As we discussed a few weeks ago, the engagement ring Olympics can be exhausting. Especially if you know you don’t want a diamond (how will anyone know you’re really engaged? Quelle horreur!) So a few weeks ago, when I saw this amazing new engagement ring on Bario Neal’s Instagram feed and then found out it was made out of sapphires, I basically had to do the Internet version of pulling my car over to the side of the road (complete with “OMG NAJVA LOOK AT THIS”). Longtime APW sponsors and badass business ladies Anna Bario and Page Neal of Bario Neal have been shaking up the jewelry scene since forever with their indie designs and ethical practices: they pride themselves on using ethically sourced stones, reclaimed metals, and Fairmined gold whenever possible. Their business model supports sustainable mining practices, conflict-free gemstones and labor initiatives, and environmental responsibility. Hell they even donate a percentage of their profits to organizations like Planned Parenthood. So it goes without saying that I’m super excited to introduce Bario Neal’s brand new line of alternative engagement rings. I mean, it was about time someone called bullshit on the idea that you need a diamond engagement ring. I just didn’t expect anyone to do it so stylishly (shame on me for that):
The Trillion RinG and the half moon ring
The Trillion Ring (above) is the one that stopped me in my tracks. It features two trillion cut white sapphires arranged north-south for a sleek, elongated look that makes me think who needs a solitaire when you can have a… dual-taire? The Trilion Ring starts at $2695 and is available in 14kt Yellow Gold, Rose Gold, White Gold, Fairmined Yellow Gold, 18kt Yellow Gold, White Gold, Fairmined Yellow Gold, and Platinum. The Half-Moon Ring (below) features two white sapphires, set in a subtle, stylized crescent shape. It starts at $2380 and is available in all the same metals as The Trillion Ring.
Sourcing Ethically Mined Sapphires
Finding ethically mined gold can already be a challenge, but when Bario Neal explored creating non-diamond rings and using ethically mined sapphire, they leveled up. Explains co-owner Page Neal:
Finding these white sapphires was really a challenge, so when we located an ethical source, we were really excited! They are sourced from a small, family-run mine in Sri Lanka. Because they are cut on site (which eliminates the possibility for stones to be shipped to a cutting facility where human rights abuses could occur), we were able to do more unusual cuts like these matching trillions and the half-moons. We can source sapphires of pretty much any color with custom cuts from the mine and, we will be releasing two new rings in late fall featuring white, yellow, and apricot sapphires. Oh and if anyone is interested in substituting white sapphires in other sizes and cuts for our other engagement ring styles, we can do that!
In addition to being ethically mined, the cool thing about sapphires is that they actually make great diamond alternatives. They’re naturally formed, unlike moissanite, and are much higher on the Moh’s scale for hardness and durability than other colorless gemstones (diamonds are a ten, sapphires are a nine). And a clear bonus: they are much more affordable than diamonds.
And the new designs aren’t stopping here: Bario Neal just published their Fall 2016 Lookbooks, which include info about two new new lines—Men’s and Boutique designs, and they will be debuting even more new designs later this month, including this Moonstone Dais Ring above (which starts at $575).
As if designing innovative, ethical wedding jewelry isn’t enough of a day job, Bario Neal also has two big collaborations on the horizon: one with Zimbabwean designer Thabo Lenneiye and craftsmen/women of the Masai tribe in Kenya, the other with the modern men’s line and shop Linder New York. So get ready to spend the rest of 2015 clicking refresh on their homepage and following their blog for all the details.