by Cathy Tollefson '83
San Damián, the patron saint of apothecaries and barbers, isn’t the namesake for Damien Brown’s line of jewelry, the San Damián Collection. “It’s actually kind of an inside joke with myself,” he said. “I’m no saint—that’s for sure—but I marvel at my luck.”
Luck, perhaps, but Damien also works hard at making sure his designs get noticed and therefore sell—from buying stones all over the world and following up on every sales lead, to maintaining the relationships that help him get his jewelry around the necks of some pretty influential people.
“Street credibility is so important when you’re starting out,” he said. His jewelry has been worn by “Lost” co-star Evangeline Lilly, and has shown up on actors on CBS’s “CSI Las Vegas,” “Living with Fran” on WB, and on the new NBC series, “Heist.”
Damien majored in foreign languages/international affairs, but it isn’t as odd as it sounds that he wound up making jewelry. He says he tries for an international, culturally chic look in his designs. A creative bent runs in the family. His brother, Caleb Brown ’03, has been selling his paintings through galleries since he was 16, and the brothers have been collaborating on projects since middle school—starting with a line of greeting cards. “He’s the real artist,” said Damien about Caleb, who is now enrolled in Boston University’s M.F.A. program.
Damien’s career can be traced back to his self-designed study-abroad program in Merida, Yucatan. “I have strong ties to southern Mexico where my godparents live, and I’ve always wanted to have my own import/export business,” he said. “The key for me is capturing a Latin flavor in my design work.”
For the past four years he’s been creating designs for his line, developing relationships with brokers, solidifying partnerships with artisans in Mexico, and positioning his business in the highly competitive Los Angeles market.
“I didn’t want my collection to be an ‘in today, out tomorrow’ trend,” he explained. “I wanted to create one-of-a-kind pieces that offer versatility.”
The San Damián Collection has two lines—Couture and Street. The “Couture” line showcases exotic semiprecious stones from Africa, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Peru, and Siberia, while the “Street” line combines distinctive glass-fusion pieces created by a process that took 20 months to develop. By inserting dichroic metal while the glass is molten, the light refracting qualities are dramatically increased. Each piece is then spun and flattened. The effect is a kaleidoscope of color encased in nearly unbreakable glass—perfect for everyday wear. As a final touch, Damien sets each stone or glass piece in a classic heavy-gauge sterling design.
To see more of Damien’s work, click on www.sandamianline.com. “If I can make a living at this,” he grinned, “I’ll be the happiest guy ever.”