James Avery passes at 96

Jewelry designer created one of Southwest’s most enduring icons

James Avery, the founder of one of Texas’ most beloved jewelry brands and designer of the processional cross at Seminary of the Southwest, passed away Monday at the age of 96.

Avery started James Avery Artisan Jewelers in 1954,  in a two-car garage in Kerrville, TX. The brand is well-known for its Christian-themed jewelry, among them being the processional cross he designed for the seminary that became an icon of great significance for Southwest. For over 30 years, every graduate has received a necklace replica of the cross, often worn by alumni/ae with vestments for sacramental and liturgical worship.

“Seminary of the Southwest grieves with the Avery family on this sad day. James Avery began his business around the same time this seminary was founded, and he has been a faithful supporter for decades. It would be impossible to imagine this seminary without the crosses he designed. Among my most beloved tasks as Dean is to present each graduating student with a Seminary of the Southwest cross, and as I meet alums throughout the world, who are wearing the cross, we recognize immediately our kinship in this community. His gift to us was immeasurable, and his impact will live on,” said The Very Rev. Cynthia Briggs Kittredge, Dean and President of Seminary of the Southwest.

“In lieu of sending flowers or other gifts, and in recognition of Mr. Avery’s generous and giving spirit, we welcome you to give to the charity of your choice,” the Avery company’s Facebook post reads.

Graduates will receive their crosses on May 21st at Southwest’s Evensong service, the evening before Commencement.

Dean Kittredge presents graduate Nadine McElroy with her cross in 2017.

Seminarians prepare to process with the Avery Cross in Christ Chapel.