Bario Neal Brings Artistry to Custom Designed Rings

By Jamera McNeil on November 27, 2018 at 10:35 am

 

collage of Bario Neal Custom Designed rings

You only need two things to custom design an engagement ring at Bario Neal: a client who wants one-of-a-kind jewelry and our creative, skilled team. You might have to make one or two tough decisions along the way (like diamonds or white sapphires?), but everything that goes into handcrafting custom rings with us is – our clients swear – fun.

“I never thought about jewelry before, but the whole process kind of opened my eyes,” Mick Waterhouse says about custom designing a cluster engagement ring with Erin Murphy, who he proposed to in September. “It was fun, every time that we jumped on a call or sent emails back and forth to Bario Neal. It felt like a special time.”

The Bario Neal team pretty much shows up to work every day to make people happy with jewelry (OK, all the delish restaurants near our showroom don’t hurt). We’re passionate about helping clients who want a custom designed ring find the design that truly matches their style and love.  

“Getting to know people when they are designing an engagement ring is pretty magical,” says Anna Bario, Bario Neal co-founder. “When we’re working with clients, a lot of it is reading them. With a custom design, we’re interpreting and enjoying the experience right along with them.”

How to Start Custom Designing an Engagement Ring

Whether or not you make an appointment to visit our Philadelphia showroom, the best place to start your custom design with us is our Custom Design Questionnaire. If you don’t have ideas already about what you want in a ring, filling out the form will help.

If you make an in-person appointment, expect to spend about an hour in our Philadelphia showroom. (Here’s a breakdown of how our personal engagement ring shopping visits go.) We’ll ask all about you and tell you all about us. Then we’ll start creating. Why wait?

“We had ideas going into the meeting, but I think Ariel really kind of turned both of our expectations on their heads,” says Pam Lashbrook. She and her spouse-to-be, Sarah Morrison, met with Bario Neal’s Ariel Yaroslawitz in Philadelphia to custom design Pam’s engagement ring. “I knew that I wanted an Asscher cut stone, but I don’t think that we had really thought about including anything of color. We were going to stick with white sapphires. Then Ariel mentioned the iolites, and we thought they were beautiful.” The couple also liked the connection to Sarah’s Zodiac sign, Cancer. “Her horoscope always talks about her being a moonchild, so we thought having these little half-moon iolites on either side would be a good combination.”

If you can’t visit the showroom, we’ll work with you via phone, email, and Skype – whatever your time zone.

After looking at some ethical jewelers in London, where she’s based, Steph Siddall found Bario Neal online. “The ethical jewelers I looked at in London weren’t a fit for my style. But I absolutely loved all of Bario Neal’s rings, so I was really pleased that we were able to make it work from London.”

The Los Angeles-based Mick and Erin started their ring with an appointment at a trunk show. (We announce our pop-ins to other cities on Instagram, so follow us there for news plus plenty of ring inspiration.) They brought an heirloom diamond in the setting of what had been Mick’s grandmother’s ring” and an idea to use the stone in a cluster engagement ring for Erin. Bario Neal’s Sarah Francks talked them through different approaches, and suggested they keep the heirloom ring as a solitaire.” 

“The family ring is still special on its own that way, and then we designed a second cluster ring,” Erin says. “I don’t think we ever even thought about just getting one ring after that again. I feel like in that hour we got so much done and hit the ground running.” After that first meeting, they continued with the team in Philadelphia by email and phone. “Everybody that we talked to was just so helpful,” Erin adds.

Before you visit or start a long-distance custom design, you can do budget research with the build a ring feature on our website. Click on any engagement ring from our collection and select “Build Ring” to get a good idea about pricing.  

P.S. According to our clients who work together as a couple to custom design an engagement ring, teamwork doesn’t dampen how special this time is. “I think it was actually really kind of romantic to work on it together because every time I look at the ring it’s really a representation of our partnership and our ability to work together,” Pam says. “I mean, obviously it’s gorgeous, but when I look at it, I think of the process that we went through together to create it.”

Find Design Inspiration for Your Custom Engagement Ring

“Our collection is a good starting point. People like what’s in our collection and the style, but sometime they just want a personalized touch. That’s usually done through the stones, or maybe changing a band from round to square,” says Aliyah Gold, Gemstone and Custom Design Specialist at Bario Neal, about where to look when beginning a custom design. “Sometimes that won’t work, and then we start from scratch.”

Pam’s Asscher cut white sapphire ring is based on the Avens Ring. “It was really nice having so many rings to look at and compare in the showroom because it was easy for me to point to something and say, ‘I like that.’ Then we were able to break it down and say, ‘Why do you like it? Why don’t you like it?’ And that, I think really helped,” Sarah Morrison says.

Erin’s solitaire engagement ring with the heirloom diamond is based on Bario Neal’s Allium Diamond Ring.

There are dozens of personalized rings on our website to spark your imagination. Many of them were inspired by other custom rings. Remember that there’s many ways to change a design and make it uniquely yours. “We made the Custom Pear Sapphire Cluster Ring, and put it on the site, and since then we’ve ended up making slightly different versions, like the Custom 7mm Pear Cut Blue Sapphire Cluster Ring with Sapphires,” Aliyah says. “It’s a similar layout but with different stones and some subtle design changes.”

On figure image of Custom Designed Rings
Choosing Ethical Stones for Your Custom Ring

“I read a Human Rights Watch report about how so much jewelry is unethical. I was shocked and it was something I had never really thought about before, the implications of not knowing where your jewelry is made or where it comes from,” Steph says.

When she found out that Bario Neal sources ethical gemstones from many countries and diamonds from Canada and Australia, she and her now fiance, Matt, started to think about their love of travel. “We had an amazing holiday in Canada a couple years ago. So knowing we could get a diamond from Canada gave us the idea of getting the stones from places we’ve been,” she says.

In addition to the Canadian diamond in her cluster design with four stones set in a gold band, Steph’s engagement ring has a white sapphire from Sri Lanka (where the couple spent a 2015 holiday). Two smaller colored stones are an aquamarine gemstone from Mozambique (where they got engaged), and a sea foam from Madagascar. The latter is a promise of future happy travels. “We’ve never been to Madagascar, but we really want to go. And I think we’re going to go there on our honeymoon,” Steph says.

Our ethical sourcing sometimes requires an open mind. “The Custom Bi-Color Sapphire and Pink Trillion Sapphire Linear Cluster Ring was an interesting one,” Aliyah says. “That client had an exact vision, and there were so many different colored stones and custom cuts. She was open to allowing it to grow and change depending on the stones that were available.”

If the color of your gemstones in your custom designed ring is your biggest priority, Aliyah recommends sharing an image of the color that Bario Neal can give to stone suppliers. “We have a client at the moment who is looking for a sapphire that is the ‘color of the galaxy,’ with blues and purples. It will be a challenge, but I’m excited to find something,” Aliyah says.

Picture Your Custom Engagement Ring

Our sales associates, designers, and in-house CAD (computer-aided design) designer work together to create precise CAD renderings that help clients see their future ring from several angles. This step is a chance to tweak the look. You don’t have to be an architect to understand the images, and a Bario Neal team member will go over the drawings with you.

“I was surprised at how much detail I was able to see. I was surprised at how much info I was able to have at different stages. That meant I didn’t have any moment of worry that we picked the wrong thing because we could see how it was progressing,” Steph says.

When it comes to changes, we want to be helpful and patient. The goal, after all, is for you to walk away with a ring you’re hopefully going to wear forever – so we want you to take the time you need.

“There were times where we were second-guessing what we wanted. Nothing was over the top, it was just all minor tweaks, but there was just this sense of uncertainty at times on our end, but Aliyah and everyone else we worked with at Bario Neal was always receptive to us flip-flopping, and changing around things, and just kind of thinking things over,” Mick recalls.

For a $200 design fee, our CAD work can also help clients who just can’t decide.

“Sometimes a client is in between two different ideas. Before they commit to an exact ring they want, we can render it in two different ways,” Aliyah says. “Maybe they’re not sure if they want it in white gold or yellow gold, and we can send both drawings. Then they can decide if they want to move forward with one of the designs.”

On figure close up of Bario Neal's custom designed rings
Custom Designed Rings Are Accessible

With Bario Neal, “custom design” doesn’t mean a free-for-all with your bank account. While we go into each custom project with an open timeline – because we handcraft each ring in our Philadelphia workshop and allow for your changes along the way – we do welcome clients who want to get concrete about budget.

“I had no idea how much things cost, and we had a budget in mind. So I was able to tell Bario Neal what style and stones I really liked and the budget we had, to see what’s realistic,” Steph says. “That was really good. They could tell me what was in the budget.”

Sarah Morrison says she and Pam appreciate that working on a budget didn’t mean sacrificing their vision of a truly personalized engagement ring. “We’d seen a picture of a ring that was about $10,000, a five-stone Art Deco ring. It was absolutely beautiful and we thought, that’s the one. Then I remembered I work at a nonprofit,” she says with a laugh. “But it was really neat to look at other Bario Neal rings and say, ‘Okay well how can we get a similar vibe to that while staying within what we can afford?'”

Custom Designing Is About Relationships, Not “Point and Click” 

While some jewelry companies offer an online-only, multiple choice design for “custom” rings, our clients get to work with experienced and skilled people such as Aliyah, who fell in love with jewelry design in high school and went on to study it in college. We think it makes a huge difference.

My role is to be able to transform from idea into reality,” she says. “Being a designer, I know what is possible and how the ring will structurally need to function in order to make what they want.”

Mick values the expertise Bario Neal brought to Erin’s ring and how Sarah Francks explained to him and Erin how cluster rings come together functionally and aesthetically. “My advice after going through this custom design is to definitely consult with someone that knows what they’re doing,” he says. “While we all know what we like in certain looks, those don’t always work well together when you go to produce something. The technical jewelry design that they were able to provide us with went a long way early on.”

Bario Neal’s website is designed to be helpful in the custom design process, but we think a big investment like an engagement ring deserves our full attention and the back-and-forth relationships that we build with clients.

“I never would have been able to process the vision for what it would all look like once it’s actually in a ring,” Steph says. “Bario Neal made it so easy. Every step of the way, from choosing stones and layout.”

Sarah Morrison says she and Pam they learned a lot when they visited the Philadelphia showroom. “At our appointment, I did pick up a lot of terms in that one day,” she says. “I’ve since forgotten them, but in that moment I felt very educated and it was really neat just to understand what it is that the jewelers are doing.”

They were so happy with Pam’s engagement ring, they returned to Bario Neal for their wedding bands. Sarah’s band is hammered platinum. Pam’s complements her engagement ring. There will be five white sapphires set to curve around and hug the stones on the engagement ring.

So, fair warning: One custom designed ring might lead to – more rings.

When Erin mentions that they too plan to get their wedding bands from Bario Neal, Mick teases, “Oh, you’re getting a third one?”

She answers, “Yeah. Duh.”

Start custom designing a ring with Bario Neal today by filling out our Custom Design Questionnaire or making an appointment to visit our Philadelphia or New York City showrooms.

 

 

Here’s What to Expect at a Bario Neal Engagement Ring Appointment

By Jamera McNeil on November 6, 2018 at 10:00 am

Collage of Bario Neal rings - What to Expect

Bario Neal™’s engagement ring and wedding band appointments happen in many ways: in our Philadelphia or New York City showrooms, on the phone, and over email or Skype. Yes, you might have to make big decisions. But we can promise it will be fun, whichever way you work with our team. Here’s what to expect at an appointment with us.

  • We make everyone who shops with us feel at home.

We don’t have any rules about what an engagement ring “should” look like. We don’t subscribe to gendered jewelry. Visit our showrooms solo because you’re planning a surprise, or bring a friend or someone from your family. Many couples shop for engagement rings together, and the stop at Bario Neal is just one hour of a magical day.

  • Making an appointment is really easy.

We ask that clients who want to talk about engagement rings make an appointment. That way, you get our fullest attention (not in a high-pressure sales way). We can take our time and focus on helping you search for your perfect ring. We don’t like waiting on hold either, so we’ve made scheduling an appointment online simple. View what openings we have, choose the best time on our calendar for you, and get an email in seconds confirming your appointment with details about the when, where, and how.

  • We want to get to know a bit about you.

If you’re up for a little pre-appointment homework and you want to keep things focused, start by completing our Custom Design Questionnaire before you visit. Whether you’re up for that or not, expect an inspiring and fun 60 minutes with us.

We want to hear about your wedding plans and dream honeymoon destination, but we also want to know the day-to-day you. Do you use your hands a lot in your work? Do you have a job where some jewelry might not be a fit? Are you an avid rock climber? Based on your answers, we can give you details about gemstones, metals, and settings to help in your decision about which engagement ring is right for your lifestyle.

Getting engaged isn’t a business deal, and we don’t think selling engagement rings and wedding bands has to be cold or transactional. The more we find out about what you like (or don’t) about jewelry design, the better prepared we are to help guide you to the perfect wedding ring. (Or rings “” because like us, you might love to mix and match and want to stack two, three, or four rings.) If you want to use gemstones from your heirloom jewelry, let us know at the start. You can bring family pieces that you hope to incorporate to your first appointment. We’d love to take a look and hear the stories behind them.

  • We’ll tell you about us.

Like the perfect first date, this getting-to-know-you stage isn’t one-way. We’ll tell you all about Bario Neal too. About how our founders Anna Bario and Page Neal started the company with the firm belief that jewelry should be handcrafted with care to last and done so in a way that doesn’t harm people (like communities where gemstone mining happens) or the planet.

If you visit our Philly location, you’ll get to see the workshop where our talented jewelers (this is the part of the appointment where you’re most likely to hear the phrase “kickass”) create engagement rings, wedding bands, and more.

We’ll happily answer all your questions about ethical sourcing of gemstones and the steps we take to make sure we’re a sustainable jeweler.

“People are often impressed with the quality of our recycled metals,” says Claire Lemétais, who manages Bario Neal’s New York City showroom on the Lower East Side. “I want clients to know they found the right jeweler, and that they can be confident in not only the design but also the quality and sourcing of gemstones and metals.”

  • We don’t have to talk about money. (But we can.)

If you and your partner are ready to talk budget, great. We’ll show you pieces from our collection that fit your price range. (You can get an idea about cost in advance on our website. Click on “Build Ring” to get a personalized engagement ring estimate.) If you’re making an appointment to visit with your partner and want to keep your spouse-to-be out of the purchase details, make a note in your online booking. If customers don’t mention anything to us in advance, we bring up budget in a low-key way and take cues from there.

  • We’ll figure out your ring size.

You might have a ring size or have been sized before, but every jeweler uses different sizing tools. We like to size your engagement ring finger (you choose!) so we have a number to refer to across our production, from order to delivery. (If you’re visiting alone and want to surprise your partner, check out our tips for engagement ring shopping for advice on sizing.)

 

Photograph of stack of rings from Bario Neal - What to Expect

  • You’ll get to see a lot of engagement rings (aka: Most Fun).

“I always start by asking clients about their ideas and inspiration,” says Ariel Yaroslawitz, Bario Neal Sales Director in Philadelphia. “I also like to find out if someone is set on a white diamond or if they’re thinking about a colored stone. Then I can start pulling rings from our case that are more specific to their style and vibe.”

Our collection is on display at both showrooms so you can see all that we’re able to do, from a more traditional diamond engagement ring to whimsical or bursting with color. While many of our rings fit into a classic engagement ring style, the whole case is yours to roam. You might prefer a textured band, like our Dais Narrow Band, or a few stackable rings instead of one ring with a single gemstone at the center.

“I don’t “˜label’ any of our rings,” Claire says. “Certain bands with diamonds, like our Bend Diamond Ring for example, can be an engagement ring or a wedding band.”

Claire says she loves to show clients looking for a classic solitaire diamond engagement ring the delicate Avens Ring, which can be made with diamonds of different shapes. See how diamond shape can change a design by comparing the Avens Round Diamond Ring to the Avens Raw Diamond Ring. For customers who prefer a bezel setting to prongs, Claire suggests the Allium Round Diamond Ring.

If a solitaire white diamond (or an accessibly priced twin like a white sapphire or lab-grown moissanite) doesn’t make your heart beat faster, you might pass on the 4Cs of diamonds and ask our sales team about the very modern 2Cs: colors and clusters. Two cluster rings that have tons of fans, especially when it comes to cluster engagement rings, are the Radial Cluster Blue Hex Sapphire Ring and Burst Cluster Diamond Ring.

“The Hex Sapphire is one of our most popular cluster rings,” Claire says. “Clients might personalize their engagement ring and change some of the stones for different color gemstones, but most of our cluster personalizations start with that. There’s also a beautiful matching band that goes with it, the Radial Cluster Blue Sapphire Ombré Band.”

Pro tip from Claire: Take your own photos with different engagement rings on your hand during your appointment. The pics will help you remember what you thought was the best fit and why.

  • You’ll get a quick lesson on diamonds and other gemstones.

We’ll walk you through the ins and outs of diamond facts that might be useful as you think about your budget. You can even look at loose stones (a novel experience for most customers, who typically only see gems already set in rings, earrings, and necklaces). We’ll show you diamonds at four sizes so you can see the difference between a half carat and 1.5 carats. “I encourage customers to hold them up to their hand because you get a sense of proportion and how a certain size carat looks on your finger,” Claire says.

  • You’re allowed to change the picture of your perfect engagement ring.

You might think your mind’s made up and that you and your partner are set on a princess cut diamond with a simple prong setting. Then you see Bario Neal’s Soma Rose Cut Diamond with Champagne Halo Ring. Or the Lash Solitaire Blue Sapphire Ring. That happens.

Loving many rings in our showroom shouldn’t stress you out at all. If you start to feel overwhelmed by the decision, our sales team will likely pick up on that and help refocus the appointment by zeroing in on what exactly you like about certain rings in our collection. Do the interesting shapes of the Lash Cluster Dyad Ring catch your eye? Do you prefer yellow gold or white gold? Are you a fan of symmetry or asymmetry?

You might just need time. That’s OK too. We’re not in a hurry, and we know this isn’t a decision that can be rushed.

“I’ve been working with a customer over the last year who was originally set on an all sapphire ring, with white and blue sapphires,” Ariel says. “Now we’re talking about an all-white sapphire cluster.”

You definitely don’t need to make up your mind by the end of the hour. There’s no pressure to buy. (If you are ready to order, put 50% down and we’ll get started!) You can make a follow-up appointment (you’ll be an old pro!) or continue with us over email or phone.

  • We’ll talk timeline on ring delivery.

Talk to us about when you’re thinking of proposing or getting engaged. We’re good with deadlines, and the delivery estimate we give you will be accurate. We handcraft all engagement rings to order, and rings from our collection take four to six weeks to make. A custom piece takes eight weeks minimum, and turnaround really depends on the design. Finding the right gemstones and making changes based on customer feedback can add days, weeks, or more to a project. That’s why we approach all custom work with an open timeline and don’t give a firm deadline while we design the just-right ring.

Good news for last-minute proposals: If you want to pop the question (surprise holiday engagement anyone?) and the personalized engagement ring you ordered from us won’t be ready in time, we have pretty, simple rings in stock that you can get in a week or less to use as a placeholder for the proposal. Our Ready Ring can be picked up from our Philadelphia location same day, or ordered online with shipping in two days. You can even return the Ready Ring with zero restocking fees when your personalized ring is complete.

  • You’ll receive a detailed post-appointment email.

Soon after your appointment, we’ll send you helpful follow-up notes about everything we discussed and discovered during your visit. This email has the basics like your ring size and details like links to our website of the rings you liked the most. We keep this on file so you can email or call us any time after your initial appointment and we can pull that up to keep the process going smoothly. You might not always deal with the same salesperson, but everyone on our team will be able to help you with your order.

“There’s so much information in an appointment. You don’t have to remember it all,” Ariel says. “The follow-up email is also helpful if you can’t decide between two or three rings, or you’re thinking more about what you want.”

  • Don’t see exactly what you want? We can work with you to get there.

All of our collection rings can be personalized with different gemstones and metals. We love working with clients to custom design rings from scratch (starts at $1,500).

We’re committed to ethical sourcing, and that means that on occasion we can’t get the exact color, shape, and size in a gemstone that a customer wants. If you’re as committed to buying an ethical engagement ring as we are to making them, we can work with you to figure out an alternative. “We have so many stones in stock that often we can come up with something else that you’re going to love,” Ariel says.

Image of hand wearing multiple rings - What to Expect

  • You order an engagement ring. What’s next?

When you purchase a collection ring you see on our website or in our showroom cases, that’s the ring you’ll get – made to order in the size and color of your choice. Place your order and, unless you have specific questions, we’ll email you when your engagement ring is ready.

Our custom designed engagement ring process requires more back and forth, though much of it can happen by phone or email. We’ll show you full-color computer drawings (CAD renderings) from several angles. You can make small changes and ask questions.

We’re also happy to see you in person again. “We can get two to three different options of a diamond or colored gemstone that fit what you’re looking for in terms of budget,” Ariel says. “If you’re local, it’s nice to come back and see the stone you are getting and have a hand in choosing it. Everyone’s eye is different.” We can send video and photos to remote clients.

  • You can do a long-distance appointment.

You don’t have to visit our Philadelphia or New York City showrooms. As much as we relish face-to-face time with our clients, we’re super easy to work with by Skype, email, and phone. Get started by filling out our online Custom Design Questionnaire.

Whether you’re doing some early browsing, or you have a million questions about engagement rings, a visit to Bario Neal is the best way to get started. Make an engagement ring shopping appointment with us in Philadelphia or New York City today.

“I want customers to know that this ring, which is going to be on their hand forever, is the right one for them,” Ariel says. “Even if you just want to come in to get your ring size and find out about different metal options, start with an appointment.”

These 7 Larger-than-Life Rings Make a Bold Impression

By Jamera McNeil on October 17, 2018 at 10:10 am

If you’re looking for a big, stop-in-your-tracks engagement ring or special occasion ring but you don’t want garish or overdone, we’ve got seven larger-than-life ring designs that bring the flash, but not the flash in the pan. They’re a perfect exclamation point””but not an ALL-CAPS TEXT. When it comes to high impact, we’ve introduced a new colorful halo opal ring that we know will be an instant hit. Plus, we’re updating several popular ring designs with new color combinations to amp up the excitement.

  1. Dez Halo Opal with Rainbow Melee Ring

“The new halo opal is wow,” says Tessa Kennedy, Design and Production Director at Bario Neal. She puts it that simply because our newest halo ring speaks for itself. In this design, “rainbow” doesn’t mean the Lucky Charms you had as a kid. “If you Google ‘rainbow,’ you’ll get the most primary, bright picture,” Tessa says with a laugh. “So for us, it was really exciting to take the many months we spent on colors for this sophisticated design, to really get it right. You rarely see something that considered in jewelry design.” The result: A muted yellow sapphire, green tourmaline, London blue topaz, Rhodolite garnet, and more, are all invited to a party that you’ll never want to end. (Our color streak didn’t stop there. We’ve released a striking Half Eternity Wide Rainbow Gemstone Band too.)

  1. Halo Aquamarine Ring

This classic halo ring was born with a round carat-plus aquamarine stone and 22 white melee diamonds. That pale blue is an inviting ocean to dive into, but the ring is so popular that we’re giving two new stones a chance to feel the love. The Stellium Morganite with Diamond Halo Ring will add on-trend pale pink into the mix. With the Stellium Diamond Halo Ring, you’ll get an engagement ring that fully embraces traditional and unforgettable at the same time.

Collage of Bario Neal's Larger-than-life Rings
L to R: Senna Blue Sapphire With White Enamel Halo Ring, Senna Diamond with Black Enamel Halo Ring, Senna Blue Sapphire with Black Enamel Halo Ring
  1. Senna Halo Black Enamel & Diamond Halo Ring

Our striking Senna Diamond Halo Ring stands out not just for its conflict free diamond but its black enamel digs. Many contemporary jewelers don’t use enamel, but the Bario Neal team has been working this colorful coating into ring designs for years. (The science-meets-art process of making enamel for our rings is fascinating.) A splash of new primary colors means this halo ring will get even more look-at-me wattage. Picture our Senna Blue Sapphire with White Enamel Halo Ring or our Senna Blue Sapphire with Black Enamel Halo Ring. Daily wear can be tough on soft enamel, but with this halo ring design the enamel is safely recessed.

  1. Cluster Hex Sapphire Ring

“Popular” doesn’t quite cover it for this cluster ring fave that proves you don’t need a diamond at the center to be the center of attention. “Everyone is bonkers for it,” Tessa says. She’s certain that devotion will extend to the four new variations and matching bands Bario Neal has designed that will be released next month. 

  1. Quince Diamond Ring

Diamonds for days. Scratch that. Make it weeks. Add an appointment to your calendar so you can sit and stare at the gorgeousness. This is a modern take on a halo ring. The round diamond in the middle gets dressed up with round diamonds pavéd in the halo. We’ll admit the addition of diamonds in the band too (every last one ethically sourced) takes us into giddy territory. If you want to turn up the volume even higher, the low-profile Quince stacks well with other rings. Our new design updates on this ring add mystery and lean less traditional by putting a blue sapphire or an emerald into a bold embrace of black melee diamonds.

 

Collage of Bario Neal's Larger-than-life Rings
L to R: Quince Blue Sapphire with Black Diamond Halo Ring and Quince Emerald with Black Diamond Halo Ring
  1. Cluster Fringe Diamond Ring

If you want to max out with a cluster ring, this one’s at the top of our “yes” list. “This is the ring that clients try on and instantly crave,” Tessa says, “and then they say, “˜Oh, I really shouldn’t.’ To which we reply, “˜Yeah you should!'”

  1. Avens Asymmetrical Raw Diamond Ring

Want to mix softer and more natural looking with a bit of forward cluster fun? The 1.15 carat rough diamond in our impression-making Avens Asymmetrical Raw Diamond Ring keeps things buzzing with apricot and yellow sapphires. (Our Avens Asymmetrical Ring and a new Avens Asymmetrical Cushion Cut Diamond and Champagne Ring design has an update too, with a big deep blue round sapphire found in the new Avens Symmetrical Round Blue Sapphire Ombre Ring.)

5 Tips About Our Larger-than-life Rings

At Bario Neal, we don’t just insert a flashy gemstone for wow factor and call it a day. Gorgeous bold designs with big gemstones and ethical sourcing can come all in one ring, and we’re passionate about maintaining that balance. And it’s not only about carats. Sometimes a different design or enamel or a unique color mix makes the standout difference. Shop our halo rings and cluster rings today to find show-stopping expression””in the most elegant way.

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.

8 Ways to Simplify Engagement Ring Shopping

By Jamera McNeil on September 13, 2018 at 9:00 am

Photograph of two hands holding with one hand wearing a diamond engagement ring

You don’t need to be an Inception-style hypnotist or master of the subtle hint to get an engagement ring you love. If you and your partner have decided to get married, or you’ve had enough conversations to know a proposal is coming soon, there are some easy next steps when it comes to picking out and buying a ring. Whether you’re after a did-not-see-that-coming shriek or you plan to low-key team up for a visit to the jewelry store, these eight engagement ring shopping tips will help make that big moment anxiety-free and unforgettable.

  1.   For a Total Surprise Proposal, Enlist an Engagement Ring Ally

If you or your partner are really hoping for a total surprise in the future, then tell a friend or relative all your preferences. We’ve had clients visit our showrooms with moms, dads, daughters, sons, sisters, brothers, cousins, and best friends. Hint: Your partner really wants to get this right. By clueing in someone close for “when the time comes,” you can lend your support in a roundabout way. Read on for the what/how on sharing details.

Photograph of hands, rings, and cellphones

  1. Make a Pinterest Board of Engagement Rings

When you think perfect solitaire engagement ring, does our Avens Radiant Diamond Ring come to mind? Then Pin It! It’s totally OK and normal to talk to your partner about the ring you might want, but sharing in this way can be a helpful way to jump into the process. Add pictures and links of ring designs that speak to you or capture you and your partner’s love. Inspiration will take shape. A Pinterest board is useful if you’re trying to work out what you like too. It’s totally OK if you don’t have a detailed pictured in your head of a dream engagement ring.

If you don’t want to be on hand for engagement ring choosing, email your Pinterest board to your partner””or to the Bario Neal team directly. We’ll tap into your behind-the-scenes help and find an engagement ring from our collections, or custom design one, that fits your style.  

  1. Email Subject Line: Engagement Rings

If you’re not into pinning, no worries. Share your ring ideas over an email to your partner (think of it as a kind of modern-day love letter), or someone your partner might turn to when planning an engagement ring surprise. All engagement rings on our site have a button that allows you to send an email link easily. Even if you decide you’ll pick out your engagement ring together, browse rings on our website before visiting and share your favorites with the Bario Neal team so we can narrow down the choices at appointment time.

Photograph of two pairs of hands pointing at engagement rings

  1. Take an Engagement Ring Scouting Trip

The internet’s a great place to start when you’re looking for an engagement ring, but there’s a big difference between buying our Kalmia Raw Diamond Ring and adding a pair of kicks to your Zappos cart. We believe that seeing rings up close and even slipping a few on, while talking to the Bario Neal team is super useful. (It’s also fun!) Make an appointment to visit one of our showrooms, in New York or Philadelphia. Come solo, or with your partner, a friend, or a relative. (Plan a whole day out with this guide to our Philadelphia neighborhood.)  

  • If you can’t visit our Philadelphia or NYC showrooms: If you love Bario Neal’s jewelry designs but aren’t able to visit us, we’ll make long-distance engagement ring shopping feel really personalized. We successfully work with clients around the country (and world!), and they’re constantly expressing surprise at just how easy it is to get exactly what they want without ever stepping foot in our showrooms. We can model engagement rings and take photos and videos to share with remote clients upon request.  
  • About shopping for an engagement ring with your partner: There’s varying degrees of surprise when it comes to marriage proposals. Some couples pick out or custom design an engagement ring together, but the actual question-popping is a surprise. Finding this special piece of jewelry as a couple can be quite romantic. Go with your instincts. We love how this Cosmopolitan writer put it: “Picking out and buying a ring together made me feel like a partner in a practice that has historically been a little sexist and one-sided. Having gone through it the way we did, there’s no other way I could have imagined it.” Plus, her husband-to-be still pulled off a totally unexpected proposal. At the end of your appointment, we’ll ask who we should include in email communications – and this is your opportunity to let us know if only one partner should be involved in the next steps!

Photograph of a Bario Neal card and notepad with a client's ring size

  1. Write Down Your Ring Size

Most rings can be resized, but if you know you’re not going to want to part with your engagement ring after the proposal and your partner is headed to the jeweler without you, make sure your ring size is public knowledge. Ask a jeweler to size your ring finger on a scouting trip (see No. 3 on this list), or DIY. There are several ways to figure out your ring size at home, but our favorite is using a ring you already wear. You can also buy inexpensive ring sizers on Amazon. Keep in mind that most folks do change their ring size at least once, so if you do need to change it up later, that’s totally normal.

  1. Share Specific Engagement Ring Preferences

Some of us are choosier than others. If you aren’t a generalist when it comes to jewelry, make sure to get into the nitty-gritty details when creating your Pinterest board, emailing links, or giving the lowdown to a friend who’ll be your partner’s guide.

  • Metal color and finish: You’re probably a jumble of mixed signals if you go by what has collected in your jewelry box over the years. Your partner might not know rose gold from platinum, or matte from polish anyway. If you pin or email a link to a platinum ring because you like the gemstone setting, but you really want it in 14k yellow gold, make a note!
  • Gemstone type and shape: You might love lots of gemstone shapes, but when it comes to an engagement ring that you’ll wear every day, you probably have a more exacting look in mind. A helpful graphic on our Custom Design Questionnaire will help you (and your partner) sort princess from round from cushion. Pass along gemstone wishes too. Your partner can be forgiven if he assumes you want a white diamond because so much wedding ring marketing is about diamonds. If you most definitely are into color, like our Lash Solitaire Blue Sapphire Ring, make sure to telegraph that. Now’s also a good time to talk to family about or mention to your partner heirloom gemstones you’ve dreamed of incorporating into an engagement ring. We’ve crafted many personalized rings, like this Custom Heirloom Emerald and Morganite Cluster Ring, using gemstones passed down through generations.
  • Jeweler: Love Bario Neal’s aesthetic? If you’re drawn to a small studio that designs and handcrafts jewelry like we do, that’s a great hint to drop. That way, you’re more likely to get a design that matches your taste and make the process easier for a partner shopping solo. If you care about ethical and sustainable metal and gemstone sourcing, that’s an important tip to be clear about too.  

Photograph of two hands trying different ring designs

  1. Have That Budget Talk

Not only is it totally OK to talk about your ring designs with your partner, take this chance to talk money too. If you already have joint bank accounts and share your finances, this might even be necessary, because you’ll see the purchase. You’ll do your partner a favor by confirming that the cost of the ring is not what’s important. You don’t want your partner feeling societal pressure to spend a certain amount of money when the engagement ring that will make you happiest is our Aira Mini Diamond Ring. If you want a big standout gemstone but you think lab-grown moissanite, like the ones in our Custom Moissanite Linear Cluster Ring, is just as pretty as a diamond, that’s advice that will lead to your partner spending significantly less. Some couples share the cost of an engagement ring. Your budget is personal, and we work with budgets of all sizes! Whether your partner visits us without you or you’re fully part of the process, having a budget in mind will help keep a ring shopping appointment on track. We’re happy to talk budget and have no expectations. Those jewelry stores that give off the “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it” vibe? That’s so not us.

  1. Ask Your Partner: Hey, Do YOU Want an Engagement Ring?

There’s an icebreaker! One of the whole reasons Bario Neal exists is to challenge the heteronormative stereotypes around jewelry and that definitely includes engagement rings. However you and your partner identify in terms of gender and sexuality, if you’re excited about finding and wearing wedding jewelry, feminine or masculine, we’re thrilled to be a small part of your story. We don’t have a strict definition about what makes an engagement ring””or who might wear one. So before you load up that Pinterest board and start dropping hints about your ring size, ask your partner about wearing an engagement ring. Who knows? You might end up surprising each other.

Your proposal story, that first time you look at that engagement ring together, is personal and you write the rules. It doesn’t have to match a scene from a movie. Hopefully it will be one you’ll want to share with people you love. The most important thing: You and your partner get there without a lot of stress or outside expectations. And you end up with an engagement ring that’s meaningful and that you love.

8 Great Jewelry Design Ideas With Black Diamonds

By Sarah on August 20, 2018 at 12:51 pm

Black Diamond Rings Bario NealWith all the romance of our favorite black-and-white movies (new and old), sparkly yet opaque black diamonds bring a high-contrast look to custom jewelry. We love this versatile gemstone for wedding bands, cocktail rings, and stacking rings. We’ve even been known to get all eyes widened and jaws dropped in awe of black diamond engagement rings.

For those reasons and more, Bario Neal is bringing black diamonds to some of our most popular ring designs this month. Clients can now shop the Aira Mini Black Diamond Ring, Bend Black Diamond Ring, Ray Black Diamond Ring, and more.

Black diamonds have the wearability of a white diamond but at bigger sizes are more accessibly priced. They might seem like the opposite of a champagne diamond or pink diamond, but they’re all part of the fancy colored diamonds family with all the durable properties.

Here are eight design ideas that show off our new black diamond ring collection and will inspire personalized rings too.

Black diamond engagement rings aren’t everywhere.

But maybe that’s exactly why you want one. A lot of our clients looking for a darker stone ask for a sapphire, but if you’re intrigued by black diamond jewelry, you should feel free to pick the gemstone that’s totally you. At Bario Neal, we love breaking tired rules about wedding rings, and this Custom Linear Diamond Ring with Black Eternity Band is proof that black diamond engagement rings can work so beautifully.

Stacking rings get personalized with black diamonds.

The Open Lash Black Diamond Ring and Open Lash White and Black Diamond Ring (a black and white diamond destined for each other) are newcomers to Bario Neal that lay the perfect foundation for stacking. For a look that’s rooted in the classic but has a hint of edge, mix a solitaire white diamond engagement ring like our Avens Round Diamond Ring with the Open Lash Black Diamond Ring.

Custom Black Diamond Engagement Rings
Picture cleanly and simply accessorizing your favorite black suit or dress.

Now take that style to jewelry with this oh-so-put-together Custom Linear Emerald Cluster Ring. Like every good basic in your closet, the black diamond seems like a staple in this ring “” vital, not boring.

Black diamond jewelry can be a family affair.

Our Linea Black Diamond Ring update was an easy choice. The asymmetrical setting is a perfect home for the more uncommon black diamonds. Plus, we know just how well the design works already thanks to our Linea Black Diamond Pendant and Linea Black Diamond Studs. We’re calling it now: 2018, meet your new power trio.

Black diamonds can be ethically sourced.

We source black diamonds like the one that refuses to be upstaged by a white or champagne diamond in this Custom Three Stone Bouquet Ring from mines we trust in South America. (Gemstone fact: Most rough “black diamonds” start out as dark diamonds that are cut and irradiated to get a true black. The stones sit for a period of time after the process so they’re not radioactive when distributed.)

Black diamonds make for a nontraditional wedding band.

We already love our Channel Narrow Black Diamond Band and Eternity Narrow Black Diamond Band and their noir rows. With our black diamond jewelry update, we have more wedding band and stacking band choices: Reticulated One Black Diamond Band (a very accessible wedding ring with shapely flair), Half Eternity Narrow Black Diamond Band, Half Channel Narrow Black Diamond Band, and Dais Black Diamond Band.

Black Diamond Wedding Bands and Rings.
Black goes with everything.

Clichéd OK, but still so meaningful when you look at this Custom Rough Diamond, Garnet, and Black Diamond Ring. People frequently mix black diamonds with white diamonds, but this custom ring shows what you’re missing if you don’t invite other colorful gemstones to the cluster.

There’s no “wrong” metal for black diamonds.

You may think the gemstone adds a bit of mystery to a ring, but one decision is clear: Black diamonds shine in yellow gold, rose gold, platinum, and white gold.

“Black diamond jewelry might not be for everyone,” admits Genna Fischer, Bario Neal gemstone sourcing coordinator, “but, if black diamonds are for you, you just know.”

Diamond or Not? White Diamonds Aren’t the Only Gems for Unique Engagement Rings—Look to Natural Diamonds, Moissanite, and White Sapphire Rings Too

By Sarah on August 8, 2018 at 3:27 pm

Engagements aren’t just a matter of the heart. Don’t get us wrong. We live for our clients’ stories about finding each other and falling in love. (Seriously, tell us more. You met how???) But getting married can be a think piece all in itself, and your head might quickly start to spin when you think about big decisions, like choosing an engagement ring. When you visit one of our showrooms, in Philadelphia or New York City, to look at engagement rings, expect to have fun. But we’re also ready to answer serious questions about ethics, sustainability, and sourcing that you might have as you choose the right gemstone for you.

Diamonds are the most popular choice for engagement rings, but there are two other lovely colorless gemstones you can also consider: moissanite and white sapphire. We’ve made unique engagement rings using all three. Each can work for a couple who’s thinking about how communities and the environment are impacted by gemstone mining.

  • Moissanite is a colorless gemstone that is produced in a lab, so there’s no new mining involved.
  • For many Bario Neal diamond engagement rings, we use reclaimed diamonds. These are stones previously set in other jewelry, and buying reclaimed is the eco-friendliest choice. Not only do you avoid more mining, you’re not tapping into the energy involved in lab manufacturing either.
  • We source our white sapphires from a family-run sapphire mine in Sri Lanka that works on a small scale and strives to have a light environmental footprint. If you buy a white sapphire engagement ring, you’re supporting ethical small business owners and in turn their community’s economy. Mining means jobs for the miners and financial stability.

You’ll want to make the decision that feels like a fit for you, and when you visit our Philadelphia or New York City showroom, we’re happy to help you find an engagement ring gemstone that works for your heart and head. To start, here’s more on these three gemstones along with some design inspiration.

 

Moissanite Engagement Rings
L to R: Custom Moissanite Linear Cluster Ring, Custom 2-carat Oval Moissanite Cluster Ring with Diamonds
Moissanite Engagement Rings

Even if chemistry class made you yawn, it’s impossible to not be intrigued by a gemstone growing in a lab. Moissanite is actually a natural mineral, silicon carbide, though it’s rarely found in nature anymore. A chemist, Henri Moissan, is credited with first identifying it “” at the site of a meteor strike in Arizona in 1893. In the 1990s, some scientists (who probably did not fall asleep in front of their Bunsen burners in high school) figured out a way to produce the silicon carbide crystals that Moissan, when he first saw them, thought were diamonds. North Carolina-based Charles & Colvard filed a patent and started growing moissanite in a lab and selling the stones as an accessibly priced alternative to white diamonds. The company is Bario Neal’s source for moissanite today.

If there’s a giant stone in the perfect custom engagement ring design you have in your head, and budget is top of mind, a moissanite could be your go-to at about half the price of white diamonds. (A half carat diamond ring in a four-prong setting at Bario Neal retails for around $3,000. The same jewelry with a moissanite would start around $1,750.)

That accessibility has inspired some truly inventive collaborations with Bario Neal clients over the years, as you can see in this Custom Moissanite Cluster Ring. If you’re ready to swear those are diamonds in that ring, well, you’ve got good company.

“Most people can’t tell a difference between a diamond and a moissanite,” says Genna Fischer, Bario Neal gemstone sourcing coordinator.  

Diamonds and moissanite are so twinning, you can easily mix them in a stack “” or even in the same ring. The double-take proof is in this Custom 2-carat Oval Moissanite Cluster Ring with Diamonds.

At larger sizes, moissanite does tend to throw off rainbow vibes when sparkling, whereas a white diamond has a truer white/silver sparkle. Moissanite is nearly as hard as diamonds (at 9.5 on the Mohs hardness scale vs. a diamond’s 10) so they’re completely durable for a daily wear ring. If you’re passing on diamonds altogether but want smaller stones in your wedding band or encircling your center stone, moissanite comes in tiny melee sizes too.  

Diamonds have been the stars of engagement rings for decades and big marketing bucks go into generating a mystique around them, but we think moissanite has its own story to tell as unique-to-the-lab stones.

Two Bario Neal clients who happened to be scientists agreed. As a nod to their shared profession, they chose moissanite for this Custom Moissanite Linear Cluster Ring. Catalyst Wedding Co. called the engagement ring “seriously one of the coolest ideas we have heard.”

 

L to R: Custom Trillion Cut White Sapphire Bouquet Cluster Ring, Trillion Dyad Ring, Nikko Pear White Sapphire Ring
L to R: Custom Trillion Cut White Sapphire Bouquet Cluster Ring, Trillion Dyad Ring, Nikko Pear White Sapphire Ring
White Sapphire Engagement Rings

Sapphires are most famous in blue, but a white sapphire is another tempting and colorless gemstone for engagement rings, especially if you want a white diamond look without the diamond.

“White sapphires tend to have a bit more of a gray-blue undertone than a diamond, and you can see that,” Genna says. “A white sapphire looks different from a diamond or a moissanite. It’s its own thing. It’s more understated.”

We’re all for everyone being their own thing, so maybe that’s why white sapphires get us every time. There’s nothing not pretty about those undertones either, as you can see in our Custom Trillion Cut White Sapphire Bouquet Cluster Ring. There’s a reason that our Trillion Dyad Ring and its white sapphires stop wedding bloggers in their tracks.

Like moissanite, white sapphires are also more accessibly priced than white diamonds. They bring a less fiery but no less inviting look to an engagement ring, such as our Nikko Pear White Sapphire Ring.

“White sapphires don’t have the across-the-room flare of diamonds, which make them a budget-friendly option for someone who wants a colorless gemstone that’s subtler and less sparkly,” Genna says.  

 

Quince Ring
Quince Ring
Diamond Engagement Rings

By using reclaimed white diamonds, heirloom diamonds, and Canadian-mined white diamonds, Bario Neal maintains high standards about ethics and sourcing and gives our clients plenty of diamond engagement ring choices.

Our Quince Diamond Ring might not look guilt-free, but it is “” right down to the tiny diamonds in the halo. Many jewelers can’t assure that such small stones, called melee, are ethically sourced, but Bario Neal makes sure ours are 100 percent traceable and ethical. (For a complete takedown of diamond myths, check out our helpful guide to diamond facts.)

If you’re looking for a true antique cut in a reclaimed gemstone, look to diamonds. The 1990s-born moissanite and more newly popular white sapphires come primarily in modern-day cuts.

L to R: Avens Asymmetrical Raw Diamond Ring, Kalmia Raw Diamond Ring, Avens Raw Diamond Ring
L to R: Avens Asymmetrical Raw Diamond Ring, Kalmia Raw Diamond Ring, Avens Raw Diamond Ring

Raw Diamond Engagement Rings

Raw diamonds bring a more rugged or natural look to an engagement ring. While you might be well aware of the harm that mining can bring to people and the environment, there’s, unfortunately, room for abuse in the processing of stones too. Unfair labor practices are connected to cutting and polishing diamonds in many places. Bario Neal’s ethical jewelry standards mean that we fully trace our gemstones as they make their way to us, so if you’re buying from us, you can trust that’s not the case for your engagement ring. Still, raw diamonds have their own aesthetic appeal, and their shape and appearance open up different setting designs with a natural glimmer.

 

Raw (or rough) diamonds in an engagement ring make for a quiet contrast between delicate and tough in our Avens Raw Diamond Ring and our Kalmia Raw Diamond Ring. If you prefer cluster to a solo look, look at our Avens Asymmetrical Raw Diamond Ring, which puts a raw diamond with sapphires.

 

We know you’ve got the heart part of this engagement ring business down. We’re here to help you sort through details like gemstones and metals and design “” and ethical sourcing and sustainability. Get started by filling out our custom design questionnaire or by making an appointment to visit us (remember: first-date stories welcome!) in our Philadelphia or New York City showroom today.

12 Reasons We Love Breaking the Old “Rules” About Wedding Rings

By Sarah on June 13, 2018 at 9:00 am

We’re not big fans of restrictions or stereotypes when it comes to creating jewelry for our clients at Bario Neal. To counter the wedding industry’s marketing myths, we work extra hard to banish the notion of the so-called “perfect engagement ring.”

What matters to us: You love whatever wedding jewelry you buy (if any). What doesn’t: Tired rules about gemstones and sizes and prices and styles.

Whether you’ve always followed your own tastes instinctively, or you’re someone who is dipping your toe into breaking with tradition, here are 12 old rules about engagement rings and wedding bands that we know you’ll have fun leaving in the past.

Allium Round Engagement Ring with Milla Thin Wedding Band
Allium Round Diamond Engagement Ring with Milla Thin Wedding Band
Break This Rule: The metals of your engagement ring and wedding band must match.

Wearing only all gold or all silver jewelry is as unnecessary as gendered wedding parties. Take one peek at our Milla Square Rims Band, created with a wide strip of platinum, palladium or white gold that’s trimmed in 14k yellow or rose gold, and you’ll see how different metals work well together. We also like our modern Allium Diamond Round Ring in 14kt yellow gold with a band of another metal. Whatever your perfect metal mix, with Bario Neal, your rings and bands will be made with reclaimed or Fairmined solid precious metals.

 

Quill Wedding Band and Half Eternity Diamond Wedding Band in Bario Neal Box
Quill Band and Half Eternity Narrow Diamond Band
Break This Rule: Spouses have to have matching wedding bands.

Maybe you two have the same taste in music. Or clothes. Or art. Maybe you don’t “” and that’s exactly what makes you work as a couple. If your aesthetics aren’t totally in sync, don’t force yourselves into matching wedding bands. If everyone had the same taste, after all, we wouldn’t create so many band styles. Our Half Eternity Narrow Diamond Band is classic, while the textured Quill Band makes a more natural statement.

There’s another way to break this old rule but still keep a hint of likeness: You might pick similar band shapes but each choose a different metal or different finish. One band might be polished, the other matte. For inspiration, look at our super-popular Milla Shoulder Wide Band and Milla Shoulder Narrow Band .

 

Icon Wide One Band, Icon Wide Two Band, Icon Narrow Bands, Lau Diamond Bracelet
Icon Wide One Band, Icon Wide Two Band, Icon Narrow Bands, Lau Diamond Bracelet
Break This Rule: Engagement rings require gemstones.

An engagement ring is an engagement ring because you both say it is. There are no carat quotas. No sparkle mandates. You might skip a gemstone and focus on metals and finishes, or different shapes. You may say “no thanks” to diamonds and love the tone that white glass enamel brings to our Senna Narrow Band.

Some of our clients have stacked two or more plain bands. Together, our Icon Wide One Band and Icon Wide Two Band shine without a gem in sight.

 

Wedding and Engagement Stack of Linear Hex Sapphire Ring, Open Lash Ring, Lash Solitaire Blue Sapphire Ring
Linear Hex Sapphire Ring, Open Lash Ring, Lash Solitaire Blue Sapphire Ring
Break This Rule: Your engagement ring and wedding band need to have the same gemstone.

This rule’s as anachronistic as a black and white television. Our Linear Hex Sapphire Ring proves there’s power in going full color, with its blue sapphire, green sapphire, pink tourmaline, and orange sapphire. (Rule-breaking bonus points: Gems in the same ring don’t need to be the same shape either.)

One fun way to mix gemstones: Pair our Lash Solitaire Blue Sapphire Ring with gorgeous green accents of emeralds in an Open Lash Ring.

Break This Rule: Keep your engagement ring and wedding bands in the same style lane.

The notion that you can’t mix modern and vintage or antique with new went out with plastic-covered living room furniture and fainting couches. If your style is a mix of throwback and very current, embrace it. You can even up the sustainability factor by wearing an heirloom solitaire ring that’s in your family with a modern Bario Neal wedding band like the Nikko Curved Band.

 

Milla Round Wide Band, Milla Round Hammered Wide Band, Milla Shoulder Wide Band
Milla Round Wide Band, Milla Round Hammered Wide Band, Milla Shoulder Wide Band
Break This Rule: Rose gold is “feminine.”

If your eyes roll at the gender conventions attached to jewelry, you might like to break out of the silver and gold mold with a different metal: rose gold. As we said on the blog in January, “people of all genders who want to feel beautiful and celebrate pink can reclaim the hue.” Rose gold looks awesome on all genders and every skin tone. (P.S. If you love to see stereotypes skewered as much as we do, check out this great blog post from A Practical Wedding that hilariously calls out sexist wedding photography.)

Break This Rule: Your wedding band has to be metal.

Wearing jewelry every day might not fit your work or lifestyle. Many couples prefer tattoos as a visible, creative, and meaningful symbol. We’ve seen dates, initials, band-like designs, and more that looked great in ink. A tattoo is a wonderful, and sustainable choice when you don’t want to wear your Bario Neal ring.

 

Cluster Andalusite Engagement Ring
Cluster Andalusite Ring
Break This Rule: You need two rings: an official engagement ring and an official wedding band.

If buying and wearing two rings doesn’t sound like joy to you, think all-in-one. Our free-form Gale Rose Cut Diamond Ring , Custom Andalusite Cluster Ring, and Senna Umbra Ring are all examples of rings that can carry the day solo.

Break This Rule: First comes the engagement ring, then the wedding band. Then the wait for an anniversary band.

Your wedding “band” might be two stacked bands instead. You could have two engagement rings. Or go for three from day one. (Hint: Forget the “ring finger rule” too.) Our Allium Diamond Ring, Cluster Fringe Diamond Ring, and Icon Hex Diamond Ring make a timeless trio. For a more playful look, mix our Open Lash Ring, Ray Ring, and Ray Fringe Band.

 

Halo Aquamarine Engagement Ring with Linea Diamond Wedding Band and Stackable Wedding Band
Halo Aquamarine Engagement Ring with Linea Diamond Wedding Band and Stackable Band
Break This Rule: You need one special set of rings.

Just like we understand why people pass on all wedding jewelry, we also see many clients think creatively about what a wedding set is. Depending on regular activities, workplace, and other lifestyle factors, some couples want a few rings that they can wear at different times or for different occasions. For example, if you have a Halo Aquamarine Ring, a Linea Diamond Band, and a Stackable Band you might wear all three, or just the Stackable Band, depending on the day.

Break This Rule: Never take off your wedding band.

Call us not superstitious. You should take off your wedding ring to travel, or to work, or to sleep. You might even, oh, take off your ring(s) to clean them. After all, never is a long time. By the way, daily wear does affect a ring over time. Check out our FAQs for what that means for finishes and for gemstones, and how we can help if you want a refresh.

Shield One Wedding Band with Filigree Curved Wedding Band
Shield One Band with Filigree Curved Band
Break This Rule: The amount of money you spend on your wedding jewelry reflects the level of your commitment.

This one’s about way more than rule-breaking. It’s about banishing a misconception built on top of a manipulative marketing scheme. Upending these kinds of exclusionary ideas is part of why Bario Neal was started in the first place. Your rings and/or bands should be something you buy because it’s fun and you want them to be part of your marriage story. There’s no minimum price tag on that. If you agree, check out our Milla Thin Band, Shield One Band, Filigree Curved Band, Aldine Band, Senna Tall Band, and Icon Band.

Breaking the rules is freeing “” and will probably get you thinking more creatively about what kind of rings and bands you’d truly love to have. (Notice there are only a few “required fields” on our online Custom Design Questionnaire, and those are just about contacting you.) Follow your own inner style guide “” and choose an engagement ring or wedding band right for you, your spouse, and you both as a couple.

Bario Neal Is an Inclusive Jewelry Designer for Every Couple

By Sarah on June 6, 2018 at 2:24 pm

Masculine hand wearing Linear Hex Sapphire Ring, Reticulated Two Band, Open Lash Ring, and Aldine Thin BandWhen it comes to weddings, there’s an entirely too long list of supposed do’s that we’d like to ban right along with any laws that dictate who can marry who. The very last thing you should feel on the happy occasions of getting engaged or your wedding day is uncomfortable or awkward or discriminated against. With Pride Month underway, we’re calling out all the ways that the wedding industry pushes a story of “Mr. & Mrs.” that excludes so many couples.

When our co-founders, designers Anna Bario and Page Neal, started in the fine jewelry business, they knew they wanted to work to undermine the heteronormativity of the wedding industry. We’ve been rejecting stereotypes ever since.

One direct action we take: We make everyone “” whether you are a same-sex couple, trans, non-binary, or whatever your gender identity, whoever you’re marrying “”  feel at home in our showrooms in Philadelphia and New York City, whether you’re doing some early browsing, have a million questions about engagement rings, or are in a rush to make a purchase. We take this as seriously as we do the ethical sourcing and mining of gemstones and metals.

As we celebrate Pride Month and mark the third anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage in all 50 states, we know that fight’s not finished. We also are certain that inclusiveness benefits every person. Studies show that more equality is good for society as a whole, but we see this as a no-brainer. In the world of weddings, for sure the old wedding do’s and don’ts won’t fit many couples whatever their orientation. Here, six ways we’re crossing them all out.

1. We never make assumptions about your partner.

When you call, visit, or email Bario Neal’s showrooms in New York City or Philadelphia to talk engagement or wedding rings, we welcome you to tell us about your relationship and why you’re shopping. You might visit with a partner, a friend, or a parent. We don’t assume anything about gender, orientation, or age and we look to clients for cues about what a wedding ring means to you and whoever you’re marrying. Our team doesn’t use the word “bride” or “groom” “” but of course, we’re happy to have you refer to yourselves with any moniker you choose. We focus on getting to know YOU “” who your partner is, which pronouns you prefer “” and of course, we wanna know when and where the wedding will be, and if you’ve picked out your dessert. (We have lots of opinions on cake.) We may even be able to connect you with an officiant or photographer you’ll love. Everyone deserves to be who they are and experience enthusiasm for their proposal planning or their big day. We want these moments to feel special for everyone who walks through our doors, regardless of age, orientation, or gender.

2. Our INCLUSIVE jewelry designs don’t have a gender.

For same-sex couples and heterosexual couples alike, we don’t subscribe to gendered jewelry. Pro-tip: Rings don’t have a gender. A subtle band of Fairmined gold. A vibrant cluster of gemstones. You’ll find our cases divided into sections like “Rings with Stones,” “Bands with Stones” and “Bands without Stones.” We want all of our clients to find the rings and bands they love and that have meaning to them. For us, that’s non-negotiable.

3. We don’t believe an engagement ring needs to be a surprise.

Whoever is doing the proposing (maybe you both are!), we love when partners come into our showrooms to shop together for engagement rings and wedding bands. Don’t get us wrong: Spontaneity gives us goosebumps too. If the two of you are into surprises, then we’re on board. However, we understand that buying a ring is a big choice.

There is a way to get the best of both worlds. There’s absolutely no reason that you have to have a ring for a proposal. One of our clients recently brought his partner into our Philadelphia showroom to begin custom designing a ring after they got engaged. He captured the upside perfectly: “Buying an engagement ring is a huge decision so why wouldn’t I want my partner there with me? In the end, we couldn’t be happier with the results, and I know I made the right choice by foregoing tradition and proposing without a ring.”

4. We don’t size up your wallet.

When you walk in our door, we’re not calculating how much money you have, or how much you can or will spend. Yes, we’re aware of the jewelry-industry-fueled myth that you should spend two to three months’ salary on an engagement ring. We just have no time at all for it, and we stay true to our principles by designing affordable rings. Our mission is to make jewelry of lasting value, and we know it can be awkward to ask about prices and talk about budget. We always aim to make visitors to our showrooms comfortable enough so we can talk about cost plainly and presumption-free. Once we have your budget, we stick to it, and we won’t push any rings on you that don’t fit your budget. Seriously, who does that? Rude!

5. The word “upsell” makes a cringe.

When it comes to engagement rings and wedding bands, we want you to be free from rules. You might not be interested in an “official” engagement ring. You might love to have an engagement ring but pass on wedding bands. We’re not going to try to sell you more rings, bigger stones, “care packages,” or anything you don’t want.

6. We won’t sell you on a diamond if you don’t want one.

We’ve made countless beautiful engagement rings without even so much as a glance at a diamond. First, there are so many other gemstones to embrace. There’s also that still a diamond but not the traditional one: champagne diamonds. We’ve made scores of “nontraditional” custom engagement rings over the years, and we love all their stories.

A belief in the right to love and marry whomever and however you choose is one of the core principles of Bario Neal’s jewelry. That’s reflected in our designs and in our showrooms. Stop into a New York City or Philadelphia shop today to see how “at home” you can feel while shopping for jewelry.