Black Hills Gold History
The origin and history of Black Hills Gold jewelry is surrounded by legends and tall tales, but how did Black Hills Gold jewelry really come into existence? To find out, one needs to travel back in time over 150 years ago to the wild frontier mining camps of the American West.
In 1849, the big gold strikes in California attracted not only prospectors, but also traders and artisans who followed the booms throughout the West. Among them were emigrant jewelers who made the hard crossing from the East, having labored for months over the dangerous plains and desolate high deserts of the heartland to arrive in the fertile Sacramento Valley. A common practice in the jeweler's trade at the time was to craft jewelry from gold in the same camp where it was mined, with a single grape leaf traditionally used as a design. Nature has always been a design inspiration, and in finding abundant grapes growing there, the craftsmen were moved to expand the traditional design to include clustered leaves and fruit.
"The single grape leaf had been used in decorations, Mr. Butler said, but the clustered leaves and fruit of the golden state jewelers was entirely their own," described Estelline Bennet, author of the 1935 book "Old Deadwood Days" and a Chicago newspaperwoman. She was born in Deadwood, South Dakota and had conversations with early craftsmen like George M. Butler, second generation maker of Black Hills Gold. 1
These artisans followed the prospectors and big strikes from California to Colorado, Montana, and finally, the Black Hills of South Dakota. The grape leaves were produced in green gold and in red gold when the design arrived in the Black Hills. Silver was alloyed with the yellow gold to produce the green hue, and copper was alloyed with the yellow gold to make the red or pink gold.
Talk of gold discovery in the Black Hills was one of the reasons an 1874 expeditionary force of one thousand men was led by the infamous George Armstrong Custer into the Black Hills area. The 1000-square-mile Black Hills region was held sacred by the Lakota and other Native American tribes. A few months after the Custer expedition's arrival, a man with the group named Horatio N. Ross discovered gold along French Creek in the central Black Hills. One of the last great North American gold rushes inevitably followed.
White settlement of the region increased dramatically with the discovery of gold. The towns of Deadwood, Central City and Lead (pronounced "leed") grew out of this Wild West era of prospectors, saloons, and legendary figures like Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane.
Lloyd West, in his account for the Lawrence County Historical Society, described the early history of Black Hills Gold jewelry:
"In 1876, J. B. LeBau (LeBeaux) and another man by the last name of King had set up shop in Central City, South Dakota, one of the many camps and towns surrounding the gold rush town of Deadwood. They had brought the design with them from other western gold camps. Two years later, in 1878, Charles Barclay and S. T. Butler, who brought additional design patterns with him from Virginia City, Montana, set up their own jewelry shop in Central City. Barclay continued his jewelry business in Central City and later, Lead, until 1896.
But it is S. T. Butler who is generally accepted as the father of what is known today as Black Hills Gold jewelry.
Butler, with his old kerosene torch for soldering and handmade punches, fashioned the traditional design using red, green and yellow gold. Grape leaves, grape bunches, cuttings from grapevines and tendrils were all assembled by hand into the specialized and unique jewelry. The original Black Hills Gold jewelry manufacturing business established by Butler was in continuous production by his descendants through four generations after him.
The business S. T. Butler established in 1878 in Central City was purchased by his son George M. Butler. For the rest of his days in business, George was content with the local scope of his retail business and the wholesale business of nearby towns. Production methods and the number of designs changed little from when his father ran the shop. This was to change with the next generation.
F. L. (Frank) Thorpe was the grandson of S. T. Butler and nephew of George M. Butler. Raised by his grandparents since the age of four, it was at that time in 1886 that Thorpe first viewed Black Hills Gold jewelry in his grandfather's original shop. In 1902, his uncle George sent him to the Bradley Horological Institute (Horology is the art of making timepieces), where Thorpe learned watch work, diamond setting, engraving, optics, steel tempering and die sinking. In 1908, George purchased the Kittlesby Jewelry store in Deadwood for his nephew. Thorpe took his new business only three miles away, to the town of Lead, where he set up shop. Butler and Thorpe manufactured Black Hills Gold jewelry in separate shops for many years, each for himself, but not in competition. George assisted his nephew by furnishing tools, gold material and money to help him get established.
F. L. Thorpe changed the manufacturing and distribution of Black Hills Gold jewelry. Using his acquired skills and knowledge from the Bradley Horological Institute, he made numerous, significant improvements. Newer production methods were implemented using modern equipment, including labor and timesaving steel dies. Over 600 new and special designs were created without changing the basic grape and leaf design in three colors of gold. Finally, he expanded the trade territory of Black Hills Gold jewelry by finding new retail accounts to sell it. His influence is still visible in the designs manufactured today, with many remaining virtually unchanged." 2
Also in the early 1900's, Frank Thorpe's brother, Clarence, ran a small shop in Lead with several employees. In 1919, Clarence sold his shop to his brother Frank and Edward O. Lampinen, an employee of Clarence's. Frank Thorpe and Lampinen formed a partnership under the name F.L. Thorpe Company. During the 1920's they had a manufacturing plant on Lee Street in Deadwood. Hard times fell upon the company, and the partnership of Thorpe and Lampinen was dissolved. Lampinen operated his own shop in Deadwood under the name of Black Hills Jewelry Manufacturing. F.L. Thorpe Company also continued operating separately.
Louise Thorpe-Waters, daughter of F. L. Thorpe and great-granddaughter of S. T. Butler, ran the operation with her husband Charles and daughter Nancy from 1933 to 1969. Nancy Lee Waters represents the fifth generation of S. T. Butler's descendants to carry on the business. In 1969, Lloyd and Betty West purchased the F. L. Thorpe Co. and carried on the heritage of the original company for several decades.
In 1944, Ivan Landstrom bought Black Hills Jewelry Manufacturing from E.O. Lampinen, including equipment, tools and inventory. Landstrom moved the firm from Deadwood to Rapid City and continued to operate under the name of Black Hills Jewelry Manufacturing, manufacturers of Landstrom's Original Black Hills Gold Creations. After Ivan Landstrom passed away in 1968, Milton Shaver took over day to day operations and ran the company for the two surviving daughters of Landstrom, Mary Jo and Connie. Dr. Charles Lein and others subsequently managed operations for several years. In 1995, Black Hills Gold jewelry history had traveled full circle. F.L. Thorpe Company, the original manufacturer of Black Hills gold jewelry, was purchased by Landstrom's Original Black Hills Gold Creations. In 1998 Connie Landstrom Drew, daughter of Ivan Landstrom, took over the company. After her passing, Connie's daughter and son continued to head the company formed by her father sixty years ago.
The formation of another manufacturing company started after an employee of Edward O. Lampinen's, Clara Arnold, learned the art of making Black Hills Gold jewelry from him and other relatives of S.T. Butler. Arnold chose to go out on her own after the company was purchased by Ivan Landstrom. By the 1940's she was making her own Black Hills gold jewelry on Main St. in Rapid City. In 1959, Arnold sold her tools and inventory to Mr. and Mrs. Edmund F. Stamper and the company has since operated under the name Stamper Genuine Black Hills Gold Jewelry. In an industry filled with family tradition, Stampers' son Rod Stamper, who took over from his father, passed the reigns on to the third generation, with E. Jason Stamper in the position of president of Stamper Jewelry, Inc. While Stamper no longer has its own manufacturing facility, a company called Gold Diggers now produces select styles from the Stamper line in their facility in Rapid City, SD.
The 1980's brought many changes to the Black Hills Gold jewelry industry. Newcomers to the Black Hills Gold jewelry manufacturing industry began appearing. Numerous companies attempted to use the traditional Black Hills Gold design to manufacture jewelry outside the Black Hills at facilities in other states, and call it "Black Hills Gold." After a lawsuit filed by Stamper, Landstrom's and Thorpe, U. S. District Court Judge Andrew Bogue ruled in 1980 that if a manufacturer wanted to call its jewelry Black Hills Gold, it must be made in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Companies are "permanently enjoined from advertising, promoting, selling or offering for sale" any product as Black Hills Gold or Black Hills Gold Jewelry unless it is manufactured in the Black Hills of South Dakota.3
Several new companies were born in the Black Hills after this, including South Dakota Gold, Mount Rushmore and Coleman. These new manufacturers brought increased competition and new styles to the marketplace, branching out the original vines of Black Hills Gold tradition. In 2010, South Dakota Gold went out of business and its designs were sold to Mount Rushmore Gold. In March 2014, Mount Rushmore Gold also purchased the oldest remaining manufacturer's designs -- Landstrom's Original Black Hills Gold Creations. Over 130 years of Black Hills Gold history have moved to a new home. In 2015, TR Jewelry Concepts was created as the new parent company for what were formerly independently-owned Black Hills Gold manufacturing companies: Landstroms, Mount Rushmore Gold, and South Dakota Gold designs are all being produced at the same factory in Rapid City, SD, gateway city to the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Most recently, in February 2017, Black Hills Gold Jewelry by Coleman also closed its doors. TR Jewelry Concepts now manufactures styles formerly produced by Coleman.
Countless small upstarts have come and gone over the years. All of them were trying to gain a foothold in the marketplace of an industry that has seen many changes, but the one constant throughout has been the traditional design of Black Hills Gold jewelry -- brought to the Black Hills over 150 years ago, improved by early craftsmen, and still handmade by modern artisans carrying on the tradition today.
Sources used for our "History of Black Hills Gold Jewelry" page:
1 From Old Deadwood Days by Estelline Bennet, copyright 1935. Her conversation with George M. Butler, son of S.T. Butler. Estelline was an author and Chicago newspaperwoman, born in Deadwood, SD. Died in 1948.
2 By Lloyd West, "F. L. Thorpe Family, F. L. Thorpe Company" From Some History of Lawrence County, Lawrence County Historical Society.
3 "Black Hills Gold manufacturers win trade name case" Rapid City Journal, 05/02/80.
Black Hills Jewelry Manufacturing Co., a South Dakota corporation; F. L. Thorpe Company, a South Dakota corporation and Stamper Jewelry Manufacturing, a South Dakota corporation, Plaintiffs
LaBelle's, a corporation,
Gold Rush, Inc., et al.,
Herberger's Department Store, a corporation,
(Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, 05/01/80, US District Court, Andrew W. Bogue, United States District Judge).
Lawrence County, Dakota Territory Centennial 1861-1961.
"High court rules jewelry makers can sell wares as Black Hills Gold" Rapid City Journal, 07/01/83.
"Lawyers present arguments over Black Hills Gold" Rapid City Journal 01/19/83.
"Life-saving grapes inspired gold jewelry" by George Moses. Rapid City Journal, 08/19/90.
Brochures and company literature by:
F. L. Thorpe and Company
Landstrom's Original Black Hills Gold Creations
Stamper Genuine Black Hills Gold Jewelry
All Black Hills Gold Jewelry | Black Hills Gold Direct
According to legend, the origin of Black Hills Gold was inspired by a French goldsmith, Heri LeBeau.
Potato Creek Johnny
Famous Black Hills Gold Prospector
Many years ago, the young Frenchman designed and made jewelry in Paris. After he perfected his method, he came to America. During the 1849 Gold Rush days, he decided to go to California and make his fortune.
When he reached the rugged Black Hills of South Dakota, he became hopelessly lost in the wilderness. He wandered for days without food or water. By some miracle of nature he had a vision of running water with grape leaves floating in a stream from a nearby vineyard. The vision was real and his life was saved.
Henri never did strike gold of his own but he did stay in the Black Hills where he continued his craft. Influenced by his mystical experience, the jewelry he created took the shape of grape clusters and leaves, fashioned in rose, green and yellow gold. The familiar design is almost the same as it was a century ago.
Today, each piece of Black Hills Gold Jewelry is manufactured through a series of up to 40 different steps. Each tiny leaf or swirl is made with infinite care.
Panning for gold.
The perfection of detail requires that artists spend from one to eight hours creating a single piece. The exquisite tri-color gold jewelry is custom made in Rapid City, South Dakota.
P.S. Legend has it. . . good luck comes to all who wear Black Hills Gold Jewelry.
Avoid Delays - Order Early!
Production efficiency continues to improve but the labor shortage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic is still affecting shipping throughput and some delivery times.
We promise to do our best to get your order processed and shipped as quickly as possible.
Thank you to everyone for your patience - we will keep you updated here as changes occur.
MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT
BLACK HILLS GOLD JEWELRY
• What is Black Hills Gold jewelry?By law, any piece of jewelry bearing the description "Black Hills Gold" must be manufactured in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Traditional Black Hills Gold designs are typically comprised of pink colored and green colored leaves and gold grapes and grapevines. The pink color is made by combining gold with copper, and the delicate green color is achieved by adding sterling silver with gold. Though there are now a number of Black Hills Gold jewelry manufacturers, Landstroms is the oldest Black Hills Gold jewelry manufacturer and their roots date back to 1878. BlackHillsGoldSource is an authorized distributor for original Landstroms Black Hills Gold jewelry, and that is all we handle because Landstroms is not only the original, it’s the best! For more information, visit our video page at: https://www.blackhillsgoldsource.com/videos
• How long has Landstroms been around?The first gold found in the Black Hills was on July 27, 1874 when a miner in Custer's 7th Cavalry named Horatio N. Ross discovered it in French Creek in the Black Hills of South Dakota. This led to the Black Hills gold rush of the late 1800’s, which has been referred to as the last great American gold rush. It also brought a number of jewelry makers to the area and in 1878, a man named S.T. Butler opened the first Black Hills Gold jewelry manufacturing store in Deadwood, South Dakota. Over the years, the company was split into various different companies until 1944 when Ivan Landstrom bought back all of the components making Landstrom's the sole owner of all the original Black Hills Gold designs. So Landstrom's is the ORIGINAL Black Hills Gold, and is still located in the rich, historic Mount Rushmore area. For more information about the history of Black Hills Gold, visit our blog at http://blackhillsgoldjewelry.blogspot.com and our videos page at https://www.blackhillsgoldsource.com/videos
• Why is Landstroms more expensive than other Black Hills Gold manufacturers?One visit to take the Landstroms factory tour at their Rapid City factory and you’ll see why Landstroms is a little more expensive than the other Black Hills Gold jewelry out there. To get straight to the point, if you compare apples to apples, Landstroms Black Hills jewelry has more gold, more detail, more articulation, more beauty and more hand-made quality than any other Black Hills Gold jewelry out there. In fact, if you consider the actual weight of the gold in each piece, Landstrom’s is actually cheaper than the others. To learn more, visit our informative blog and read about Landstroms Clink & Clunk Test.
• How can I tell whether my jewelry was made by Landstrom's? (this is being updated with the Riddles acquisition)All Landstrom's Original Black Hills Gold Creations bear the following manufacturer's marking:
All Landstroms vermeil jewelry is stamped with:
Other registered trademarks in the Landstrom's "family" include:
BH GOLD JCO
BLACK HILLS GOLD JCO
and the F.L. Thorpe brand is marked with:
• Does Landstroms offer a warranty?Yes, every piece of Landstroms Black Hills Gold jewelry carries Landstroms Lifetime Warranty against defects in materials and workmanship. Of course, physical abuse or prolonged normal wear are not covered. For complete warranty details and instructions, please follow this link to Landstroms Warranty.
• Can Landstroms do custom work?BlackHillsGoldSource offers a complete selection of Landstroms Black Hills Gold jewelry, but we also work with customers who have special needs for custom items such as mounting an heirloom stone on a Black Hills Gold wedding ring, or creating a matching earring from an existing pendant design. Every request for custom work must first be submitted to Landstroms Custom Order Department for their review. If they feel they can do the work without compromising the quality of the original design, then they will respond with an estimate of the cost, typically within a few days. Once the custom order is placed with the factory, it will take three to four weeks to complete the job, depending on the complexity of the work and the work load of the factory at that time (orders place near holidays such as Christmas or Mothers Day may require additional time). Though all custom builds come with Landstroms Lifetime Warranty, they are not returnable or exchangeable. Please call us at 605-221-6120 or email us at info(at)BlackHillsGoldSource(dot)com if you are interested in custom work.
• I am nervous ordering on the internet. Can I place my order over the telephone?It’s just good sense to be discretionary about with whom you share your personal or financial information. We want you to know that you can shop online at BlackHillsGoldSource.com with total confidence. We have partnered with PayPal, a leading payment gateway since 1998 to offer safe and secure credit card and electronic check transactions for our customers. The company adheres to strict industry standards for payment processing, including state of the art encryption hardware and software.
We respect your privacy and will NEVER sell or distribute your personal information to ANYONE for ANY reason, or use it for any other purpose other than authorized by you, our valued customer. If you would still like to place your order over the telephone, just call us at 605-221-6120 Monday through Friday.
• Do you accept personal checks?Yes, we accept personal checks but it can take up to eleven days after receipt for your check to clear. We also accept MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Discover, as well as PayPal. If you are interested you can set up a secure PayPal account here: https://www.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_registration-run
It is very simple to do and once set up, you can also use this account for eBay and other online sites. If you prefer to send a personal check for your order, please call us at 605-221-6120 or email us at info(at)BlackHillsGoldSource(dot)com for details and mailing instructions.
• How long will it take to receive my order?
Every order received by BlackHillsGoldSource is processed for payment and then forwarded to Landstroms shipping department to be filled. If your item is in stock, it will typically ship within 48 hours (Monday through Friday) via USPS Priority Mail, unless a form of expedited shipping was selected. If it is not in stock, then it will take approximately ten working days (again Monday-Friday) for Landstroms to build one from scratch for you, regardless of the shipping method selected. We will notify you by email with an estimated ship date within 24 hours of receiving your order if your item is not in stock.
The same is true for expedited shipping such as USPS EXPRESS MAIL, UPS 2nd Day Air or UPS Next Day Air. Just because the order goes through does not mean that your item is in stock! If you select expedited shipping, and your item is not in stock when Landstroms shipping department receives your order from us, then your item will be queued for production and shipped as requested when it becomes available. Again, we will notify you by email with an estimated ship date within 24 hours of receiving your order if this is the case. If you need your item right away, please call us at 605-221-6120 or email us at info(at)BlackHillsGoldSource(dot)com to check stock before ordering your item.
As previously mentioned, by default, all orders now go out via USPS Priority Mail. If this is a problem and you prefer to have your jewelry shipped via UPS, please contact us and we will do our best to accommodate you.
• Can you ship via UPS instead of the US Postal Service?Unless you are shipping internationally, every order placed at BlackHillsGoldSource.com is automatically queued for shipment via USPS Priority Mail. You can also select expedited shipping, for additional cost, right on our online order form (but please call us first to check stock). We use the US Postal Service because they have improved tracking integration, are generally speedier, and they deliver on Saturdays. Some rural locations are simply better serviced by the Post Office and they will also deliver on Saturday whereas in many cases, delivery via UPS wouldn’t be until Monday. We also ship all outgoing International Orders though the US Postal Service.
• If I don’t like my jewelry when I see it can I return it for an exchange or refund?Buying jewelry or any personal item on the internet presents some difficulties because you just can’t see it in person first and try it on. But let’s face it, you’re just not going to find a nearby local brick and mortar store with the complete selection, or the rock bottom prices we can offer at BlackHillsGoldSource.com Even with the increased shipping costs since gasoline has gone up in price, you’re still getting substantial savings than if you bought your Black Hills Gold ring at a local retailer. But still, shipping charges can add up if you make a hasty purchase and have to send your jewelry back and forth, one or more times.
Many of our customers have seen the item they’re ordering in person, either on a trip to the Black Hills or at a jeweler that carries Landstrom’s jewelry. If you haven’t had the opportunity to see your item in-person, you are in for a treat when arrives! We want our customers to be fully satisfied, so we stress taking the time to choose the right piece before placing your order. If you ever have a question about a particular piece, please do not hesitate to call us at 605-221-6120 or email us at info(at)BlackHillsGoldSource(dot)com and we will do our best to answer all of your questions so that you are confident with your order.
However, in the unfortunate event that you need to return any Landstrom's Black Hills Gold Creation, we will accept returns of unused items for 30 days. The original tags must not be removed and jewelry must be in original packaging because Landstrom's examines all returns for damage or to determine if it has been worn, prior to approval of refund. Also, because Black Hills Gold mothers rings and pendants include custom placement of birthstones, there are no returns of mothers jewelry, or other special order items or discontinued items except under Landstrom's Lifetime Warranty.
We cannot be responsible for either your initial or your return shipping charges, so in the event you are not making an exchange and would like a refund, only the purchase price will be refunded. And because of card processing fees and inspection and handling costs, there will be a shipping and restocking fee for returns (see our Return Policy). If you are exchanging your item for a different size, or even a different item, this charge does not apply. Please call us at 605-221-6120 or email us at info(at)BlackHillsGoldSource(dot)com to request a Return Authorization Number (RA#) and instructions for returning your jewelry.
• I just received my Black Hills Gold ring and I ordered the wrong size. What do I do?
The best thing to do is send the ring back to Landstroms factory. Landstroms can generally resize most Black Hills Gold rings up or down up to two sizes, and will either exchange your new ring or resize it at no charge one time (except for Landstroms wedding jewelry), though you will be responsible for return shipping costs from Landstroms. Landstroms will exchange or resize your ring at their discretion based on availability and configuration of the ring you have purchased.
Please send your ring insured to the following address:
Landstroms2707 Mt. Rushmore Road
Rapid City, SD 57701
Please include a note with your name, address and telephone number and explain that the ring is brand new and you would like the ring resized, and specify the size you would like. Also, best describe how the current ring fits (loose, very loose, tight, very tight, etc.). Once Landstroms receives the ring, it will take approximately one week for them to do the work and ship it back to you. They will contact you prior to shipment for payment of return shipping charges. If you need to contact Landstroms Customer Service, their telephone number is 800-658-3361.
If you are interested in having an older Black Hills Gold ring resized, Landstroms will charge a reasonable fee to do the resizing. Please call Landstroms at 800-658-3361 before shipping your ring back to them to make arrangements.
• My Black Hills Gold is damaged (worn, broken, etc.) and needs repair. How do I send it back?Every piece of Landstroms Black Hills Gold jewelry carries Landstroms Lifetime Warranty against defects in materials and workmanship. Of course, physical abuse or prolonged normal wear are not covered. For complete warranty details, please refer to the warranty by following the link above.
In the unfortunate event that your Black Hills Gold jewelry ever does need repair, you will need to ship it insured to Landstroms factory at the following address, along with a description of the problem, your name, address and telephone number:
Landstroms2707 Mt. Rushmore Road
Rapid City, SD 57701
Landstroms will assess the repair and contact you with a quote for the work if it is not a warranty repair. Landstroms does their best to give you fast turn-around and repairs are very reasonably priced. If it is a warranty repair, Landstroms will perform the work and return your item to you via UPS Ground. If you need to contact Landstroms Customer Service to check on the status of your repair, they can be reached at 800-658-3361
• I lost one of my earrings. Can I order just a “half-pair”?In the unfortunate event that you lose one of your Black Hills Gold earrings, Landstroms can build a replacement for you. Please call us at 605-221-6120 or email us at info(at)BlackHillsGoldSource(dot)com for a quote. Most of the time, a “half-pair” is simply half the regular price of a standard pair, but there are a few exceptions, so please contact us to be sure. Though not necessary, the best procedure after contacting us to place your order would be to send the remaining earring back to Landstroms. Every piece of Landstroms Black Hills Gold is hand made, so each has its own character. By sending your remaining earring back, Landstroms can make an exact match for you. And they will also professionally clean and polish your exiting one for no charge as well!
• I saw a Black Hills Gold ring on television (at Sears, K-Mart, etc.) I would like to order. Do you carry it?At BlackHillsGoldSource.com, we carry only Original Landstroms Black Hills Gold jewelry. Landstroms does not sell their jewelry at any department store such as K-Mart, Kohl’s, Sears or Wal-Mart. Nor do they sell it on television through QVC or Home Shopping Network, etc. Landstroms Black Hills Gold jewelry is only available through authorized distributors and at Landstroms Retail Store at the Rapid City factory in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Any Black Hills Gold jewelry you may see for sale in department stores or on TV has not been made by Landstroms. If you want the best Black Hills Gold, be sure to buy only Landstroms Black Hills Gold.
BlackHillsGoldSource brings you the best Black Hills Gold jewelry, made only by Landstroms.
• I have a beautiful pendant that is about 10 years old and now needs a new chain. Can you supply just the chain?Nearly every Black Hills Gold pendant made by Landstroms comes with a complimentary 18” long 12/20 gold-filled chain. And Black Hills Silver pendants come with complimentary 18” long Sterling Silver chains. These chains are not made by Landstroms, nor are they Black Hills Gold, but are vendor items that Landstroms provides simply as a courtesy to their customers. A few high end pieces, such as the magnificent PE855 Black Hills Gold Cross Pendant and BR405X Butterfly Pendant do not come with complimentary chains at all because they warrant the upgraded chains which are offered as an option during purchase. But the majority of shoppers end up buying replacement chains from their local jeweler because they can see and feel the texture of a number of different chains and are this way best able to choose a chain they will be happy with. However, if you would like a replacement chain from Landstroms, you will need to ship your pendant insured to Landstroms at the following address, along with an explanation of what you would like, your name, address and telephone number:
Landstroms2707 Mt. Rushmore Road
Rapid City, SD 57701
Most of the time Landstroms will replace the chain for just the return shipping fee, but be sure to check with them first by calling 800-658-3361. However, the cost of shipping both ways is likely much more than the cost of a new chain, another reason most customers simply shop for a new chain at their local jeweler.
• I am interested in a particular Black Hills Gold Ring. Can we visit you and try it on?BlackHillsGoldSource is only an online portal for Landstroms Black Hills Gold jewelry, so we do not have a showroom. Everything on our website is shipped directly from Landstroms factory so that we can always give you the best prices and fastest delivery available. Aside from visiting Landstroms spectacular showroom in Rapid City, South Dakota, or taking potluck with whatever a retail jeweler happens to have in stock at any given time (and paying significantly more for it!), we suggest you take your time and study the photos and specifications on our website and make your choice carefully. We are happy to answer any questions you may have about any particular item, so please call us at 605-221-6120 or email us at info(at)BlackHillsGoldSource(dot)com if you have any questions. We want our customers to be fully satisfied, so we stress taking the time to choose the right piece before placing your order. Please be sure to review our return/exchange policy.
• Can you send me a catalog?Landstroms has a catalog available for purchase, but it is generally meant for dealers and does not include prices.It has beautiful, full-color photos that are very close to actual size, it’s nearly 90 pgs of quality Black Hills Gold jewelry from the company that started it all, and it’s the only one currently available. We've recently uploaded this entire catalog to our website where you can download it free of charge and save yourself the cost of having us ship one to you. You can download it here: Landstrom’s catalog
Over the years Landstroms has created thousands of Black Hills Gold designs. At BlackHillsGoldSource we do our best to include all of the most popular styles on our website, and we are updating and adding items regularly. However, some of the less popular styles may not currently be on our website. If you ever see something elsewhere that you cannot find on our website, please call us at 605-221-6120 or email us at info(at)BlackHillsGoldSource(dot)com as WE CARRY EVERY ITEM MADE BY LANDSTROMS!
• I saw a Landstroms item elsewhere that I am interested in but it’s not on your website. Is it available?
From time to time certain styles become “inactive” because they haven’t sold well. When this happens, Landstroms will stop building that piece, stop stocking it in their retail store and place it on the “inactive” list. Landstroms will still build the piece on request, as they keep all of the molds for everything they have ever created. However, though these special builds come with Landstroms Lifetime Warranty, they are not returnable or exchangeable. Please let us know if you every have any questions about something you’ve seen in the past but can’t find on our website.
• Can you also make yellow gold items in sterling silver or white gold and vice versa?Most Black Hills Gold jewelry made by Landstroms can also be custom made in sterling Black Hills Silver, and most silver jewelry can be custom made in Black Hills Gold. However, there are some cases where it’s just not possible, for a variety of possible reasons. Therefore, each request for custom work must first be submitted to Landstroms Custom Order Department for them to review. If they feel they can do the work without compromising the quality of the original design, they will respond with an estimate of the cost, typically within a few days. Then once the order is placed with the factory, it will take three to four weeks to complete, depending on the complexity of the job and the work load of the factory at that time (orders place near holidays such as Christmas or Mothers Day may require additional time). Though all custom jewelry comes with Landstroms Lifetime Warranty, they are not returnable or exchangeable. Please call us at 605-221-6120 or email us at info(at)BlackHillsGoldSource(dot)com if you are interested in custom work. Landstroms discontinued making jewelry with white gold in early 2010 but it is available once again as of the Spring of 2018!
• What if I find it cheaper elsewhere?BlackHillsGoldSource is committed to giving you the best possible deal, and this means a combination of a competitive price, great customer service, and fast shipping. We are trying hard to offer the lowest prices and offer that extra touch in service. Unlike some other retailers, Every order shipped by BlackHillsGoldSource is shipped directly from Landstroms factory so you can always be sure that you’re going to receive authentic, brand new Black Hills Gold jewelry made just for you by Landstroms. Remember, only buy from a name you can trust!
We also provide telephone and email support, offer free standard shipping for orders over $50, secure online shopping, a liberal return policy, and much more! Our success over the years is the result of our deep product knowledge, our informative and usable website and, of course, our dedication to you, our customer. Our customers have rewarded us with their repeat business and keep coming back. Certainly our customer care is of utmost importance, but we understand that competitive price is an important part of the package. This is why we offer free ground shipping and keep our prices more than 30% below retail.
We do want to know if you found a better price on the same Landstrom Black Hills Gold item on a retail web site on the internet, we will do our best to earn your business and will try to beat that price. While there are some rare exceptions and we cannot always guarantee that we will match or beat any price out there, we want to earn your business for years to come and maintain our high level of customer service. We are committed to your satisfaction, and we will try our best to give you the best price and the exceptional service you have come to expect from BlackHillsGoldSource. We want to make sure you get best value and best service, no matter what you buy from us.
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!
If you have any questions that haven’t been answered here, please call us at 605-221-6120 or email us at info(at)BlackHillsGoldSource(dot)com, or post your question on our Blog and we will do our best to answer it immediately.
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Black Hills gold jewelry
Black Hills gold jewelry is a type of jewelry manufactured in the Black Hills of South Dakota. It was first created in the 1870s during the Black Hills Gold Rush by a French goldsmith named Henri LeBeau, who is said to have dreamed about the design after passing out from thirst and starvation. Black Hills gold jewelry depicts leaves, grape clusters and vines, and is made with alloys of gold with standard yellow gold as well as green and pink gold. In 1980, the 8th Circuit affirmed an injunction ruling that if a manufacturer was to call its jewelry Black Hills Gold, then it must be made in the Black Hills. The state of South Dakota designated Black Hills gold as the official state jewelry in 1988.
The designs use grapes, grape leaves and grape stems and are easily recognizable for their distinctive colors. Silver is alloyed with the yellow gold to produce the green hue, and copper is alloyed with the yellow gold to make the red or pink gold. The jewelry was originally made with South Dakota-mined gold but in more recent years, since the closure of the Homestake Mine, the gold is sourced elsewhere.
Pure 24 Karat gold bars, and stocks of pure silver and copper are the basic materials. These metals are not required to be mined in the Black Hills. The finished jewelry known as Black Hills Gold must be produced in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
The different colors of gold used for leaves and other details are made when the pure 24 Karat yellow gold is alloyed with copper to achieve the traditional 14 karat pink (or red) gold, and the gold is combined with silver to create the 14 karat green gold. The resulting gold bars are then readied for rolling.
The alloyed gold bars are rolled by presses to different thicknesses for different types of jewelry. Each part is individually stamped out of the rolled gold sheets using patterns and dies. The solid gold leaves and other patterns are then added to a cast jewelry base.
The cast pieces are then polished by one of two methods, either traditional hand polishing using a wheel, or a process called "tumbling." For tumbling: many castings at one time are placed in a tub or cylinder with different sizes and shapes of metal, rubber or other materials in a liquid solution, then agitated or rotated until they have been polished smooth. These smooth, cast pieces are then ready for the stamped components, like leaves and grapes, to be mounted on them.
Some manufacturers, such as Landstroms, use the traditional method to attach the pieces, where the stamped components are individually hand-soldered to the cast gold frame using torches and karat-gold solder. Other factories place the solder and components together on the cast item, leaving several such assemblies in a soldering oven where they are soldered by the heat of the oven.
The almost-finished jewelry is cleaned in a mild acid bath, then inspected for quality. A finishing technique known as "wriggling" textures the leaves, creating a textured or frosty effect. Each leaf vein is then hand-engraved.
Each piece is polished in several different steps to bring out its brilliant luster. If the item has gemstones in its design, it is sent to the stone setting department for mounting, before final inspection.
- ^Paul Higbee, "Making Yellow Magic", South Dakota Magazine, November/December 2006.
- ^"The Legend of Henry LeBeau", KOTA (AM), May 29, 2009 (audio).
- ^"Black Hills Jewelry Mfg. Co. v. LaBelle's, 633 F.2d 746, 754 n.8 (8th Cir. 1980)". Retrieved 26 March 2012.
- ^S.D. Codified Laws §1-6-16.2 (accessed 2012-01-13).
- ^McPherson, Alan L. (2011). State Geosymbols: Geological Symbols of the 50 United States. AuthorHouse. p. 133. ISBN .
- ^"Black Hills Gold and Silver" in Dustin D. Floyd, Insiders' Guide to South Dakota's Black Hills and Badlands, (Globe Pequot, 4th ed., 2007), ISBN 978-0762741922, pp. 132-133. Excerpts available at Google Books.
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There are many steps involved in the handcrafting of a single delicate Black Hills Gold jewelry design. Each piece is cast, shaped, ground, polished, soldered, cleaned, wriggled and engraved by our skilled artisans.
Take a fascinating free tour through our Black Hills Gold jewelry factory to watch up-close and learn the details of how our gold jewelry is made. During the tour you’ll see the ancient process of lost-wax casting and how diamonds are cast in molten gold. Diamond cutting has been added to our Free Factory Tour, and here you will see the precise process involved in creating one of the world’s most prized possessions. Complimentary coffee and cookies for tour members that are available in the sitting area adjacent to the showroom. Please call to discuss and arrange details and also allow 90 minutes for your group’s stay. We are members of the ABA and NTA associations.
(April 14-May 16) Monday-Friday 8:30AM-5:30PM; Saturday 9:00am-4:00pm; Sunday Closed
(April 14-August 31) Monday-Friday 8:00AM-7:00PM; Saturday 9:00am-6:00pm; Sunday 9:00am-4:00pm
(September 1-September 30) Monday-Friday 8:00AM-5:30PM; Saturday 9:00am-4:00pm; Sunday 9:00am-4:00pm
(October 1-December 31) Monday-Friday 9:00AM-5:30PM; Saturday 9:00am-4:00pm; Sunday Closed
(January 1-April 13) Monday-Friday 9:00AM-5:30PM; Saturday Closed; Sunday Closed
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