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Beautiful and sustainable jewelry made with care in San Francisco. Edgy and unique styles to wear everytday. We have everything from tiny platinum stud earrings to Moissanite engagement rings made from recycled gold and fashion jewelry from solid sterling silver.

Read all about how we make sustainable jewelry!

We have so much to share with you! Follow along on our blog | Sharon Z Jewelry | Shop Handmade Sustainable Jewelry San Francisco

Did You See Our Chain Necklace in Diablo Magazine?

Sharon Zimmerman

Sharon Z Jewelry in Diablo Magazine - photo by Annie Edwards - stylist Jeneffer Jones - HandMU by Cassie Chapman - Model Aga Wojtasik.jpg

Diablo Magazine

September 2018

The current issue of Diablo Magazine features a stellar Fall style round-up that includes our Mixed Metal Chain Link Necklaces styled with a Tibi suit. Features like this are a collaboration of so many talented people - photo by Annie Edmonds, Styling by Jeneffer Jones, Hair and Makeup by Cassie Chapman, Model Aga Wojtasik. This chain is currently available at Crown Nine.

The dos and don'ts of putting in a new nose ring

Sharon Zimmerman

C'mon baby, let's do the twist! You've purchased a brand new solid gold nose ring (or you've been keeping your eye on a new nose ring) and now it's time to give it the care that it deserves. Here are the right way and the wrong way to open up your new nose ring.

Did you know that there is a right way and a wrong way to open it up? Here is a quick list of the dos and don'ts when it comes to opening a nose ring (or a tiny hoop earring for that matter):
 

Do: Wash your hands. With soap and water, like a regular human.

Do: ABT - Always. Be. Twisting. Twist your hoop to open the ends side to side, which keeps them in line with each other and makes it easier to get a tight closure on your nose ring. This will be really important after you open up the ring to insert it.

Do: Only open your hoop the minimum amount needed to slip it into your piercing.

Do: Gently twist your hoop closed. You can use your fingers, but thicker gauges might require a pair of needle-nose pliers, or it might require going to a professional piercer for a jewelry change. Call ahead to a reputable local piercer (I like Rose Gold in the Haight!) and find out if they do jewelry changes. Some places charge a nominal fee to switch out your jewelry - I find that it is totally worth the investment in your jewelry to have it opened and closed properly.

Do: Look for the purest kind of metal that you can afford, and look for something that you’ll want to wear all the time. Choosing metals that cause irritation (gold plated base metal, white gold alloys that contain nickel) can irritate your piercing and the surrounding skin and cause some serious problems. Spending a little more, in the beginning, means that you won’t have to spend more later when you inevitably need to replace your nose stud or ring.

Don't: Open the hoop laterally. This not only makes the ring harder to close, it also stresses the metal in the wrong direction and could weaken the ring.

Final Note: You might feel a small amount of irritation after changing a piercing. This is pretty normal since you have been roughing it up a little more than normal. It can also happen if you are gauging up a size. Try rinsing your piercing with a saline solution or soak to soothe the irritation. If this doesn't work, consider switching to solid gold if you've been wearing gold plated/gold fill jewelry (this can be a big problem for nose piercings, and most piercers will recommend going with a solid metal like 14 karat gold or 18 karat gold). If you find that gold irritates your piercings too, consider switching to platinum jewelry as this one is the least reactive metal and the least likely to cause an allergic reaction.

The yellow gold nose ring in the top picture can be found here and the rose gold nose ring in the bottom picture can be found here

Have a question? Post it in the comments!

Becoming a Certified Green Business

Sharon Zimmerman

Why Become a San Francisco Certified Green Business

I’ve been running an eco-friendly business since 2011, so why go through the trouble of being certified by SF Green Business? In a nutshell, I did it because I believe in it and because I think that you do too. Committing to environmental security, clean air, and clean water doesn’t end with recycled metals and diamonds, it extends into every decision that I make for my life and my business. SF Green Business provides framework, suggestions, and guidelines for maintaining my commitment to clean water and clean air for all humans. Going through this process meant taking a hard look at all of the chemicals used in the jewelry-making process, looking at everything from our floor cleaner to our hand soap, and making sure that they weren’t causing harm.

Some of the practices I had in place needed some serious updating, and other practices had been in place for a long time. The tricky thing about being in a commercial rental property is that I'm not always in control of how the building operates. For instance, I can't tell the building what kind of toilet paper to buy, but I can lobby them to provide aerators in their faucets to reduce water flow (SF Green Business provides these). SF Green Business will also work with the building owners on your behalf to help them adopt green business practices. Here is just a sampling of the policies that have been adopted in the studio:

  • Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
    Nailed this one! We've been recycling everything in the studio (including our metal scrap) forever. It was nice to implement a composting plan too.

  • Purchase environmentally preferable products
    I've long been a believer in using eco-friendly products, but to meet this demand I had to dig into the MSDS on a number of products. Boy howdy was that a fun time.

  • Conserve energy, water, and natural resources
    Signs went up around the studio reminding us to turn out the lights, not run the water too long and to recycle. Al Gore reminds everyone in the studio to turn out the lights before we leave.

Al Gore reminds us to turn off the lights everyday

In addition to adopting the SF Green Business Practices, I go a few steps further by applying rigorous standards to my jewelry-making:

  • Reuse metal scrap within the studio - lots of designs start off as scraps of metal that are re-melted into new jewelry including these earrings.

  • Use only (solar-powered) lab-created diamonds, recycled diamonds and recycled sapphires. We use Fairmined and Fair Trade gemstones when they are available.

  • Use minimal, recycled and compostable packaging to ship out your fabulous jewelry. The shipping boxes are small and compostable, the ribbon is reusable, the gift boxes are 100% recycled and even the shipping labels are both 100% recycled content and totally compostable.

Supporting other Certified Green Businesses is my new mantra and I was thrilled recently with my new business cards from Greener Printer. I'll for sure be using them for future printing projects like postcards and booklets. They use low-VOC inks and recycled paper, and because they are in the Bay Area, I can reduce my carbon footprint by ordering products that are closer to home.

There were a lot more regulations than this and I encourage you to check out their roster of Bay Area businesses that are also certified green. This process is a four-year commitment to maintaining these standards and to continually seek out better alternatives for my business and for my life. I am thrilled to be a part of this process.

What are some tips to go green that you've implemented in your life or business? Tell me in the comments!

Recycled Gold - Why this is a basic that all of your jewelers can and should use

Sharon Zimmerman

Drawing down wire in the studio - Liz Hafalia for the SF Chronicle.jpg

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. This was the mantra of my generation of environmentally conscientious people in the 90s. One of the things I love the most about jewelry (aside from the fact that I get to make my own accessories and share them with everyone) is that it is easy to reuse and recycle almost every element of what we do. Have a ring you aren’t using? Melt it down and make another. Have a diamond in a setting that you don’t care for? Cut it out and remake it. Want to reduce your consumption? Easy, just buy better jewelry. You could buy only one new piece a year and pull together a beautiful and meaningful capsule collection.

That said, recycled gold should be the baseline standard for sustainable jewelry. Jewelers throughout the ages have collected scraps and bits of gold from their projects and have recycled them back into future projects with minimal environmental impact. I do this myself at the bench - melting down tiny bits and re-purposing them into new jewelry to create new eco-friendly pieces.

The above video shows the melting of gold scrap to roll out for a new piece of jewelry


Gold and silver are precious natural resources. Around the world gold is mined using industrial techniques, often times creating pollution, adding mercury to the water and displacing indigenous people. Much of today’s gold mining is done not just for jewelers, but for electronics as well, which has created a higher demand. The good news is that gold is 100% recyclable and re-usable, and Fair Mined metals are becoming easier to acquire. Artisanal gold mining is becoming more common and many of us see partnerships with specific mines as the way forward for the industry. Over the next year, I hope to offer Fair Mined metals as an option for many of my pieces, but until then, I continue to use only recycled gold.

Ethical Gemstones Part Three - What is Moissanite

Sharon Zimmerman

What is Moissanite and how does it compare to a diamond?

4 karat recycled rose gold with 5mm round brilliant Moissanite-Made in San Francisco RI-090-Rose Chalice Ring - 1.jpg

What is Moissanite?

OK, so maybe you don’t want a diamond (I’ve talked about their ethically dubious status in the past), but you’d still like some sustainable and conflict-free bling, with similar hardness and durability. And maybe you don’t have the budget for a lab-grown diamond, or you’d like to spend your money in other ways (like a hella awesome honeymoon!). What to do?. If you are happy with lab-grown stones but don’t want the expense of a lab-grown diamond, then a Moissanite is the perfect sustainable solution.

What is Moissanite?

Moissanite is silicon carbide (different than a diamond, which is carbon) and has strong covalent bonding, which is what makes it so suitable for forming into gemstones. Plus, it originates from outside the solar system, so that’s pretty cool.

So where does Moissanite come from?

Moissanite was discovered in the remnants of a meteor crash in Arizona in 1893. Originally confused with diamonds due to its brilliance and hardness, it would be more than 100 years before this stone would finally be made available for jewelry use thanks to advances in lab-growing techniques. Now all Moissanite gemstones are created in labs. This amazing stone has greater fire than a diamond and is harder than a sapphire (it reaches 9.25 on the Mohs hardness scale). The Moissanite that I get for my engagement rings comes from North Carolina’s own Charles and Colvard.

How does Moissanite hold up compared to a diamond or a lab grown diamond?

Damn fine, if you ask me. It is highly scratch resistant (it can really only be scratched by a diamond). This gemstone is brilliant, has so much fire and for much greater value. Best of all, there is no destructive mining involved with Moissanite. 

What can’t Moissanite do?

It cannot do your laundry. Trust me, I’ve tried.

The Exciting World of Jewelry Care

Sharon Zimmerman

Jewelry Care

You want your jewelry to last you a long time, and so do I. A lot of heart and soul go into each piece and while some wear and tear are normal over time, treating your jewelry and giving it a little TLC can keep it looking great for a lifetime. 

The Basics Don'ts

Avoid wearing while swimming, working out (yes, even yoga), showering, gardening or when working with chemicals. All of these activities can stress your jewelry, scratch it, bend it or just generally gunk it up (ew).

Cleaning Oxidized Silver Jewelry

Oxidized silver has been given a surface treatment to create a dark black color. Over time, this color may fade to bright silver and is considered normal wear. Never fear though, this blackening can be brought back simply and affordably. Contact me if you would like the oxidized patina restored to your Sharon Z Jewelry piece - info@sharonzjewelry.com 

Storage

We know that you want to wear your Sharon Z Jewelry piece all the time, but when you aren’t wearing it, we suggest storing it in the box that it came in or even better, in a tiny plastic bag with an anti-tarnish strip.  The plastic bag trick works especially well for silver.

Eco-Friendly Tarnish Removal

Fun Science Project Alert!

Silver jewelry has a great luster and bright, white color, but over time, exposure to moisture and air can cause tarnish.  Here is a fast, cheap, easy, fun and eco-friendly way to restore your silver jewelry to a bright shine.

  • Boil water
  • Place a piece of tin foil in a heatproof bowl
  • Place jewelry on top of foil
  • Sprinkle baking soda and a pinch of salt over the jewelry
  • Pour boiling water over the jewelry and foil
  • The mixture will bubble (like you're a witch standing over a bubbling cauldron) for a moment and then your silver jewelry will be bright again.
  • Careful when removing jewelry-it will be very hot! (This seems obvious, but my lawyers recommended that I tell you this.)
  • Rinse with cool water

This method is safe for many stones, except for turquoise and opals.  Also, be advised that while pearls will be fine in this process, the epoxy that often holds them in place might come loose due to the heat.

PS - this works great on gold that has discolored too!

The Making Of - Custom Palladium Woodland Rings for a Sweet Couple

Sharon Zimmerman

The Woodland Wedding bands are some of my favorite rings to make. Each ring starts as a thick blank of metal. It gets rolled flat, heated, formed, heated again for soldering and finally, each ring is individually textured, making the rings unique and meaningful. Making the knots in the "wood" is my favorite part, and in this case the couple asked to customize their rings with only three knots in each ring. I love how each ring comes out a little different - your ring won't look like anyone else's.

"Thank you so much again for our Woodland bands. We love them. They are just the combination we were looking for of simple and understated yet unique and evocative. We were so happy to find a local artisan whose values and aesthetic resonated with us." - Ana
 Soldering the rings closed

Soldering the rings closed

 The tools of the trade

The tools of the trade

 The finished rings. The bottom ring was created in a custom width. The top ring is available to order  here .

The finished rings. The bottom ring was created in a custom width. The top ring is available to order here.