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Index goes online for luxury jewellery deal

The European venture and growth capital firm behind some of the internet's biggest success stories is banking on high net worth individuals spending more money online on luxury goods.

Index Ventures, the European venture and growth capital firm, is backing AstleyClarke.com, an online luxury jewellery boutique, with £2.75 million ($5.5 million; €3.5 million) in Series A financing.

The London-based company plans to use the funds to further build systems and infrastructure and deliver on an ambitious customer acquisition strategy.

Index partner Danny Rimer will join Bec Clarke from AstleyClarke.com and Mark Esiri from Venrex on AstleyClarke.com’s board of directors. Bec Astley Clarke established the site in 2006 following her experience as a member of the Tesco.com team.

Danny Rimer said, “We believe that the luxury e-tailing sector is exploding and the selection and customer service that consumers experience online is often superior to that of the high street. The luxury designer jewellery space is currently underpenetrated and, given our experience in the online and e-commerce space, it’s a natural focus for us.”

Index’s investments include Lovefilm, DVD rental and film download bussiness, Stardoll, a social network site, and Ozon.ru, a search engine. Its recent internet exits include the sale of Skype to eBay; MySQL, the world's most popular open source database recently acquired by Sun and Last.fm, the world’s largest social music platform, recently acquired by CBS.

The luxury e-tailing sector is growing fast and according to Forrester's Consumer Technographics, data shows that eight out of ten high net worth consumers use the internet daily and actively research and buy luxury goods and services online on a regular basis.

Of the luxury firms surveyed that sell online, all report strong growth in their business and expect their e-commerce sales to grow 17 per cent this year on average and 111 per cent over the next five years, representing 22 per cent of sales from all channels by then.