What Is Black Hills Gold?

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Visitors to Mount Rushmore often take home Black Hills jewelry as a souvenir.
Visitors to Mount Rushmore often take home Black Hills jewelry as a souvenir. (Image: Spondylolithesis/iStock/Getty Images)

Not every state has official jewelry, but South Dakota does. In 1988, Black Hills gold was given the Mount Rushmore State's endorsement, and by law it can only be made in the Black Hills. The design -- pink and green leaves, grapevines or grape clusters -- is instantly recognizable.

Gold From the Hills

Most Black Hills gold is 10 to 14 karats. The green leaves of the design are a silver and gold mix, and the rose pink is made by adding copper. The leaves-and-grapevine design originated in Western mining camps, and was made popular near the end of the 19th century by jeweler S.T. Butler in Central City, South Dakota. Over the years, out-of-state companies began marketing jewelry as Black Hills gold, but in 1980, a court ruling said only jewelry made in the Black Hills can use the name.

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