Sarah Mawe was born Sarah Brown in Derby, England to the mineralogist Richard Brown. Sarah married her the mineralogist and dealer in minerals John Mawe in 1794 and he became her father's business partner, and took charge of the London mineral shop. "She became a highly competent mineral appraiser, purchaser, and identifier in her own right." The Mawe's shop on the Strand soon became extremely successful, and so they opened shops in Cheltenham and Matlock Bath. Sarah constructed her own collections of minerals, loaned as examples to James Sowerby for photographs to be used in Exotic Mineralogy (1811-1820) and British Mineralogy (1804-1817). The business in London was taken on by James Tennant who held Sarah's collection until it was sold in 1846.