Mr. Speaker, ask any Texan, the name James Avery rings a bell. On April 30th, the founder of one of Texas’ most beloved jewelry brands, died at the age of 96.
This family owned company designs timeless jewelry pieces reflecting on the things that are important in life. Whether it’s a first communion cross, a wedding band, or a commemorative charm, each piece has a story.
When asked about the idea behind his design, James Avery once said ‘‘I strive to keep designs from being contrived, cluttered, or cute. The challenge is to keep things simple.’’ Despite the craftsmanship of his jewelry, James Avery was no simple man.
Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and raised in Chicago, the first time he saw the beautiful Texas hill country was by way of the United States Army Air Corps. Basic Trainee Avery was stationed at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas (Lackland Air Force Base was also where I did basic training in the United States Air Force).
It was here that James Avery completed pilot training and commanded a B–26 Bomber, flying 44 dangerous and hostile missions over Germany in World War II. After the war, he attended the University of Illinois for Industrial Design, and then went on to teach at the University of Colorado.
In 1954, while visiting his in-laws in Kerrville, Texas, James Avery decided to go into the jewelry making business. His business started with a two-car garage, a small workbench, a few hand tools, and some scraps of silver and copper.
James Avery Artisan Jewelry is now operating 80 stores in 5 states with the headquarters remaining in Kerrville, Texas. This original one-man operation has grown to over 3,500 employees.
After running the business for over 50 years, James Avery handed the reins to his son in 2007. James Avery was a bold, innovative, and generous man who touched the lives of many people during his lifetime through his work, his art, and his giving spirit.
The 64-year success of James Avery Artisan Jewelry reflects as a testament to his early leadership. The company’s mission statement is to ‘‘celebrate life through the beauty of design,’’ and the life of James Avery should be forever celebrated through his artistic legacy.
And that’s just the way it is.