So, you've decided to invest in a diamond or colored gemstone ring but don't know where to begin - you've come to the right place! There's a stone for every budget, lifestyle, occasion, and color preference. You'll definitely want to find a reputable jeweler with a code of ethics to match (like us!). We can ensure that all of our diamonds and gemstones are fully traceable and responsibly sourced while all of our metals are recycled or Fairmined gold. We offer an iconic selection of signature styles made to order from our Bario Neal Collection and our sales team are experts at turning a custom design or heirloom redesign dream into a reality.
While it's true that diamonds are the hardest gemstone, consisting of pure carbon, they aren't the only player in this game. You may feel more connected to a vibrant gemstone than its colorless carbon comrade. Whether being set in a personalized birthstone cluster or a sapphire solitaire, there are many different gemstones to choose from and just as many factors to consider when choosing one for everyday wear. If you’re not planning on wearing your ring every day, you will have more options to consider. The Moh’s Hardness Scale is helpful here - it rates mineral hardness (resistance to scratches and abrasions) and is one way to compare gemstones based on durability.
We're only going to get into the details of natural stones in this post (sorry, moissanite) and we often group our sparkly friends into one of these two categories:
Diamond: Diamonds were first set into jewelry about 1,000 years ago. It' only been in the last 100 years that they have become the default engagement ring stone of choice (thanks to this legendary marketing campaign straight out of Philadelphia). Diamonds are extremely resistant to scratching, which makes them an ideal stone for everyday wear - they’re the hardest gemstone on the Moh’s Scale (rated a 10). This strength and durability means that the setting potential for diamonds is vast, from a smooth protective bezel to a delicate traditional four prong setting. Diamonds have come to represent love and eternal commitment, so they're a great symbolic choice for an anniversary or birthday gift. I personally treated myself to the low profile Sol Rose Cut Diamond Ring to commemorate the birth of my son (fine jewelry makes an excellent push present.)
If a white diamond is a bit too traditional for your tastes, we offer champagne diamonds as center stones in many of our collection rings, like our signature Burst Cluster Champagne Diamond Ombré Ring. As natural white diamonds are valued for their rarity and high demand, these colorless stones are normally the most costly. To get the rundown on the world of lab grown diamonds, check out our blog post to learn about how they differ from their earth grown counterparts in several ways.
"The Big Three" - Emerald, Ruby, Sapphire: Before gemology became the science it is today, gemstones were categorized only by color. We now know that the world of gemstones is much more complex and your great grandmother’s sapphire ring may actually be a blue spinel or topaz, affecting its value greatly. These three heavy hitters are the most popular and valuable colored gemstones. Sapphires and rubies are both chemically the same (part of the corundum family) so a ruby can technically be referred to as a red or pink sapphire. Corundum are about four times softer than diamonds but harder than emeralds. Due to their durability and vast color spectrum, they're an ideal stone to set in rings of all settings and styles.
Emeralds, with their mysterious, vivid green jardin, may not be the best everyday-wear ring for someone who is rough with their hands or has an active lifestyle. Even though their rating on the Moh’s Scale is relatively hard (7.5 to 8) these green goddesses aren’t particularly tough, meaning they can be prone to breakage. Larger emeralds with more inclusions/jardin will be a bit less durable than smaller stones with greater clarity. Emeralds are the perfect stone for special occasion statement rings, like the custom cut octagonal emerald in our Sol Octagonal Emerald Ring.
Semi-Precious stones aren't any less beautiful than their precious counterparts - they're just considered less rare and valuable. These stones are usually on the softer end of the Mohs Harness Scale, meaning they're more susceptible to scratching but can still be worn often with a little care and attention. Unless you're born in April, May, July, or September, your birthstone falls into this category. Softer gemstones may make for a more delicate center stone, but are still fantastic options for side stones and melee (small round stones).
Some of our favorite collection pieces feature semi-precious gemstones such as aquamarine, morganite, opal, and garnet. Aquamarine and morganite are both in the same family as emeralds (Beryl). Morganite is a dreamy light pink/peach that looks elegant as a solitaire, like our Kalmia Rose Cut Morganite Ring, or a cluster like our Burst Cluster Morganite with Diamond Ombré Ring. The Stellium Aquamarine with Diamond Halo Ring, which we also make in a morganite version, is a nod to vintage style cocktail rings.
Garnets, one of the hardest semi precious gemstones, rated an 8 on the Moh’s, are a popular, affordable colored gemstone and the birthstone for January. Bario Neal’s deep red anthill garnet, responsibly sourced from Navajo land in the state of Arizona, shines in our Linear Cluster Garnet Ring. Opals, the softest gemstone we work with (6 on the Moh’s scale), are a riskier choice for someone who is rough with their hands but worth the extra care. Our Orla Cluster Opal with Sapphire Ring is a sweet way to celebrate the October babies in your life. Some other popular semi-precious gemstones we love working with are topaz, citrine, amethyst, peridot, and tourmaline.
No matter what your tastes and preferences, there's a gemstone type and setting style out there for everyone. Schedule and appointment in person at our Philadelphia flagship store, Brooklyn store, or virtually. We can't wait to share our knowledge and experience with you!