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The Most Unique Souvenir From The Black Hills

Black Hills Gold Jewelry is some of the most unique jewelry you will ever see. With rich history, elegant designs, and eye-catching color, it’s no wonder it has been a sought-out South Dakota souvenir since 1874.

What makes Black Hills Gold Jewelry Unique? The jewelry features intricate designs of grape leaves, grape clusters and vines in tri-colored gold. The gold is comprised of three different colors; yellow gold, rose gold, and green gold. These various colors are created through the process of alloying the gold with silver and copper. Who knew science could be so beautiful? Henri LeBeau, that’s who.

Henri was the person who inspired Black Hills Gold Jewelry. While traveling to the Black Hills after hearing about the gold rush, he became hopelessly lost in the wilderness and wandered for days without food or water. In his delusion he saw what he thought to be a vision of grape leaves floating in a stream. As it turns out, his vision was real! He stumbled upon a nearby vineyard and was saved. After this experience, he stayed in the Black Hills and created what we now know as Black Hills Gold Jewelry based on his life saving experience.

Gold Diggers Black Hills Gold carries out this tradition, crafting elegant pieces for all to admire and purchase. With modern tools and machines, the process of making the pieces has changed but the core values of Black Hills Gold Jewelry remain the same.

With each individual piece being so intricate, a lot of time and TLC go into its creation. Depending on the type of jewelry, the time varies. For rings, the process starts with making a wax model from a master mold. After that the ring is then placed onto a casting frame which becomes submerged in plaster. The plaster, frame, and wax ring are then placed into a furnace which burns the wax, leaving an empty space in the shape of a ring. This space is then filled with hot molten gold and the ring is formed. Super cool right? It gets even better.

The individual pieces comprising of grape leaves, grape clusters, and vines are stamped out on a press. Since so many of these are extremely small and delicate, designers will use rods with wax at the ends to hold them in place. They do so by heating up the ends of the rods and placing the gold onto the melted wax. This helps to keep the pieces stable and gives the designer something sturdier to hold while carving in the details. I want to emphasize that each piece is handcrafted by the jewelers. This means that no one piece of jewelry made at Gold Diggers is exactly the same!

Once all the individual pieces are engraved, the goldsmiths will put them together, on chains, rings, earrings etc. They are then polished and cleaned to show off the beauty that is Black Hills Gold.

The history and process of Black Hills Gold Jewelry have made it a sought-after souvenir for years and it’s fascinating to know how each piece is created. As I witnessed the time, effort, and dedication put into each piece of jewelry, it made sense why this specific jewelry is so famous, and so beautiful. Make sure to check out Gold Diggers at one of it’s three locations in the Black Hills!

 

Meet the Author

Cody Wiseman

Despite only living in Rapid City for 12 years, this adventurer is glad to call the Black Hills his home. Actually seeing him is rare as he is usually huddled behind his camera trying to capture anything and everything that catches his eye.

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Cody Wiseman
Communications Manager

Despite only living in Rapid City for 12 years, this adventurer is glad to call the Black Hills his home. Actually seeing him is rare as he is usually huddled behind his camera trying to capture anything and everything that catches his eye.

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