Take one look at Bruce Eckhardt’s jewelry and you’d think he was born making beads. Yet for Bruce Eckhardt, his career in jewelry-making came about by way of his passion for painting.
An Arizona native, Eckhardt studied painting under a Navajo artist at Prescott College in the early 1970s. Looking to expand his horizons, Eckhardt arranged a student exchange with the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
As part of his student exchange, Bruce Eckhardt worked in the classroom/studio of Alan Hauser, an Apache stone sculptor, for six months. During this time, Eckhardt realized he loved the feel of stone -- the density, resilience, and sense of eternity in that material. Yet, he still loved the bright colors of the paint he was used to working with.
Today, Bruce Eckhardt’s jewelry is a marriage of his love for the feel of stone and bright colors in his paintings. Eckhardt chooses rare, high-grade stones to create his stunning pieces, which highlight the inherent beauty of the materials he uses while offering customers a piece that feels utterly close to nature.
The unmistakable jewelry of Bruce Eckhardt is inspired by his many teachers, including Charles Lovato from Santo Domingo Pueblo, who taught Eckhardt how to roll beads. After 30 years of dedication to lapidary art, Eckhardt is regarded as one of the finest bead-makers in the industry.
With the help of his talented teachers, Bruce Eckhardt has developed his own jewelry style, striving to “paint” with stone by capturing color and volume. It has been an evolution of many years, but art often is like that, he says. “It becomes itself, in spite of itself.”