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Our Story

Hand Engraving a Buckle

For over 30 years, Johnson and Held has handcrafted high quality custom belt buckles and related metalwork for clientele all over the world. Our aim is to create enduring pieces of art that can be passed down from generation to generation.

Our work begins with a base of sterling silver, nickel silver, gold, or bronze. Added materials are sourced from all over the U.S., including turquoise mined in the Southwest, ironwood from Arizona, and abalone from Florida. Each item can be customized, yielding a unique piece of art.

Over the years, our handcrafted workmanship has expanded to include bolos, money clips, tie tacks, and motorcycle accessories like point covers and derby covers.

A Craft Born of Passion, Outlaws, Love and the Spirit of the Wild West

Long before our handcrafted belt buckles adorned the waists of rodeo champions, rock stars and heads of state, the company’s hazy beginnings were first forged in the crooked dreams of Wild West outlaws. The original owners of the business, con artists and thieves by many accounts, promised bountiful riches to unsuspecting investors, based on a business scheme surrounding the hand workmanship of fine western gear.

Eventually, the unsavory owners got what they deserved by way of the law, but one of the savvier and more knowledgeable investors, Ted Allsup, refused to let the buckle business die. Instead, he sought the support of two local investors who were eager to purchase a business for a very unique reason – love.

Prior to investing in a burgeoning buckle company, Mr. Johnson and Miss Held were simply a young couple looking to get hitched. Unfortunately, Chris Johnson, a young, penniless kid from the Bahamas drawn to the west by adventure, did not meet the requirements of Held’s wealthy banker father. He dictated that she could not marry anyone less than a businessman; something Johnson definitely was not. So with the independent spirit and determination embodied by the Wild West, and a goal of meeting her father’s marital requirements, Held simply bought him a business, made him a businessman and the wedding was on.

Together, with Johnson and Held’s funding, Ted’s cultivated expertise, and the combined determination of the new partners, the real foundation of the company was built.

Many years have now gone by with little word from Johnson and Held. Shortly after establishing their namesake, in true Old West fashion, the couple married and disappeared into the sunset. Rumor has it that they are living a life of leisure and tequila in remote Mexico. But over the next couple of years and under the care of partial owner, and now full-time buckle maker Ted, the company thrived. Eventually, more than filling the void left by Johnson and Held, Ron Heller took the reigns as CEO. Over the past 27 years, among many accomplishments, he expanded sales to international markets and firmly established J&H as the premier manufacturer of handcrafted, custom designed belt buckles.

Today, Johnson and Held buckles are worn by motorcycle clubs, firefighters, U.S. presidents, rock stars, ranchers, rodeo riders, small business owners, war heroes, ski champions, cyclists, and branches of the U.S. military. Each of our handmade pieces is forged with the passion, determination, and history of a company founded upon the irrepressible Wild West spirit.