Valérie Messika has been disrupting the jewellery industry since her brand began in 2005. As the daughter of famous diamond merchant André Messika, Valérie has been surrounded by jewellery and diamonds her whole life.
Valerie Messika by Edwin S Freyer
This inspired her to start her own line, taking diamond jewellery in a new direction and creating contemporary pieces that offer a unique take on what jewellery is about, and allow the wearer to express her individuality with a completely different take on jewellery design. Over the past 15 years Valerie has affirmed her place in the industry and has been growing at an impressive rate for a relatively new brand, but this year she has opened a new chapter with the launch of her first ever high jewellery collection.
Moving into a space that is saturated with many incredible jewellers with hundreds of years of history was a bold move, but a challenge Valérie was ready to take on. The “Beyond the Light” collection launched earlier this year at Paris Fashion Week when it was presented to a star-studded audience. The presentation itself pushed the boundaries of high jewellery, offering a new edgy way of showcasing jewels of this kind. The designs reflected those of the Maison’s previous collections but in terms of materials and craftsmanship, took the brand to a new level. The collection is inspired by ancient Egypt and features a beautiful collaboration with Valérie’s brother Ilan, who is a diamond merchant like her father. Here we find out more about the collection and the future of this journey into high jewellery for the Maison.
Tell us about the past year at Messika and what you have been working on?
I wanted to take a new step forward in High jewellery in 2022 and create a collection featuring exceptional stones and this is how “Beyond the Light” was born. It is a special collection, that is close to my heart. It combines a beautiful family story and strong inspiration from ancient Egypt. The more I advanced in my research for this new collection, the more the subject became a part of me and resonated with me; a bit like a piece of music that stays with you forever.
The new high jewellery collection Beyond the Light celebrates Ancient Egypt – tell us more about the inspiration behind this collection.
Ancient Egypt is a breathtaking civilisation, both in terms of its architecture and its history. It has an air of mystery that fascinates all generations. Its mythology and spirituality are also very inspiring. This collection however was not a literal inspiration from Egypt but rather a reinterpretation of its forms, its symbols and its energy. I wanted to take them to something different, to stimulate a contemporary and modern dynamic around this fascinating ancient civilisation.
Tell us about your choice of stones and materials in this collection.
As I worked on this theme, I also followed the project led by my brother, Ilan. He was working on an extraordinary rough diamond of 110 carats, from which he extracted 15 masterful stones. It is these stones that illuminate the centrepiece of this collection “Akh-Ba-Ka”. Our projects came together naturally, as a matter of course. A family story intertwining around a common passion. And because I’m on a mission to make unique creations, which break the codes, I wanted to go somewhere unexpected. I wanted to take this fascination with Ancient Egypt to the extreme by paying homage to this period while creating something modern and new. And in this case, by using white gold instead of yellow gold for the centrepiece.
Is there a particular piece in the collection that has a special story or has a particular significance to you?
The Akh-Ba-Ka set is a symbol of my collaboration with my brother Ilan and it represents a very beautiful emotion. I draw great strength from my family; it is an essential inspiration for me which helps me to surpass myself, and this has been the case from the very beginning of Maison Messika. I was able to transmit all this beautiful energy to my brother Ilan. When I told him of my decision to acquire all 15 diamonds, I felt it meant a lot to him too. Beyond the challenge, it was a gesture of recognition of his work. A beautiful transmission of energy between brother and sister. For my brother, a diamond dealer, there was also something magical about seeing the design take shape little by little, to witness the whole process of creation around these 15 diamonds from the same family. Fifteen stones, all different sizes, have found their place perfectly in the same set. They illuminate each other. For him, this story is a bit like siblings, where each member, despite their personality or their own style, complements and reveals the beauty of the other.
When creating high jewellery pieces how do you ensure they remain modern and relevant whilst using traditional techniques?
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 and disrupt the codes set by the industry. 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 and present something fresh and unprecedented every time.
With my teams, we have climbed heights in terms of inventiveness, self-transcendence and craftsmanship. Each creative questioning has allowed us to invent and renew ourselves, both in terms of design and technical responses; for example, the work in faceted gold mirror polish that makes up the wings of the scarab in Akh-Ba-Ka or the challenge of designing transformable pieces. It has been a unique and unforgettable adventure for us all.
Who was your muse for this collection?
To be perfectly honest, my first encounter with Egypt came thanks to the cinema. Films like “The Ten Commandments” or “Cleopatra” marked my imagination very early in my life. I remember Elizabeth Taylor, sporting incredible costumes and adornments. These are somewhat “vintage” films today, but I wanted to take all these motifs in a futuristic, more contemporary direction. I wanted to twist these fairly popular references and symbols to create new and avant-garde designs.
Can you share a little about your creative process and what inspires you?
I draw my inspiration from everything around me. The more you train your eyes to see the beauty around you, the more inspiration you find. As a travel enthusiast, I am inspired by art and architecture, and by the women, I meet around the world. I also find inspiration in music, which is something I am passionate about. I grew up in Paris, the fashion capital of the world, and used to visit famous ateliers like Chanel and Dior regularly. I was enthralled by how elaborate details are added to the pieces by hand, and above all, what a playful process it was. I wanted to make jewellery fun and dynamic, like fashion, instead of feeling heavy and serious. And that mission is the driving force behind my creative process whenever I start working on a new project.
What can you tell us about Messika in the Middle East and can we expect to see you back here any time soon?
Messika has received a lot of love from the region since its inception. The Middle East was home to the first Messika boutique that opened outside of Paris and has since become a second home to me as well. I always make sure to visit the region at least once a year, both for business and leisure.
As a brand you continue to grow and the reaction to Messika seems to have been fantastic – tell us more about where the brand is at today and what is your vision?
My goal since the very beginning has been to reinvent the richly symbolic and meaningful diamond into a desirable and disruptive object that lends self-confidence to anyone who wears it. Messika constantly innovates to realise this vision, creating new designs and new techniques – conceiving jewellery that is as individual as it is explosive.
Our Maison has been successfully setting trends since 2005; bringing a liberating breath of fresh air to the jewellery industry. Our philosophy is based on making the diamond come alive: making it move and dance. I want to make wearing diamonds every day fun and never boring.
What can you tell us about what else is in the pipeline for the rest of the year and next year?
In October we presented the Beyond the Light collection on the runway during Paris Fashion Week and we are planning to continue in this direction next year and showcase our 2023 High-jewellery collection during Paris Fashion Week as well. For the rest of this year, you can expect to see more novelties in the fine jewellery category as well as the debut of our charity line MESSIKA CARE(S). Through this launch, our Maison is committed to helping the poorest in Lebanon – a country ravaged by multiple crises. For each piece of jewellery purchased, 100 Euro will be donated via the Valérie Messika Foundation to the CARE NGO that has local teams on the ground to help support this mission.
What is the professional motto that you live by?
Dare, on a daily basis…
It takes a certain courage to launch a High jewellery show during Fashion Week and even more to make it last. It was also extremely daring to bring High jewellery into the world of fashion. A way to open a new door, making them more accessible and “cool”, so to speak, for these exceptional pieces, which aspire to be worn more freely.
How would you describe this collection in one sentence?
Ancient Egypt through Messika’s modern lens. This collection is about going beyond light, beyond reality, and surpassing oneself and that is exactly what Beyond the Light evokes for me.