Let the warm, golden light shining through the windows of Brown Goldsmiths lure you inside on a shopping expedition to Freeport, and you’ll soon realize that this jewelry store’s most valuable offerings cannot be displayed in a box. You have entered a place where your personal stories – of love, joy and connection, of realized dreams, loss and remembrance – are fully embraced by a creative team adept at listening, connecting and translating emotion. in tangible brilliance. If the right piece of jewelry to honor how you feel doesn’t already exist, three in-house goldsmiths are eager to design a custom piece that embodies your feelings.
Shannon and Andrew Hartigan, photographed by Ruby Jean Photography; The Brown Goldsmiths Freeport storefront is courtesy of Brown Goldsmiths.
Call ahead and ask to visit the upstairs workshop, and you’ll be greeted on the circular back staircase to peek behind the scenes. Jewelry making at Brown Goldsmiths combines Old World craftsmanship with new technologies, including computer-aided design, or CAD, which can generate a photorealistic rendering of a ring or other unique treasure by its kind that does not yet exist. “We use all the tools in the toolbox,” says owner Shannon Hartigan, whose 30 years at Brown Goldsmiths include almost five as an owner. “We’re still hand forging jewelry, we’re still doing lost wax casting and wax carvings, and we’re also doing CAD design,” which streamlines the process, makes custom jewelry more affordable, and opens up a world of possibilities, she says.
Clients participate throughout the process, as an inherited family heirloom is reimagined with a contemporary twist, for example. Or as two wedding rings become a new pendant in honor of a deceased spouse. The story of a gold medallion particularly touches the heart: with a rendering of a real paw print on the outside and a photo of two beloved dogs nestled inside, it was inspired by the loss depth of a couple. “She had battled cancer and the dogs were her rock, so losing them was almost like losing part of the battle,” Hartigan recalled. At her husband’s request, “we created a piece that allows her to keep their memory with her,” says Hartigan.
Photographs by Cody James Barry Photography
After hours, the bright showroom can become an intimate setting for a memorable celebration. Private shopping was introduced in response to the limitations the pandemic brought about in 2020. When a loyal customer lamented, “My wife and I are celebrating our 25th anniversary, and there’s nothing I can do,” Hartigan envisioned a evening of chocolates, wine, carefully selected jewelry to try on, and a playlist featuring their wedding song.
Co-founded by Judy and Steve Brown in 1967, Brown Goldsmiths has always had a woman in an ownership role, and Hartigan believes she and her predominantly female staff bring a unique sensibility to one of the oldest crafts. The experiences they strive to provide “all begin and end with emotion,” she says. “We really are a very different jewelry store. It’s amazing how many loving hands touch every piece of jewelry we create.
Visit the showroom in Freeport, shop online at browngoldsmiths.com or call 207-865-4126 to begin the process of designing a personalized jewelry gift in time for the holidays.