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Our Story

Hand Engraving a Buckle

For more than 35 years, Johnson and Held has crafted 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 your idea. We work with you by phone and email to create the custom design that you envision. Once you’re happy with the design, we start making your belt buckle with a base of sterling silver, nickel silver, gold, or bronze. We used to hand cut each buckle with a jeweler’s saw as pictured to the right. With increased demand, we use a water jet or laser machine to cut each buckle. Once cut, the metal is soldered together. Hand engraving and unique colors fill out the buckle. The customization that goes into each piece yields a unique piece of art.

Over the years, our 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.

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.

Today, we are known as J&H Buckles. In the spirit of our founders, we continue to be owned and operated in the beautiful state of Colorado. While we almost exclusively made buckles in the Rocky Mountains for the past 40 years, we have expanded and are proud to work with artisans in Colorado, Indiana, and Mexico. Our partnership with a second generation family business in Zapopan has allowed us to push the limits of customization and creativity. With our artisans, the possibilities are endless.

Our belt 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. By building our online store, J&H Buckles has firmly established itself as the premier site for handcrafted, custom designed belt buckles. Each of our belt buckles is forged with the passion, determination, and history of a company founded upon the irrepressible Wild West spirit. We're confident we can turn your idea into a remarkable custom buckle.