vendor profile: bario neal wedding jewelry

I'm sure by now you've seen the gorgeous jewelry crafted by Bario Neal. If you're on Pinterest, you've definitely seen Bario Neal jewelry in your feed. I was lucky enough to get Anna, a co-creater of Bario Neal, to answer some questions about what makes the jewelry so special. 

Meet Bario Neal

Owners: Page Neal and Anna Bario
Business Start Date: 2008
Number of Employees: 8

What made you want to start a jewelry business?

Page and I were both making jewelry already - each running our own business - when we decided to start Bario Neal. We were interested in focusing on the sourcing of our materials in an industry with such a complex history.

What does ethically-sourced materials really mean?  

For us, it means working with materials whose source and history are as transparent as possible. We do everything we can to learn about the conditions at the mine sites, as well as steps along the way, such as where stones are cut. The environmental and human impacts of the materials are very important to us, and our goal is to work only with materials that are either recycled or sourced from mines and supply chains that we feel confident about.

What is Fairtrade or Fairmined gold?

From the Alliance for Responsible Mining: Fairmined gold is ethical gold extracted by Artisanal and Small-scale miners certified under our FAIRMINED standard. Buying FAIRMINED metals is supporting responsible certified miners and their families that follow strict requirements for social development, environmental protection, labor conditions and economic development in their mining communities. FAIRMINED gold is the achievement of the world’s pioneering and industry leading network of responsible Artisanal and Small-scale miners. An initiative and movement lead by and for the miners.

Our Fairmined gold is mined by Aurelsa in Peru. It allows mines to market transparency and we pay a premium that the mining community uses to reinvest in local projects. You can read more info about the project

What is a recycled diamond?

Our recycled diamonds come from old jewelry that our refinery collects. The recycled diamonds are cleaned and re-graded by a grading agency like GIA, and the process is overseen by a third-party certifier to ensure the recycled origin. The benefit of recycled diamonds is that no new mining is required, but we don’t know the initial origin or ‘age’ of the recycled stones with modern cuts.

How do you work with clients on custom jewelry?

Lately we’ve taken a bit of a break from some of our custom work to focus on a new collection of engagement rings. But in general, the process begins with a consultation where we develop the design idea. Then we’ll create sketches and either a wax model or computer renderings of the piece before it’s made in metal. The process with each project and customer is a little different, but there is a lot of communication and collaboration along the way.

Is your jewelry sold in storefronts or only online?

Both! We have two locations. Our main store & workshop is in Philadelphia (where all the work is made). This fall, we opened a showroom in NYC, and several stores also carry our work. 

Your ring designs are so creative, what inspires you?

Our inspiration can come from anything, but natural objects and vintage jewelry are often at play.

What do you want new customers to know about Bario Neal?

I think our blog can be so helpful for people researching jewelry and wanting to learn a little more about us. We have posts about everything from the history of diamonds to marriage equality.

What kind of person typically purchases your rings?

It’s great getting to meet our clients at the Philly and NY shops - they are very diverse and I think it’s a real mix of people who are attracted to the design work or to the focus on sourcing.

What is a cocktail ring?

A cocktail ring can really be anything that isn’t a wedding or engagement ring, but traditionally they tend to be a little bigger in scale.

My engagement ring is a Canadian diamond, how do I know if it was ethically sourced?

Many Canadian diamonds come with documentation of their origin, and some are laser inscribed with a unique ID number that allows you to trace them to the mine. Canadian diamonds are generally cut and polished responsibly by fairly paid adults (cutting and polishing is one of the big human rights concerns with diamonds).

Canada’s mining laws are certainly stricter than most countries’ but there are concerns about the environmental impact and the effects of the mines on First Nations land and communities.  

What kind of gems do you use?

We work with all sorts of gemstones - a lot of sapphire, ruby and aquamarine. Not to avoid the question, but there is just too much info to go through it all! We have a great piece on the blog about our colored gemstones.

If you want wedding jewelry that is sustainably sourced, creatively made, and absolutely stunning, contact Bario Neal