MAR 12, 2024







Renowned American designer Adam Neeley is reshaping the contemporary jewelry landscape, setting new standards for high jewelers. A master metalsmith, Neeley's bench-trained expertise has spawned a distinctive genre, captivating a global audience of discerning collectors. His creations harmonize traditional craftsmanship and modern innovation, fusing rich artistry with cutting-edge techniques, and groundbreaking materials. Since establishing his flagship atelier in Laguna Beach, CA, in 2006, Neeley has garnered acclaim for bold designs, technical mastery, and innovative metallurgy. As an award-winning designer and American Jewelry Design Council member, he elevates jewelry to an art form. Neeley's aesthetic showcases extraordinary gemstones in modern, graceful forms, featuring distinctive suspension mounts and award-winning laser construction. A GIA Graduate Gemologist, he excels in celebrating unique specimens and rare stones, utilizing custom gold alloys to unlock signature colors. With a nod to old-world techniques and modern alchemy, Adam Neeley continues to redefine the boundaries of jewelry artistry.

Currently, The Laguna Art Museum in Laguna Beach California is celebrating the designer’s artistry with an exhibition entitled Modern Alchemy: The Fusion of Art and Nature in the Jewelry Designs of Adam Neeley that is currently on view until July 29, 2024. I recently sat down with the designer to discuss his early roots, inspiration, his unique process, and what we will learn about his work through this new exhibition.

Calla Violette, titanium, white gold, garnet, diamond. 2020.

Camila, RevaGold, garnet, diamond. 2023.

AS IF: The Laguna Art Museum’s latest exhibition is, Modern Alchemy, the Fusion of Art and Nature in the Jewelry Designs of Adam Neeley, I mean, that says it all! It features over 100 works from throughout your life—not just your career—and is the first exhibition of its kind to feature a jewelry maker as an artist. What are viewers going to learn about you through this exhibition?

Adam Neeley: One of the key ingredients in the exhibition is what makes a piece of jewelry a piece of art, and what differentiates art jewelry from commercial jewelry. I don’t design for mass market consumption. My pieces are oftentimes inspired by nature, they are one-of-a-kind small sculptures made of precious gems and metals. The exhibition explores my process from the beginning of my career where I started rock collecting, then moved into stone cutting. There’s a portion at the beginning of Lapidary Art that shows the evolution of my work from age 10 to age 20.  

The Modern Alchemy portion of the exhibition highlights my creation of custom colors of gold and ombré gradients, a technique I developed that hasn’t been done before to the extent that I have engineered, particularly with SpectraGold. One of the main narratives of the exhibition is being a modern alchemist, creating certain metals and utilizing them in design work that complements the stones and tells a story. 

The exhibition culminates in a curated selection of my award-winning pieces, the first being the 2007 Tahitian Pearl Trophy winning design Fiore Del Mare ring.