By Michelle Graff
Seattle--Online retailer Blue Nile reported that sales hit $103.7 million in the company’s first quarter, a 7 percent year-over-year increase.

Sales of engagement rings in the United States during the first quarter ended March 30 were up 8 percent, increasing from $55.3 million to $59.7 million.

Non-engagement sales also were up, rising 8 percent to $26.1 million, led by diamond jewelry and wedding bands, both of which grew by double digits, according to Blue Nile, as the company works to diversify the types of products they sell. The pearl and gem categories also continue to be important for the retailer.

Blue Nile said it remains focused on three major initiatives in 2014--enhancing the user experience on its website, developing the product lines in bridal and diamond jewelry, and expanding internationally by building a presence in China and growing in the established overseas markets.

The company is working to create a seamless shopping experience across all devices. During the first quarter, the company launched a number of new adaptive features and refined aspects launched late last year.

Revenue attributed to visitors from mobile devices in the first quarter grew by more than 40 percent, the company said in its conference call on Thursday, and revenue from tablets grew by over 20 percent.

“When we look at the conversion rates and revenue that’s being attributed to people that first come to us on their phone or on their tablet, we’re looking at pretty significant double-digit growth rates in revenue per visit on those devices versus last year, and that’s something that we can see directly correlates with platform enhancements that we began last year,” said Chief Financial Officer David Binder.

RELATED CONTENT: Blue Nile collaborates for more designer offerings

In addition, after seeing success with its initial partnership with fashion designer Monique Lhuillier, the company decided to expand its designer offerings through its “Designer Collective,” a section of the site that showcases a number of established and emerging brands. The online collection offers 14- and 18-karat gold and sterling silver pieces created uniquely for Blue Nile, ranging in price from $55 to $6,000.

While it’s still early days for the collective, CEO Harvey Kanter said that “the customer is definitely responding to certain elements,” adding that they have “seen the customers starting to pick and choose between the offers,” to give them more direction for the future. 

Blue Nile added that most of the opportunity for growth in international markets comes from China. The country drove sales in the Asia-Pacific market, which grew by nearly 11 percent in the first quarter and represents nearly 60 percent of total international revenue.

International sales for the company in the first quarter increased 2 percent at constant exchange rates, from $17.6 million in 2013 to $17.9 million in 2014.

Looking ahead at the second quarter of 2014, Blue Nile said that it expects net sales to be between $108 million and $113 million. 

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