MADE IN NEVADA: Comstock Heritage

By  | 

RENO, NV (KOLO) -- Comstock Heritage is a silversmith company that makes custom-made belt buckles and other accessories, such as money clips and cuff links.

Comstock Heritage Founder James Stegman making a custom-made belt buckle.

Actor Johnny Depp is wearing a Comstock Heritage-made belt buckle as he plays Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. President Donald Trump presents Comstock Heritage buckles to heads of state from other countries. "It's not like he calls. He's got people," says Comstock Heritage Founder, James Stegman.

Other past and present clients include President Theodore Roosevelt, President Ronald Reagan, President George H.W. Bush, President George W. Bush, Walt Disney, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Matt Damon. For a complete list of high-profile clients go to the bottom of this report.

"They're not the Paris Hiltons of the world. It's people who have earned their money and a lot of it," said James.

Comstock Heritage launched in the aftermath of the Civil War in San Francisco in 1886. It was called Irvine and Jackam at the time.

"It makes us the oldest western silversmithing company in the country for sure," James said.

He walked to an old rolling mill. "This is one of the things that made it through the San Francisco earthquake."

The company that would later become Comstock Heritage was formed the same year the Statue of Liberty came to the United States. It would later survive the Great Depression and World War II, and other major natural crises have only strengthened the business.

Today it uses the same techniques to make belt buckles that were used in the 1800s. The average client today is between 50 and 70 years old. The average price for a Comstock Heritage belt buckle is $700. The most expensive belt buckle ever sold is $42,000.

The company's rich history and handcrafted work in each belt demands these prices.

Jon is the master engraver. "Engraving has been around for thousands of years and the techniques that I'm using are probably similar to what people used 100 years ago," he said.

Jon crafts each belt by hand using tools to make detailed images including borders, birds, and clouds. The belt buckles he makes are all custom made.

Anyone can go to Comstock Heritage and ask specifically for what they want and the sky is the limit.

"We specialize in customization and sentiment. We're really good at interpreting what people want and so if they come in with a vague idea and a budget, we can work around both of those," said James. "If you can imagine it, we can do it," he continued.

You won't likely find any other place in Nevada or the United States willing to go through the old-fashioned time-consuming process to make a handcrafted and highly-prized belt buckle.

In the last 30 years only one belt buckle has been returned, said James.

Jon the engraver says he got his start because of his Fallon Nevada Art teacher named Cathy Yori. She passed away in 2016, he said.

People who have purchased items from Comstock Heritage include: President Theodore Roosevelt, President Reagan, President Bush (both of them), President Trump, Walt Disney, The Lone Ranger, Tom Mix, John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, William Randolph Hearst, movie producer Jerry Bruckheimer, Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Arnold Schwarzenegger, George Strait, Brooks & Dunn, Jackie Chan, Dwight Yoakum, Tom Selleck, Hillary Duff, Matt Damon, Val Kilmer, Billy Bob Thornton, Bob Dillon, ZZ Top, Johnny Cash, Nocholas Cage, and Matt Le Blanc.

Copyright KOLO-TV 2019