Black Hills Gold A Go-Go
The distinctive South Dakota gold jewelry is selling better than ever,
say manufacturers. Here's why
It's a bright year so far for Black Hills gold, which is manufactured
in Rapid City, SD. Makers of the distinctive gold jewelry with the leaf-and-grape
motif say sales are up, thanks to growing national demand and a variety
of effective marketing tactics.
"We're doing fantastic. We're having an excellent year," says
David DiMaria, national sales manager at Black Hills Gold Jewelry by Coleman.
DiMaria says the company's growing network of independent jewelers and regular
new offerings has helped it reach a broad customer base.
Significant growth comes from international markets, adds Wes Shelton,
Mt. Rushmore Black Hills Gold marketing director, particularly Canada, Mexico
and the Far East. He credits sales gains to the lower price points of Black
Hills gold as well as the product's appeal to a new generation.
"There's a lot of interest in Black Hills gold-on-silver right now,"
he says, echoing the comments of other Black Hills gold jewelry makers.
"We're seeing a resurgence in it because of the younger market. They're
into silver that looks different from what Mom and Dad wore, and these items
Affordability is a priority at Mt. Rushmore. "Our focus is on providing
the very best price," he says which is one reason the company
saves money by not doing consumer advertising.
From the Tube
For some, though, taking the Black Hills gold story to customers pays off.
"We own a production company and have created our own television commercials,
which are available to all 6,000 of our independent dealers," says
Lee Hill, executive vice president of South Dakota Gold. "We also offer
co-op advertising funds to any of those accounts for newspapers, radio and
When the company began producing its own television commercials last
fall, costs were "astronomical," admits Hill, but he credits the
spots for the company's steady growth. "We're the new guys on the block,"
he says, "and we knew we had to get our name out there." With
three commercials complete, it's now a simple task, he explains, to return
to the studio and change the commercials' seasonal themes, making the approach
Other Black Hills gold makers have turned to television as well.
"We've shown a commercial on cable TV for several years," says
Chuck Clanton, vice president of sales at Landstrom's Original Black Hills
Gold. "This year we expanded it to two 30-second commercials that show
in five states."
To the Web
Black Hills gold maker Stamper Black Hills Gold Jewelry also enjoys a growing
international audience, thanks in part to its licensed, 450-piece line of
Harley-Davidson Black Hills gold products.
"We sell overseas, including England and all of Europe, with our
Harley-Davidson line," says Jerry Magstadt, vice president of sales
To stay in touch with its worldwide audience, Stamper turned to the Internet.
Currently the only Black Hills gold maker with its own Web site (firstname.lastname@example.org), Stamper uses it
to promote product, tell the history of Black Hills gold and link potential
customers with dealers.
"We support our clients on our Web site by referring customers to
them who requested information from us by e-mail," says Magstadt. "We're
getting a nice response. Retailers are thanking us."
The Black Hills gold manufacturers interviewed for this report introduced
more than 550 new products at the JCK International Jewelry Show in Las
Vegas in June, including at least one throwback to the time before piercing.
South Dakota Gold's Hill says market research indicates clip-on earrings
are in demand. "I'm guessing it's for women 50 and up," he says.
"We've never offered them before. But we will now."
by Richard L. Carter
Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.