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Iconic Texas Jewelrymaker James Avery Dies

James Avery, founder of James Avery Artisan Jewelry, died Monday at age 96.

A statement released by the company follows:

It is with heartfelt sorrow that James Avery Artisan Jewelry announces the death of its founder, James Avery, on Monday, April 30 at the age of 96.

James Avery was born December 7, 1921 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He served his country in the U.S. Air Corps and was stationed at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. James Avery 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. James Avery spent the summer of 1954 in Kerrville along with his wife, visiting his in-laws. He once remarked, “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.”

Customers came from near and far to seek out the craftsman in the Texas Hill Country. In 1957 he hired his first employee and began an artistic legacy of craftsmanship that would gain national recognition under his leadership. James Avery designed with purpose and meaning with the hopes of creating a piece of jewelry that would have a lasting and timeless connection for the wearer. His passion for design, craftsmanship and his artistic vision will continue to be a source of inspiration for many years to come.

James Avery retired in 2007 turning the reins over to two of his sons, Chris and Paul. For the next several years, he continued to pursue his passion of designing jewelry and also served as Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Directors. His caring and generous support of the communities where he lived and worked is reflected on a banner displayed in the Visitor Center at the Avery campus that says, “Giving is what it is all about!” The inspiring life of James Avery will live on forever in the hearts of his family, friends, Customers and Associates.

James Avery 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. The 64-year success of James Avery Artisan Jewelry is a testament to his early leadership. What began as a one-man endeavor in a garage has since grown into a family of over 3,500 Associates. The company operates 80 stores in 5 states: Georgia, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. Our jewelry is also available in over 200 Dillard’s stores in 28 states and nationwide through JamesAvery.com.

His contributions will always be remembered as the company continues to build upon his artistic legacy.

More information about James Avery is available at https://www.jamesavery.com/pages/about-us. Customers, friends and Associates may share a remembrance of James Avery by email to: JAtribute@jamesavery.com.

Scott Morgan has been an award-winning journalist since 2001. His work has appeared in several newspapers and magazines as well as online. He has also been an editor, freelancer, speaker, writing teacher, author, and podcaster.