The Jeweler's Daughter
It was an honor to create this ring for Stacey in memory of her late father John Brown, owner and jeweler of Brown's Jewelry in Thurmont, Maryland. Stacey asked that I not hold back on this design! What fun! Enjoy this love story about a man, his wife, and family who truly appreciate the symbolism of LOVE that is jewelry.
"After having to close the business, I was left with a few diamond rings that had not sold. I decided that I would like to have a ring made from those diamonds. It would be the last piece of jewelry my father would give me--the Jeweler’s Daughter’s ring. I wanted it to be created by an artisan, because that is how my dad made his way to becoming the owner of a jewelry store. I wanted someone who I knew would listen to my story and preserve it in a special piece just for me. I was familiar with Stacey Krantz, having worked with Michele Krantz during my career. Michele had told me about Stacey’s developing work in jewelry making when we both attended the wedding of a friend and colleague. I had accompanied my dad to that wedding as he was a friend of the couple. From that point on I began to watch Stacey’s work at InBloom Jewelry through her website and Facebook posts. I decided she was the perfect person to work with me in developing my beloved Jeweler’s Daughter’s ring. I was right. She took time to listen and to be certain I was happy. It was the same caring, responsive nature that I saw my dad had when dealing with his customers. Since my dad’s death in July, I have had to sell off an inventory, close down a family business, empty a home filled with 57 years of memories and sell the home. It has been an emotionally draining nine and a half months. Having this ring to wear and tell this story has been such a bright spot in a grueling time. When I look at this ring, I see mom and dad."
"In February, 1980, John and Betty Brown embarked on a new journey filled with risk, hope, and love. They purchased the former Bruce Davies Jewelry Store in Thurmont, and opened Browns’ Jewelry and Gift Store. The stakes were high. John left a secure job with benefits working as a lab technician for the Maryland Animal Health Lab in Frederick while Betty resigned as a head teacher at St. John’s Christian Preschool. This new career move was one filled with great anticipation and great anxiety. Could they take a hobby and make a go of a business that could support a family with a daughter soon beginning college? The path that had brought them to this moment was one filled with many years and countless hours of taking an artisan craft and making it an independent business. There was one person who was able to watch with awe and great respect as the long journey unfolded through the tears shed, the joys felt, and the real struggles of the building and perpetuation of a small business. That person was the Jeweler’s Daughter, Stacey Brown-Hobbs.
As with most paths the course was not a straight one. The path really began about ten years prior, when John was working at the animal health lab under the leadership of a veterinarian, Dr. Beck. At that time, a very young Stacey had a not-so-unusual passion for dinosaurs. Learning of this, Dr. Beck, who had an interest in fossil and rock collections, began sending Stacey small fossil specimens via John. Dr. Beck believed that an interest in fossils required an understanding of rocks and minerals, thus, he also sent along some rock specimens as well. Interestingly, the person who actually became interested in the rocks, was not Stacey, it was John.
The rock collection began to grow as weekend family excursions took them rockhounding in mountains, quarries and streams. For the following Christmas, Betty bought John a rock tumbler. He began polishing rocks. With so many tumbled stones, John took a stab at making some jewelry and rock critters (polished stones with eyes and accessories). As his interest and passion for the art evolved, John began learning how to cut rocks and make cabochons. Eventually, the cabochons were also set in jewelry. The collection of jewelry was the impetus for starting a hobby business, Catoctin Lapidary. John would spend hours in the basement after work and on weekends building and developing his skills. The family began attending craft shows through the tri-state area."
"Over the years, John and Betty built a clientele that included many intriguing people. Periodically, John would do some work for the local jeweler, Bruce Davies. When Bruce and his wife Lois decided it was time to retire, they approached John and Betty. It was a big decision and a huge financial commitment. With the support of Bruce, John and Betty decided to start this new and exciting business. Thus, Browns’ Jewelry and Gift Store opened February 1, 1980. John learned to add watch repair to his repertoire of skills. Betty developed a talent for building a progressive inventory of jewelry and gifts. Over time, John began doing custom work for people. The business thrived and their clientele grew. John and Betty hired a local woman, Barb Barbe, to assist in the store. The customers trusted John and Betty with their beloved heirlooms. John always felt the value of the jewelry was more in the story than in the piece. He understood that each ring, pendent, bracelet, earring and watch was attached to a special story, event, or memory. John respected the story and did all he could to preserve the story through his customer’s requests."
"In 2008, Betty was diagnosed with leukemia. John dedicated his time between supporting her through her battle and keeping up with the store. Barb was of a great support at this time, managing the customers as John spent time between Johns Hopkins and the store. Betty lost her battle in December of 2009. Although 70, John decided to continue the business. Time with his customers, keeping up with his passion, and the love of his daughter, son-in-law, grandson, granddaughter and granddaughter-in-law, helped John through this devastating time. In December 2017, John was diagnosed with lung cancer. After an eleven hour surgery, John returned to the store working while undergoing intensive treatments. In the spring of 2019, John’s health worsened. Nearly 80, he was finding it difficult to keep up with the fine work required of him. He began talking about retiring. Unfortunately before he could retire John suddenly passed away. Gone with him was the legacy of business that served a community for nearly 40 years. But what is not gone are the stories--the stories held in special trinkets, baubles, and charms. The stories of lives beginning, of special accomplishments, and of unforgettable moments. One person still holds many of those stories in her memory and in her heart. She is the Jeweler’s Daughter."
-Written in loving memory of my mother and father, John and Betty Brown by their daughter, Stacey.
May 7, 2020