Jewellery

Jeweller Valerie Messika on democratising diamonds

Valerie Messika speaks from her Paris based studio about working with Beyoncé and Gigi Hadid, the Skinny and making diamonds more accessible.

8 September 2021

By Ian Thorley

“When I launched the brand, I asked myself, ‘Why do people only speak of diamonds for bridal or high jewellery?’ I’m sure we can do something more cool, more fresh, more easy to wear,” says Valérie Messika, of luxury diamond company Messika seated on a sofa in her office in her Paris-based studio.

The daughter of the famous diamond merchant André Messika, Valérie launched her Messika diamond brand in 2005 to undeniable success.

Messika bague move joaillerie M pavé diamond bangle

Her idea was to base a jewellery collection around the rapidly growing tattoo trend at the time. She also wanted to position the brand “closer to the fashion energy than the jewellery energy”. The mission statement was to make diamonds wearable everyday objects. Early pieces were inexpensively priced between €500 and €5000. She quickly attracted a dedicated following among a younger customer.

“Valérie understands fashion and integrates it with her jewellery design,” says the model Joan Smalls, who is a brand ambassador. “And a lot of her pieces are timeless. Which I think is one of the most important characteristics to have in jewellery. Because you never want to get tired of it.”

Beyoncé

It was the relationship with Beyoncé that propelled the brand to global prominence. With it a huge new audience for Messika. The singer was first photographed wearing the Glam ‘Azone double ring in 2014. Posting an Instagram shot with the Mona Lisa as a backdrop. Next, she wore a Messika Persian Drops set. A waterfall of more than 100 carats of diamonds in the Everything is Love video. At the 54th Annual Super Bowl, which took place in Miami, Beyoncé wore a custom made high jewellery necklace. This was specially created by Valérie Messika. Its design intended to represent a musical vibration. This was a nod to the equalizers which oscillate on the monitors of the recording studios. The choker featured a 17 carat pear diamond.

And there are more celebrities attracted to the brand. Hailey Bieber wore Messika Paris at the Premiere Of YouTube Originals’ “Justin Bieber Seasons”, Snake Dance High Jewellery earrings. And Emily Ratajkowski attended a Lakers basketball game wearing Messika Paris in the Snake Dance large hoops, and a Move Romane double ring. While Charlize Theron has worn the High Jewellery Wild Moon necklace and ring, the Desert Bloom earrings and the Flappers bracelet.

A collaboration with Gigi Hadid debuted in 2017 and together Messika and the model designed a capsule collection from the Move Addiction collection. This helped to open up a valuable US market for the brand. And, in 2020, Kate Moss was chosen to be the new ambassador.

In March 2020, Messika presented a new collection using non faceted coloured stones for the first time.

Messika Creoles Malachite Play Earrings

Just like her muses, Messika is a rule-breaker and her simplistic but impactful designs have modernised the jewellery industry. Valerie Messika diamonds boasts mass appeal but has also managed to make the diamond its star. That was before even launching a high jewellery collection. Typically the reverse dynamic of most brands.

The Skinny

Messika’s first design, the Skinny, was a classic redefined. “My goal was to reinterpret the tennis bracelet.” She has said of the result, a stretchable bracelet of diamonds totalling one carat. “It’s very comfortable, very light, you have this feeling that it sticks to your skin.”

A signature style soon developed, which was to give the effect of the diamonds appearing as though to float. Traditional jewellers’ codes were thrown out, or ignored. Messika would use inexpensive and unusual materials such as fishing wire if they wound up creating a better finish.

Surrounded by diamonds her entire life, Messika has a unique understanding of the gem, and something of a home education in gemmology. Her father, André Messika, is one of France’s most renowned diamond dealers. As a child she would play with the different stones on her kitchen table. “For me the diamond is a creation of God. There’s something magic [about them] because it’s sparkling white, very pure. When I launched my brand, it was about paying tribute to the stone and considering it in a very modern way,” she tells me.

Notably, Messika’s workshops are not located in the Paris’ formidable jewellery quarter of Place Vendôme. Instead, Messika’s approach is somewhat low key and the brand is based near the less glamorous Gare du Nord.

The Skinny was followed up by the Move collection in 2007. The brand’s ten year anniversary in 2015 was marked with a high jewellery collection. And in July 2020 along came its latest, Voltige, which translates as ‘aerobatics’ in French.

Messika Creoles Sun diamond earrings

Voltige

The designs span six collection chapters. Danseurs Aeriens, Bascules, Trapézistes, Illusionistes, Equilibristes and Acrobates. And their use of diamonds is executed to reflect exactly these. The balance, movement, performance, magic, symmetry and asymmetry of the artist all make for key aesthetic themes. All explored through the spectacle of rings and earrings. Acrobatic tricks are translated in the coupling of gravity defying diamonds that overlap, unusual and striking. While spinning circus hoops become elegant and oversized with emerald and pear shaped diamonds. The trapeze in ring form is adorned with a 10,19 carat fancy yellow pear cut diamond. As well as in earrings by pave featuring 82 baguette cut diamonds alongside two pear-shaped diamonds.

Typically, the first stage in the development of a piece of fine jewellery requires around a hundred sketches, before the design is approved for modelling. Something called a “gouache” is then created. This provides a defined vision of the final creation and acts as a bridge between the designer and the jeweller.

In September during the women’s fashion shows this year Messika presented a unique high fashion show in the gardens of the Ritz hotel in Paris. At the forefront of the show was a new collaboration between Messika and Kate Moss simply entitled Messika by Kate Moss. The event allowed an exceptional way to present her high jewellery collection on runway models. Attendees included A list stars rapper Cardi B, Vogue editor Anna Wintour and DJ Bob Sinclair.

Valérie Messika typically finds inspiration in women, their power, singularity and self assurance.

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