JW WINSTON as WinstonBuckles

 “My goal as an artist is to carve large gemstone sculptures that will be discovered some 10,000 years from now creating great interest in what our generation was really all about.”



Winston’s mother and his grandmother (pictured) were true artists in the form of clay sculpture and pencil sketch; his gemstone background came from his father and their four generation lapidary cutting family.  Winston comments; “If I had only sculpted large gem stone creations I would have starved as an artist long ago.  It has for the most part been my jewelry/art forms that have financed my large gemstone sculptures over the years.”


NOVEL “SCARPETTA” by Patricia Cornwell she writes on page 147 {hard copy}:  The way she was dressed didn’t hide much at all, least of all that she had money.  Her wide belt was crocodile with a Winston sabbertoothed tiger buckle handcrafted of precious metals and stones, and her pendant was a Winston as well, and considered fine art and as expensive as such.

ROCK and GEM Magazine article:    The art of sculpting gemstones has been a totally self-taught process constantly evolving in tactic, equipment and speed. Winston’s jewelry works are one of a kind pieces found nowhere else in the world. 

ROCK and GEM Magazine front cover Bob Jones:  Artist John Winston has long been recognized as a premier carver of the blue gem turquoise.  Anyone who knows Winston knows he has big ideas and big dreams so carving large masses of turquoise seems a natural to him and fits his style.

JEWELER KEYSTONE MAGAZINE: JKM listed Winston’s carved gemstone art as one of the top ten in the U.S. jewelry stores early 1990’s

ROBB REPORT November 2006:  His flamboyant designs remain difficult to acquire because he produces fewer than 115 buckles a year.  I can see them doubling or tripling, up to $10,000.00 or $15,000.00 at least with time.

COWBOYS and INDIANS: When a buckle is a signature piece with a message just for you.  Now {my customers} walk in and say, “can I look at the back of the buckle”.  Like the carvings themselves, each message is different.  “It’s always about life, about getting through the flames and the fire.” Winston

COLUMBUS CIRCLE SPRING 2006: Drawing inspiration from the works of Erte, Harry Winston, Georgia O’Keefe and his surroundings, Winston’s one of a kind hand-carved pieces are captivating.


The six and one half year long work by artist-gem carver Winston "True Forefathers" opened the brand new the show at the brand new Time Warner Building at Columbus Circle in downtown New York.

"True Forefathers" a three foot tall turquoise eagle with eight famous Native Americans first showed Fall of 1996.

Carefully selected works from the Spirit of America Gallery in Beverly Hills were auctioned at major celebrity charities in the Gene Autry Museum in the early 1990's.

Chauncey Arabians purchased from Winston the thirteen pound turquoise eagle seen on the front cover of Rock and Gem Magazine Aug 1987. The sculpture was later retired to a museum by his family in Scottsdale. It was proudly displayed alongside of the larger than life bronze sculpture # 2 of John Wayne. 

Winston's large 75 pound turquoise eagle sculpture "True Forefathers" was shown with the famed Fisher Diving Collection – a collection of gold and gems.

Shown was the first casting of "True Forefathers" a one hundred and thirty pound crushed turquoise copy of the original.  As well the original 106,000.00 carat sculpture made its 5th Ave. debut Super Bowl weekend 2015

Winston Minerals – Fountain Hills, AZ
Studio Winston – Laguna Beach, CA
Winston the Carving Cowboy – Ruidoso, NM

My name is John Winston.  I was born on October 9th in Detroit Michigan and share the same birthday and name with John Winston Lennon of Beatle fame. Raised in the farm country of Northern Illinois I cut my  teeth on gemstones while sawing my first sapphires under my father’s experienced supervision at an early age       of 12.   Like most kids I felt my father didn’t have my best interest in mind making me cut gems and work    on car motors but here I am 70 years old enjoying my many builds in both fields including my own nine foot long Land Speed Record motorcycle.  

My gem carving career really started in 1976 with three turquoise tailings found in the Arizona copper mines.  I was looking for another challenge, something new that I had no business attempting to do.  I was asked to carve three different leaves from raw turquoise stone.  Having a fabrication background in the custom boat and car business and my dad’s teachings in gemstone cutting, I felt I could take on the task.   On the weekend of Sept 1st 1976, with a borrowed dental hand piece and three small flats of turquoise, I sat down to three full days of cutting to come up with three carved and polished tiny turquoise leaves.  Today, forty one years later, they would be finished in 28 minutes.  Spare racing money made I kept my day job and for ten years sold my pieces to stores on Fifth Avenue Scottsdale and Carefree Arizona all the way north to Sedona and customers such as Don Hoel and Turquoise Tortoise.        

In 1986 I finally took the leap from “business as usual” to open my first of three stores in Fountain Hills Arizona as a sculptor-jeweler.  I have to admit it has been one heck of a roller coaster ride through life but seeing it take place any other way today; I have few regrets.  My early works were not all that good. I had never attended an art class in my life.  I made just enough money to keep the madness alive until there were some twenty years under my belt.   Later in addition to carving multi colored gem stones I had to teach myself the art of metal smithing with silver and gold.  It became necessary because of all my moves and the ever changing consistencies with hired smiths.  The large gemstone sculptures soon had to take back seat to my jewelry as I discovered it was a long hard sell with the sculptures and guaranteed grocery money carving the small turquoise feather earrings.                      
One of my greatest memories was living with the fellow artist of Laguna Beach back in the Canyon.  The town is an ocean full of talented people who openly share their knowledge of craft and their love for the arts.  A wealth of knowledge related to my success in the art world came from these kind folk of Laguna Beach.

After 41 years in the business I recently announced my retirement from custom jewelry works to allow more time for the large one of a kind 97 pound upcoming turquoise carving and one other rare 89 pound azurite-malachite gem stone carving.  However it seems I am not finished with jewelry with my long time collectors looking to purchase one of my “last in a series” works from me. I publically thank each and every one of them for their ongoing support. 

I’m ready to write my last chapter in sculptured art.  Hopefully to give this planet ten more good years of works and hopefully be able to spend several of them teaching kids and young adults how to carve gem stones.

Should one of my happy collectors or new happy clients purchase a two or five million dollar large turquoise sculpture, I’m sure I will find a way to put monies into a teaching school somewhere here within a Casino in beautiful down town LasVegas.

The art of sculpting gemstones has been a totally self-taught process constantly evolving in tactic, equipment and speed. Winston’s jewelry works are one of a kind pieces found nowhere else in the world.

Unique only to an original belt buckle crafted by Winston are hand engraved poems or stories of the carving on the back of each work, also, the total carat weight of the gem stone carved, his signature and date of its birth.