In 1979 an art student from Long Island wandered into New York City in search of adventure and found herself in the salon of Harry Winston. Every woman’s dream was realized as Ms. Becker modeled jewelry for the elite. It was at Winston’s where she saw the creations of the great Shinde. The classical works he produced had a profound effect and changed the way Ms. Becker saw jewelry. Interacting with Winston’s head designer was an experience that is still fresh in her mind and amongst her most cherished experiences in the industry. To this day, Cara gives great credit to the staff and ownership of Harry Winston for inviting her into their world and making her a part of their family. It was truly a seminal experience.

After three years at Harry Winston, an opportunity arose in Bal Harbour, Florida. The Fine Jewelry Department at Neiman Marcus needed a person with Cara’s unique skill set. The company recognized her contributions and implemented her suggested changes almost immediately. While her department became a model, Cara took the time to get involved with design and to familiarize herself with the culture of Miami.

The early 80’s in Miami were a time of cultural change. South American politics created an influx of the elite and with them came their unique style. Cara’s eyes were again wide open and she was gaining further focus.

1985 saw Cara packing her bags for a trip to Chicago, where she worked for Neiman Marcus and helped to establish the new Neiman Marcus Fine Jewelry Department on Michigan Avenue. Once again, Cara found herself with an elite clientele, this time Midwesterners. They too had their own style, far different from the classical styles she had encountered in New York and the eclectic Latin influenced style of Miami.

After several moves and a six year corporate experience, Cara found herself quite busy. She had completed her Graduate Pearls degree from GIA in 2007 and was looking towards the future. It was her parents who slowed her down and asked her to come visit them in the Smoky mountains of North Carolina and that’s where the story takes a huge left turn.

It was in the Smoky mountains where Cara found herself in a riverbed panning for gems. Spending days with her young children using her hands to touch and feel the unusual shapes and characteristics of unpolished stones. This inspired a whole new part of her artistic existence. After all, these were the same mountains where Tiffany had discovered many fabulous sapphires years earlier.

No longer were gemstones simply diamonds, emeralds, sapphires and rubies from Harry Winston or Neiman Marcus. An entire new world was opened to her. There, in the riverbed, her company, My Blue Heaven became a reality. Each night, Cara thought about whether the rough stones she found by day should be cut or not. Other thoughts were about design to production scenarios.

Then came the need to identify these stones, by herself. She decided to make the commitment to become a Graduate Gemologist through GIA.  This degree came into fruition in October 2012.

Fast forward to the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show 2012. It was there that Cara happened upon the most beautiful Australian black opal she had ever seen. In short order, terms were negotiated and the stone became the central theme of a piece she had in mind for the 2013 Spectrum Awards contest. Finally, Cara was able to incorporate all that she had observed throughout her different experiences in the work place. In October 2012, Ms. Lichtenstein was awarded the Platinum Evening Honors award through the AGTA for that very same piece.

The future is now. As you read this bio, a new market has opened up to Ms. Lichtenstein: The children of her customers have discovered an appreciation for one of a kind designs infused with their own special symbols. The results are intensely personal. Seeing the reactions as the drawings come to life and knowing that their own input is what made their piece so magical is extraordinarily gratifying for Cara as a designer and to her customers who enjoy pieces that will never be replicated.

Cara Becker Lichtenstein is the owner, designer of My Blue Heaven, and currently creates in Highland Park, Illinois with her husband and children.