Creator of the luxury French jewellery brand that carries her family name, Valerie Messika designs delicate, innovative pieces fashioned uniquely from gold and diamonds. The daughter of a prominent diamond dealer, having grown up surrounded by diamonds, Messika followed her father into the business 12 years ago and was supposed to become a dealer herself but didn’t enjoy the work.
With no design training or experience, she experimented by making a few pieces of jewellery for herself. Encouraged by the compliments she received from friends and family and with the backing of her father, Messika launched her own brand in 2005.
“When i asked people what came to mind when they thought about diamonds, it was an engagement ring,” says Messika. “I wanted to create accessible jewellery that people could wear every day.”
One of the company’s innovations, using a secret technique developed in the Messika workshops, is diamond jewellery that is totally flexible, designed to sit on the skin much like a precious tattoo. The bangles, chokers and necklaces made using the Messika Skinny technique can be twisted or bent into shape, or crushed in the hand like a piece of material, without being damaged.
Diamonds in the Move collection, another innovation, are designed to slide backwards and forwards within their settings, following the movement of the wearer.
The company now employs 40 people, boasting 130 outlets in 28 countries, with the brand popular in the Middle east – Messika mentions Qatar, Dubai, Bahrain – and also doing well in the boutiques of chic holiday resorts such as St Tropez and Courcheval.
Paris-based Messika, now 36, puts the runaway success of the brand down to her intuition. “I followed my instincts,” she says. “I knew there was something missing in the market. There was very cheap jewellery and very expensive jewellery, but there was nothing in between.
She explains that she might easily have diversified into other stones and pearls, but instead decided to give the brand a clear identity by working only in diamonds and gold, although the gold can be white, yellow, pink or black.
“You don’t always know exactly why something works, but i have stuck to something i know about which is diamonds, which was the logical thing to do.”
One of three designers in the company, Messika says her goal was to create contemporary designs that are suitable for all ages. She recently introduced a line for men and there’s even an infant identity bracelet with the words “my first” engraved in front of a diamond with space to engrave baby’s name on the back. Her father Andre Messika, in the business for 40 years and now based in Tel Aviv, has branched into diamond mining, supplying his daughter with the thousands of stones incorporated into her designs every year. With something for everyone, Messika’s various collections feature matching rings, earrings, bracelets, pendants, necklaces and chokers, with prices ranging from a few hundred euros to hundreds of thousands.