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Jewelers Feeling Blue and That's a Good Thing

Platinum Blue Sapphire Diamond Ring
Platinum Blue Sapphire Diamond Ring

With Valentine's Day coming, jewelers are gearing up for sales of engagement rings. This year, the hottest trend is blue sapphire rings, the kind Prince William presented to Kate Middleton last November.

"Almost immediately we saw increased traffic, increased phone calls, asking about blue sapphires," says John Baird of Blue Nile . (NILE)

His company quickly began creating special rings to cash in on the royal wedding craze, like this $7,500 ringweighing just under three carats, and this massive, 20-carat ring for $130,000. "This is a blue sapphire inspired by Kate Middleton's ring," Baird says, "actually, it's a little bigger than her ring."

He let me try it on.

Then he made me give it back.

Blue Nile's stock price is up 35 percent since the day of the royal engagement. Baird says sales of blue sapphire rings are up 40 percent from a year ago. The company changed its key search words on Google to capture as many customers as possible. "We started looking for words that we wouldn't normally use, like 'royal wedding' or 'Kate Middleton' or "Princess Diana sapphire'."

Platinum Sapphire Diamond Ring
Platinum Sapphire Diamond Ring

Google's Retail Director, Dan Schock, says searches for sapphire engagement rings are up 25 percent from a year ago. He worked with advertising partners to make them aware of the increased interest so they could best use Google's tools to capitalize on it. "As an example, HSN took advantage of that by creating a royal engagement replica ring, and then advertising that ring on searches for engagement rings, royal engagement rings, Princess Diana rings, etc."

Ray Galeotti at Eve's Addictionsays his online jewelry company jumped in, immediately making a $56 knockoff. "Additionally, to broaden our visibility on the internet and obtain a larger audience, we included the ring in images that are served on the Google Content Network," Galeotti tells me. "These ads are targeted to sites that main focus on celebrities and fashion."

Interest in the rings peaked in November after the engagement was announced, then tapered off after the holidays. "It's picked up again," says Google's Dan Schock. "As we go into Valentine's Day, we see about a 10 percent increase in searches for sapphire engagement rings, so it seems to be the ring that people are going to be buying this Valentine's Day." When I asked him if he's bought one yet, he laughed, "I already bought one a few years ago for my wife." Good man.

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  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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