R&Design: Bario Neal's Secrets To Ethical Jewelry Design

Bario Neal Sapphire Diamond ring

Anna Bario is taking her sustainable jewelry line Bario Neal to a whole new level. Founded in 2007, Bario Neal’s celebrated jewelry is handmade in their Philadelphia studio and shop using reclaimed precious metals, fairmined gold, and ethically-sourced gemstones and they just opened the doors to a brand spanking new showroom in New York City this past fall.

I caught up with Bario, one half of the Bario Neal power duo, which includes co-founder Page Neal, to find out how she manages it all.

Guest column originally published at PastFashionFuture.com written by REBECCA MIR GRADY

Bario Neal New York Jewelry Showroom

Rebecca Mir Grady: When did you and Page Neal decide to join forces and start Bario Neal?

Anna Bario: Page and I started Bario Neal in late 2007. We were both making jewelry and interested in the origins and history of the materials we worked with.

RMG: What advice do you have for jewelry designers and metalsmiths who want to work with recycled materials and maintain an environmentally conscious practice?

AB: EthicalMetalsmiths.org is a such great resource for designers and metalsmiths. Another great way to learn more and encourage others to improve their practices is to ask any suppliers you work with where their materials come from.

Bario Neal Engagement Rings

RMG: EthicalMetalsmiths.org is a great resource. How did you get involved with the organization?

AB: We found EM before we started Bario Neal, when we were just researching the industry. EM’s founders met with Page and I and taught us an incredible amount about the issues and exciting projects.

They also invited us to the Madison Dialogue, a summit that brought together artisanal miners, NGOs, commercial organizations to explore ethical issues relating to small scale mining. The summit was an invaluable introduction to ethical sourcing issues in the industry.

RMG: What are the most exciting projects you’re working on right now?

AB: Right now we’re working on a collaboration with ceramicist Jessica Hans. We’ll be integrating metal and ceramic elements for a series of interchangeable studs.

Bario Neal Diamond Ring

RMG: In addition to working with recycled precious metals, do you also use fair trade gold at Bario-Neal? How and where do you get it?

AB: We do work with 100% recycled precious metals as well as Fairmined gold. Our Fairmined gold is sourced from the Aurelsa mine in Relave, Peru. One of the refineries we work with in the states refines the gold into casting grain (you can see a photo of it, here).

For now, we’re only working with the Fairmined gold in 18k yellow gold, but hope to be expanding to other alloys soon.

Bario Neal Sapphire Slice earrings


RMG: What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in working as an ethical metalsmith?

AB: The range of what’s possible to source responsibly has expanded so much in the last 5 years. At the same time, I think I struggle with patience–creating sustainable, transparent supply chains is a process that requires so much care and thoroughness, and time!

Images: Aquamarine Halo Ring ($2495 – $2930), Bario Neal New York showroom display, Bario Neal rings on display, Asymmetrical Avens Ring with Rough Diamond ($2619 – $4672), Sapphire Slice Earrings ($520); all photo credits: Bario Neal.

This interview was originally published at PastFashionFuture.com “R&Design” was a monthly interview series that features new and established designers. The monthly guest column is a platform for the exchange of ideas, advice, and fashion-focused research and development strategies. 

jewelry, interviewRebecca Grady