About James Avery Artisan Jewelry
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. Air Corps. As a cadet, he landed in San Antonio where he was stationed at Lackland Air Force Base. He never forgot the inspiring surroundings and the “can do” attitude he found in the people there.
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 B.F.A. 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 thought about leaving the teaching profession.
It was also about this time that 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.”
In 1954, James spent the summer in Kerrville, Texas along with his wife, visiting his in-laws. “It was during this time that I decided to go into business.”
In the summer of 1954, James Avery started his jewelry business in a two-car garage with about $250 in capital. He built a small workbench, then bought a few hand tools and scraps of silver and copper. It was his desire to create jewelry that had meaning for him and his customers as well as having lasting value.
In 1957, he mailed his first Christian jewelry catalog. It was 16 pages and featured 39 items, all handmade. This was the year he also hired his first employee, Fred Garcia.
The company grew and was incorporated to James Avery Craftsman, Inc. in 1965. Two years later, with the help of a modest loan from the Small Business Administration (SBA), the company headquarters was constructed on 20 acres in the heart of the Texas Hill Country in Kerrville, not too far from that original garage.
Word spread and people found their way to the craftsman in the hills. Each one who came would be greeted personally and with cordial gratitude. It was in this setting that strong and lasting customer bonds developed, those on which this company would grow and build upon for over half a century.
In 2007, fifty-three years after he first founded the company, James Avery officially stepped down as CEO and passed the reins to his son Chris.
James Avery Artisan Jewelry Today
James Avery Artisan Jewelry is a vertically integrated, family owned company still located in the heart of the Texas Hill Country. We are a multi-channel retailer with 83 James Avery stores in five states. Our jewelry is also available in more than 215 Dillard’s stores in Texas and in 28 additional states; and nationwide through JamesAvery.com. Our jewelry is crafted in four Texas workshops—one each in Comfort, Fredericksburg, Hondo and Kerrville.
We continue in the tradition of our founder and strive to create jewelry with beauty and meaning, serve our Customers with graciousness and respect, give back to the communities where we do business and create a supportive, inclusive environment where employees work, grow and feel they belong.
from 1954 to today
at James Avery
in the news