Austinites understand their home is changing now more than ever. But in some pockets of the city, locals can still find the historic, family-owned businesses that helped Austin become the robust metropolis it is today. Benold’s Jewelers—which is celebrating its 95th anniversary this year—is one of them.

The cherished establishment is owned by Maria Aguirre, whose journey at Benold’s began as a salesperson 25 years ago. Over her tenure, Aguirre has witnessed the profound transformations that have swept through Benold’s and city alike. Amidst these changes, she’s remained steadfast in her commitment to uphold Benold’s tradition of excellence, ensuring that its legacy continues to thrive.

The history of Benold’s Jewelers

The family business was founded in 1929 when Louis and Lillian Laves moved to Austin and opened a pawn shop on Sixth Street.

“It was a trying time in the world, there were a lot of things happening. Things that aren’t too far from what we’re experiencing today, but on a much different level,” Aguirre said.

The pawn shop sold luggage, furniture, dishes and other goods in a tight-knit community where everyone was dedicated to helping one another succeed in that difficult era.

“The part of Sixth Street where they started was a melting pot; that’s where everybody was,” Aguirre said.

As the family grew and the Laves sons got older, the founders decided it was time to expand. In the 1960s, they opened a store that was a first-of-its-kind in Austin, a lavish emporium stocked with bridal registry items such as crystal china dinnerware, gifts and jewelry.

“They were like, ‘We need to expand. The world has changed, the country isn’t what it used to be anymore,’” Aguirre said. “So they took the two first names of their sons, Bernard and Harold, and they came up with Benold’s.”

In the 1980s, Benold’s expanded again—this time with three stores located in South Austin, the Highland Park mall and North Austin. The businesses blossomed well into the late 1990s. In the early 2000s, Benold’s consolidated into one store. In 2006, it began focusing solely on jewelry.

The last of the Laves family retired in 2007 and sold the business to the longtime store manager Milton Doolittle. Doolittle retired at the end of 2016 and Aguirre stepped into her role as the new owner in 2017.

“Before I became the owner of the store, I was the buyer and manager and salesperson, and those are a lot of the things that I still do today,” Aguirre said. “It was a great place to grow up and I’m super grateful to [the Laves] and to Milton for all the opportunities they gave me.”

The Benold’s Jewelers difference

Thriving as a small business in an ever-changing world isn’t possible without being adaptable, consistent, and according to Aguirre—being kind.

“From the beginning, it was always about helping others and being nice to people, really. That’s something that hasn’t changed,” Aguirre said. “[At Benold’s] you have a neighborhood place that’s willing to help you and take care of you.”

Aguirre described the inventory at Benold’s as easy, beautiful and wearable pieces, meticulously selected to fit the lifestyle of the Austinites who wear them. Customers can find rings, earrings, necklaces and bracelets in vintage, bridal, minimalist and modern styles from a variety of luxury designers.

For the staff at Benold’s, it’s all about guiding people to discover the jewelry that fits their needs and personalities—whether a piece is commemorating one of their greatest moments or a sorrowful one.

“You do develop long standing personal relationships because you have helped them at certain points in their lives for joy and then some that are super sad,” Aguirre said.

As Aguirre envisions the next 95 years at Benold’s, she hopes the business is able to continue nurturing its longstanding bonds with the community that has supported the business for generations.

“There are so many organizations we help, from hosting events for them, giving a piece of jewelry to giving money, just to give back to the same people that support us,” Aguirre said.

Benold’s Jewelers is located in Northwood Plaza at 2900 W. Anderson Lane. It also specializes in custom designs, repairs and appraisal services. Customers are encouraged to stroll in Mon.-Sat. from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. or inquire via phone call at 512-452-6491.

“People think that because it’s a jewelry store, it’s fancy [but] it’s not. I walk around here in tennis shoes or sandals sometimes. It’s hot in Texas,” Aguirre said. “At the end of the day, we’re humans and we want to help each other.”

Interested in learning more about Benold’s Jewelers or browsing online? Visit its website at

The above story was produced by Multi-Platform Journalist Morgan O’Neal with Community Impact's Storytelling team with information solely provided by the local business as part of their "sponsored content" purchase through our advertising team.