When we began dating, my boyfriend was in Texas, and I was in Michigan. After a year of dating, I received a Christmas gift in a small orange jewelry box. Not recognizing the company’s name, I was hoping the boyfriend had some good jewelry picking judgment!
I needn’t have worried: inside the box was a beautifully crafted sterling silver heart ring with a gold heart in the center. I still have it today.
Once we married and moved to Texas, I discovered James Avery Artisan Jewelry — known for those lovely orange gift boxes with gold embossing — was something pretty special in Texas.
It was on our latest trip to Kerrville, Texas, that we visited the place where this amazing craftsmanship began.
James Avery came to the Texas Hill Country through the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, stationed at what is now known as Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. After the war, he got his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Industrial Design. He taught at the University of Colorado and explored jewelry-making techniques with his students.
In 1954, he returned to the Texas Hill Country with his wife and decided to go into business, making jewelry with “lasting value that was meaningful to him and his customers.” (website) His initial capital was $250, with his first workshop in his in-law’s garage.
His first catalog was distributed in 1957. In 1965, the company was incorporated into James Avery Craftsman, Inc., and two years later, moved headquarters to a 20-acre site in Kerrville, where it still operates today. James Avery’s first retail store in Kerrville opened in 1973 and has grown to 110 stores plus its online store.
As in the beginning, this family-owned company continues to build on the strong customer bond with their jewelry. They are highly dedicated to their employees, many of whom have been loyal to the company for several years and now have family members who work for James Avery.
The company has kept its family atmosphere by moving its departments on the 20-acre property, such as marketing and design. The flagship retail store is also on the property. Manufacturing is also in Kerrville, at undisclosed locations.
There is a museum at the flagship store, so customers can see the company’s beginnings and how the jewelry is made. Although retiring in 2007 and passing the torch to sons Chris and Paul, James Avery kept designing until his passing in May of 2018. At that time, plexiglass coverings were placed over his workbenches to memorialize how they looked at his passing. They are available to view in the museum.
James Avery Artisan Jewelers carries all types of jewelry: rings, bracelets, necklaces, chains, and earrings, plus other designs for men. Charms are a popular category and items with a faith-inspired theme.
Over the years, I have received gifts of James Avery jewelry from my husband, in addition to filling a bracelet with meaningful charms. While I enjoy wearing them, each piece also has its own story. I will keep this jewelry for a lifetime, passing it to family members one day.
If you want to visit:
There are no longer tours, but the retail store on the Kerrville property is open Monday through Saturday, 9 AM to 6 PM, and on Sunday, 12 noon to 6 PM. Allow time to look through their store, as they have many more jewelry pieces to see here than may be available in their other retail stores. The museum is at the back of the store and gives customers a step-by-step look at the history of their jewelry creations. The self-guided tour takes about 15 minutes; longer if you watch the company video in the viewing area.
For more information on the company, watch their videos.