Museum to host first-ever decorative arts show

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Adam Neeley’s ‘Modern Alchemy’ fuses art and nature into jewelry design

For the first time, Laguna Art Museum will showcase the luminous world of ornamental bling in a new decorative arts show opening mid-February.

Modern Alchemy, an exhibition showcasing the fusion of art, nature, and innovation in the jewelry designs of the renowned designer Adam Neeley, will be on view from Feb. 17 through July 29. Photo courtesy of LAM

Modern Alchemy, an exhibition showcasing the fusion of art, nature, and innovation in the jewelry designs of the renowned designer Adam Neeley, will be on view from Feb. 17 through July 29.

“Modern Alchemy explores my journey as an artist, from early years of gemstone cutting and silversmithing to developing my own unique design aesthetic & inventing new gold colors. This exhibition features displays to excite audiences of all ages and share the magical world of the jewelry arts,” Neeley said. 

Neeley skillfully combines traditional goldsmith techniques with cutting-edge technologies to transform precious metals and gemstones into wearable masterpieces. His unparalleled designs draw inspiration from the diverse shapes and colors found in the natural world, a passion ignited during his childhood rock-collecting adventures. 

Neeley studied under master goldsmiths in Italy, honing his craft and developing a distinctive style, earning him international acclaim and prestigious awards in the jewelry industry. Throughout years of experimentation, Neeley developed the SpectraGold technique, a new process involving transitioning one color of gold into another. Achieved through a meticulous forging process, this technique produces a subtle gradient, or ombré, of color—from yellow gold to white gold and beyond. Neeley’s innovation and his creation of entirely new gold colors evoke the essence of a modern-day alchemist.

“Adam Neeley’s Modern Alchemy is a testament to the transformative power of art. Neeley’s ability to blend traditional craftsmanship with his original SpectraGold technique will take you on a journey where each piece becomes a unique expression of alchemical beauty,” said Julie Perlin Lee, executive director of the Laguna Art Museum. “We are excited to present Modern Alchemy as the first-ever decorative arts show at Laguna Art Museum.” 

Modern Alchemy delves into the creative processes of this visionary jeweler, showcasing Neeley’s techniques and the use of raw and faceted gems and minerals in his art. Collaborating with world-class lapidaries, including Stephen Avery, Neeley crafts imaginative pieces that transcend contemporary designs, transporting admirers into a realm of dreams and fantasy inspired by his boundless imagination and the world around him. Adam Neeley truly stands as a twenty-first-century alchemist, pushing the boundaries of artistic expression in the realm of jewelry.  

Neeley has received multiple awards in the jewelry industry, including 13 AGTA Spectrum Awards, 2 AGTA Cutting Edge Awards, 11 MJSA Vision Awards, 2 Tahitian Pearl Trophies and 2 President’s Trophies. Additionally, he has been honored with a Vision Award from the CPAA, a Saul Bell Design Award and has earned over a dozen top-of-category and Best of Show recognitions at prestigious fine art shows across the United States. As a American Jewelry Design Council member, Neeley collaborates with other leading American designers to elevate jewelry into an art form. His piece “South Sea Glow” is a part of the Smithsonian Institution’s permanent collection.

Neeley’s jewelry is also on display at his local showroom in Laguna Beach at 352 North Coast Highway Laguna Beach, CA 92651. Available for viewing by appointment Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about Modern Alchemy, visit lagunaartmuseum.org

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