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Mount Rushmore Black Hills Gold: History in the Making

5/26/2009
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RAPID CITY, S.D. - After venturing into the Black Hills in search of gold, French goldsmith Henri LeBeau became hopelessly lost. Almost dying of starvation, LeBeau came across wild grapes that saved his life. In honor of the lifesaving grapes, he designed what he called the "good luck" jewelry. Other gold miners in search of good luck began referring to LeBeau's jewelry as Black Hills Gold.

"Many out-of-work gold miners were turned into craftsmen when they carved a mountain into a monument at Mount Rushmore. Today, the descendants of those craftsmen carry on the tradition of quality and excellence through the production of Mount Rushmore Black Hills Gold jewelry," said Wes Shelton, Vice President, Mount Rushmore Black Hills Gold and Diamond.

To be considered Black Hills Gold an item must be designed in a traditional tri-gold, grape leaf motif and be manufactured in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Unlike most jewelry, Mount Rushmore Black Hills Gold is created through many handcrafted steps. Each piece may go through up to 40 individual stages, including design, wax, carving, casting, grinding and polishing, soldering, cleaning, wriggling, bright cutting, and engraving.

Mount Rushmore Black Hills Gold is the only factory in South Dakota offering free guided tours of the factory floor. Visitors may hear about the legend of Henri LeBeau while observing the skilled craftsmen and women as they demonstrate how the "good luck" jewelry is made.

"The finest things are still made by hand…one at a time." This motto resonates through every square inch of the Mount Rushmore Black Hills Gold factory in Rapid City, where custom and classic Black Hills Gold Jewelry is hand crafted and legends are told.

Fast Facts:

  • A laser is used to make microscopic size serial numbers in larger diamonds. This is done as a security measure for customers.
  • In 1874, gold was discovered in the Black Hills by Gen. George Armstrong Custer's expedition.
  • Henri LeBeau came to the South Dakota to make his fortune in 1876.
  • The Black Hills gold rush lasted from 1874-1879.

Links:

Contacts:

Wanda Goodman, (605) 773-3301, wanda.goodman@state.sd.us

Wes Shelton (605) 343-2226, wes.shelton@teamridco.com

 

* All photos must be credited to Mount Rushmore Black Hills Gold and Diamond.