Is “The Show” Over? Is Retail Dead?

“It’s the end of the world as we know it”, a line that anyone born before 1990 probably knows all too well. This was a time when retail space was king, catalog shopping was the closest equivalent to today’s online shopping, and industry conferences were critical to meeting new customers and expanding brand exposure.



Now more than ever, consumers have prioritized convenience. Our ability to live, work, play and shop without leaving home has never been so easy. We can’t keep turning a blind eye to the times as they are definitely ‘a changing.’



Remember when most of us raised an eyebrow at the launch of Who in their right mind would buy such a luxury item, one that a professional jeweler needs to examine without seeing and touching it first? How would the average consumer, who knows very little about gems, know how to go about buying a stone without help from a knowledgeable salesperson?

As online jewelry sales continue to rise and Amazon continues taking over the world, the future of traditional retail has been called into question. The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated this line of questioning, as continuous lockdowns and genuine health risks have increased the average consumer’s reluctance to visit brick-and-mortar retail.

The truth of the matter is that while online shopping has undoubtedly changed the retail landscape, it has not and will never completely replace the traditional retail experience. One thing that companies like Apple have taught us over the years, is that in order to survive and be more than “just another store”, brands need to sell a lifestyle and create a retail experience. Product quality is important, but at the end of the day, no matter how high tech or luxurious the design, a positive retail experience that is long-lasting with the customer is achieved via service and trained sales professionals – aka people, the right people; and the personal experience is something that is much harder to replace via digital.


My Caroline’s Goddess Eternity ring and Gentlemen’s Classic Suit ring

The longevity of the traditional retail experience is a factor of human psychology, and the proof is in the pudding. When Covid restrictions began easing up, even with customers facing financial uncertainty, they flooded malls and stores seeking luxury products – not everyday necessities. Even Amazon is opening brick-and-mortar stores! The high you get from the online retail experience does not compare to the physical one. Getting to touch and feel and try on; speaking to a knowledgeable person who understands what you are looking for and knows their business, these things are priceless, especially when making an expensive purchase.


For years companies have held flagship stores in prime locations for brand and marketing purposes, many of which lose money, but in today’s digital world you need to have a digital footprint in order to truly exist as a brand. Online presence is the prime location, a website and social media account is marketing 101. Your brand experience and language begins online, but it doesn’t have to end there – and it shouldn’t.



When Merit Diamond, a company that has been a leader in the jewelry industry for over four decades, decided to launch their latest brand, My Caroline, they wanted to create a full-dimensional brand,

“We wanted the brand to really represent what we have been known for, innovative and beautiful jewelry that can be worn on the red carpet but that can also be worn comfortably in real life. ‘From your grandest day to your every day’. And we wanted our entire brand to represent that, online and in retailers. We made sure to launch the brand online, but for us, the true experience can only be achieved in-store and in-person, when you not only see the pieces but try them on and see how comfortable they feel, especially in comparison to others. “ Says Scott Rosen of Merit Diamond Corporation.

My Caroline in-store jewelry display for women’s rings and fashion jewelry

When it comes to big and important purchases, people will almost always prefer to have a chance to ask questions, touch, feel, see and understand what it is that they are purchasing – in person. Until virtual reality becomes so advanced that you can actually visit a virtual store without leaving your home, there will still be a need for ‘live’ retail.

On a similar note, has anyone attended a jewelry convention in the last few years? Have you noticed the decrease in attendance? And this was trending before COVID. Conventions remain a great way for vendors to meet retailers, but they need to be reinvented. After decades of industry growth and development, tradeshows remain unchanged. So what’s the best way for vendors and customers to meet in today’s modern climate? This is the question…


“I have to admit that attending conventions as a vendor has become consistently less appealing over the years, as fewer clients come to the event and our ability to be creative has become more limited in the convention space. We want to feel like we can do something special for our existing clients as well as our potential clients, but at conventions, it feels as though our hands are tied. Simultaneously, cold calls and ‘drop-ins’ are frowned upon by clients, so it leaves us in a similar predicament as the retailers themselves – how do we pique interest, make meetings, and create new relationships, without breaking ‘rules’ or annoying potential customers?” Says Josef Fraiman of Merit Diamond Corporation.


Like in every business, things need to pivot and reinvent themselves with the times in order to be relevant – but that doesn’t mean it’s a death sentence, just a chance to get to work and be creative – adjust the formula. Once upon a time it may have been enough just to have a store with the right product and location, or a booth at a convention; but now, as the average consumer’s attention span continues to diminish and they become harder to impress, getting a customer’s attention takes a lot more effort. Consumer interaction needs to be thoughtful and worthwhile.

At the end of the day, with all the changes and advances in this industry, and stimuli facing consumers, people are people; and sometimes to move forward, the key is to get back to the basics.

What do I want to feel when walking into a store and when arriving to a convention?


Taken care of


Maybe if we master these basic consumer needs, the rest will fall into place…

The Age of Comfort

From corsets that broke our ribcages to today’s sweatpants that cost over $200; fashion has no doubt come a very long way – but there is still a long way to go.  While comfort has always been a standard part of most men’s fashion, in clothing, shoes and more; women have been conditioned that we must “suffer for beauty.”  I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am that this era is finally coming to an end.

As women’s high heel shoes become more wearable and functional – without looking orthopedic – slowly some other categories in fashion are getting a much needed “makeover” as well – including jewelry.

The first thing my husband and I do when we return home is remove all the uncomfortable items we are wearing: bra, shoes, tie, belt, and for years, jewelry as well.

Sometimes, okay, most of the time, all this happened while still standing in the entrance.

Later that night when I am already in bed, I remember that I left my jewelry somewhere in the house and get to do the ever-so-enjoyable “let’s find my jewelry” hunt.

But guess what?  Now I sleep with my jewelry on most nights, and need to be reminded to remove it!

For years husbands used the “my wedding band is just not comfortable excuse” for why they weren’t wearing their wedding rings; but the truth is that rings aren’t comfortable to wear 24 hours a day without losing feeling and blood flow in your finger – and eventually hand.  And while women find this discomfort acceptable, men usually do not, so in many cases they simply don’t wear their ring or buy the plainest wedding band on the market in hopes that it will make it more comfortable and wearable – news flash, it does NOT.  And some men have even moved to alternative materials for their rings, like silicone and other softer components.

Well guess what?  Not only have men’s rings gone through a ‘comfort makeover’; now women’s rings are available with the same MFIT Comfort Technology that has been available for men for a few years.  And the best part is, that MFIT Comfort Technology exists in the interior part of the ring, so it doesn’t affect the exterior design.

When Gagi Kaplan, the Founder and President of Merit Diamond Corporation, a leading jewelry company that has been designing and creating innovations in Jewelry for over 35 years; wasn’t wearing a wedding ring because he didn’t find it comfortable – he knew something had to be done.

“It didn’t make any sense, it’s my business, my industry, and I wasn’t representing.  I couldn’t wear my wedding ring without having my finger turn purple after a few hours, and after years of just leaving my ring on my desk or at home, I realized that if I felt this way, others probably did as well – and I wanted to do something about it!”

After many models, testing and focus groups – the MFIT men’s ring was born and introduced to the market.  The reaction from retailers and consumers was unimaginable.

MFIT Comfort Technology is a patented design on the inside of the precious metal ring, forming grooves and “pillows” which allow blood to flow freely and air to pass through, which reduces unnecessary pressure and swelling of the finger and hand.  The design also allows for good hygiene, as water and soap doesn’t get stuck on any part of the ring.

Bottom line, you can wear the ring in your day-to-day life and it’s actually comfortable!

A few years later, and it’s still a number one seller with no other comfort patent in precious metals to match.

Then about a year and a half ago, Scott Rosen of Merit Diamond was speaking to one of his retail customers, and she asked him why MFIT Comfort Technology wasn’t available in women’s rings.

“It was time to share the comfort experience with couples who typically shop for their wedding bands together.  The idea that women only care about the design of the ring was evolving.  We knew that the interior of our proven patent would resonate with women as it had with men. In a category that is unbelievably strong, we have perfected the everyday wearability and offer our retail customers across the country a worthwhile and easy sale – for men and now, women.”


Eighteen-months later the My Caroline collection was born.   A variety of women’s and men’s rings with the patented MFIT Comfort Technology, all made from precious metals and earth-mined diamonds, a perfect marriage between beauty and comfort.  And it doesn’t stop with rings, the My Caroline collection has taken comfort in the luxury jewelry category very seriously.

The classic designs of the earrings, bracelets and necklaces have also been improved to fit our lifestyles.  For example, who hasn’t had the annoying experience of having your bracelet get caught on a thread of a sweater?  For this reason the pieces in the My Caroline collection stay away from the standard rough four-prong setting and rather have an innovative coupled-prong, making the surface smoother and without points to snag on.


The future is creeping up on us, hopefully soon we will be able to dress to impress without waiting to arrive back home and take everything off in order to be comfortable – but for now, at least we don’t have to remove our jewelry!

From your big day to your everyday, the My Caroline jewelry collection.

Lab Grown vs Earth-Mined Diamonds – what’s the real deal?

Unless you have been living under a rock these past few years, it’s impossible not to notice the growing trend of lab grown diamonds seemingly taking over the jewelry industry.

How can people resist?  The same carbon makeup of an actual diamond, the wonderful shine we all love and at a significantly lower cost; it seems like a ‘flawless’ solution – literally!

Apparently, the “scientific” difference between a lab grown and earth-mined diamond can only be detected by a professional under a microscope; but isn’t a diamond so much more than a pretty “colorless crystalline form of pure carbon”?

Just like snowflakes – and people – not one (earth-mined) diamond looks exactly like the other.  Each earth-mined diamond tells a story through its “flaws”.  While we, the consumer, seek out diamonds with as few visible marks as possible, each blemish in the diamond actually help historians, geologists and archeologists put together the puzzle of our Earth’s past. To think that earth-mined diamonds were here way before us humans ever came into existence and will most likely be around long after, makes the significance of a diamond so much more meaningful.

On top of being beautiful pieces of history, their rareness, difficulty and skill needed to attain and cut, and individual uniqueness are what have made them such a coveted and expensive item for hundreds of years.

Diamonds being incorporated into engagement rings, and jewelry in general, only really began becoming massively popular around the 1940s.  Before that it was only accessible to royalty and the very rich.

The use of something so beautiful and natural, that can’t be broken or cut except for with another diamond to represent a union of two people that will hopefully last forever could not have been a more perfect fit.

“It was a very smart marketing partnership and an easy sell.  However, the diamond also became a direct representation of status and success – a goal, something people wished to be able to buy and afford,” says jewelry expert Josef Fraiman of Merit Diamond Corporation.

“And because of their unbreakable makeup, it was not something you bought just for you, it was an investment into your family’s future, something that you could pass on to your children and grandchildren and so on.  Holding not only sentimental value and history, but monetary value as well.”

In today’s culture, which is all about being “woke” and simultaneously the next story/post on your Instagram account; only the illusion of luxury and lifestyle are what’s needed for the next photo.  Plastic.  Depth, quality and truth are not appreciated or necessary – it’s a thing of the past. It’s all about what’s trending right now, branding of people, followers, fake news and all that jazz.  It seems that nothing has real value anymore and everything is for show and made to be disposable.

But if this is the case, why buy diamonds at all, lab or earth-mined?  There are cubic zirconiums and crystals and plenty of other stones that sparkle, all a much cheaper option than any type of diamond.

As in every industry, things change; and now the jewelry industry is going through a shift as well.  Maybe it’s time for the GIA to create a new type of diamond rating – maybe the flaws in an earth-mined diamond should be looked at as something that can increase a stone’s value rather than decrease its value.  Just like wrinkles on a person’s face – each internal “flaw” on a diamond tells a story and gives personality and makes it unique.

Remember when they started making lab grown emeralds?  Flawless perfect emeralds making them attainable and affordable to the masses.  In the beginning, the lab grown emeralds were selling for $300 dollars per carat. Today you can buy the same lab grown emerald for less than $10 per carat and real, natural emeralds, are now harder to attain and might even be more valuable than they were before lab grown emeralds ever joined the market.  Sound familiar?  “Lab grown diamonds have already lost much of their value in the last few years. A stone that cost $3000 three years ago can now be bought for $800.  It’s clear that in a few years lab grown diamonds will be worth less than $100, though retailers are doing their best to hide this fact,” says jewelry expert Eyal Adini of Merit Diamond Corporation.

And funnily enough, even with the retailers and general public seemingly moving towards lab grown right now; when it comes to engagement rings and wedding bands people seem to see things a bit differently.  With their “forever rings” they still want to continue to invest and ‘splurge’, the meaning and value are still important to them.

When doing a quick survey, 18 out of the 20 people who had said they would prefer to buy jewelry with lab grown diamonds (mostly because of the difference in price and what they categorize as ethical reasons), also said when it came to their engagement and wedding ring they would still prefer to get an earth-mined diamond.

For companies like Merit Diamond Corp. who have been in the industry for over 40 years and have seen trends come and go, changes, evolutions, etc… at the end of the day just like classic is timeless and will always have a market; earth-mined diamonds are irreplaceable and will find their place back on top again as well.

Of course, for those looking to cash out or for a quick deal, lab grown is the easier route to go for sure.  But for companies like Merit, who are in this industry for the long run – real will always be the deal.