Parisian fine jeweler Valérie Messika has sprinkled her diamonds in over 200 shops across the globe, dazzling clients in Europe, the Caribbean, and South America. Earlier this year, the firm opened its first eponymous flagship store on Paris' Rue Saint-Honoré, nestling its delicate adornments in the heart of Paris' premier shopping district.
Recently, the label selected Miami for its US debut. Valérie traveled to South Florida for the official launch and talked with azureazure.com about her plans for the near future.
As the daughter of famed diamond trader André Messika, Valerie says she often spent time playing with precious stones as a child. This early exposure helped mold her present day design philosophy, which advocates that diamonds are to be regularly worn - if not daily - and ought to be livable - not just stored away for special occasions.
LIANA LOZADA [LL] / What prompted you to bring Messika to the US now, and why take that first step in South Florida?
VALÉRIE MESSIKA [VM] / I had a wonderful opportunity to work with two amazing partners in Neiman Marcus and Mayors. I was not in a rush to open in this very promising market. I was waiting for the right partners.
LL / It has been said that you look to movement and water for overall inspiration. When did you realize that was going to be your signature esthetic?
VM / I realized it when I created the Skinny system, a technical feat developed with concern for comfort. It has exceptional flexibility provided by a system of invisible gold nano springs, thus adapting to all body shapes and clinging to the skin like an exquisite tattoo. [Though] it is designed in a contemporary and haute couture style, it is cool and relaxed, and was never quite seen before. Skinny's diamond pieces are convenient because they go with everything, including most of my collections. They can be worn with an evening dress as well as with a pair of jeans.
LL / Your collections also have angels and Greek goddesses as muses. Do you often pull from female figures in your design process?
VM / My inspiration comes from everywhere: From women I see in the streets to actresses and models from different times. And, of course, from those strong women like the Amazons, who symbolize strength and independence.
LL / Your Move collection - that features three movable diamonds to symbolize past, present, and future love - has become one of your top sellers. Why do you believe it has resonated with clients so well?
VM / I think women love jewelry that can be worn as everyday basics. Move is a minimalist collection with a little twist. The three diamonds create jewelry in motion, which is ludic and fun. It is classic, elegant and somewhat rock ‘n’ roll, fulfilling every desire and complementing every look. It is a daring combination of timeless allure and spectacular variations.
LL / What is your go-to, everyday Messika piece? The one you throw on when you have twenty minutes to get ready.
VM / For sure my Skinny bracelet, it never leaves my wrist. I can’t get enough of it! It is also very convenient because I can mix it with all my collections. My new obsession is bangles staking, so my Move Jewelry, Kate, and Spiky bracelets are stacked [on my wrist] in perfect harmony. I am able to fashion my look to suit my mood. I believe [Move] is an essential part of the female wardrobe, in the same way as jeans and a little black dress.
LL / I was initially taken aback by your stories of playing with your father's diamonds as a child. Do you think having that early youthful wonder made you a better designer? If yes, how so?
VM / Yes, of course, it makes me carefree and gives me the freedom to create cool and fun jewelry. My Move collection was born from the idea of playing with diamonds.
LL / Name some valuable business lesson your father has taught you.
VM / Be humble. Never, ever copy someone’s work. Keep your integrity intact. My father is a "wise young man". He has the energy of a teenager and a soul of an old man. We share a lot of ideas, even if we do not always agree. You can be sure that I take each one of his advices into consideration.
LL / And what is the most valuable life lesson he has passed on to you?
VM / "In the same way that we choose our future partner with the heart, we select a diamond for the emotion that it creates in us."
LL / What has the success of Messika taught you about yourself - as a woman and a designer?
VM / Talent does not suffice; you need to work hard to fulfill your dream. My job is about my family story, and I enjoy what I do every day.
LL / Do you have an idea that has yet to be realized? What is the ultimate scenario for you as a designer?
VM / My ultimate dream is to create a jewelry watch. I’m a big fan of watches, and I would love to add a Messika Joaillerie diamond watch to my collection. ■
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