LB jewelry designer Adam Neeley honored with First Place AGTA Spectrum Award

While gemstone industry professionals and jewelers from around the world gathered for this year’s Tucson Gem Fairs, the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) celebrated Adam Neeley as a winner of the organization’s prestigious Spectrum Award. 

This honor gives Neeley the distinction of holding the most jewelry industry awards of any jeweler by age 33. 

For more than 30 years, AGTA has brought the finest of design and gemstone cutting together annually for their Spectrum Awards, which is considered the world’s premier gemstone and pearl design competition. 

Neeley, a Laguna Beach-based Goldsmith and Jewelry Designer, won his first Spectrum Award in 2012 at the age of 28.

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

AGTA gives first place to Adam Neeley at prestige event

At a Champagne reception and Gala event held Saturday, Feb 3, AGTA recognized Adam Neeley’s pendant “Cosmos” with the honor of First Place in the category of Business/Day Wear. It’s easy to see why; Neeley’s Cosmos pendant is a showstopper with its grand scale and strong visual movement. 

The modern form showcases a 24.06 carat, specialty-cut morganite by renowned lapidary Stephen Avery and is accented by 3.14 carats total weight of diamonds. 

“I wanted to showcase the spectacular cut of this beautiful morganite by echoing the scintillation within into radiating curves,” Neeley said.

Neeley executed the design with extreme precision, using sweeping lines of rose gold spiraling outward into white gold. 

“People have fallen in love with the beauty of rose gold again and I wanted to create a new visual effect with the metal. This design has two different colors of rose gold and white gold to create a color fade from rose to white.” 

The design took months of planning and meticulous work to complete. Neeley enthused, “It’s a huge honor to be recognized by this important competition and top level industry judges.”

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

“People have fallen in love with the beauty of rose gold”

While happy to celebrate, Neeley spent most of the week treasure-hunting. The annual Gem Shows at Tucson serve as the primary gem-buying occasion in Neeley’s year. 

“At Tucson, I’m focused on inspiration and discovering the most exceptional gemstones to use in my designs. This year I came away with some breathtaking jewels.” Those gemstone finds, combined with Neeley’s ambitious vision for his newest jewelry collection, promise dazzling things in the year ahead.

From his studio on Coast Highway in Laguna Beach, Neeley has been designing and creating unique jewelry since 2006. 

Neeley’s work has been recognized by industry authority the Manufacturing Jewelers & Suppliers of America (MJSA) at their annual Vision Awards on nine separate occasions, most recently in June of 2017. 

As a member of the prestigious American Jewelry Design Council, Neeley is shaping his artistic medium and the evolution of the jewelry industry. He’s also making history; his pendant “South Sea Glow” is a part of the Smithsonian Institution’s permanent collection.

Those interested in discovering Neeley’s creations are invited to visit Adam Neeley Fine Art Jewelry at 352 North Coast Highway in Laguna Beach year round, or at the upcoming La Quinta Arts Festival, Booth #945. During this busy season, visitors are encouraged to make an appointment to meet with Neeley personally. 

For further information or questions, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Recently revamped and reenergized Hobie Surf Shop exceeds expectations in more ways than one


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

When one walks through the doors of the recently remodeled Hobie Surf Shop, which celebrated its grand opening last Saturday, it’s obvious that there have been substantial physical changes. Hobie Surf Shop took over the adjacent space and now occupies the entire building. The goal was to create a store that feels light, bright and open and appeals to the consumer on every level. 

And it certainly does.

“We’re taking the next step up in terms of the physical space, exposing the original truss ceiling, incorporating reclaimed wood flooring, adding a completely new and relocated sales counter and upgrading lighting and all surfaces,” Mark Christy, the owner, explained last month during the remodel.

Click on photo for larger image

Hobie’s new expansive space and festive tiki bar

The physical changes are obvious, but there’s something else. The beachy aura has been enhanced too. Everything appears more expansive, not only is the ceiling is higher, there’s more breathing room, and the relaxing vibe that one expects here. It takes one back to the mellow times of the 50s when things were “more laid back,” and surfing was born.

And preserving that surfing heritage is especially important to Christy.

Christy explained that the remodel is intended to highlight to a greater extent the role that Hobie Alter and his partner Dick Metz played in transforming surfing from a fringe sport into a cultural phenomenon, infusing a sense of history into the flagship shop and celebrating a story unique to Hobie stores in the reenergized interior.

Click on photo for larger image

Remodeled exterior showcases vintage surfing and store photos in windows

And he succeeded. The interior feels like a vintage museum celebrating the birth of skateboarding and surfing and the surfing culture, an homage that resonates throughout the store. 

Along part of one wall, vintage surfboards are exhibited next to incredible photos of Hobie Alter and his partner Dick Metz during the 50s and 60s that visually tell the story of the beginning of surfing. And letters and information about Hobie’s innovations beckon one to read on and on.

To further bring back that era, there’s a handcrafted tiki bar in the back corner. Almost everywhere one looks, there’s a piece plucked from that time-period.

But there’s more.

Click on photo for larger image

Display of surfing and art books

 “There is so much talent here, and sadly, the window for these artisans to exhibit their creations to the public is often limited to a few weeks of the festival season. As such, you may see some ‘outside-the-box’ things you might not typically see in a surf shop,” Christy said. “Above all, we want to make the place interesting for our customers (and ourselves) and reflective of the town we love.” 

To this end, he’s added craft pieces, for example, ocean blue pottery and large paintings of the sea. And there’s a substantial display (with chairs to sit and peruse the merchandise) of surfing, art, and other books.

Maddi Hall, who worked at Hobie before the remodel says, “It’s exciting to see everyone’s reaction when they come in. Now it’s more fun to work here.”

Unbelievably, this transformation took only three weeks. It’s still uniquely Hobie Surf Shop with its high-quality brands and water-lifestyle clothing, but now it clearly harkens back to its roots. And it was worth waiting for the reveal.

Hobie Surf Shop is located at 294 Forest Ave, 949-497-3304,

Studies in Blue by Scott

Photos by Scott Brashier

Catalina Island perches on hues of beautiful blue

Blue sunrise, with scattered clouds

Click on photos for larger images

Talking Across the Partisan Divide: Susi Q believes it is possible in small group conversations 

Recent surveys have found that many Americans would rather their children marry someone of a different race or religion than a different political party. It reveals the depth of division and distrust that now permeates our political culture. 

How did we get so polarized? 

On Tuesday, Feb 27, the Laguna Beach Seniors and League of Women Voters in Orange County are pleased to present “Talking Across the Partisan Divide,” from 6 - 8 p.m. at the Susi Q Center, located at 380 Third St. 

Small group conversations are intended to bring together people of different views to discuss ways to promote civility and respect. 

The guest speaker will be Peter Ditto, who has a Phd in Psychology and Social Behavior at UCI. His research focuses on how motivation and emotion shape our social, political, moral, medical, and legal judgements. Hear about the factors that contribute to our political polarization. 

At 6:25 p.m. there will be introductions, 6:30 p.m. there will be the speaker presentation, at 7 p.m. the breakout conversations will begin, and at 7:45 p.m., reflections and closings will conclude the evening. 

For more information or to make a required reservation, call 949-464-6645, or log onto

Gas Company wants more time to present meter plan to commission

City staff is recommending the Planning Commission hold off hearing a presentation on Wednesday from Southern California Gas on “advanced meter technology” until the March 21 meeting.

The delay was requested by the company, which is responding to commission directions in November to revise proposed placements at 1414 Dunning Drive, the El Toro Road right-of-way and the Regatta Road right-of-way, according to the staff report.

Commissioners directed the gas company to revise the Dunning Way application to minimize the impacts on a neighboring property. The company was advised to explore opportunities to locate its facility on Laguna Beach County Water District property to the south of the proposed installation on El Toro Road and to come up with less intrusive alternatives to the location proposed for Regatta Road. 

Plan is to upgrade residential and commercial gas meters

The gas company plan is to upgrade residential and commercial gas meters with “advanced meter technology” as part of a region-wide transition to wireless utility use tracking. 

Advanced meters would be attached to existing analog gas meters and wirelessly communicate with data collection units. 

Installation would include two whip antennas, one collector unit, one solar panel and associated ancillary equipment mounted onto concrete poles.

The Planning Commission unanimously voted in November to approve the gas company’s application for conditional use permits and the design of the proposals, but subject to findings and conditions. 

--Barbara Diamond 

Kate Buckley announces Poet Laureate’s Showcase readings on March 8 at LCAD Gallery on Ocean

Kate Buckley, Laguna Beach’s inaugural poet laureate, has launched a Poet Laureate’s Showcase series of readings, aimed at bringing nationally known poets to Laguna. Literary luminaries featured to-date include Noah Blaustein, Victoria Chang, Grant Hier, Garrett Hongo, Sarah Maclay, Christopher Merrill, Kathryn Nuernberger, and Tom Zoellner.

The next Poet Laureate’s Showcase reading will be held on Thurs, March 8 from 7 - 9 p.m. at the Laguna College of Art + Design Gallery located at 374 Ocean Avenue. The literary showcase will feature the novelist Victoria Patterson and award-winning poets Francesca Bell and Kate Buckley. The evening will conclude with a conversation with the writers and refreshments.

This series is free and open to the public and graciously hosted by the Laguna College of Art + Design. The Poet Laureate program is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach.

Featured poets have been widely published

Francesca Bell has poems published in BODY, burntdistrict, ELLE, Flycatcher, New Ohio Review, North American Review, Poetry Northwest, Prairie Schooner, Rattle, Spillway, Tar River Poetry, and Zone 3. She has been nominated ten times for the Pushcart Prize and won the 2014 Neil Postman Award for Metaphor from Rattle. Francesca’s translations, from Arabic and German, appear in Berkeley Poetry Review, Blue Lyra Review, Circumference | Poetry in Translation, Four by Two, Laghoo, and The Massachusetts Review. 

She co-translated Shatha Abu Hnaish’s book of poems, A Love That Hovers Like a Bedeviling Mosquito (Dar Fadaat, 2017), and Red Hen Press will publish her first collection, Bright Stain, in 2019. She is the events coordinator for the Marin Poetry Center and the former poetry editor of River Styx. 

Submitted Photo

Poet Francesca Bell won the 2014 Neil Postman Award 

Kate Buckley has poems published or forthcoming in Bellingham Review, The Cafe Review, Chaparrel, North American Review, Poetry Foundation, Rattle, Shenandoah, Silk Road Review, Slipstream, and many others. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University and is the author of A Wild Region (Moon Tide Press), named a Midwest Book Review Selection, and Follow Me Down (Tebot Bach). 

A four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Kate’s awards include a Gabehart Prize and the North American Review’s James Hearst Poetry Prize. Her short story, “The Gods of Flight,” was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize. 

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted Photo

Kate is currently serving as the local Poet Laureate

Victoria Patterson is the author of the novels The Peerless Four and This Vacant Paradise, a 2011 New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. Her story collection, Drift, was a finalist for the California Book Award, the 2009 Story Prize, and was selected as one of the best books of 2009 by The San Francisco Chronicle. She lives with her family in Southern California and teaches at Antioch University’s Master of Fine Arts program. 

Submitted Photo

Victoria Patterson is 2011 New York Times Book Review Editors Choice

For more information on this upcoming event, contact Kate Buckley at 760-808-1086, or log onto

Shaena Stabler is the Owner and Publisher.

Lynette Brasfield is our Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor.

The Webmaster is Michael Sterling.

Katie Ford is our in-house ad designer.

Alexis Amaradio, Cameron Gillespie, Allison Rael, Barbara Diamond, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle, Maggi Henrikson, Marrie Stone, Samantha Washer and Suzie Harrison are staff writers.

Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle and Suzie Harrison are columnists.

Mary Hurlbut, Scott Brashier, and Aga Stuchlik are the staff photographers.

We all love Laguna and we love what we do.

Email: for questions about advertising


Email: with news releases, letters, etc