Since Messika launched 14 years ago, it has been the go-to jeweller for Paris’s cool young people. Lucinda Turner caught up with founder Valérie Messika to ask about bringing diamonds out of the vault, designing for courageous women – and just how many pieces Beyoncé took on tour
How has the brand changed since it was founded in 2005?
So much has changed since 2005. Messika has grown all around the world. When I founded Messika, most women only wore diamonds in their engagement rings or for very traditional evening wear. It was commonly thought of as a stone to wear when a woman was older. I started the company as I really wanted to break down age or style barriers. My wish is to create pieces which are fashionable but also timeless. I create double finger rings, hand bracelets, triple finger rings and ear cuffs in both my fine and high jewellery collections.
Your father is also in the diamond business. What is the most important thing you learned from him?
I worked alongside him for five years, learning every aspect of the industry. Even if his desire was for me to lead his company one day, I felt as though something important to me was missing: creativity. That is why I decided to launch Messika. My father taught me to always be humble, never ever copy someone’s work, stay focused on diamonds and keep your integrity intact. I always say that my father is a wise young man with the energy of a teenager and the soul of an old man.
How does Paris influence your designs?
Paris is the most beautiful city in the world and for me, it is an inexhaustible source of inspiration. Parisian architecture in particular is so inspiring, as we find ourselves in the heart of history every day. I love admiring French craftsmanship and design in each street and building.
How would you describe the Messika woman?
The Messika woman is the woman of today, sometimes mysterious, daring and courageous. Women inspire me with their individuality and their confidence. Radically different but similar, they have this enigmatic elegance where they make their impact on the world. My pieces are not created to stay in a safe. If I can give one piece of advice to all women, it’s to wear their jewellery in everyday life. I aim to present very couture and fashion-inspired jewellery.
Your collaboration with Gigi Hadid has been immensely successful. How did that come about?
The choice of Gigi Hadid was a simple one. She is the perfect incarnation of the Messika woman, not least owing to her modern approach, her simplicity and her love of fashion. And, as for me, family is very important for her. She is spontaneous and bright, filled with energy and light. In the first collection, which launched last year, we asked Gigi to find an idea around the Move collection, to celebrate its 10th anniversary. Everything went so well between Messika and Gigi that the second collection was meant to be. Gigi knew exactly what she wanted. She created precise mood boards that formed the basis of our creative process. She was the orchestra’s conductor, providing artistic direction for these ideas.
If a first-time Messika customer wanted to buy just one piece, which would you recommend?
The Move collection, as it is my most iconic. For me, the Move collection is a true symbol of love. When I was a little girl my father would bring home some incredible diamonds and would let me play with them. He used to let the diamonds slide between his fingers. The three moving diamonds of my Move collection were inspired by this memory of my childhood.
Which celebrity have you been most excited to see wearing your designs?
I always find it so emotional to see such incredible and talented women choosing my jewellery for their events or simply their everyday life. I feel so grateful that Beyoncé has such a love of Messika. In 2014 she was first pictured in the Glam’Azone double ring, posting an Instagram with the Mona Lisa as the backdrop. In the first video for Everything is Love with Jay-Z, Beyoncé sparkled in the Persian Drop necklace and earrings. During the On The Run II Tour, she wore a custom Messika Diamond XXL Gigi Move Addiction drop earring with the classic diamond Move Addiction earrings from the Messika by Gigi Hadid collection.
In a world dominated by e-commerce, how important is your physical retail space in Paris?
Our retail spaces are very important. Each Messika boutique or counter represents our core values of modernity, daring and sophistication. However, I want to be sure to offer our e-customers the same experience they would receive in a physical boutique. On the website you can ask our customer service team all the questions you need – they are always available to answer and help.
How does Messika appeal to the modern international audience shopping in Paris?
In general, the way people buy jewellery has changed. Messika has opened to Millennial customers by offering modern pieces that they see on famous celebrities and influencers such as Gigi Hadid, Camila Coelho, Barbara Palvin, Toni Garrn, et cetera. Messika makes sure that every age group is engaged and feels that there is something which appeals to them at every stage.
I love the fact that there are no rules any more – people used to be so afraid to even mix white and yellow gold or not wear a matching set of jewellery. Now it really is about embracing your own personal style and making the jewellery yours.
What does the future hold for Messika?
Everything is going so fast for Messika. I feel I am living in a dream! I hope Messika will continue to evolve – we are still a young brand and there are so many things to do. We are planning to open Messika boutiques around the world
Messika, 259 rue Saint-Honoré, 75001 Paris, +33 (0)1 7039 1800