Valérie Messika has been redefining the way women wear diamonds for the past 15 years. After being inspired by her father who was a famous diamond merchant, from a young age, Valérie knew she wanted to start her own jewellery line. But she didn’t want to follow the rules. Her mission was to break the stereotypes of jewellery and create a genre that would allow women to wear diamonds every day in any way they want.
Valérie has seen incredibly rapid growth with her brand, which is now present in 52 countries around the world. Something this entrepreneur does very well is partnering with some of today’s modern icons that allow women to connect with the collections and imagine new ways to wear them. Her latest High Jewellery collection “No Rules” was developed in partnership with no other than British supermodel Kate Moss. It was Valérie’s dream to collaborate with Moss whose style has always been an inspiration.
The pieces were inspired by Moss’ own jewellery collection and have a strong boho feel to them but are most of all wearable and versatile. There are more than one hundred unique pieces in the collection that bring together the style of the two women. We find out more about this collection and discuss the incredible success of the brand so far with its founder Valérie Messika.
How did you spend your time during the lockdown and what is a lesson you’ve learnt from this year?
During the lockdown, I was at my country house with my family. We enjoyed time together and stayed in contact with the rest of our family via video calls to keep each other updated. It was important for us to stay connected during that time. We had a great routine; each morning I did homeschooling with my two daughters so that they could enjoy outdoor activities in the afternoon. Whilst they were outdoors, I devoted my afternoon to work. I made a list of tasks each day and focused my time on designing new collections and planning the year for Messika. In the evening, exercised and then relaxed with my family, watching TV or playing games.
This pandemic truly made us appreciate our time as a family, and the slower pace of life allowed us to really enjoy our time together. I believe we all have a slightly different perspective on life now. From a global point of view, we come together as one society and it is important to pay attention to all elements as we are all linked. Therefore, I feel it is important that we have the same conscientiousness regarding the planet. Despite what we are going through, it is nice to see the planet ‘reborn’, more beautifully, while we put ourselves on ‘pause’.
What can you tell us about the new High Jewellery collection?
I co-designed my new High Jewellery collection with my ultimate muse and inspiration; Kate Moss. Her personal jewellery box inspired the majority of the collection: colours, motifs, large decorative headpieces and the Art Deco style. It seemed like an amazing challenge at first, as her inspiration was slightly different from the usual Messika Paris design. So it was important for both of us to create something that was representative of each of us individually. The result is a collection that has Bohemian vibes and is timeless yet eclectic and bold!
Do you have a favourite piece from the collection?
Of course! My favourite piece is a multi-chain necklace that is effortless and seems slightly in disarray. You can wear it in a very casual way, with a white t-shirt and a cool pair of jeans.
How does Kate Moss embody the values of Messika?
Kate Moss is one of the most inspiring women in the world: she is a true icon. She perfectly embodies Messika’s values – a free spirit who does not follow the rules. She is a chameleon, embodying the bohemian and rock ‘n’ roll archetypes at the same time. She is guided by her own rules and above all, her instinct.
You have had some incredible partnerships over the years – what do you look for when you’re searching for a brand ambassador?
It is very important for me to find someone who understands Messika’s DNA. We do not have one “type” of woman as Messika is for every woman!
You were surrounded by jewellery your whole life – what is your first memory of jewellery growing up?
My grandmother is one of the most amazing women I have ever met. I was very close to her when I was young. I remember she offered me one of her rings, a pear shape diamond of 9.30 carats. That is my favourite piece of jewellery as it carries a strong, sentimental value. I am still in awe of it and of all the diamonds I am privileged to work with.
How did your father’s career inspire you to get to where you are today?
My father’s passion was the starting point of my beautiful story. If his career was not in the diamond business, I don’t think I would be here. When I was a little girl, he would bring home incredible pieces and let me play with them. He passed his passion for diamonds on to me and sharing this common passion, I loved working with him as I got older. He has taught me everything I know about diamonds.
Take us back to the beginning of your journey before you launched Messika – what was your goal and how did you set about achieving it?
When I first founded Messika 15 years ago, most women only really wore diamonds in their engagement rings or for very traditional evening wear. There was a real fear and apprehension around diamonds as they were thought to be aging, something to be worn when you are ‘older’, and only for extremely special occasions. I started Messika because I really wanted to challenge and change that notion and tear down age or style barriers when it comes to wearing diamonds, and I feel that Messika has achieved that. Today, Messika can be considered as a fashion luxury house, and one of our brand’s messages is that diamonds can be worn at all times for every occasion.
How important is the ethical sourcing of stones to you at Messika and how do you ensure their authenticity?
Maison Messika adheres to the Kimberley Process, which certifies that all diamonds come from legal sources, member countries and that the money from their sale does not fund military activities. We aim to guarantee the authenticity of our diamonds while adhering to responsible and environmental practices.
You have had global success with your brand – what was your biggest “pinch me” moment?
Two years ago, I was surprised to receive a request for the Persian Drop set from Beyonce. We didn’t receive any specific details, the only information we had was that she wanted this particular set to be delivered by 6 PM and that they could be picked up at 11 AM the following morning. Even after we received them back, we were given no information. Two weeks later, we discovered that she wore the necklace whilst shooting for the video of her new song with Jay-Z, which was filmed at the Louvre in Paris. That was the most memorable moment in my life!
What would you say is your biggest achievement so far?
In the coming weeks, I will launch my new High Jewellery collection co-designed with Kate Moss and it has been an absolute dream.
What would you still like to achieve that you haven’t done yet?
I have been toying with the idea of creating a diamond watch.
You are still a relatively young brand – how do you compete with some of the more established brands that have a long history to fall back on?
As opposed to the prestigious houses of Place Vendôme that have centuries of rich archives and distinctive styles, all of my creations start with a blank page. It allows me to create modern pieces. At Messika, each new collection is a real jump into the void. I am partial to certain jewellery techniques over others; however, I always start the process without a precise brief, which helps my team and I to push the limits of jewellery further.
How would you define success?
You are successful when you feel fulfilled with what you have accomplished!
With every success comes setback and failures – how do you deal with this and stay motivated?
I feel very lucky to be surrounded by my family, who work alongside me every day. They ground me and remind me to look at the positives and find ways to overcome any difficulties I may be facing.
What is a challenge you have faced throughout your journey and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge in my career was to transform diamonds into jewellery. My goal was and still is to create a new way of wearing jewellery. My vision is for diamonds to shed their stuffy persona and become cool, innovative and easy to wear. Jewellery is an opportunity to express one’s self, a sentiment that is reflected in all my creations: from jewellery to High Jewellery.
If you could look back, what is something that you would tell your younger self?
Trust your instinct.
What is your secret recipe to success?
Talent is not enough; you need to work hard to achieve your goals.
What is something you would love to change within the jewellery industry?
I created Messika Paris with the desire to democratize the diamond. At the very beginning, imagining what I could do with the diamonds inspired me. I wanted to break the idea of diamonds being untouchable and to make them more contemporary, with a younger and cooler look. I also wanted to make them affordable and most importantly, a part of everyday life. Messika has paved the way in this regard, but we have still have industry stereotypes to break.
Why do you think it’s important for women to have beautiful jewellery pieces in her life?
If I can give one piece of advice to all women, it is to wear jewellery in everyday life. Jewels should be considered more than just beautiful and stylish accessories. Nowadays, it is about making the jewellery ‘yours’. There is no longer a ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to jewellery. Jewellery has become a representative of one’s self.
What would you say to anyone at the beginning of his / her business journey?
Stay focused, know your priorities and stay passionate.
What is the life motto you live by?
Follow your instinct.