By Jennifer Heebner, Editor in Chief
Many know Adam Neeley for his award-winning jewelry designs but may not realize that he’s a masterful metallurgist as well. Among his gilded inventions: ombré gold-to-white SpectraGoldTM, sage-green-colored VeraGold, rich red RevaGold, and warm, peachy-champagne-color AlbaGold.
“I enjoy the process of creating unique gold alloys and the beautiful tones which complement gemstones in my work,” Neeley tells AGTA.
The Laguna Beach, Calif.-based artisan got hooked on mixing metals during his goldsmithing studies at Le Arti Orafe in Florence, Italy. While a student, he actually dreamt of a SpectraGoldTM design: a lustrous suite of pearls fading from a rich golden hue to a pure white, set into a hand-hewn matching gradient gold. He tapped his old-world European alloying skills to work up his karat-gold vision. After six years of experimentation, he debuted SpectraGoldTM. The year was 2010 and his first piece was the “South Sea Glow” pendant, an international award winner that landed a permanent home in the Smithsonian Institution in 2013.
SpectraGoldTM comprises seven different karatages of gold, from 9K white gold to 23K yellow gold and has a hardness similar to 18K gold, making it both a beautiful and sturdy jewelry option.
Making SpectraGoldTM is no easy or fast task. For starters, it cannot be cast in a mold. Neeley must fuse all the gold colors together to hand-fabricate a base gold block; this process takes upwards of 50 hours to complete. Then, depending on the jewelry design, completing a piece takes about another 80 hours.
“I create all of the SpectraGoldTM alloy and base forms,” says Neeley. “For the stone setting and completion, I have help from a very talented team of master goldsmiths.”
The design dictates whether or not a piece will be made in SpectraGoldTM, but that application is typically reserved for one-of-a-kind jewels because it is so labor-intensive.
“Like two-tone jewelry, SpectraGoldTM designs are versatile for their variety of gold tones but instead of stark contrast, its subtle color shift leads the eye to follow the design lines of the piece,” states Neeley on his website. “This is a powerful tool to help the jewelry artist engage with the viewer.”
Meanwhile, his solid-color metals are used according to which best complements the colored gemstones he intends to use. VeraGold, Neeley maintains, “looks amazing with contrasting purples and other jewel tones.”
SpectraGoldTM is the most coveted by clients, though his other three solid-colored alloys, all introduced in the past three years, have commanded a respectable amount of admiration among collectors.
“So far, they are pretty much a tie, and definitely selling more than regular white or yellow gold,” says Neeley.
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