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Eco-Chic San Francisco Jewelry Shop is Making Valentine’s Day a Guilt-Free Pleasure

As we near the annual celebration of romance, that is Valentine’s Day, I think back to my college days working in a jewelry shop in San Francisco’s Castro district—the last-minute flurry of husbands, boyfriends, and girlfriends clamoring to get the best locally made treasures. The old shop is no longer in existence, but in its place is a new kind of jewelry store, filling in the eco-conscious accessory void.

The new generation of husbands, boyfriends, and girlfriends are now calling on D&H Sustainable Jewelers—one of the Castro’s chicest ateliers—to aquire their sustainable adornments. Characterized by one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted jewelry made from recycled gold, silver and diamonds (talk about conflict-free!), taking recycling to new high-end heights. D & H showcases several unique designers, an online shop, super luxe atmosphere, and oh, I almost forgot —a wine bar!

Shop owner, Shawn Higgings, explains how a consulting job inspired a leap that put practice into preach.

Divine Caroline: Your store is filled with unique jewelry that is both precious and sustainable; tell me more about what sustainable means in the context of jewelry...

Shawn Higgings: Sustainability is top down for us...we only use certified and recycled metals throughout the store. The third most sustainable company in the world sources our metal, which comes primarily from post-consumer electronics. The stones and metals are sourced ethically, often times helping to finance projects in the villages where they are found. For example, last year the purchase of single gemstone helped to finance everything from education, to the building of wells or water, to helping train Afghan women how to facet gemstones found in their country.

DC: What is your background in the jewelry world and what inspired you to open a store?

SH: I met Lindsay, my partner, at a company I consulted for here in SF. She had studied fashion and environmental sciences at US Santa Cruz... the fit was too perfect! I have a degree from Gemological Institute of America, and was a consultant for various companies on how to improve their bottom line. I got tired of telling people how to do what I know how to do, so finally I decided to put my money where my mouth is. I also design for the store as we do quite a bit of manufacturing here.

DC: D&H is prominently located on Market street in the world famous Castro district, you have a varied clientele—to say the least! How would you describe the average shopper (if there is one)?

SH: Our clients do not fall into what most people consider the normal demographics; our clients are more about a lifestyle reflection. We attract the fashion forward community who respects what we are doing and why we are doing it, both in the choices of style and the sustainable way we achieve it. Of course, a huge part of our business is the couples getting engaged/married (or hoping soon to get married). The most amazing thing visiting artists always comment on is how incredible our clientele is!

DC: The jewelry business has a legacy of pushing the notion that jewelry is something that men buy for their wives and girlfriends, how is the reality of your clientele turning this idea on its head?

SH: Because of our diverse clientele, the biggest surprise I have had is how impressed men have been with our style, it seems that guys are bored of only having three choices in wedding bands and really appreciate the style and design we offer.

DC: Men's jewelry and adornment is an under-serviced area in the retail world. What trends are you seeing in adornment for men?

SH: The man-gagement is a huge trend for us, both for straight and gay. Because of our incredible selection of men’s jewelry, many men are asking for an engagement ring of their own!

DC: How did you come up with the idea of including a wine bar? Was it a connection to the wine world?

SH: I just wanted a place to hang out close to work. I love wine and of course we wanted to promote the idea of local sustainable and biodynamic wines. Luxury is a reflection of lifestyle. Our clients appreciate other luxury items in life, including a good glass of wine.

DC: I know you do a lot of custom work, is there a studio in house?

SH: We have three design areas in house, butthe production is done downtown. We use CAD and 3D renderings to help people visualize their final products. All of our staff is trained on not only the design process, but also how the jewelry is made so they can make informed choices with the clients.

DC: Do you ever work with customers remotely? Over the Internet, Skype?

SH: Our website gets huge traffic and has become another store for us.

DC: What recommendations do you have for all those last-minute Valentine’s Day shoppers?

SH: You better get something soon because doghouse gifts are way more expensive.


D&H Sustainable Jewelers, 2323 Market Street San Francisco, CA 94114 (415) 500-2550, www.dnhjewelers.com

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