Philadelphia has always been a city of makers. What began in colonial days as a grid of workshops between the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers in southeast Pennsylvania would grow to include factories, row houses, skyscrapers, and, eventually, suburban sprawl. Then came the second half of the 20th century—and urban flight from many American cities. Manufacturing left Philadelphia. Residents followed. Once beloved buildings stood vacant. Weeds grew in historic Washington Square. Decades passed. Then, in the late 1970s, creative folks and urban planners began to see opportunities in the many abandoned spaces. Artists, chefs, designers, tinkerers, brewers, and builders eager to ply their trades more affordably moved in, sparking Philly’s revival. Recently, as other cities have lost their artisan class, these makers have stuck around—multiplied, even—helping make Philadelphia the vibrant, entrepreneurial place it is today. Jewelers’ Row, basically a few blocks that form a capital I along Sansom Street between Seventh and Eighth Streets, has dibs as the first diamond district in the U.S. But a few blocks to the south, bijoutières Anna Bario and Page Neal are forging a shining first of their own. In 2007 the pair adopted an eco-friendly and ethical platform: The precious metals and stones in their jewelry are either responsibly mined or recycled. “We wanted to have a positive impact as far as manufacturing,” says Bario. In 2014 they began acquiring their gold sheets through the Alliance for Responsible Mining, which works with small South American co-ops. “We know the miners’ work conditions, we know the health conditions, we know the environmental conditions,” Bario notes. A portion of the miners’ fee is reinvested in community building. Bario and Neal give the same careful consideration to stones, especially diamonds. “Engagement rings, wedding bands—that’s where some people first care about sourcing,” says Bario. “After all, the rings will be worn every day for a lifetime.” Bario Neal, 700 South Sixth St.

Anna Bario and Page Neal: Global Smiths

Philadelphia has always been a city of makers. What began in colonial days as a grid of workshops between the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers in southeast Pennsylvania would grow to include factories, row houses, skyscrapers, and, eventually, suburban sprawl. Then came the second half of the 20th century—and urban flight from many American cities. Manufacturing left Philadelphia. Residents followed. Once beloved buildings stood vacant. Weeds grew in historic Washington Square. Decades passed. Then, in the late 1970s, creative folks and urban planners began to see opportunities in the many abandoned spaces. Artists, chefs, designers, tinkerers, brewers, and builders eager to ply their trades more affordably moved in, sparking Philly’s revival. Recently, as other cities have lost their artisan class, these makers have stuck around—multiplied, even—helping make Philadelphia the vibrant, entrepreneurial place it is today. Jewelers’ Row, basically a few blocks that form a capital I along Sansom Street between Seventh and Eighth Streets, has dibs as the first diamond district in the U.S. But a few blocks to the south, bijoutières Anna Bario and Page Neal are forging a shining first of their own. In 2007 the pair adopted an eco-friendly and ethical platform: The precious metals and stones in their jewelry are either responsibly mined or recycled. “We wanted to have a positive impact as far as manufacturing,” says Bario. In 2014 they began acquiring their gold sheets through the Alliance for Responsible Mining, which works with small South American co-ops. “We know the miners’ work conditions, we know the health conditions, we know the environmental conditions,” Bario notes. A portion of the miners’ fee is reinvested in community building. Bario and Neal give the same careful consideration to stones, especially diamonds. “Engagement rings, wedding bands—that’s where some people first care about sourcing,” says Bario. “After all, the rings will be worn every day for a lifetime.” Bario Neal, 700 South Sixth St.
Photograph by Catherine Karnow

Philly Originals

A creative colony of brewers, bakers, and bicycle builders revolutionizes Pennsylvania’s biggest city.

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