Messika is a name we have heard a lot of in the last few years despite being a relatively new fine jewellery House, founded by Valerie Messika in 2000.
The last few years have created extraordinary growth for the Maison thanks to its unique style of minimal fine jewellery as well as strong celebrity endorsements and a collaboration with Gigi Hadid. As a young jewellery designer Valerie Messika didn’t have a decades-long heritage and history to her brand as many jewellery houses do, but what she does have is a lifetime of being immersed in the world of diamonds. Her father was famous diamond merchant André who passed his core values down to his daughter.
Growing up in Paris with her family, Valerie was surrounded by diamonds from a young age and has spoken many times of the inspiration this has given her. After working closely with her father, Valerie moved away from diamond trading to concentrate on her passion for design. Guided by her love for precious stones Valerie discovered a niche in the market, and founded Messika.
What Valerie strives to do is create a new approach to wearing diamonds. Her philosophy is to imagine, dream and create – and she has done just that. With her fine jewellery Maison she has combined the timelessness of the stone with the modern approach of minimal understated designs to create something that’s quite unique in the market. Her pieces are made to be worn every day and Valerie’s keen eye for detail ensures that each creation perfectly represents her vision. She is currently striving to create new shapes and styles that blend these traditional stones with a contemporary way of wearing them.
Last year Messika collaborated with Gigi Hadid on a fine jewellery collection. And this September it introduces a second. My Soul has been designed by Gigi and features minimal pieces that can be layered and stacked to be worn in a bohemian-chic way. Inspired by the hippy trend, Gigi worked very closely with Valerie who’s input came from her knowledge of the stones. The collection features chokers, bracelets, anklets, and earrings.
Ahead of the launch we talk to Valerie Messika who shares her passion for what she does and the vision for the brand.
You were immersed in jewellery your whole childhood – how do you think this influenced you?
My whole childhood is filled with memories of diamonds. My first real crush for diamonds was at the age of 12 when I found an envelope with tiny diamonds at my parent’s house in Paris. I was fascinated by the light they exhaled. I learned how to look inside each stone. That’s where my attention to detail and keen observation comes from.
What does a diamond mean to you?
Diamonds are in my DNA.
How important is family to you?
I met my husband at Messika. I had just finished my communications degree, while he was carrying out his first internship in diamond sorting. We have two little girls, Romane (7) and Noa (5). I try to pass down my passion to my girls. They do show interest especially on the collections named by each of them. My girls inspire me every day!
What inspires you for your designs?
I get my inspiration from a lot of things, all the time – I am constantly on the lookout for things! I am always looking for inspirations on my travels, through architecture, interior design (which I am crazy about), by walking through the streets in Paris and observing people’s attitude and style. I admire the Parisian’s, they look so chic but always in a very minimal and effortless way. The names of collections are chosen after the jewels are created. The jewel is always the starting point.
What is your favourite diamond cut?
My favorite cut is the pear shape diamond. For me this shape means both sensual and dazzling.
Tell us a bit about the process a stone will go through from when it is discovered to when a woman wears it.
I always have in my mind the sentence: “In the same way that we choose our future partner with the heart, we choose a diamond for the emotion that it creates in us.” I start all my creations with a blank page. This is opposite to the prestigious houses of Place Vendôme that have centuries of rich archives of distinct styles. At Messika, each new collection is a real jump into the void; although I admit feeding obsessions for certain jewellery techniques. I always start the process without a precise brief.
The most difficult aspect of my jewellery creation process is to transcribe my ideas into a drawing. I always have many ideas, but sometimes it is quite difficult to get the result I have imagined and visualised. I am very lucky to have all of my team in Paris and to be able to work very closely with them, in our high jewellery atelier based in the heart of the city of lights. At the end, and thankfully, we always manage to make it possible and produce collections that we are all so proud of.
What’s the one piece of jewellery every woman should own in her lifetime?
A heritage piece of jewellery. When I was young, my grandmother, one of the most amazing women I have ever met, offered me one of her rings, a pear shape diamond of 9.30 carats. That is my favourite and most treasured piece of jewellery.
What makes Messika’s pieces unique?
Through the years, Messika gained special in-house techniques: Messika made its name around one collection and technique – the Diamond in motion, with Move Collection. Through the innovative Silk technique, I came close to recreating the suppleness of fabric in the jewels, taming gold so that it hugs the curves of the body like a precious garment worn next to the skin.
Last year, Messika developed the Feather setting, this is used for the Firebird necklace, and is an innovative diamond-setting technique unveiled last year by Messika. Certain rows of stones in the centre are underlined by a delicate half-surround of brilliant-cut diamonds arranged by level. The stone’s original shape is thereby elongated, enhancing its perspective and volume.
The skinny concept was born out of the desire to make the river of diamonds into an item a woman can always turn to in her day to day life. Thanks to the system of micro-springs, the jewellery is elastic and extendable.
Do you have a favourite from all the pieces you have created?
I don’t really have a favourite piece, but I must say that I am really proud of my High Jewellery collections. This year, my High Jewellery Atelier created more than 150 High Jewellery pieces.
You chose to partner with Gigi Hadid for a number of collections – how do you think she captures the identity of your brand?
Gigi Hadid and I are launching a second collection this September. The choice of Gigi Hadid as the muse of Messika was simple. The renowned model is the perfect incarnation of the multi-facetted brand, not least owing to her modern approach, her simplicity and her love of fashion. She is the perfect example of the Messika woman: she is spontaneous and bright, filled with energy and light.
Tell us about the new Gigi collection – it feels quite bohemian – what is the inspiration?
For this collection, Gigi Hadid wanted to create a collection that was still true to her jewellery-wearing style but that could still be mixed with pieces from the first collection. The second collection is influenced by Gigi’s Middle Eastern background and inspiration from travel.
Tell us your rules for wearing jewellery.
My pieces are not created to stay in a safe. If I can give one piece of advice to all women, it’s to wear their jewels in everyday life.
What comes first – jewellery or clothes?
Both. Fashion is one of my passions and I get my inspiration from it. I always try to mix and match with fashion and diamonds, as they perfectly enhance each other.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
“Do only diamonds”
“Remain legitimate in what you know how to do and do not lose yourself”
“Do not copy” meaning that I need to have your style.
How do you think your approach to jewellery is unique?
I think that my approach must be different as I bring a fashion perspective. My goal is to answer to women’s desires and I want to enhance a woman’s natural beauty. Also, I always put a part of myself into my design. I have a personal and sentimental touch.
How should a piece of jewellery make you feel?
I create elegant diamond pieces to be worn on an everyday basis. A modern mix between timeless and contemporary pieces, but always with a little twist. “Less is More” is my credo and I imagine my collections around 4 core values: Modernity, Lightness, Purity, and Sensuality.
I have been always lucky to work with diamonds in a free and audacious mind set.
I like my creations to be very comfortable; women should be able to live her life without being annoyed by excessively heavy jewellery.
So many amazing women have worn your jewels – is there anyone you would like to see wearing them that hasn’t yet?
I have been lucky to see my jewellery on many celebrities. It’s always a great moment of emotion to see such prestigious personalities choosing jewellery for their events or simply their everyday life. Beyoncé for example, wearing a Glam’Azone ring day and night.
What challenges do you face as a business woman?
Talent is not enough, you need to work hard to fulfil your dream.
What makes you happy?
My family and the fact that Messika Paris is growing so fast. I am so proud of my team.
What makes you angry?
I won’t say angry but disturbs me or annoys me. But when things don’t go the way I imagine, like when I create a piece. I am a perfectionist and I strive for everything to be perfect.
Where do you plan to be in five years time?
Everything is going so fast for Messika. I feel like I am living in a dream! I hope Messika will continue to evolve, we are still a young brand and there are still so many things we would like to achieve.
This year, I chose to reinterpret fairy tales for my new High Jewellery collection, hence my collection name “Once Upon a Time”. The tales, like we imagine them, do not necessarily coincide at first sight with Messika, which is very modern. So, I decide to reinterpret, in my own way, stories where strong women are put forward.