Born in Milwaukee and raised in the Chicago area, James Avery was first introduced to the scenic Texas Hill Country by way of the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. As a cadet, he landed at the San Antonio Aviation Cadet Center at Kelly Field, known today as Lackland Air Force Base. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Avery completed pilot training and commanded a B-26 bomber, surviving 44 missions over Germany.
After World War II, he enrolled at the University of Illinois where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Industrial Design. After graduation, he pursued college level teaching. While teaching at the University of Colorado, he explored jewelry-making techniques with his students.
In 1950, he began to consider leaving the teaching profession. It was also about this time he returned to the church after years of being an agnostic. He reflected on this saying, “My renewed Christian commitment, along with my new decision to leave teaching, led to a new direction in my life. This is the reason so much of my work is Christian symbolism.”
Mr. Avery never forgot the inspiring surroundings and the “can do” attitude he found in the people in the Texas Hill Country. In 1954, he and his wife returned and spent the summer visiting his in-laws in Kerrville, Texas. “It was during this time that I decided to go into business.”
James Avery founded our company in 1954, initially crafting jewelry in a two-car garage in Kerrville, Texas, with just $250 and a desire to create lasting value for others. Mr. Avery believed that meaning is what makes life more beautiful and this concept continues to drive how we design jewelry to this day. In 2007, 53 years after he first founded the company, James Avery officially stepped down as CEO and passed the reins on to his sons,
Mr. Avery’s mission was simple: to create jewelry with meaning—both for himself and others. With a focus on creating straightforward designs and a core belief of integrity in all things, his jewelry became more than precious metals and gemstones. Guests came to him with their stories—their special moments—so he could craft them into pieces they would wear with pride for a lifetime. From writing letters to greeting Customers, Mr. Avery prioritized developing lasting relationships with each person who connected with his designs.
Today, we continue in the tradition of our founder, whose legacy lives on in the values we hold close and the attention to detail we give our jewelry at every stage of the crafting process. The Avery family is still actively involved in different roles throughout James Avery today—Lindsey Avery Tognietti (Mr. Avery’s granddaughter) is the Director of Customer Service and Marketing Communication.
James Avery jewelry is designed in the Texas Hill Country, with more than 90 percent of our pieces crafted in Kerrville, Comfort, Hondo and Corpus Christi, Texas using the finest materials sourced worldwide. We are a multi-channel retailer with over 110 James Avery stores in four states. Our jewelry is also available at JamesAvery.com, over 240 Dillard’s locations and at Dillards.com and at 37 Von Maur locations and VonMaur.com. You can also find our designs at airport stores in Austin, Houston and Nashville, as well as select Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) locations.
We will always strive to create jewelry with beauty and meaning, never forgetting our founding values and serving Customers with graciousness and respect. In relation to this, we prioritize giving back to the communities where we do business and creating a supportive, inclusive environment where Associates work, grow and feel they belong.