Benjamin Javaheri’s last name is the Farsi word for jewelry. It’s as if his career had been destined for him! His Persian heritage spans four generations of family involvement with fine jewelry. Founding president and nine-time award-winning designer Javaheri is the face behind Uneek Fine Jewelry, established in 1996.
Uneek’s signature styling blends the bold spirit of contemporary American culture with delicacy and detail born of Old World metalsmithing and stone-setting disciplines. It successfully pairs the design aesthetics of today with centuries-old approaches to the art and science of creating pure luxury from gold, platinum, and diamonds.
We chatted with Javaheri this week, took a look at his roots in jewelry, and received the inside scoop on his day-to-day life designing for and running Uneek!
How did you get started in the jewelry industry?
My mom has a retail store in downtown L.A., which she opened when I was 3 years old. As a kid, I would help out with errands, like run around downtown for sizing, repairs, etc. There had to be a sense of urgency, and instead of waiting for vendors to come to us, I had to go to them myself for faster turnaround times.
When I was 16 I started working for Gap Kids to raise some capital, and it was there that I learned all about business ethics, which I took to heart, knowing I wanted to take them with me one day when it was time to start my own company. By the time I reached 20 I had saved up $4,800. I left Gap Kids, took that $4,800, bought some bracelet mountings, set them with diamonds that I had gotten on memo, and I went on the road with them. That is how I started!
Describe your day in three numbers.
One good morning workout, an average of three meetings, and way too many emails.
What is your go-to source for inspiration?
Nothing inspires me more than walking into our manufacturing facilities—which are here, by the way, on the premises, co-located with our business and operations offices—and watching our jewelers work on our pieces, being able to sit with them as they do their magic, and being able to be hands-on with them and the whole process. I do not understand it when people just sit in their office, wait for stuff to be shown to them, sign a bunch of papers. You are missing out big time when you are not there watching the action happen, talking to your work family, and being hands-on!
I am also inspired by beautiful center stones. That’s actually the starting point of my creative process. A beautiful diamond is like a treasured work of art. It requires the perfect frame to enhance and protect its beauty and value. I love the artistic and technical challenges of this. I also love the good feeling I get when something that came from my head and my heart gives joy and satisfaction to someone else.
Describe your brand in three words.
Quality, innovation, customer focus.
What has been the biggest reward of your career?
Knowing that each and every piece I make is heirloom-worthy and that it’s going to stay with families from generation to generation. I do not know what’s more rewarding than leaving a piece of you in this world long after you’re gone!
What is one piece of jewelry you could never live without?
The engagement ring that I gave to the woman who is now my wife. Looking down on her hand and seeing it every day as a symbol of the love and loyalty that we have for each other, it’s just a magical feeling, one that I do not think I can live without. Also, knowing that it will be passed down to our daughter one day makes it even more special.
What is your social media app of choice?
I have to admit that it’s Facebook.
What is one item you’d be willing to splurge on?
Cars! Right now I’m in love with my 1969 Camaro Z/28, which I had repainted in caviar black, reupholstered in black-and-white houndstooth. It was a complete bumper-to-bumper restoration, and I enjoyed every minute of it!
What is your favorite quote or personal mantra?
“Work as if you’ll live forever, party as if you’ll die tomorrow.”
What’s your favorite way to unwind after a busy day?
Spending time with my daughter. Nothing beats the feeling of when I come home from a long day at work and she runs into my arms. Euphoric doesn’t begin to describe it.
Describe your personal jewelry style.
Fashion-forward, but with a touch of timelessness.
What’s next for Uneek Fine Jewelry?
Uneek just turned 21 years old last month, and hitting milestones like this makes you sit back and think about what you want to do next, so this I already thought of before this interview! I want Uneek to be able to give back to the jewelry community, something that touches and enriches the lives of people working in our industry. Also, now that the Uneek family is growing bigger, I want us to have a focus on corporate social responsibility and giving back to the community.