Bario Neal Creates Sustainable Jewelry

Women's Dating

Bario Neal Creates Sustainable and One-of-a-Kind Jewelry for Every Couple

Chloë Hylkema

Written by: Chloë Hylkema

Chloë Hylkema

Chloë Hylkema uses her writing skills to create useful and up-to-date content for DatingAdvice.com. Chloë is an Emory University grad who is familiar with what it means to date in the modern age, and she works to write material that is engaging, truthful, and as helpful as possible. Being on the front lines of the dating scene, Chloë is committed to staying engaged with the ever-changing world of dating to provide the most useful content to readers.

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Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to ensure DatingAdvice articles have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement. She has worked at The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Gwinnett Daily News, and The Gainesville Sun covering lifestyle topics.

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The Short Version: Bario Neal is a jewelry company bringing sustainable practices and inclusive environments into the engagement ring industry. Founded in 2008, Bario Neal offers a diverse array of engagement rings, wedding bands, and other kinds of jewelry for couples who want to mark an important moment in their lives with a beautiful piece of jewelry. The company’s main focus is on transparent and ethical gemstone acquisition practices and celebrating LGBTQIA+ couples.

Usually, the last thing someone is thinking about when their partner proposes is whether their gemstone is sustainably sourced. While important, the romance and excitement of this pivotal moment in a couple’s story often overshadow concerns over where the engagement ring came from and the ethics of the business that produced it.

Baio Neal launched in 2008 to offer ethically sourced engagement rings for all couples.

Engagement rings have earned a culture of their own in the U.S., with standards around price, sourcing, and design prompting strong ideas about what makes a worthy ring. The industry has historically been a place of high price tags, unethical business practices, and constraining gender norms. Oftentimes, the nature of this industry excludes queer or nontraditional couples, making ring shopping a less pleasant experience.

Bario Neal, a jewelry business with a special focus on engagement and wedding rings, came onto the scene in 2008 to challenge the engagement ring industry’s status quo. Women-owned and operated, Bario Neal strives to offer high-quality, sustainably sourced jewelry for all couples, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. Founders Anna Bario and Page Neal wanted to create a company that broke away from traditional ideals around engagement and welcomed couples that didn’t feel at home in conventional marriage spaces.

Jenny Weger, Marketing Director for Bario Neal, sat down with us to tell us more about the company’s mission of inclusivity and sustainability. “Bario Neal was created to provide ethically sourced rings to every kind of couple,” Jenny said. “Our goal is to create a safe space for couples to celebrate each other and their engagement.”

A Different Kind of Engagement Ring

Bario Neal was born out of a partnership between jewelry designers Anna Bario and Page Neal. The two identified many shortcomings in the engagement jewelry industry at the time, and at the top of the list were unethical sourcing practices and restrictive, heteronormative ideals around marriage. With these problems in mind, they founded Bario Neal in 2008.

dirty hands holding gold ring
Bario Neal’s jewelry is made of the highest-quality, ethically sourced materials.

Designers at Bario Neal believe creating ethical and sustainably sourced jewelry is a privilege. The company produces sustainability reports every two years, which measure the environmental impact of the sourcing and processes that are required for their jewelry. These reports were designed to ensure Bario Neal is keeping their promise to uphold human rights, transparency, and conscientious sourcing practices.

These reports are highly detailed and include information about Bario Neal’s suppliers, sourcing practices, and the environmental impact of these practices. These reports are a central component of their commitment to transparency – consumers have access to every piece of information they would need to make an informed decision on an engagement ring.

“We want our sustainability practices to become the standard for the industry,” Jenny told us. “We vet every supplier, so we know exactly where our stones are coming from and the conditions in these places.” Bario Neal is passionate about ethical mining practices because of the harm gemstone mining has historically done to the environment and human workers. In 2021-2022, they donated 13% of their profits to organizations aligned with their Core Impact Areas, to make sure that they are part of the positive change in the jewelry industry.

Lab-grown diamonds are another choice for Bario Neal customers. Bario Neals partners with a supplier that offers the world’s first Sustainability Rated lab-grown diamonds. And its lab-grown diamonds are USA-made, fully traceable, and paired with sustainability initiatives and offset investments to achieve 100% climate neutrality.

Celebrating Identity and Experience

Staying true to the fight against the status quo, Bario Neal was founded with gay, lesbian, and other queer couples in mind. Anna and Page recognized how the traditional engagement ring experience was designed for heterosexual couples, leaving queer couples feeling as if they did not belong or have a welcoming environment to enjoy all the festivities that come along with an engagement.

“When the company started in 2008, gay marriage was illegal,” Jenny said. “But these couples were obviously still celebrating each other and their relationship and often didn’t have a safe place to do so, at least when it came to ring shopping.” Engagement ring shopping is often an overwhelming heteronormative environment.

The ring-buying convention typically centers on the man coming in to buy a ring for a woman. Usually they both are looking for traditional American designs – a diamond engagement ring for her, and a simple gold or silver band for the man. Bario Neal recognizes that this sort of engagement ring shopping experience is restrictive and exclusive. Couples whose identities lie somewhere within the diverse spectrum of sexuality and gender expression can find these identities embraced and honored at Bario Neal.

two men with their arms wrapped around each other
All types of couples are celebrated and embraced at Bario Neal.

No piece of jewelry at Bario Neal is ‘for women’ or ‘for men,’ rather every piece is gender-neutral and can be worn by whoever wishes to wear it. Most rings have sizes up to 16, meaning most people can find a ring that fits them perfectly. At Bario Neal, couples choose rings they love and feel symbolize their companionship – without contending with outdated concepts around gender.

Bario Neal’s giveback program is a charitable giving initiative that aims to support women’s empowerment, the LGBTQIA+ community, art, and education. Charities that Bario Neal donates to include Village Health Works, Earthworks, and Women’s Medical Fund. Charitable efforts are also extended to organizations related to the environmental and social impact of the jewelry industry. Saying a company is inclusive and sustainable is one thing, but Bario Neal provides hard evidence of results of its initiatives and the work being done to achieve them.

Jewelry Just as Unique as You

Engagement and wedding rings are special pieces of jewelry that are meant to symbolize the commitment a couple makes to each other, and meaningful designs can help capture all the milestones and memories couples have shared. Bario Neal offers custom jewelry in a variety of styles, with the option to include heirloom stones, perfect for couples with a specific design in mind.

four rings stacked precariously
Diamonds and emeralds are just a few of Bario Neal’s gemstone options.

The custom jewelry process begins with a questionnaire, which couples can fill out to give Bario Neal designers a better idea of their vision. After receiving an estimate and payment, designers work with clients to find the perfect gemstone, setting, and layout. Next, a model of the piece of jewelry is approved by the client. Then the fun begins. The jewelry will be cast into metal, and the stone (or stones) will be set.

With two brick-and-mortar stores in New York City and Philadelphia, Bario Neal provides the best of in-person and online jewelry shopping. Their two locations have showrooms and design spaces and offer appointments for engagement ring shopping and custom consultations. Bario Neal’s Philadelphia store also offers permanent bracelet appointments, a unique permanent jewelry option that is often used as an alternative to wedding rings.

At Bario Neal, there is no one way to shop for jewelry. Couples have dozens of options in terms of style, design, and gemstone. No matter what a couple wants in a special piece of jewelry, Bario Neal will help them make it a reality. “Each ring has its own unique meaning,” Jenny told us, “and represents something very important to a couple. It’s exciting for couples to be able to match a special ring to their special commitment to each other.”