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SURF GEMS ︱Abby Ahlgrim

Meet Abby Ahlgrim. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo alumni and current central California resident. Art lover and creative thinker Abby fell in love with many different mediums to express herself and is consistently inspired by vibrant colors and her surrounding environment.

Growing up an ocean lover, she knew that surfing would one day become a “ lightbulb moment when it came time,” said Abby Ahlgrim. After an unfortunate turn of events due to the start of the pandemic, she found herself finally experiencing that “lightbulb.” Surfing quickly became her favorite way to pass the time. “I was surfing every day, twice a day, three times a day, and I became really obsessed,” said Ahlgrim. This new obsession ultimately led her to develop a close friendship with the guys at Richmond Fiberglass in Morro Bay, California. She spent time watching the surfboard shaping process and became immersed in its intricacies - leading her to come up with the idea of creating jewelry out of the excess resin the boards left behind. “‘It's a pretty remarkable byproduct that just gets left on the floor of the glassing shop - I was immediately inspired by all the color,” said Abby Ahlgrim.

With encouragement from her friends, Abby soon had her first line of “Surf Gems.” Never having worked this in-depth with jewelry before, this became a solid learning experience for Ahlgrim. “I was maybe not using the most appropriate tools, learning what metals are the best to use, how to manipulate different materials,” said Abby Ahlgrim. However, she managed to create her first batch of gems and quickly realized this was something that not only was she having fun with; but many others were enjoying as well. As a result, the Surf Gems brand was born.

"I definitely am somewhat of a perfectionist - I kind of took a standstill and made sure that I had all the branding pieces in place before I continued producing jewelry," said Ahlgrim, who, with the help of a friend, Nate Ross, had a clear vision for developing her brand's name, logo, website, imagery, and getting the product in with local retailers.

Behind it all was Abby Ahlgrim's drive to create art that combined sustainability and the feminine connection to the ocean. All of which are things that inspire her everyday life. As many surfers know, the surfboard shaping process proves to be a sharp juxtaposition to the environmentally conscious attitude most surfers carry themselves with. The young artist took notice of this oddity in the industry and wanted to rethink the way surfboard waste is handled. Furthermore, Ahlgrim also wanted to create a surf environment that was more inclusive. “I wanted to find a way to change the narratives around surfing, particularly the dominating masculine presence in the ocean,” said Abby Ahlgrim. Wearing her fun, colorful jewelry in the water encourages the Surf Gem’s community to find empowerment in their surfing. “Everyone is in a 4:3 or 5:4 [wetsuit] with a hood and booties up here so the jewelry is really just a way to express myself in the ocean, and I want that for everyone,” said Ahlgrim.

Today you can find the Surf Gem’s creator in her studio, right next door to Richmond Fiberglass, where she still gets her materials. Now with many different gem collections, shoppers can find the perfect piece of jewelry for them - turning one person’s trash into another’s treasure!

Check out the Surf Gem’s website and Instagram to get some gems for yourself and find out where Abby will be selling in person.

Abby Ahlgrim’s Spotify playlist!


Katelyn grew up surfing in San Diego, California, and eventually found her way to Santa Barbara, where she started her education in communication at the University of California Santa Barbara. After graduating in June of 2022, Katelyn still enjoys surfing more than ever, skating, snowboarding, camping, and hanging out at the beach. She currently works as the Public Relations and Communication intern for Withitgirl.

Additional Information

All photos we by Nate Ross

Surf Gem’s Website

Surf Gem’s Instagram

Abby Ahlgrim’s Instagram

Richmond Fiberglass Instagram

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