A game-changer in the world of diamond industry, she has made diamonds wearable, stylish with a touch of edgy, rock ‘n’ roll appearance. As the elder daughter of a prominent diamond dealer André Messika, Valérie Messika has launched her own fine jewelry brand in 2005 in Paris, specializing in white diamonds set in modern, fluid designs, marrying the worlds of high jewelry and fashion.
With celebrity fans trailing behind such as Beyoncé, Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner, it is no wonder that Messika has become one of the most sought-after jewelry brands globally; the one that has moved the Millennial Generation.
Tanja Beljanski: You launched the Messika collection of diamond jewelry in 2005 when you were in your late 20s. Your father, André Messika, is an esteemed diamond merchant. What was his advice when you started?
Valérie Messika: My father gave me two main pieces of advice which I have followed throughout my career as well as my personal life. The first piece of advice was that we must choose diamonds for the emotion that it makes us feel, much like the way we choose our future partner with the heart. Secondly, he told me to always stay focused and do not copy. He inspired me to always have and trust in my own personal style.
TB: You have studied Communication and worked at Chanel. Did any of your experience from your earlier career help in establishing a high jewelry brand?
VM: After my studies in Communication, I started working with my father who has worked in the diamond industry since 1972. This really helped me a lot in establishing my brand later down the line. He used to travel a lot in order to find the perfect diamond, and that persistence has inspired me since. I learnt every secret in the diamond industry by being on-site with my father and this is what has helped me the most with my own brand.
TB: Did you have any jewelry-industry mentors along the way that helped you to develop your craft?
VM: I don’t really have mentors, but I do work very closely with my cousin Didier Cherqui on each design in all of my collections. Messika is a family business and that is our biggest strength.
TB: What was the initial inspiration when you launched the first collection?
VM: “Move” is my first collection and remains essential in Messika's DNA. When I was a little girl my father used to bring home some incredible diamonds and let me play with them. He used to let the diamonds slide between his fingers and this is what the three moving diamonds of my “Move” collection were inspired by. The motif of the three moving diamonds is deeply imprinted in me and lies very close to my heart. For the story, on the first version, diamonds were static, and everybody was trying to make them move. This is why I tried to develop a new system with moving diamonds.
TB: Do you believe that style can be a powerful thing?
VM: Indeed, it can be. It enables you to express your identity, to express yourself and to deliver a message. This is what leads me when I design my collections. This sensitivity is found in many of my creations, both fine jewelry and High Jewelry.
TB: Describe your personal style in one word. VM:
TB: How do you want to see your pieces worn? And what do you hope women feel when they wear your designs?
VM: My desire is to create desirable and timeless jewelry. I want my clients to have fun with their jewels by choosing their look by opting to wear their jewels in different ways, to stack their jewels and create their own style with the pieces. I hope that women feel stronger, more confident and also comfortable while wearing my designs.
TB: What do you think of fine-jewelry houses shifting their target clientele to a younger demographic?
VM: Millennials are strong potential customers as they show great interest in luxury goods in general and when you win their loyalty young, it is a beautiful relationship that grows and builds over time.
TB: When designing a new piece, where do you find inspiration? What is the starting point in your design?
VM: Inspiration comes in many different forms for me and I am constantly on the lookout for things that inspire me! Traveling, architecture, interior design, walking the streets of Paris, observing people’s style and attitude are all sources of inspiration. The names of the collections are chosen after the jewels are created as the jewel itself is always the starting point.
TB: What is the most difficult aspect of your creation process?
VM: For me, the most difficult aspect of my jewelry creation process is to transcribe my ideas into a drawing. I always have a lot of ideas and it can sometimes be difficult to articulate these and achieve the result that I imagine. Thankfully, my wonderful creative team make it all come to life!
TB: What was on the mood-board for your latest collection?
VM: Lately, we presented our the new Messika High Jewelry collection which was inspired by movement, acrobats and, as for all my creations, fashion.
TB: How many craftsmen work in house of Messika?
VM: Around ten craftsmen work in our High Jewelry Atelier in Paris.
TB: What was by now the most difficult and the most demanding Messika high jewelry piece that was made?
VM: The Illusionists earrings from my latest High Jewelry collection are certainly one of the most difficult pieces ever created. It was made in three parts and required a thousand revisions and testing to develop this unique trap system as we wanted this piece to fit perfectly the ear. This is a true architectural piece of jewelry, with both its graphic lines and sensual aspect. I am strongly convinced that this unique piece will have a huge success among our clients.
TB: What are you most passionate about, besides jewelry?
VM: I am particularly passionate about design and especially interior design. Since I was young, my father raised my awareness for art and has taught me to recognize beautiful artistic pieces. I actually wanted to study architecture but instead ended up studying communication. I love to mood-board when creating my collections as this helps me design and define the diamonds.
TB: What is the first thing you think about when you wake up?
VM: The program of the day, it depends on what I am working on!
TB: What's the last thing you think about before you go to bed?
VM: What I have accomplished during the day.
TB: Among many celebrities, Beyoncé has been such a big fan of Messika. How do you feel about this?
VM: By wearing our pieces, however prescriptive she may be, she is giving us a wonderful gift! I feel so grateful that Beyoncé had such a real crush on Messika pieces and it is very moving to see the affection and respect that she has for our brand.
Celebrity dressing started around six years ago when she wore the Glam’Azone ring in front of the Mona Lisa at the Louvre in Paris and published it on her Instagram account. It was a complete surprise for me! I have never been so flattered. After that moment, Rihanna asked to wear Messika and since then we have dressed so many wonderful celebrities.
TB: Which celebrity have you been most excited to see wearing your design or/ and collaborating with?
VM: Kate Moss because I’ve always admired her simplicity, her elegance and her little rock twist. I had the chance to fulfill one of my dreams by working with her when we launched the “Lucky Move” collection and got to see her wearing and embodying the jewels I designed. She is a fashion muse to me.
TB: Which jewelry represents the Messika spirit the best this year?
VM: I think my last High Jewelry collection named “Voltige” embodies the current Messika spirit.
A collection created as a philosophical reflection which returns beauty back to basics but still pushes the limits of creation even further. It’s important to go forward and to keep our creativity no matter what is going on in the world, as this is where passion and happiness lies.
TB: Which one is your favorite?
VM: “Move” is the closest collection to my heart. “Move” takes us into the spiral of love. I decided to celebrate my love by naming these two collections in honor of my daughters, Noa and Romane.
TB: Why is the Middle East important to Messika?
VM: I create exclusive pieces for the Middle East market as clients are very sensitive to statement stones and unique jewelry pieces. I know from my retail team that it is always a pleasure to welcome them in a Messika’s universe. They like being taken care of, and we always make sure to offer them a unique experience. We feel very pleased for the interest and affection shown by our Middle East clients; it feels like a second home to me.
TB: What advice would you give to young women today?
VM: I would advise, as a working woman and a mother, to stay focussed, never back down, identify your priorities and stay passionate. The most important is also to listen to your instinct.