Designing Lives: Coomi Bhasin

Designer channels Indian heritage and New York Sensibility into spiritual, symbolic jewelry

 [dropcap cap=SINCE LAUNCHING] her jewelry collection in 2003, Coomi Bhasin has drawn inspiration from her background in textiles, architecture and natural forms of her native India. She combines this with influences such as “the skyscrapers of Manhattan to the eclectic mix of people and street life of downtown New York,” which culminates in a collection that offers a feeling of ancient and contemporary, ornate yet completely wearable. Coomi’s Eastern upbringing has influenced her placement of gemstones, use of high-karat gold and meaningful motifs. “The combination of these elements has spiritual symbolism to help bring growth, balance and positive energy into my customer’s lives,” she says. “It’s only when jewelry is worn on the body that it is complete; its relationship to the wearer has the most profound significance.”— INTERVIEW BY BETH BERNSTEIN [/dropcap]

[li] in the beginning? “I grew up in Bombay, India. At every social level, you see women wearing incredible pieces from their foreheads down to their feet. I can recall as a very young girl, going to visit my grandmother and if I wasn’t wearing any jewelry, she would joke and ask if I was in mourning.”[/li]

[li]relocating to the united states? “I came to the U.S. with my husband, Hari, in 1977. He’s a real estate developer and he needed a commercial builder, so I went to NYU and got a degree in construction management. In addition, I did special commissions as an architect and landscape designer.”[/li]

[li]when did you transition into jewelry? “I’d been playing with ideas in my head, on paper and conceptualizing what I’d want a collection to be like, but I waited until I felt that I had a good direction and launched Coomi in 2003. Of course there was still a lot I had to learn, but I felt it was time. My first collection was for an Asian-inspired shop at the Asia Society Museum at the age of 52. People advised I was too old to start a new business, but I loved the challenge. I believe that people can reinvent themselves and be successful if they set their mind to be, no matter what their age.”[/li]

[li]the spiritual connection? “I believe in the power of gemstones and metals and the role design plays in its effects on the wearer. All my collections have symbolic meanings. My jewelry reflects this as well as natural textiles and everyday surroundings. One of my favorite recollections: I was in a small plane flying over the desert and from bird’s eye view I could see a caravan of camels making its way to an oasis in the desert. I translated this moment into my Serenity Spice cuff, by using the gold to represent the desert sand, rows of citrine cabochons to symbolize the camels, and the paisley with a rose cut diamond and small brilliant diamonds to represent the desert oasis and life it supports around it.”[/li]

[li]favorite vacation spot? “Costa Rica. The ocean, to the mountains, volcanoes, forest and people are all so beautiful and inspiring. “[/li]

[li] jewelry you wear most often? “Bangles. Specifically, the dangling sphere bangle from my Eternity Collection. The movement of the gold spheres creates energy and also represents continuity and protection of life. For me, I need to know why the piece was created.”[/li]

[li]favorite fashion designer? “Anyone that I can afford. But I’m also a fan of Chanel. I love how the styles could be ramped up or simplified.”[/li]

 
Antiquity 20K ring with rectangular black and white diamond rose-cut bark textured shank




1. Antiquity 20K drusy and amethyst pendant with rose-cut diamonds
2. Antiquity 20K necklace with 16-inch gold nugget with rose-cut diamonds
3. Antiquity 20K necklace with emerald slices and diamonds




Description: Serenity 20K large flower ring with rose-cut diamonds

Inspiration: The Serenity Collection is about the miracle of life in the desert. This ring was influenced by the cactus rose that blooms once every 100 years.

How it is made: “I first tried to emulate it in Play Dough, and then when I found a way to interpret it, I had it cast in gold. Rose-cut and brilliant diamonds represent hints of raindrops as the sun hits them.”

The Texture: The finish evokes the desert sand and life around the oasis.

 

[span class=note]This story is from the January-February 2010 edition of INDESIGN[/span]