Lika Behar (b.????) In a May 2018 interview with Southern Jewelry News, Lika Behar told the publication, “My father was a jeweler and gold coin dealer in Istanbul where I was born and raised. When I was 12 I used to wander the teeming, colorful Grand Bazaar where his shop was. I knew it like the back of my hand! It was a maze of an ancient 16th century mall.
“At 18 I came to the United States to go to college. My parents and extended family still live in Turkey. My own jewelry workshop and staff, including several master goldsmiths whose dads originally did work for my father, are there. I visit regularly.
“I’ve always been an artist deep down in my heart but initially pursued a more ‘practical’ career. I received a BA in Economics and Political Science and an MBA from NYU and worked in banking for three years. At this point I was married and had a small son.
“I saw a need in the market for a type of casual, stylish children’s clothing. This was before GAP Kids! I started an apparel line manufactured in Turkey and marketed in the US. The business thrived.
“After 20 years I became disillusioned with the apparel industry. Several friends encouraged me towards jewelry design. … But I hesitated. One day a close friend called me from the JA NY Show. ‘You’ve got to get yourself over here.’ I came and was hooked. I decided to take the plunge.
“This year’s our 10th anniversary. I transitioned my apparel company staff into jewelry design. My Istanbul staff is a tight knit core of friends and family, some with us since our apparel company days. In New Jersey we have our resident gem and diamond expert. Our operations manager had nine years of retail experience. We have a staff of six in Istanbul and four in the US.
“From the beginning I had a vision of what I liked. It’s what I wear myself. I enjoy wearing jewelry that’s elegant and stylish, with precious metals and gems, but that’s casual, not too formal. It fits how we dress today – jewelry that you can wear with jeans, casually elegant. I’ve always used the finest materials. I’m a jeweler’s daughter. Our family doesn’t do costume jewelry!”
According to Lika Behar’s official website, “[She] creates unique and intimate works of wearable art inspired by ancient civilizations and the Mediterranean. Her hand wrought individual designs reflect ancient history as well as the modern feminine spirit.
“She works with 22 and 24 karat gold, diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires, oxidized sterling silver and a myriad of beautiful gemstones of extraordinary color. [Her] collection showcases fresh and lively hues with striking color combinations graced with the warmth of pure gold and the shimmer of diamonds.”
In the interview with Southern Jewelry News, Lika elaborated on her inspirational aesthetic. “Pure gold, which I love to work with, is very soft and forgiving. I love to use richly colored gems with a soft natural faceting, with an artisan touch. I particularly love blue gems: turquoise, opals, labradorite. Their colors remind me of the Mediterranean.”
The brand’s current collection is infused with brilliant gemstones. Lika’s workroom is in Istanbul where her site claims, “[She] deftly reconciles ancient history with the sensibility of the modern world.”
Each piece in the Lika Behar Collection reconciles the inspiration of ancient jewelry traditions, utilizing only 24 Karat gold. The result is a varied collection that also incorporates silver in matte finishes, accented with gold or oxidized to mimic the patina of age old pure silver artifacts found in archaeological digs and museums.
Diamonds, emeralds, rubies, sapphires, and numerous beautiful gemstones add extraordinary color to her collections. Her work showcases fresh, lively hues and striking color combinations of these gems graced with cool matte silver to sharply contrast with the depth of blackened silver, the warmth of pure gold accents, and the shimmer of diamonds.
Collections include rings, necklaces, bracelets, earrings, charms and talismans as well as those identified as Creative Bridal, Mixed Metal, Ocean Collection, Silver Only, Turquoise plus rare and unique.
In the interview, Lika offered insights into her latest collections plus gave a glimpse into what may lie ahead. “I’m currently using lots of colorful valuable beads such as aquamarines and baroque pink pearls. My work’s always evolving. As an artist, my view is ‘nature imitates nature’ rather than ‘art imitates nature.’ All our materials are natural materials, part of nature herself.”
Especially notable pieces include a Mia bangle “Ancora” cuff bracelet which was a 2017 Centurion Show Mixed Metals Award winner created in 24 karat fusion gold and oxidized sterling silver with .95 ctw diamonds priced around $3900.
There is also the Mia eternity band “Love” in 22 karat gold with Kingman turquoise cabochons for $1410 and the Mia “Ocean” ring crafted in 24 karat gold with an Australian opal doublet priced around $2310.
Also notable is the Lika Behar set of 24K gold Sleeping Beauty earrings with 16.13 carats turquoise and 1.06 carats round and baguette diamonds for $6,600 and the Lika Behar 24K gold Machu Picchu earrings with 20.01 carats boulder opal and .45 carats fancy cut diamonds, priced at $5,000.
Some of Lika’s pieces are featured in the Museum of Art and Design Store in New York City. The brand also partners with organizations including the American Gem Society (AGS), American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC), the Jewelers Board of Trade (JBT), and the Kimberly Process Certification which insures that original materials are conflict-free and adhere to social and environmental ethics.
In addition, the brand’s stone suppliers and clients are required to follow the Anti-Money Laundering program via The USA Patriot Act. Lika pledges not to use any fossils, ivory, or any materials derived from endangered species.
Today, Lika travels the US for personal appearances at renowned jewelry stores that carry her collections. She uses her artistic talent to design jewelry, draws from her background in finance to run her company, and shares her love for people during her time with them on the road.