Over 15 years since launching haute Parisian diamond maison, MESSIKA, founder and artistic director Valérie Messika is paving the way for leaders who guide with grace. Summer is proving busy, with the launch of the new Magnetic Attraction collection (fittingly unveiled during the elegance of Paris Haute Couture Week), and there’s no shortage of sparkle on the horizon either, with an update to the iconic Move motif coming in September, too. Here’s what you need to know.
What are some positive things about summer 2021 for you?
I used to travel abroad, but this year I want to stay in France and enjoy time with my family in this beautiful country. There are many incredible places totake advantage of, starting with Paris and all that this vibrant City of Lights has to offer. We also have an incredible coastline in the North and of course, the crystal blue waters of the Côte d’Azur in the South. This year taught us that we could be on holiday and work simultaneously, which we were not used to before.
What have you learned about yourself, both personally and professionally, in the past year?
Professionally, I learned that I could work from home or away from the office. There are new ways of working and connecting with my teams, with collaborators and partners of the maison, which is an interesting exercise, especially when working with precious stones. Personally, I’m reminded that it’s essential to trust in myself, my instincts, and inner intuition. The first intuition is always the best. This helps guide me in managing my brand—from the way in which 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 is not common to see a “high jewelry maison” with a campaign on the side of a tour bus in Paris, or inviting a style icon to design a collection. I have been pushed to continue considering what else we can do to break traditions when it comes to haute joaillerie. After all, Messika Paris is about breaking the rules around diamonds!
As a female founder, what values are most important to you?
I lead my company with empathy and with my heart. I manage with kindness, respect, and an exchange of positive energy, instead of power or a show of strength. I think this provides a positive working environment for Messika; one where everyone can support one another 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 has typically been a business dominated by men.
Where do those values stem from?
My values come from my childhood and the education that 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. Most importantly, when you have the opportunity to work with a personal passion, it becomes pleasure instead of work. I have always seen my dad [renowned diamond merchant André Messika] living and working for what he is passionate about. My mother passed on to me the values of respect and kindness. This made me the person I am today, with the capacity to lead a team on a project that I deeply believe in.
What attracts you to working with someone, whether that’s a collaborator like Kate Moss or a potential employee?
Their energy. I feel most creative in the exchange and sharing of ideas. This excitement of co-creating is what challenges me. The co-creating aspect was fabulous with Kate Moss. She has a rich personality, and her universe and her fashion sense were enriching, as fashion inspires me a lot. When working alongside my employees, I like to give them the freedom to provide me with ideas. We brainstorm together, and this is how we come up with our most creative and successful plans and projects.
You’ve been expanding in the U.S.! Why has physical retail been an important focus for Messika over the past few years?
There’s no better way to show our universe, storytelling, and Messika pieces than with our own points of sale. I think it’s important to experience the Messika universe and a different attitude and approach toward diamond jewelry. From the feeling of freedom in the open space to the soft signature scent created for the house, which delicately perfumes the interior, to the uplifting soundtracks that play and make you feel more playful as you mix and match and stack jewels. That’s the reason we opened three boutiques across Los Angeles, Miami, and New York—to experience a new approach to diamond jewelry.
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 the stone. I always begin the creative process with the stone as the central focus and then design outward from it. The diamond is the heart of the process. The lightness and movement, despite the strength of the pieces, are the most fascinating aspects of this collection. It was a dream for a long time to put my pieces on stage on a dancer, and I loved expressing this work through motion and dance. My favorite piece is the Pear Appeal Toi and Moi yellow diamond ring, for its strength and relaxed features, even though there are two seven-carat stones each. Messika is all about 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 pieces of jewelry mean to you?
My favorite piece is one that is closest to my personality, and that I can wear daily; ones that bring me confidence and a touch of light for my everyday life. Another thing to note is that French women don’t like to take off jewelry before bed. What’s the point in taking it all off when waking up the next morning to put it all back on again?
Messika is coming out with a new concept, My Move. What does the design approach entail?
My Move is a special collection. I always dreamed of creating a jewel that would fit both men and women and could be shared. I love this idea of interchangeable bracelets to be swapped and customized depending on your mood and desire. Moreover, this bracelet has a fashion touch that is also one of my primary 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’s becoming increasingly evident that people need to treat themselves and find themselves in something precious and meaningful; something of value that also carries messages of love, hope, and life. Jewelry will continue to democratize and target new generations as the designs are younger, cooler, and affordable.