February 1998

Precious Metals: News



Black Hills gold has always boasted mass appeal; now it's making inroads with new consumers


Though it's been around so long that jewelers tend to take it for granted, Black Hills gold jewelry is capturing new consumers in all parts of the country. Though many jewelers brushed it off years ago as a product for Midwesterners and people without much money, that's changed. New styling, a nationwide approach to marketing and a growth in jewelers' need for reasonably priced products has helped it continue its quiet success.

Black Hills gold manufacturers, most of them based right in the Black Hills of South Dakota, spoke to Professional Jeweler about trends, target consumers and other issues concerning their distinctive product. Here's a summary:

Middle Class and Quite Proud of It

Black Hills gold jewelry is for the middle-class crowd, and its purveyors target that niche. "It truly is everyman's jewelry," says Wes Shelton, marketing manager for Mt. Rushmore Black Hills Gold, Rapid City, SD. "You may not be able to buy the $20,000 car or remodel your house, but when gift-giving time comes, you can afford the $100 for Black Hills gold."

Not Just a Regional Product

Though the South and the East were the biggest challenges, all Black Hills producers say their product sells all over now. "It's collected from coast to coast and top to bottom," says Gogi Enstad, marketing manager for Black Hills Gold Jewelry by Coleman, Rapid City, SD.

Fun for All Ages

From teenagers to grandmothers, from Harley-Davidson aficionados to young marrieds, the appeal of Black Hills gold cuts across all age categories. Jerry Magstadt, vice president of sales and marketing for Stamper Black Hills Gold Jewelry, Rapid City, SD, says its extensive Harley-Davidson line is extremely successful with Harley lovers. Teenagers are attracted to the real gold line for its affordability. And Enstad says her company's lines of Little Primrose rings, birthstone necklaces and other children's styles have met with much success.

Rings are Hot

South Dakota Gold, Rapid City, SD, has had great success with a new product it calls "Wish Rings," based on a legend that says wearing seven gold rings that freely move will bring you good luck, says Jenn Sears, advertising director at South Dakota Gold. But all the Black Hills gold companies say rings are a hot item. That may have something to do with collectors.

Collectors Love It

Black Hills gold tends to attract collectors, who often buy rings to display on every finger, say many companies. Mt. Rushmore's Shelton theorizes that because Black Hills gold is less expensive, people can afford to collect it, plus its recognizable style makes it easy to coordinate with other pieces. In addition, Shelton says lines such as his, which still are handmade, make it fascinating to collectors looking for an alternative to mass-produced items.

Contemporary Styling

Have you looked at Black Hills gold lately? Some companies attribute much of their recent success to an effort to modernize styles. Black Hills Gold Jewelry by Coleman, for example, made sure to produce items in such popular styles as hoop earrings and Y necklaces. "Jewelers have told us it's nice to see something new in Black Hills gold," says David DeMaria, Coleman's sales manager. Ear pins, dangles and even toe rings have been popular for Stamper Black Hills Gold Jewelry, says Magstadt.

Left: Ear pins appeal to contemporary buyers. This new style from Stamper Black Hills Gold Jewelry features the trademark leaf and grape design and are popular with women who use the telephone a lot because they lie comfortably against the ear.

Right: Fresh styling, demonstrated in this heart pendant from Black Hills Gold Jewelry by Coleman, is one of the keys to the category's continued success.




- by Peggy Jo Donahue

Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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