, we remain committed to further research on sourcing with the utmost accountability.

Happy Earth Day from Bario Neal.

 

How to Get Involved this Earth Day

By admin on April 18, 2016 at 11:14 am

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Earth Day 2016 is fast approaching and if you are like us, you might be looking for ways to spend the occasion helping the environment. If so, all week in Philadelphia Earth Day volunteer opportunities abound. Consider one of the following:

Tuesday, April 19th:  Delaware River Clean-Up at Pier 68 at Pier 70 Blvd, hosted by United By Blue

A Philadelphia outdoor lifestyle brand, United By Blue gets us hype with pride for our city. Their flagship store in Old City and two other locations feature their environmentally conscious apparel and accessories and serve their edition of locally roasted Reanimator Coffee. For every product sold, UBB removes one pound of trash from the world’s oceans and waterways- what a deal. They host clean-ups year-round and not just in Philadelphia- in states around the country.

Friday, April 22nd:  Hunting Park Clean-Up hosted by the Philadelphia Science Festival

The annual nine-day Philadelphia Science Festival is back with a ton of awesome events and activities for all-ages. Check out their site for more info on special exhibitions, lectures, and this clean-up in Hunting Park on Friday.

Saturday, April 23rd:  Darby Creek Clean-Up hosted by the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge

Tucked down by the Philadelphia airport, the Tinicum Marsh is a natural landscape of freshwater tidal marsh, mudflats and woodlands that support hundreds of animal and plant species.  The John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge settled beside the marsh in 1972 to preserve and develop this natural area within its urban setting of oil refineries, industrial sites and city life.  The refuge operates sustainably in its management of the wildlife habitat and focuses on providing environmental education on location in their classroom facilities and in Philadelphia and Delaware Counties.  They consistently involve the community in their cause, through events such as the Darby Creek Clean-Up on Saturday.

Saturday, April 23rd:  Naturepalooza! Family Earth Day Festival hosted by the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education

Hosted by the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, this Family Earth Day Festival will be an all-day outdoor event with fort-building, an animal show, two hikes and a pond exploration.  In partnership with the Philadelphia Science Festival, it’s bound to be fun and full of information.

Also, check out this great list of Philadelphia-area Earth Day events for the whole family at Metro Kids

 

Consider volunteering at Penn treaty park this Philadelphia Earth Day

Philadelphia’s Delaware River could use your help this Earth Day. 

More than just upcoming Earth Day events, this list features some of our city’s amazing environmental organizations to keep the charge going year round.  These orgs employ and engage hardworking people committed to improving the environment and helping others get involved here in Philly. They hold events and classes to educate us, remediate our water and land, improve animal habitats around us and are always looking for more hands on deck.

If you can’t help out this week, there will always be more opportunities. You can easily work a clean up into your daily routine, taking an afternoon off to volunteer along the Schuylkill with United By Blue. Or just get outside any weekend, spending a Sunday on a bird walk or taking a hike in Fairmount Park. If you just can’t find the time, consider making a monetary donation to support existing efforts. Whatever you choose, celebrate Earth Day by supporting those working hard to clean our environment right here in Philly.

This is Part 1 of our Earth Day 2016 series. Stay tuned for Part 2 this Friday.

 

Top Notch Faceting x Bario Neal

By admin on June 14, 2015 at 4:38 pm

“The gemology equivalent of rock-royalty,” Jean-Noel Soni, of Top Notch Faceting, showcases his one-of-a-kind, award-winning gemstones right here in our Philadelphia store. Hailing from San Francisco and featured in French Vogue and Gem Gossip, Soni colorfully talks shop”“ in our shop, describing process, philosophy, and sourcing. Our own rockstar jewelers are always on hand to consult on custom projects using his precision-cut gems.

 

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The above stone is a 45 carat Tourmaline from Mozambique cut from a 300 carat crystal!

Imagine the possibilities”¦

 

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