American Jewelry Design Council
Evolution Pendant

Evolution Pendant by Adam Neeley, from the AJDC Annual Design Project “Transformation”

The Future of Jewelry – American Jewelry Design Council

Within creative industries, there is rarely a context for contemporaries set to aside their individual competitive and financial interests to benefit the field as a whole. The American Jewelry Design Council (AJDC) is one such organization in which the many of the most influential jewelers of our time work collectively to advance jewelry as an artistic medium.
“Members of the American Jewelry Design Council are dedicated to elevating the caliber of jewelry design through educational activities and by challenging professional jewelry designers worldwide to actualize their creative potentials.” – AJDC Mission Statement
American Jewelry Design Council
Evolution Pendant

Evolution Pendant by Adam Neeley, from the AJDC Annual Design Project “Transformation”

The Future of Jewelry – American Jewelry Design Council

Within creative industries, there is rarely a context for contemporaries set to aside their individual competitive and financial interests to benefit the field as a whole. The American Jewelry Design Council (AJDC) is one such organization in which the many of the most influential jewelers of our time work collectively to advance jewelry as an artistic medium.
“Members of the American Jewelry Design Council are dedicated to elevating the caliber of jewelry design through educational activities and by challenging professional jewelry designers worldwide to actualize their creative potentials.” – AJDC Mission Statement
“”I’m honored to be a part of such a distinguished group of designers and artisans. I look forward to challenging myself each year with the annual design project. I see it as an opportunity to explore a new dimension of my work.”” – Adam Neeley

The History of the AJDC

In 1988, a small circle of artistic and innovative jewelers came together to found the AJDC, a non-profit educational corporation. They organized with the mission, “to promote and recognize original jewelry design as art.” More than 30 years after the group’s inception, the AJDC is comprised of metal sculptors, artists, enamellists and jewelers of the highest skill level. These individuals are lifetime creatives, each with a distinctive body of work and an artistic legacy. A few of these highly respected jewelers are: ​Michael Good​, ​Barbara ​Heinrich​, ​Linda MacNeil​, ​Kent Raible​, ​George Sawyer​, and ​Mark Schneider.
A jeweler may only join the AJDC with an invitation. New members are considered on a basis of professional skill, originality and the development of a distinctive style. Current AJDC members make nominations and vote annually to decide who, if anyone, will be invited to join. Currently the group consists of 36 members, including Adam Neeley, who also serves as Treasurer.
Sweet Pea Objet D'Art

Pictured above is Sweet Pea Objet D’Art by Adam Neeley, from the AJDC Annual Design Project “Together”

The Annual Design Project

The most exceptional legacy of this illustrious group is certainly the Annual Design Project. The project is a powerful creative exercise which takes talented designers out of day-to-day studio work and sets the stage for unique and boundary pushing art. Created by modern masters at the height of their careers, the jewelry which results from the Annual Design Projects is varied, ambitious, and inspiring.
An Annual Design Project theme is typically a single word, leaving ample room for interpretation by each artist. Over the years, this has included very visual themes, based on shapes or patterns, like “Stripes” and “Sphere”; dynamic themes, like “Explosion” and “Tension”; and natural elements, like “Fire” and “Water”, to name a few. Each jeweler decides independently what type of jewelry to create, the subject matter, technique, and chosen materials. These works are never sold, but instead, kept in each artists private collection when not on tour.

History of the AJDC

In 1988, a small circle of artistic and innovative jewelers came together to found the AJDC, a non-profit educational corporation. They organized with the mission, “to promote and recognize original jewelry design as art.” More than 30 years after the group’s inception, the AJDC is comprised of metal sculptors, artists, enamellists and jewelers of the highest skill level. These individuals are lifetime creatives, each with a distinctive body of work and an artistic legacy. A few of these highly respected jewelers are: ​Michael Good​, ​Barbara ​Heinrich​, ​Linda MacNeil​, ​Kent Raible​, ​George Sawyer​, and ​Mark Schneider.
A jeweler may only join the AJDC with an invitation. New members are considered on a basis of professional skill, originality and the development of a distinctive style. Current AJDC members make nominations and vote annually to decide who, if anyone, will be invited to join. Currently the group consists of 36 members, including Adam Neeley, who also serves as Treasurer.
Sweet Pea Objet D'Art

Pictured above is Sweet Pea Objet D’Art by Adam Neeley, from the AJDC Annual Design Project “Together”

The Annual Design Project

The most exceptional legacy of this illustrious group is certainly the Annual Design Project. The project is a powerful creative exercise which takes talented designers out of day-to-day studio work and sets the stage for unique and boundary pushing art. Created by modern masters at the height of their careers, the jewelry which results from the Annual Design Projects is varied, ambitious, and inspiring.
An Annual Design Project theme is typically a single word, leaving ample room for interpretation by each artist. Over the years, this has included very visual themes, based on shapes or patterns, like “Stripes” and “Sphere”; dynamic themes, like “Explosion” and “Tension”; and natural elements, like “Fire” and “Water”, to name a few. Each jeweler decides independently what type of jewelry to create, the subject matter, technique, and chosen materials. These works are never sold, but instead, kept in each artists private collection when not on tour.
“We take that annual theme as a challenge to produce something completely different.” – Barbara Heinrich, AJDC Member

A Design Legacy

The AJDC Annual Design Projects represent a priceless piece of art history and a unique glimpse into the evolution of jewelry as an art form. Since members typically remain members over the long term, this collection offers a singular perspective on the creative progression of each individual artist as well. Commenting on the collection exhibited at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, critic and writer David Updike observed, “one also soon discovers that each of these pieces tells a story.”

A Design Legacy

The AJDC Annual Design Projects represent a priceless piece of art history and a unique glimpse into the evolution of jewelry as an art form. Since members typically remain members over the long term, this collection offers a singular perspective on the creative progression of each individual artist as well. Commenting on the collection exhibited at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, critic and writer David Updike observed, “one also soon discovers that each of these pieces tells a story.”
“Curators and critics have increasingly embraced craft artists and their output, resulting in a growing number of museum collections and exhibitions in which jewelry pieces are displayed as autonomous works of art, separate from the human bodies they were traditionally meant to adorn.” – David Updike

Jewelry from the AJDC Annual Design Projects

Munsteiner Gemstone Jewelry Inferno Pin

Inferno

Adam created this piece as a part of the 2015 AJDC anuual design project around the theme Fire. Adam shared the following about creating Inferno:
“Gemstones have always captured my curiosity. This stunning, fantasy-cut golden citrine by lapidary Lew Wackler was the spark of inspiration for Inferno pin. When I encountered this exceptional gemstone many years ago, I had no particular project in mind, but I felt certain that I needed to bring it home. When ADJC announced the design theme “Flame,” this dazzling gem came to mind immediately.
To me, a flame conveys warmth and light. Whether at a campfire or a candle-lit dinner, a flame beckons loved ones to gather, to share stories, and to be nourished in each others’ company. The flame is also a powerful symbol of creation. In ages past, alchemists used flame as they sought to forge treasure from base metals. Metalsmithing is more about craftsmanship than mystery these days, yet I do feel a certain magic when I use fire at the bench to bring forth jewelry that is greater than the sum of its precious parts.
With Inferno, I wanted to capture the evanescent beauty of fire. At the flame’s center, a distinctive, fantasy-cut golden citrine by Lew Wackler smolders. To complement the gem, I added luminous tendrils of smoke, formed with ribbons of my signature SpectraGold™. The delicate curves showcase SpectraGold™’s seamless gradient from a rich yellow gold into white gold, which is the result of a unique and time-intensive goldsmithing technique.”
Stripes

Stripes

Adam created “Stripes” as a part of the 2016 AJDC annual design project for the theme of the same name. This stately lapel pin showcases a quartz with needle-like tourmaline inclusions. Accentuating this gem’s natural texture is a phenomenal fantasy cut by world-renowned lapidary Tom Munsteiner. This unique gemstone brought Stripes to mind for Adam, making it a perfect fit for the AJDC project.
Adam describes, “The stark angles and contrast of the tourmaline crystals inherent to this stone are nature’s elegant and timeless stripes. The beautiful inclusions within and Munsteiner’s expert cut inspired me, informing my choice of materials, form, and finish.”

Inferno

Adam created this piece as a part of the 2015 AJDC annual design project around the theme Fire. Adam shared the following about creating Inferno:
“Gemstones have always captured my curiosity. This stunning, fantasy-cut golden citrine by lapidary Lew Wackler was the spark of inspiration for Inferno pin. When I encountered this exceptional gemstone many years ago, I had no particular project in mind, but I felt certain that I needed to bring it home. When ADJC announced the design theme “Flame,” this dazzling gem came to mind immediately.
To me, a flame conveys warmth and light. Whether at a campfire or a candle-lit dinner, a flame beckons loved ones to gather, to share stories, and to be nourished in each others’ company. The flame is also a powerful symbol of creation. In ages past, alchemists used flame as they sought to forge treasure from base metals. Metalsmithing is more about craftsmanship than mystery these days, yet I do feel a certain magic when I use fire at the bench to bring forth jewelry that is greater than the sum of its precious parts.
With Inferno, I wanted to capture the evanescent beauty of fire. At the flame’s center, a distinctive, fantasy-cut golden citrine by Lew Wackler smolders. To complement the gem, I added luminous tendrils of smoke, formed with ribbons of my signatureSpectraGold™. The delicate curves showcaseSpectraGold™‘s seamless gradient from a rich yellow gold into white gold, which is the result of a unique and time-intensive goldsmithing technique.” – Adam Neeley
Stripes

Stripes

Adam created “Stripes” as a part of the 2016 AJDC annual design project for the theme of the same name. This stately lapel pin showcases a quartz with needle-like tourmaline inclusions. Accentuating this gem’s natural texture is a phenomenal fantasy cut by world-renowned lapidary Tom Munsteiner. This unique gemstone brought Stripes to mind for Adam, making it a perfect fit for the AJDC project.
Adam describes, “The stark angles and contrast of the tourmaline crystals inherent to this stone are nature’s elegant and timeless stripes. The beautiful inclusions within and Munsteiner’s expert cut inspired me, informing my choice of materials, form, and finish.”

Rhythm Pin/Pendant by Adam Neeley, from the AJDC Annual Design Project “Rhythm”

Captivate Pendant by Adam Neeley, from the AJDC Annual Design Project “Wave”

Polar Ice Pendant by Adam Neeley, from the AJDC Annual Design Project “Ice”

View Adam’s Most Memorable One-of-a-Kind Designs

Works Cited

Updike, David. The AJDC Design Project: A Living Collection. The Headley-Whitney Museum of Art, 2018.

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