Gertrude Zachary was a true visionary. It was her amazing sense of grace and her style that put her on the map in the Native American Jewelry industry.
Born and raised in Stuttgart, Germany, she moved to Albuquerque in her early 20s. Soon after she arrived in New Mexico, she saw something missing from the Native American jewelry on the market – contemporary lines.
With no background in jewelry design or manufacturing, she drew upon her natural artistic abilities and developed a new style for Native American jewelry, one that incorporated contemporary designs using gemstones with traditional stones. As the only female Native American Jewelry manufacturer in the 1970s, she pioneered the way for the women that would follow her.
Today, each piece is handcrafted using the same meticulous attention to detail that Gertrude utilized when she started her business. At the Gertrude Zachary jewelry manufacturing facility in Downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico, each piece is created through a collaborative process between the designers and the Native American silversmiths who make each piece by hand. Many of the designs being created are ones Gertrude drew. The designers were personally trained by Gertrude. She described the design process:
“I play with the stones. And they will tell you what they want to be, depending on their color and shape. They form themselves into the overall shape. There is nothing quite like sitting down with an entire tray of turquoise to completely capture the imagination.”
Once the silversmith gets the designs, the magic begins. It is left in their skilled master artisan hands to take the drawings and concepts and bring them to life.
Another cornerstone of the Gertrude Zachary process is the high-quality materials that are used. Gertrude Zachary features rare stones like high-grade, natural North American turquoise and rare Mediterranean coral. The stones are extremely collectible and not always available, so many pieces are made in limited quantities.
A stone in a special shape or color might be used to create one design. Usually the buyers find enough materials to create a dozen or so, while a hundred or more of a few very popular designs are occasionally produced.
Today Gertrude Zachary designs are available in two locations in Albuquerque near Historic Old Town and in Nob Hill as well as online. Clients come from around the globe to purchase one –of-a-kind pieces created by the Gertrude Zachary artisans.