KERRVILLE, TX-- James Avery's journey into jewelry started in 1954 with very humble beginnings.
"He decided after a period of time he didn't want to teach. He wanted to do something with his hands. He had always been really good with his hands," said Chris Avery, CEO of James Avery Craftsman.
In a garage in Kerrville, with only $250 in his pocket, Avery took a chance on what he loved.
"I can actually remember being in the garage. I was probably about three at the time… and I remember looking over his shoulder watching that very simple machine," Chris Avery said.
Sixty-three years later, the first piece he created is still being sold.
"It was actually a Navajo Indian design of a cross that he had seen, I think, in a gift shop in Colorado. And he kind of liked it and kind of made a variation of it,” Chris Avery said.
James Avery's faith always was a big inspiration for his designs over the years.
"Our faith-based design has always been a key design line for us, because that is something. Many people feel very strong about their faith,” Chris Avery said.
He originally sold his silver jewelry out of the back of his car. Avery began making a name for himself with unique charms for girls’ summer camps in south Texas.
Those charms are still some of the company’s best-selling items.
"We kind of try to do things that are going to be more emotionally connected for the long term and have some real genuineness to it,” Chris Avery said.
After 22 years came the company’s first retail store, which opened in Dallas in 1974.
"One of the things that has always been important to us is the quality of our jewelry,” Chris Avery said.
It’s that very quality that connects generations of customers with their designs.
"Everybody's got a story and everybody's got an emotional connection somewhere,” Chris Avery said. "…and jewelry is a great way to reflect that story with.”
All of their pieces are still made by hand at their campus nestled in the rolling hills of the Texas Hill Country.
But before the jewelry ever hits the store shelves, it all begins in the design studio, located on their 20-acre campus, with James Avery's philosophy overlooking the artisans.
"Great design was always fundamental to him: Taking good concepts and making them very true to form and artistic and thinking about what kind of connection they may have with the customer,” Chris Avery said.
"When you see the attention to detail that goes in that these are handmade enameled by an artisan. It really is just fascinating to me,” said John McCullough, chief operating officer of James Avery Craftsman.
Once a design is sketched out a mold is made. It then travels down the road to their factory. Workers still solder, hammer and set each stone by hand.
"The quality of what we do is really, really important. Our ability to kind of influence that all the way from the very beginning to packaging and finishing a product and sending it to stores is really important to us,” McCullough said.
At 93, James Avery has stepped down from the helm, leaving the business in the hands of Chris, his son, who is continuing on the tradition of quality silver jewelry and great customer service.
"It makes you feel proud or just grateful. I'm so thankful for those people who appreciate what we do and have a connection with us,” Chris Avery said. "We just want to be able to continue on with the tradition as long as we can."