80 Years of Innovative Design & Craftsmanship
Jack Friedman was born in Riga, Latvia in 1908.
He arrived in Cape Town in 1928.
Jack married Kate in 1932 and together they had three daughters and a son.
His first store was opened in Fox Street, downtown Johannesburg in 1934.
It was his youngest daughter Myra who married Bernard Brown in 1959 and went on to have four sons, Sandy, Johnny, Larry and Gavin.
Larry Alon Brown, the second youngest of the four boys took over the business in the early 1980’s and has built Browns into a brand that epitomizes exceptional quality, enduring designs and outstanding customer service.
Larry’s journey to build Browns started with the opening of the Browns Sandton store, followed by Browns of Rosebank in 2001.
In 2007 the Browns journey came full circle, returning to Cape Town where Jack Friedman first arrived, with the opening of the V&A Waterfront store.
The seeds of the Plumtree project were planted in 2007.
In 2009 our iconic and highly desirable Protea design was launched.
In addition to the Plumtree project we expanded our CSI initiatives with the 2012 launch of the Jewellery Academy and the Golden Leap programme. Since its inception over 150 people have graduated from the programme and gone on to build careers with Browns.
With the opening of the London store in 2013 Browns established an international footprint.
In recognition of another great man we created the Mandela piece in 2013.
In 2014 in celebration of the opening of our 80th anniversary we launched the 1934 ring, a piece that represents the values of craftsmanship, design, heritage and value passed down over four generations and one Jack would have been proud to put the Browns stamp on.
Today we continue our proud heritage of crafting the finest pieces and building relationships that are as enduring and valuable as the jewellery we sell.
2. Our Family Heritage
The Browns story began back in 1934 when Larry’s late grandfather, Jack, opened a boutique jewellery store in downtown Johannesburg. Jack was a talented and highly skilled goldsmith having been taught by his own grandfather.
Jack worked hard and gradually word of his skill began to spread. It wasn’t long before Jack was able to move to larger premises and clients began to travel from far and wide to view his wonderful creations and purchase his exquisite designs. In time Jack married and had a son and three daughters. The family all helped in the jewellery store and over the years his grandchildren too spent many hours watching him work. His youngest daughter Myra married Bernard Brown and went on to have four sons; Sandy, Johnny, Larry and Gavin.
Barely tall enough to see over the dark wooden counters, Jack began to teach the boys all they needed to know about the jewellery business. He inspired in them a passion for fine jewellery and nurtured their artistic and creative flair. As they grew older they were taught the fine craftsmanship and goldsmithing techniques of their grandfather, ensuring that the legacy of jewellery making would continue to pass down through the generations.
Larry Alon Brown was born in Johannesburg, South Africa on the 6th of November 1964. He was Myra and Bernard Brown’s second youngest son in a family of 4 boys. Growing up, the family jewellery business started by his grandfather, the late Jack Friedman, was always central to his life and many hours were spent in the store watching and learning. Jack, recognising Larry’s natural talent and flair for design, spent many hours teaching him about the business and most importantly the goldsmithing techniques taught to him by his own grandfather.
During his schooling career Larry recognised his other passion, finance. In 1989 Larry Brown was awarded his Bachelors Certificate in Accounting Science from the University of South Africa (UNISA) and the following year received his Honours. Larry went on to complete his articles with the South African firm of auditors, Grant Thornton.
Inspired by their own unique and creative vision it was during the early 1980’s that Larry embarked on building Browns into what it is today. As South Africa’s largest and most successful jewellery store Browns epitomizes exceptional quality, enduring designs and outstanding customer service. Larry constantly travels the world in search of inspiration for the brand’s next spectacular collections, he is intimately involved in the creation of every single piece in stores. A great deal of his time is spent studying the jewellery retail industry and as a result he is an expert in the field of store design and ambiance from lighting to furnishings. This unique combination of experience and talent means that every aspect of a Browns store has been carefully considered ensuring that your experience will be both special and memorable.
However it isn’t just the brand that Larry investments his time in, he is as equally passionate about the people who work alongside him to make Browns a success. Larry strives to employ and educate the South African youth about the jewellery industry, just as his grandfather had done for him, with the Browns Learnership Academy. He also encourages a company culture steeped in respect, personal growth, and excellence.
3. Our Workshop
We combine the latest state of the art technology with the natural artistry of designers and the talent of highly skilled craftsmen. Every piece of jewellery starts with a hand rendered drawing done by one of our team of designers. Once the design has been finalised and we are satisfied that the piece is perfectly balanced and beautiful we then utilise technology to ensure that the final result is perfect too.
A little while ago they were talking on the radio about the amazing new technology of 3D printing. Have you heard about it? They are even using it to save lives and print hearts. Basically instead of printing a layer of ink and creating a picture these very sophisticated printers print layer upon layer of acrylic resin until a 3 dimensional object is printed. The guys on the radio said that this technology is still only available in America but we actually have a 3D printer which we use to create highly intricate and delicate designs. It allows us to create pieces with detail much finer that the human hand can create.
Our workshop produces almost all of our jewellery. There are some things like chains which are very specialised and which require a whole manufacturing process of their own so we buy these from the best international manufacturers who specialise in just this.
We are also the only factory in SA that tests the quality of their gold. Using highly sophisticated X-ray technology we test the metal quality of all of our jewellery.
There are also 20 quality checks which every piece must go through before the final quality assurance can be given. Only once it has passed this final check can the piece be engraved with the Browns hallmark which is your quality guarantee.
We have been using the same age old technique of lost wax casting.
It is a little known fact that most diamond jewellery in SA is imported from China. The benefit of having our own workshop means that we can guarantee the quality and service our pieces but more importantly we are creating SA jobs.
We are very proud of our Browns academy. In South Africa, we have a shortage of skilled jewellers which is why every year we take in a group of students who have had no formal training and we teach them the art of fine jewellery making. At the end of the training period we keep the very best and feed the others back into the industry.