2323 Market St., San Francisco
Like Broadway in New York City, San Francisco’s Market Street cuts a diagonal path across the city, providing an essential reference point should you get lost within its reach. The thoroughfare is at its most charming when it passes through the Castro. Best known as an epicenter of same-sex culture, the progressive ‘hood wasn’t initially on the shortlist for Shawn Higgins and Lindsay Daunell, co-owners of 1-year-old D&H Sustainable Jewelers. But when the business partners stepped inside the 1910 building their 1,000-square-foot store now occupies, they knew they had found their niche. “You used to say Castro and everyone thought gay,” Higgins says. “But we’ve done more straight engagements than anything else.”
Days of Wine and Rose Cuts
Anchored by a 12-foot-long hunk of salvaged sycamore wood, the Rose Cut Wine Bar—where patrons can choose from a featured selection of local wines—was just “a footnote in the business,” says Higgins, who hoped to offer clients an inviting space to relax without any pressure to buy. “Now it’s almost an appendage we can’t live without.”
From turtle pendants by Hratch Nargizian to ila&i lockets, the selection at D&H focuses on stylish pieces forged in reclaimed 18k gold and sterling silver. Where the store truly excels, however, is in its bridal offerings, which span the organic (Jennifer Dawes), the contemporary (Jeannie Hwang), and the traditional (RedStart Design). The ethos of sustainability extends to the hand-built displays. “All the wood came from the burn pile from our friend’s carpentry shop,” Daunell says.
Higgins and Daunell knew they shared a similar world view when they met at Gallery of Jewels, a three-store chain in San Francisco. “We started talking about sustainable jewelry and the wine bar,” recalls Daunell, an environmental studies major. Higgins was a jewelry veteran by then, having worked in mass manufacturing in L.A. Backed by an investor, they decided to turn their vision of an eco-conscious luxury business into reality. “I’d worked in an industry that I’d watched destroy the earth,” Higgins says. “I thought, ‘Why not work in a way that we can change our own industry?’?”
Points of Origin
Driven by a shared belief in transparency, the twosome is committed to selling gemstones that have come to market through ethical channels. In addition to a healthy selection of vintage jewelry, they offer loose colored stones from the Green Gem Foundation, a nonprofit collective of gem cutters with direct links to African miners, and diamonds from the Jewel Tree Foundation in the Netherlands, which works with miners in Lesotho. “The sources exist today for us to make these conscious choices without making any sacrifices in style or design,” Daunell says. Next up: Shawn Lindsay, an in-house line that builds upon the store’s booming custom design business.
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