James Avery started out his career as an Airforce pilot during WWII. During the war he flew 44 missions over Germany in a B-26 bomber as the planes commander, no doubt instilling in him the leadership skills that he used as the CEO of his own jewelry design company, James Avery Craftsman Inc.
After WWII had ended, Avery earned his degree in Industrial Design and ended up teaching at the University of Colorado. It was at the University of Colorado that he first started looking into different ways of making jewelry. But, it wouldn’t be until 1954 though when James Avery finally decided to start his jewelry making company after a visit Kerrville, Texas. Kerrville would become the headquarters of his company for the next 50 plus years.
At the same time that he decided to change his career, James Avery was also going through a religious reawakening. He attributes this “renewed Christian commitment” as to the reason that so many of his pieces have a Christian theme.
James Avery displays his jewelry pieces as sterling silver, but can also be created in 14k gold as well if the client so chooses. Most of his pieces are metal only as James Avery likens his jewelry pieces to works of art and considers himself “an artist presently concentrating in the precious metal media”. This is definitely seen in the intricate details and designs of his jewelry.
There are pieces in which James Avery uses stones and even a second metal (gold in most cases), but these are used as decorative details only. Rarely, if ever, is the focus of the piece designed around a specific stone like other designer do. The focus is instead on the artistic and underlying theme of the jewelry piece.
“Simplicity, Integrity, Meaning and Universality” is the motto that is engraved in the walls of the James Avery Design Studio. These four words are the basis of every James Avery piece. The company does not claim to be trying to design anything new, but rather combine the thoughts and designs of cultures across the world into their jewelry designs.
The James Avery Craftsman Inc. company is still based out of Kerrville, Texas, but has expanded to include 4 additional manufacturing plants and numerous stores across the southern part of the United States. James Avery was the head of his company for 53 years before he finally stepped down as CEO in 2007 and allowed his son Chris Avery to take over the family business. Today, even though James is no longer the head of the company he is still actively creating new James Avery jewelry designs.