August 21, 2013, 4:22 PM

Online jewelry retailer Ice.com is on the block

The Top 500 online jeweler launched in 1999.

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Montreal-based online jewelry retailer Ice.com is for sale, Internet Retailer has learned.  CEO Shmuel Gniwisch confirms that Ice’s board has approved entering into discussions with possible buyers. No deal is imminent, he says, but a sale could take place as early as Thanksgiving. “We are in the full-blown sale process now with several companies looking at us,” Gniwisch says.

After a strong start in 1999 that eventually attracted capital from Ignition Partners and Polaris Ventures, Ice has faced tough times for the past five years. The Top 500 Guide reports 2012 sales for Ice.com of $45 million, down 46% from a high of $83.4 million in 2007. Ice is No. 310 in the Top 500 Guide. “It’s been a struggle to grow because of the U.S. economy and because all the big retailers are getting active in e-commerce, which is increasing the competition,” Gniwisch says. “The pie isn’t big enough for everyone to grow without having to take a piece from someone else.”

Gniwisch would not discuss a potential price for Ice.com and sister site Diamond.com. He notes that a variety of suitors has courted Ice.com for some time. When another potential buyer approached the company seven months ago, Ice’s board decided it was time to start listening to offers.

Potential buyers include other private equity companies seeking to roll Ice.com into a family of e-commerce companies, retailers looking to expand their offerings, and offline jewelers seeking to enter the online market and online competitors.

Ice.com grew out of a decades-old family jewelry manufacturing and selling business. The company acquired Diamond.com in 2006 as a jewelry informational site. It links to Ice.com for e-commerce capabilities.

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