Fightin’ Dirty…Gold, That Is


If you’ve never considered the curious life of jewelry before it arrives on your neck, lobes or fingers, then Shawn Higgins would be more than happy to tell you the dirty details. Luckily, you can also sip wine while you scope socially- and environmentally-friendly alternatives at D&H Sustainable Jewelers, the Castro jewelry shop Higgins opened earlier this year with Lindsay Daunell and Diaa Askandafi.

In fact, “dirty gold,” or gold mined in a way that harms surrounding ecosystems and human populations, has become such an issue of late that numerous mainstream jewelry retailers ranging from QVC to Tiffany & Co. have signed on to support the No Dirty Gold campaign, which advocates safer, more socially-responsible mining and sourcing practices for the precious metal.

But Higgins is proud to say that his shop is ahead of the game.

“We’re the only store like this in the country right now…Today we’re not using any dirty gold or any dirty platinum from dirty mining practices,” he tells us.

Instead, D&H stocks jewelry made using sustainable methods and materials, including conflict-free and ethically-sourced gemstones and recycled metals. On the lower end, Corey Egan’s “Detroit diamond” earrings and ring ($190 and up) made with sterling silver give shattered auto glass a new life, while recycled metal wedding bands range from stackable, modern versions subtley set with diamonds by Sam Woehrmann to sustainable diamond engagement rings in traditional, organic and vintage-inspired settings by names such as Jennifer Dawes, Jeannie Hwang and Anne Sportun.

Known for making custom engagement rings and other pieces, the shop will recycle customers’ existing gold and platinum jewelry into new pieces or give them the cash value.

The focus on sustainability doesn’t end with the jewelry on offer in the contemporary, gallery-like space. The owners repurposed the display cases that appear in the store, and the bar counter in back was made from a sycamore tree that crashed into a contractor friend’s house. And while customers shop, they can enjoy wine flights from small production wineries who produce grapes using sustainable techniques.

Be on the lookout in the coming weeks and months for wine tasting events that pair sipping with shopping.

D&H Sustainable Jewelers, 2323 Market Street, SF, 500-2550,

Lorraine Sanders covers fashion for and is the founder of SF Indie Fashion. Reach her via email at lorraine (at) lorrainesanders (dot) com.

Photo courtesy D&H Sustainable Jewelers

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