Allow the warm, golden light shining through the windows of Brown Goldsmiths to beckon you inside during a Freeport shopping expedition, and you’ll soon realize this jewelry store’s most precious offerings can’t be displayed in a case. You’ve entered a place where your personal stories — of love, joy, and connection, of dreams realized, of loss and remembrance — are wholly embraced by a creative team skilled at listening, relating, and translating emotion into tangible sparkle. If the right jewelry item to honor what you’re feeling doesn’t already exist, three in-house goldsmiths are eager to design a custom piece that embodies your sentiments.
Shannon and Andrew Hartigan, photographed by Ruby Jean Photography; Brown Goldsmiths’ Freeport storefront courtesy of Brown Goldsmiths.
Call ahead and ask to tour the upstairs workshop, and you’ll be welcomed up the circular back stairs for a peek behind the scenes. Jewelry making at Brown Goldsmiths melds Old World craftsmanship and new technologies, including computer-aided design, or CAD, which can generate a photorealistic rendering of a ring or other one-of-a-kind treasure that doesn’t yet exist. “We use all of the tools in the toolbox,” says owner Shannon Hartigan, whose 30 years at Brown Goldsmiths include nearly five as owner. “We still forge jewelry by hand, we still do lost-wax casting and wax carvings, and we also do CAD designing,” 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 contemporary flair, for example. Or as two wedding bands become one new pendant honoring a late spouse. The tale of one gold locket particularly tugs at the heart: with a rendering of an actual paw print on the outside and a photo of two beloved dogs tucked inside, it was inspired by a couple’s profound loss. “She had struggled with cancer, and the dogs were her rock, so losing them was almost like losing part of the battle,” Hartigan remembers. At her husband’s request, “we created a piece that allows her to keep their memory with her,” Hartigan says.
Photographs by Cody James Barry Photography
After hours, the glowy 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 client lamented, “My wife and I are celebrating our 25th anniversary, and I can’t do anything,” Hartigan devised an evening of chocolates, wine, thoughtfully selected jewelry to try, and a playlist featuring their wedding song.
Cofounded 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 unique sensitivity to one of the oldest crafts. The experiences they strive to provide “all begin and end with emotion,” she says. “We truly are a very different jewelry store. It’s amazing how many loving hands touch each piece of jewelry we create.”