Diamonds are something of a birthright for Valérie Messika; they are in her DNA. Her father, André Messika – a prominent diamond trader well respected in the industry, would encourage Valerie to play with these stones as a young girl and there began her lifelong love affair with diamonds.
Worn by so many trendsetting celebrities such as Beyoncé, Rihanna, Serena Williams and Kendal Jenner to name a few, it is no wonder that Messika has become one of the most sought-after jewellery brands globally.
A true innovator and pioneer, Valérie is the first women in France to head her own jewellery house, designing everyday wearable diamonds to give women the freedom to experiment and indulge their passion for the stones. Injecting the age-old diamond with a new-found youthfulness and cool factor is inspiring a whole new generation of clients to fall in love with diamonds.
Having just launched a new collection campaign, we catch up with Valérie who shares her inspiration behind her new Move Lucky collection and takes us on a journey from her childhood, where her love for diamonds began, to today, highlighting the success of her luxury diamond jewellery brand, Messika.
Makeup and Hair by Vic Todd at Premier Hair & MakeUp.
* This is an interview extract. Find out the full version in the Fall Winter 2019 Issue 3 *
Your connection with the diamond trade runs deep and is very much a family affair. How did it all begin and how family oriented is your business now?
My Father, André Messika, has dedicated his life to diamonds. At only 22 years old, he set up his own business to quickly become one of the most prominent and respected diamond dealers of the industry. He spent his life traveling all over the world, searching for the most stunning stones in Siberia, India, and South Africa among others. Now based in Israel, he supplies rough and polished diamonds to clients and the world’s leading jewelers. Messika is a family business. I co-create my collection with my cousin, my husband is the general manager and of course I source all my diamonds from my father. I feel lucky! It makes me stronger.
With such an early fascination with diamonds, was the desire always there to follow in your father’s footsteps?
When I was younger, I wanted to work in communications or interior design. Straight after I completed my degree, my first job was in the marketing and communications department of Chanel Jewellery. However, I changed my mind regarding this career after my father asked me to spend a year with him to teach me about the jewellery business. I worked alongside him for five years, learning every secret of the industry. If my father didn’t work in the diamond business, I don’t think I would be here. His passion is the starting point of this beautiful story. He explained and conveyed his passion to me naturally through the years.
My aim is to enhance a woman’s natural beauty.
When did you realize that you wanted to start your own brand?
I loved working with my father and sharing our common passion for diamonds. Even if he wanted me to take charge of his company one day, I had a feeling something essential was missing: creativity. I needed to be able to express myself and I couldn’t do it through diamonds alone. That is why I decided to launch the brand and since then I can say that I am living the dream.
In 2005 you started your own brand making wearable everyday diamond jewellery. Hugely successful, it helped spawn a new way of jewellery shopping for women. How instinctive was that decision to make more wearable pieces at the time?
I noticed there was a gap that needed to be filled between big jewellery houses offering mainly very traditional and classic expensive pieces and other jewellery brands that offered costume jewellery made without precious stones. I had the idea to create diamond jewels to be worn on an everyday basis. Jewels are made to bring sparkle and joy to the woman and not only for special occasions, I like the idea of being able to wear diamonds daily, especially with casual clothes such as jeans.
How much of yourself goes into the designs?
I always put a part of myself into my designs. I feel that I have a personal and sentimental connection to each piece. My aim is to enhance a woman’s natural beauty.
Your iconic Move collection has three movable diamonds. How did you come up with the idea of moving diamonds?
Move is the creation that gave the House of Messika its signature style and that marks its success. When I was a little girl, my father would bring home some incredible diamonds and he used to let the diamonds slide between his fingers. The three moving diamonds of my Move collection were inspired from this memory of my childhood.
You have just launched the Lucky Move Collection in September collaborating with Kate Moss, Joan Smalls and Sylvia Hoeks. What were some of the design inspirations behind the new collection?
I have always loved creating jewellery that tells a story. This is why I decided to use the medallion as inspiration for the Lucky Move collection; it goes way back in time. We have all had one in our lives, which has either been passed down to us or gifted during a crucial time in our lives. This symbolic piece of jewellery is full of history and is the reflection of human relationships. I reinterpreted this through my signature Move collection. With Lucky Move, I wanted to create a talisman. I like the idea that the jewellery I wear protects me, and brings me luck.
In the advertising campaign, Kate Moss, Joan Smalls and Sylvia Hoeks wear the Lucky Move collection – but what’s interesting is the way that they each bring their own personality to the pieces I have designed.
You opened your first haute joaillerie atelier in Paris in 2015 and began creating High Jewellery collections - setting exquisite and extraordinary diamonds in unique designs. How was the transition to include High Jewellery collections?
Opening our Haute Joaillerie Atelier marked a new chapter in the Messika story. It allows my Creative Director, my team and I to work under the same roof. I see the atelier as a creative environment where ideas take shape and a special space where inspirations takes form. We have extremely talented artisans in the atelier where each piece is treated as a work of art.
However, embarking on the adventure of a High Jewellery business required a certain amount of courage. I knew I had to be patient and gain sufficient maturity to create those designs. Personally, I needed to build confidence and the brand also had to gain credibility to be taken seriously in this highly-specialized sector.
Do you have any favorite pieces of jewellery that you like to wear?
My ‘must have’ pieces are my Move bangles. I love to wear Move Romane and Noa in a different range of colours, I love to stack and mix them with my other collections. I decided to celebrate my love for these by naming these two collections after my daughters, Noa and Romane.
What was the very first piece of diamond jewellery you started wearing?
My grandmother’s ring.
Do you have a favorite diamond shape?
My favorite cut is the pear shape diamond. When I was young, my grandmother, who was an amazing woman, offered me one of her rings, a pear shaped diamond of 9.30 carats. This is my favourite piece of jewellery. It has a strong sentimental value for me as I was very close to my grandmother.
What is the best piece of advice you can give women when buying diamond jewellery?
If I could give one piece of advice to women, it would be to find elegant diamond pieces and to wear them in their everyday life. I like my creations to be very comfortable; a woman should be able to live her life without being bothered by excessively heavy jewellery.
Read Valérie Messika's interview in the Fall Winter 2019 - Issue 3. Get your copy here.
Hair by Craig Taylor at Hari's Hairdressers London SW3.
Makeup and Nails by Alexis Day using Burts Bees and Nanshy.
Josephine Adam appears courtesy to Hive Management.