Blue Nile

Bain Capital Private Equity and Bow Street LLC have agreed to acquire online diamond ring seller Blue Nile LLC for $500 million.  The acquisition comes during a time when consumers are shopping more online as opposed to traditional retailers.

Blue Nile, based in Seattle, is known for selling engagement and wedding rings online. The company labels itself as the “smartest, easiest, and most pressure free way for consumers to buy a diamond.”

Consumers have been hesitant to buy big ticket items such as jewelry online because they want to physically see those items in the store and have people coach them through the selection process. Blue Nile tries to take that pressure off buyers. For example, Blue Nile has an education section on its website that allows shoppers to read up on the different types of diamond cuts, shapes and carat weights. The company even sells ring sizers.

“We believe the company will continue to grow as educated consumers continue to seek easy and convenient shopping experiences that deliver transparent pricing and enhanced value,” says Bain Capital managing director Ryan Cotton.

E-commerce has been putting pressure on traditional retailers, which has been driving M&A in the sector. For instance, Invus Group LLC purchased a majority stake in Ashley Stewart Inc.; L Catterton acquired Hanna Andersson from Sun Capital Partners Inc.; and TSG Enterprises LLC has purchased Total Hockey Inc.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati are advising Blue Nile. Kirkland & Ellis LLP is representing the buyers. Goldman Sachs & Co. (NYSE: GS) is providing financing.

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