Fork in the road
She followed in her father’s footsteps but forged a path of her own. Jewellery designer Valérie Messika discusses her professional journey with Charlene Co
While designer Valérie Messika has followed in her father’s footsteps, she’s forged a path of her own
eing the daughter of a prominent diamond dealer, Valérie Messika was accustomed from a very young age to being surrounded by exquisite gems and jetting off with her father to exotic climes to find more. When it came to taking over the business, however, she decided to move away from diamond trading and into the world of fine jewellery. She established her contemporary chic diamond jewellery brand in 2005, naming it simply Messika, and is CEO and head of design. Today, as well as the Paris flagship store on Rue Saint-honoré, Messika has more than 250 points of sale around the world, including in Hong Kong. During a recent visit to the city, she spoke to us about stepping out of her father’s shadow and creating diamond jewellery that’s exquisite but doesn’t take itself too seriously.
What was it like taking over the business? My father has been in the diamond business for 45 years. He’s made a name for himself in these circles, so when I joined him 15 years ago, virtually everybody—at least within the diamond trade—knew the Messika name, but hardly anyone outside the trade knew it. I didn’t ease into the business easily, to be honest. I imagine that hurt him quite a bit because he loves the business and he’s always dreamed that one of his children would take over one day.
I suppose things worked out, because here you are Yes. We met halfway. I told him, “You know what, I’m never going to be as good as you in diamond trading. I need to create something of my own.” So I did. I went into fine jewellery.
And Messika is in Hong Kong. Is this your first foray into Asia? Yes, we launched the brand at Lane Crawford in 2015 and it’s doing very well. We’re strong and well known in Europe, the Middle East and the US, but we had zero presence in Asia before Hong Kong. We’re thrilled to be here.
What sets you apart from other jewellery brands? Messika’s diamond jewellery pieces are always somewhere between timeless and in vogue. I also make them edgy, cooler and less serious than the ones I was exposed to growing up—but at the same time classic, because I hope that 10 years from now my pieces will still be wearable, current. I go by Coco Chanel’s famous mantra: “Fashion fades, only style remains the same.”
And you use only diamonds? Yes, only diamonds. That was my commitment to my father. When I launched my business, he told me, “Okay, I will support you but I have two rules. First, don’t copy, don’t be influenced by others, carve your own identity. Second, use only diamonds.” And I’ve kept those promises.
Clockwise from top: Messika Move Titanium Graphite bangle and Move Titanium Total Black ring, both set with the brand’s signature moving diamonds; My Twin Trio 2-in-1 earrings come with studs