More than 15 years after the launch of the haute Parisian diamond house, MESSIKA, founder and artistic director Valérie Messika is paving the way for leaders who guide with grace. Summer is shaping up to be busy, with the launch of the new Magnetic Attraction collection (properly unveiled during the elegance of Paris Haute Couture Week), and there’s no shortage of glitter on the horizon either, with an update to the iconic Move pattern in September, too. Here’s what you need to know.
What are the positive things about summer 2021 for you?
I used to travel abroad, but this year I want to stay in France and spend time with my family in this beautiful country. There are many amazing places you can enjoy, starting with Paris and all that this vibrant City of Lights has to offer. We also have an incredible coastline to the North and of course the crystal clear waters of the Côte d’Azur to the South. This year has taught us that we can be on vacation and work at the same time, something we weren’t used to before.
What have you learned about yourself, both personally and professionally, over the past year?
Professionally, I learned that I could work from home or out of the office. There are new ways of working and connecting with my teams, with collaborators and partners of the house, which is an interesting exercise, especially when working with precious stones. Personally, it reminds me that it is essential to have confidence in myself, in my instincts and in my inner intuition. The first intuition is always the best. It helps me manage my brand – from how a stone should be set and how to design around it, to larger projects and forms of communication that set us apart from other houses. It’s not common to see a “high jewelry house” with a campaign on the side of a tour bus in Paris, or inviting a style icon to design a collection. I was driven to keep thinking about what else we can do to break traditions in fine jewelry. After all, Messika Paris is all about breaking the rules around diamonds!
As founder, what are the most important values for you?
I run my business with empathy and with my heart. I manage with kindness, respect and an exchange of positive energy, instead of power or a show of force. I think it provides a positive working environment for Messika; a place where everyone can support and collaborate. I prefer to communicate my passion for my job, the desire to always do my best, and my love for entrepreneurship. I also always try to give extra support to women, as jewelry is usually a male dominated business.
Where do these values come from?
My values come from my childhood and the education I received from my parents. They taught me the importance of respect and that with hard work comes success. There are no real shortcuts in life. More importantly, when you have the opportunity to work with a personal passion, it becomes a pleasure rather than a job. I always saw my father [renowned diamond merchant André Messika] live and work for what he is passionate about. My mother transmitted to me the values of respect and kindness. It made me the person I am today, with the ability to lead a team on a project I deeply believe in.
What draws you to working with someone, whether it’s a collaborator like Kate Moss or a potential employee?
Their energy. I feel more creative in the exchange and sharing of ideas. This excitement of co-creating is what challenges me. The co-creation aspect was fabulous with Kate Moss. She has a rich personality, and her world and her sense of fashion have been enriching, because fashion inspires me a lot. Alongside my collaborators, I like to give them the freedom to suggest ideas to me. We think together, and that’s how we come up with our most creative and successful plans and projects.
You have developed in the United States! Why has physical retail been an important axis for Messika in recent years?
Nothing better to show our universe, our storytelling and Messika pieces than with our own points of sale. I think it is important to discover the Messika universe and a different attitude and approach towards diamond jewellery. From the feeling of freedom in the open space, to the sweet signature fragrance created for the home, which delicately perfumes the interior, to the uplifting soundtracks that play and make you feel more playful as you mix, match and stack jewelry. That’s why we opened three boutiques in Los Angeles, Miami and New York, to discover a new approach to diamond jewellery.
Tell us about the new Magnetic Attraction collection, which just launched during Couture Week!
Magnetic Attraction is a collection deeply focused on the value of my creations. This collection is a tribute to stone. I always start the creative process with the stone as the focal point and then draw from there. The diamond is at the heart of the process. The lightness and movement, despite the strength of the pieces, are the most fascinating aspects of this collection. It had been a dream for a long time to stage my pieces on a dancer, and I loved expressing this work through movement and dance. My favorite piece is the Pear Appeal Toi and Moi yellow diamond ring, for its strength and laid back features, even though there are two stones of seven carats each. Messika offers stunning yet effortless pieces that can be worn anywhere and anytime, whether you’re wearing diamonds and denim, or demi-couture and diamonds. It should always be easy.
What do your favorite jewels mean to you?
My favorite piece is the one that is closest to my personality, and that I can wear every day; those who bring me confidence and a touch of light for my daily life. Another thing to note is that French women don’t like to take off their jewelry before bedtime. Why take everything off when you wake up the next morning to put everything back on?
Messika is releasing a new concept, My Move. What is the design approach?
My Move is a special collection. I always dreamed of creating a jewel that would suit both men and women and that could be shared. I love this idea of interchangeable bracelets to swap and customize according to your mood and desire. In addition, this bracelet has a fashion touch which is also one of my main sources of inspiration.
Do you think people have a different relationship with their jewelry since the pandemic?
People have been through a lot of stress and personal turmoil. It is becoming more and more evident that people need to indulge themselves and find themselves in something valuable and meaningful; something of value that also carries messages of love, hope and life. Jewelry will continue to democratize and target new generations as designs are younger, cooler and affordable.