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Major Black Hills jewelers announce purchase deal

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — A Rapid City-based jeweler with dozens of stores in the Midwest is buying a company that has been making Black Hills gold jewelry for 136 years.

Riddle's Group Inc. announced Thursday it had purchased Landstrom's Original Black Hills Gold Creations' manufacturing and wholesale division for an undisclosed price. Landstrom's also is based in Rapid City.

Riddle's did not acquire the rights to Landstrom's name, but has agreed to license it and use it. Landstrom's name recognition was a major reason Riddle's wanted to make the deal, according to Riddles Chief Financial Officer David Westergaard. It also made sense from a business standpoint, he said.

"The decision to merge was due to a mutual desire to combine manufacturing and marketing efforts to achieve certain economies of scale and opportunities for diversification," Westergaard said in a statement. "Overall, we feel the climate in the Black Hills — and nationwide — is strong for American-made products."

Riddles does not plan to change the day-to-day operation of Landstrom's. Robert Lemley, grandson of founder Ivan Landstrom, retains the rights to the Landstrom's name.

"Landstrom's is an icon of the Black Hills," he said. "We are steeped in the history and tradition of this area and have the best name recognition in the Black Hills Gold industry."

Three generations of the Landstrom family have operated the business since 1878. In 1995, Landstrom's purchased competitor F.L. Thorpe.

The Riddle's Group was founded in 1959 and now owns more than 45 jewelry stores throughout the Midwest.

Black Hills gold jewelry features a unique design of grape leaves, clusters and vines in tri-colored gold. By federal mandate, this style of jewelry must be manufactured in the Black Hills of South Dakota in order to be described as "Black Hills Gold Jewelry."

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