James Avery's Story
James Avery Jewelry is a family-owned company offering finely crafted jewelry designs in sterling silver, 14K and 18K yellow and white gold, and gemstones for women and men.
We are a vertically-integrated company, meaning we design, manufacture, market, and sell our own products. Additionally, to enhance the experience of shopping in our stores, we handle all graphics, photography, internal architecture, and furniture making in-house.
James Avery has five manufacturing plants—one each in Hondo, Fredericksburg, and Kerrville, Texas and two in Comfort, Texas. We offer over 1,100 designs and maintain some 14,000 separate jewelry items in our active product line, each originated by skilled artisans in the Texas Hill Country.
James Avery Jewelry is designed to reflect the things that are important in life. Our designs are timeless, their appeal universal. We offer jewelry for special occasions and for everyday wear. Whether it’s a first communion cross, a wedding band, or a commemorative charm, each piece in our collection is crafted with the same care and attention to detail.
I strive to keep designs from being contrived, cluttered, or cute. The challenge is to keep things simple.
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. "I had been doing everything myself - designing, sawing, polishing, finishing and selling. I thought 'what am I going to do? I can't saw that fast!"
The company was incorporated to James Avery Craftsman, Inc. in 1965, and two years later with the help of a modest loan from the SBA, the company headquarters was constructed on 20 acres in the heart of the Texas Hill Country in Kerrville, Texas, not too far from that original garage. In 1988 James Avery received a San Antonio Entrepreneur of the Year award.
Fifty-three years after he first founded the company, James Avery officially stepped down as CEO in May 2007 and passed the reins to his son Chris. James Avery passed away on Monday, April 30, 2018, at the age of 96. He was a dynamic, creative and generous man who touched the lives of many people during his lifetime through his work, his art and his giving spirit. His contributions will always be guideposts as the company continues to follow in his footsteps.
Today, with son Chris aboard as CEO/President, the future looks promising for James Avery Jewelry. One man’s dream has ignited the passion of an extended team carrying a product, a set of values, and a commitment to doing all things well across our land.
ABOUT THE MAN: JAMES AVERY
Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin 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. Cadet Avery landed in San Antonio where he was stationed at Lackland Air Force Base. Here he found inspiring surroundings and a “can do” attitude in the people.
James completed pilot training and commanded a B-26 bomber, surviving 44 missions over Germany. After World War II, he attended the University of Illinois and received a B.F.A. in Industrial Design. He pursued college level teaching, and while 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.
“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."
I worked alone for three years. Ideas, plenty of hard work and prayers (not necessarily in that order) were the rule of each day.
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.