Aaron Berdanier, a junior from Stevens High School, Rapid City, S.D., got an early career boost recently when he won the annual high school design contest sponsored by Stamper Black Hills Gold.
The high school junior received a cash prize and the first piece made from his design for a woman’s 10k ring.
The ring, featuring a rose in the center with rose-gold accents and green Black Hills gold leaves, is included in the company’s spring/summer collection and retails for $202.50.
Berdanier was on hand to watch Stamper’s designers carve the piece in wax. He was one of 600 local students who participated in the design contest, which included a presentation on the history and manufacturing process of Black Hills gold.
The contest, now in its second year, is open to students at five local high schools, where the history lesson is incorporated into their art classes and they are exposed—many for the first time—to the jewelry industry.
“The students really get into it,” says Betty Wootten, marketing director for Stamper. “They just loved the idea of it being turned into an actual piece of jewelry.”
Each winning piece is specially marked and marketed to retailers as a student design. That, Wootten says, has an extra appeal.
“[Last year] retailers really loved having a story to put behind the piece,” she says. “I think a lot of mothers out there are touched and can really relate to the idea.”
Speaking of mothers, by the way, Berdanier honored his own mom by giving her the first ring produced from his drawing.