Q&A | Valerie Messika

by Morgan Vickery

Messika ouverture atelier Haute Joaillerie_Portrait Valérie Messika.jpg

Messika is the young diamond brand founded by Valérie Messika in Paris, 2005. The heir of France’s most successful diamond merchant André Messika, Valérie has continued the family business in her own right. Pushing the boundaries of traditional diamond layouts, Messika carries an edgier, bolder aesthetic with tribal, punk, and ethnic influences. Since the launch of her first collection, Move, the luxury brand has taken off, adorning the necks of nearly every notable celebrity, including a collaboration with esteemed model, Gigi Hadid. Encompassing her family legacy and fresh take on the world of diamonds, Valérie has blended the luxury of high jewelry with tactile, and ergonomic designs; shifting dialogues from unattainable and untouchable to practical and accessible. We spoke with Messika to discuss the foundations of her international brand, family history, creation process, and what’s to come.

What was it like growing up with jewelry being such a large part of your family?

My entire childhood is filled with memories of my father and his passion for diamonds. They were our principal means of communication at the time. From a young age, he communicated his passion to my brother, Ilan, and I. When I was a little girl, I remember him bringing home incredible diamonds and he would let me play with them. My first real crush for diamonds was at the age of 12 when I found an envelope with tiny diamonds at my father’s place. I was fascinated by the light they exhaled.

What are the kinds of things you learned from him about stones?

He taught me how to look inside each stone and everything I know about diamonds. That’s where my attention to detail and keen observation comes from.

Have you always been captivated by jewelry or did a specific moment spark it?

When I was younger, I wanted to work in communications or interior design. Immediately after I completed my degree, my first job was in the marketing and communications department of Chanel Jewelry. I changed my career path after my father asked me to spend a year with him to learn about the jewelry business. I worked alongside him for five years, learning every secret of the industry. Even if his desire was for me to take the lead of his company one day, I had a feeling something essential was missing; creativity. That is why I decided to launch the brand, and since then, I can say that I am living the dream.

Do you have a favorite type of stone to work with?

My favorite cut is the pear shape diamond. When I was younger, my grandmother who is one of the most amazing women, offered me one of her rings –a pear shape diamond of 9.30 carats. This is my favorite piece of jewelry.

What is the creative process like for you?

It is by far the most important for me. My pieces are not created to remain in a safe. I create elegant diamond pieces to be worn on an everyday basis. I like my creations to be very comfortable; women should be able to live their lives without feeling uncomfortable by excessively heavy jewelry. Messika is a mix between timeless and contemporary pieces but always includes a twist. “Less is More” is my credo, and I imagine my collections around four core values: Lightness, Liberty, Purity, and Sensuality.

Can you speak about the physical process from an idea/sketch to the finished product?

All of my creations begin with a blank page. For Messika, each new collection is a real jump into the void; although I admit feeding obsessions for certain jewelry techniques. I always start the process without a precise brief.

What are the most difficult and exciting parts of this process?

For me, the most difficult aspect of the creation process is transcribing my ideas into a drawing. I always have a lot of ideas, but sometimes it’s quite difficult to get the result I imagined. However, we always manage to make it possible thanks to my creative team.

You’ve mentioned before that your children are an inspiration in your work. What else influences your jewelry?

I am constantly searching for inspiration! Whether it’s through my travels, through architecture, interior design, or observing people’s styles, I try to find inspiration in everything. The names of collections are chosen after the jewels are created. The jewel is always the starting point.

You’ve collaborated with Gigi Hadid on two jewelry lines; is there anyone else you’d like to pair up with in the future?

Working with Gigi was really great. Everything went so well with Messika and Gigi the first time around that a second collection was a must. She created a number of highly precise mood boards, which formed the basis of our creative process.

You will have to wait and see what comes next –Messika has a lot of surprises to offer!

What should we expect from Messika in the next few months?

Everything is moving so quickly for Messika, and I feel like I’m living in a dream! We are presenting the new High Jewelry collection at Baselworld, and we are planning to expand further into a few markets.