Bario-Neal: Ethical Stones and Fairmined Gold

Plus all the pretty that passes muster

by Maddie Eisenhart, Chief Revenue Officer

I haven’t always had the easiest time shopping for ethical jewelry. (I know. I’m sorry!) I want so much to like it, and I appreciate sustainable jewelry in practice, but a lot of ethically produced wedding jewelry is just… not my cup of tea. (My tastes run a little shiny, so shoot me.) But if you gave me a few thousand dollars, I could clear out Bario-Neal’s stock in half an hour.

Bario-Neal’s designs are pretty much the best. They’re organic without being crunchy, and blingy without being blinding. Bario-Neal is also leading the game in ethical engagement rings and jewelry you can generally feel good about purchasing, making them the no brainer choice for my next piece of important jewelry (Michael has it on good authority that I’d like this ring for our ten year wedding anniversary… in five years. A girl can dream.)

From start to finish, shopping at Bario-Neal is the exact opposite of everything you’re expecting out of wedding shopping. Bario-Neal employee Roxana told us:

A lot of our customers say that they like the personal and stress-free experience they have here. I feel like, being a small business, we have the opportunity to make personal connections with our customers. When I first started working here and had a question about a certain ring or project, I was amazed that the staff members knew pretty much each project by name, just by looking at the ring.

For as long as I can remember, Bario-Neal has boasted ethically sourced stones for all of their rings. And today I am excited to announce that Bario-Neal is now certified to offer eighteen carat Fairmined gold, expanding their ethical sourcing beyond just diamonds and gemstones. Fairmined gold ensures that miners

  • have developed democratic and accountable organizations and have formalized all of their operations;
  • are using safe working practices including the management of toxic chemicals, such as mercury and cyanide, used in the gold recovery process—and are working to reduce the use of these chemicals;
  • are respectful with their environment;
  • recognize the rights of women miners;
  • do not allow child labor in their operations (no one under fifteen years old may be contracted to work in the mining organization and those under eighteen must not work in potentially hazardous or dangerous conditions);
  • receive a guaranteed Fair Trade Minimum Price set at ninety-five percent of the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) fixing;
  • receive a Fair Trade premium payment (calculated at ten percent of the LBMA fixing), which gets democratically reinvested in community projects and improving miners’ operations; and
  • receive an even higher premium (fifteen percent) for Ecological Gold (extracted without the use of chemicals).

For all that they make shiny hard edged jewelry, Bario-Neal is a warm fuzzy operation. (Did you know they are a women-owned company? Founders Anna Bario and Page Neal started the company in 2007.) Their support for marriage equality is part of their mission statement. They believe in environmental responsibility and are committed to using low-impact environmental practices. They even have a friendly shop dog in their Philadelphia location. (Their shop dog is named Kemba and you can hear him howl whenever an ice cream truck rolls by.)

But mostly, Bario-Neal is just a flat out great team to work with. They’ll make your shopping experience awesome, and you’ll have beautiful, personal jewelry as a result. (Psst…have you seen their custom work? I mean.) They say:

We know that buying engagement rings and weddings bands can be intimidating, but we believe in having a relaxed, personal experience when it comes to these things. We can work with you from anywhere! We’ve made custom engagement rings and bands for people from all over the world.

Bario-Neal has worked with APW since way (way, way) back. Meg swears by their work, and wears one of their bracelets incessantly. And years of APW readers have told us how happy they are with their Bario-Neal rings, and what a joy they were to work with. And the jewelry? Well. It speaks for itself.

Bario-Neal is one of APW’s guest Instagrammers next month! Follow APW to get a peek behind the scenes at Bario-Neal and to see beauties like this guy

Maddie Eisenhart

Maddie is APW’s Chief Revenue Officer. She’s been writing stories about boys, crushes, and relationships since she was old enough to form shapes into words, but received her formal training (and a BS) from NYU in Entertainment and Mass Media in 2008. She now spends a significant amount of time thinking about trends on the internet and whether flower crowns will be out next year. A Maine native, Maddie currently lives on a pony farm in the Bay Area with her husband, Michael and their mastiff puppy. Current hair color: Purple(ish).

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  • Emily

    So much pretty!

  • Laura C

    I could totally see myself wearing the ring in the second picture. It doesn’t hafta be an engagement ring, does it? It can just be a pretty?

    • Meg Keene

      OBVIOUSLY not. My Bario-Neal jewelry is just jewelry. In fact, I have a bracelet from them that I wear constantly that I asked my mom for, for my 30th.

  • LisaG

    Loooove Bario-Neal! We met Anna at their NYC showroom last summer to pick out wedding bands and it was one of the best vendor decisions we made. Anna was professional but frinedly – she really listened to what we wanted and used her knowledge of her products to suggest options that might work for us. She seemed genuinely invested in finding us the best rings for us, and we never felt like we were being up sold or pressured into it. My husband chose a Milla band in yellow gold and I got a curved Milla band in white gold. Having the option of a curved band was great because it fits nicely around my engagement ring without having to order a custom designed band.

    • M.

      “Loooove Bario-Neal! We met Anna at their NYC showroom last summer to pick out wedding bands and it was one of the best vendor decisions we made. Anna was professional but frinedly – she really listened to what we wanted and used her knowledge of her products to suggest options that might work for us. She seemed genuinely invested in finding us the best rings for us, and we never felt like we were being up sold or pressured into it.”

      Literally, word for word, my exact experience. I gush about them constantly and can’t wait to start wearing my Milla Hammered Band NEXT WEEK. Nothing but love.

  • scw

    the senna round ring with a rough diamond (the one with the white circle) is my engagement ring. it’s fun to see it here!

    when I picked it out, I planned on pairing it with the reticulated narrow band one with diamond ( but after the apw post a few weeks ago I think I am going back soon to check out the enamel curved band ( I think the robin’s egg blue enamel could look really cool with the white!

  • I love Bario-Neal. Wish I had known about them when we were looking for engagement rings! One day if I have the funds, I’d love to get that braided one with the diamond as a second wedding band or just a right hand ring… or some of their other stuff, it’s all so lovely!

  • Bsquillo

    I think whenever I land my first big job out of grad school, I may have to buy myself a “just because” present from Bario-Neal. I’ve got my eye on some of those rose gold bands…

  • Sarah E

    Every time Bario Neal is featured here, I leave the same comment: I already have my wedding band picked out from their website and it’s the wedding field trip/to-do item I’m most looking forward to :-) Sometime this year!!

  • Stefan Salvatore

    Manufacturing of wedding rings is not an easy job. A miner mistake can destroy all your hard work. Bario-Neal hats off to you for your job.. Wedding in Hawaii

  • arw

    Bario-Neal is the first place I tried on rings and it was a great experience. Everything about them is right up my alley, and the woman who helped me and my SO was friendly, professional, helpful, and did not pressure us in any way. I think I have mentally settled on a ring there, but I have been attempting to explore other options since Bario-Neal was the first place I went. My experiences at your typical diamond shops, though, are really cementing my feeling that Bario-Neal is right for us. (Example: went to your average jewelry shop, and the employee automatically took out a 1 carat diamond to place on all the settings I tried on. When I asked to see smaller diamonds the employee would not. stop. making jokes about how I must be crazy, or my SO brainwashed me. Because women who prefer smaller diamonds, or who want to make a reasonable decision based on their personal finances and values, must be brainwashed or crazy. Right? Ugh!)

    So yes, I’m planning on returning to Bario-Neal this weekend, because I don’t think I’ll find another place like them!

  • AEO

    I need everyone to know that working with Bario-Neal has been one of the best shopping experiences of my life. They’re gay friendly (which is good for us, as we’re a lesbian couple) and we loved working with Sara at the Philadelphia location so much that we’re planning on buying our wedding bands from them. They did a custom ring with moissanite for the engagement ring and I can’t wait to give it to my girlfriend (she picked the ring, but hasn’t seen -her- exact ring yet).