The deep lines and the distinctive forms of a Victor Beck silver bolo or belt buckle are reminiscent of the architectural structures he admires. Beck carefully selects turquoise stones and coral to use in these jewelry forms as well as in the necklaces, bracelets, and rings he creates. Beck’s appreciation for jewelry developed from his experiences as a child living in a household where the aesthetics of well-executed silver jewelry and the beauty of turquoise were appreciated. Beck says, “When growing up, my father and mother, who is now 84, collected the finest pieces of jewelry. My father had a unique feeling for turquoise. All is now distributed among seven children.”
While a student in the ceramic program at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Beck’s class curriculum dictated nine hours of jewelry making to complete his bachelor in arts. Beck felt so comfortable with the jewelry classes that he switched his degree from ceramics to jewelry. He says of his experience, “When I got into jewelry, I knew that was where I belonged.” In 1973, Beck received a scholarship to study at State University of New York in New Paltz. Beck attributes the simple, clean lines of his work to his experience at New Paltz.
Beck also credits Charles Loloma’s creative use of inlay and selection of materials such as ironwood and lapis lazuli as influencing his jewelry and laying the groundwork for many jewelers working today. Inspired by Loloma’s use of inlay, Beck’s addition of inlay to the sides of rings has become a hallmark for the jewelry.
In the spring of 1978, Beck was awarded a commission to design and execute a rosary for Pope Paul VI. Beck was at a high point of his career at this time, when he was asked by the community of Pinon to serve a four-year term a Navajo Tribal Council Delegate. Beck’s attention was diverted from jewelry making as he worked with other community members to develop a master plan for Pinon. Since the early 1980’s, Beck sees a refining of his own work.
Beck has received numerous jewelry awards at various competitions including those held at the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff, the Heard Museum, and the Navajo Tribal Fair. He received first place awards in 1995 at the Santa Fe Indian Market and in 1996 at the Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair. He is now an Arizona Living Treasure.