By  on November 14, 2005

MIAMI — E-commerce is stretching from books and DVDs to big-ticket baubles.

According to Jewelers of America, a New York association for retail jewelers, online sales of fine jewelry and watches increased 113 percent to $1.9 billion in 2004 from 2003.

Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at the NPD Group, a marketing research company in Port Washington, N.Y., said jewelry is one of the more important categories for luxury goods online.

"You're going to see more conversion this year to pricey online purchases as consumers become more accepting and trusting of Internet sources, especially the 35-and-under population that grew up with computers and is old enough now to start buying these expensive things," he said.

Joanne Teichman, managing director of ylang23.com, an upscale multiline jewelry Web site, said it surprises her that people buy Me&Ro's cluster necklace in 18-karat gold and rubies for $10,600, or Cathy Waterman's 4.6-carat diamond and platinum "grapes" earrings for $26,500 with the click of a mouse.

"It's crazy, but it's becoming every day that I send out pieces that are several hundred or thousands of dollars," she said.

Teichman launched the Web site in 2000 to gain national presence for her 20-year-old bricks-and-mortar store in Dallas. She expanded it to e-commerce in 2002. Teichman said the e-commerce site grew from 30 pages with six items each to its current count of more than 300 pages with nearly 2,000 items priced from $60 to $26,500.

Recent bestsellers have been M2 Design by Mary Margrill's Best Friends pendant in 14-karat yellow gold for $325, while more than 50 Baby Love pendants in 22-karat yellow gold by Cathy Waterman have moved at $275 a piece.

Key holiday buys so far are a large pendant in 10-karat gold from Me&Ro's Geisha Flower collection, and Shaesby's 34-inch chain of 10-karat gold loops. They retail on the site for $950 and $1,150, respectively.

Pieces ship in a felt or velvet pouch wrapped in pink tissue paper and enclosed in the store's signature printed metallic gray box accented with a bow.

"We want the same beautiful presentation and service online as in the actual store," said Teichman. "I even feel personally responsible that items arrive on time."

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