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 in Stuttgart, Germany, she moved to the United States in 1945. She spent her early years and college in Michigan and moved to Albuquerque in her early 30’s. Soon after she arrived in New Mexico, she realized that “contemporary lines” were missing from the Native American jewelry market.
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 personally worked with 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 jewelry pieces are made in limited quantities.
Today, the legacy continues as Gertrude’s daughter, Erica Hatchell, now oversees the day-to-day operations. And just like her Mother, Erica will hand pick stones and gems for use in specific pieces of jewelry, and she will assist with the design of the jewelry as well.
Erica started working for her Mother in 1992, and worked for the business throughout High School and College, and now has over 30 years of retail and manufacturing experience.
Gertrude Zachary designs are available in two Factory Outlet locations in Albuquerque, one near Historic Old Town and another location in Nob Hill. And the jewelry can be found online, as well. Clients come from around the globe to purchase one-of-a-kind pieces created by the Gertrude Zachary artisans.