Bella Vista workshop and store specialize in ethical handcrafted jewelry – Philly.com




PAGE NEAL, 34, of Bella Vista, and Anna Bario, 33, of Brooklyn, N.Y., own Bario Neal, a handcrafted-jewelry line. The jewelry is made at a workshop and store in Bella Vista. Bario Neal uses reclaimed precious metals, ethically sourced stones and environmentally conscious practices to make jewelry. In June, they added Fairmined gold, extracted by certified ethical miners. I spoke with Neal.

Q: How’d you come up with the idea?

A: Anna and I were friends at Oberlin College, and after school we each had independent labels. We both had a disconnect between our own materials and sourcing and didn’t know much about where gold and gemstones came from. We collaborated in 2007 and moved here in 2008.

Q: The startup money?










A: About $10,000 of credit-card debt each.

Q: Tell me about reclaimed precious metals, ethically sourced stones and environmentally conscious practices.

A: This business is international, so you’re talking about relationships with miners, refiners and cutters, and it requires oversight. We went to a conference in 2008 and met big players like Tiffany’s. That helped us move forward and know what was happening on the ground. So we work with suppliers who actually go to the cutting facilities. The big thing with Fairmined gold is, miners have to adhere to rigorous environmental standards and get a fair wage.

Q: The biz model?

A: We work with a lot of small, family-run businesses on Jewelers Row, which is where we do our casting, setting and enameling. We finish a lot of the product in our shop. We’re mainly a retailer. We opened a showroom in Soho [in New York City] in 2013, which is by appointment only and we also sell from our website. We also do custom-design work.

Q: You donate a percentage of revenues to environmental and social-justice groups?

A: One group we donate to is Ethical Metalsmiths, an organization that spearheaded the Fairmined gold initiative. We also support the Human Rights Campaign, EarthWorks, Planned Parenthood and Freedom to Marry. Depending on how business is, we could donate anywhere from $100 to $5,000 in a given year.

Q: Most popular items?

A: Wedding rings and custom, personalized engagement rings. Wedding rings are $150 to $2,000, while engagement rings are $400 to as much as $30,000.

Q: Biggest challenge?

A: We grew quickly but weren’t well-organized. Having a business in Philadelphia is challenging, and it’s not a tax-friendly environment. It’s a problem the city really needs to address. In this business, your revenues may be high but your profits may not. You’re buying gold and diamonds but not necessarily making a ton of money on it.

On Twitter: @MHinkelman

Online: ph.ly/YourBusiness