NEW YORK — Joan Rivers found her fortune and fame in making people laugh. Yet, in a brief meeting at her Manhattan office two weeks ago, it appeared that it is her developing role in the beauty business that is tickling her these days.

“It is so much fun to watch women look better and feel better,” said Rivers, without a whisper of sarcasm. [This is the same Joan Rivers who has made a sport of critically critiquing the looks of celebrities at award ceremonies.]

“To take a woman and promise her something and to come through with the promise,” said Rivers, “what could be better than that?” She continued, sounding a little closer to her stage persona, “You are making people feel better and you are making money!”

Gazing down at her hands, the petite comedienne remarked, “Look, no spots.” That, she said, is thanks to her Joan Rivers Absolutely Magic Revitalizing Hand Treatment, a new item.

Rivers has been selling namesake beauty items exclusively on QVC since 1999. Her business managers say things are going so well there that it is unlikely they will branch out to other venues anytime soon — although, noted David Dangle, executive vice president and chief creative officer, “there have been retailers who have approached us.”

Rivers makes six appearances on QVC a year in two one-hour sessions a day. Dangle said beauty sales doubled in 2001 and this year hopes are to increase the business another 25 percent. “Our overall goal is to be a one-stop beauty shop, with treatment, color and fragrance,” said Dangle. Dangle refused to comment on sales dollars, but industry sources estimate the Joan Rivers beauty annual sales to be between $8 million and $12 million.

The original Rivers-QVC connection started more than 10 years ago when she made her jewelry debut. The first beauty item was an AHA skin care item, featuring a non-irritant referred to as C7. The brand was called Results and soon more items were added. The lineup now contains 15 face and body items such as Thoroughly Cleansing Facial Bath, Fresh Energy Anti-Fatigue Mask and Sleek & Firm Skin Decollete Cream. The new Absolutely Magic hand treatment along with Fresh Energy Eye Pads will be unveiled in March.

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Last March, fragrance became part of the mix with the introduction of Joan Rivers Now and Forever, a floral scent. In between, color was stirred in beginning with nail polish, followed by lipsticks and lipliners. Now, matching sets of her three color items — at $26 a set — are offered four times a year, to reflect seasonal shades.

“Joan has always been fashion-forward,” remarked Donna Davin, director of marketing and sales operations. Other prices for Rivers beauty items range from about $30 to $40. The three beauty segments have just been grouped together under an umbrella banner: Joan Rivers Beauty. Plans are to do more cross promoting of the beauty items with jewelry, which still represents the bulk of Rivers’ QVC business — at about 85 percent.