Renaissance Woman: The Abundant Antiquities of Coomi Bhasin

As the founder and creative behind her eponymous brand, Coomi Bhasin has an enviable talent for translating big ideas into wearable works of art. Her meticulous jewels have all the intricacies and 360-degree appeal of High Jewellery, weaving antique findings and coloured gemstones into her signature 20k yellow gold frameworks. Earlier this month, COOMI returned to the Couture show in Las Vegas for the first time in five years, ready to present a selection of accessible, ready-to-wear collections alongside one-of-a-kind creations. It was during this visit that I was able to ask Coomi about her latest rock crystal jewels and the sketchbooks that contribute towards her creative process. Here are the results of that uplifting conversation…

Some words are used too freely in the world of high jewellery, with ‘unique’ being one of them, but I think I can safely say that New York-based brand COOMI has many genuinely unique qualities to its name. All this stems from Coomi Bhasin, the brand’s founder and creative voice, who channels a lifelong love of artistry into every conceivable surface of her jewels. In fact, this is what first drew me to the brand: the almost obsessive intricacy of the front, reverse, and sides of pieces, the storytelling imbued into each work, the attention to detail, and the threads of 20k yellow gold and millgrain detailing that link aesthetically diverse creations together. This is the spirit of COOMI in all its bold, voluminous and antique detail! 

COOMI founder and designer, Coomi Bhasin

Interestingly, Coomi Bhasin didn’t start her career in jewellery design. She trained as a textile designer and was taught various methods for harnessing her ideas into quick-fire sketches. It wasn’t until she was in her early 50s that Coomi established her brand and developed the “fun, different, exotic and very wearable” aesthetic that we know today. “My brand is inspired by life,” she tells me, “I grew up in India, and I lived there until I was 23. There, jewellery is not considered something separate from your body; you’re never seen without it. My jewellery is a part of me.” This formative experience results in jewellery that isn’t solely intended for adornment but also for emotional, spiritual and historical purposes. Perhaps this is why COOMI pieces are typically large, voluminous, and bursting with details like hidden diamonds to touch the skin… they’re like wearable chapters of a book that tell a story. 

Another detail that sets Coomi apart is her use of antiques and rarities, like miniature ancient Egyptian statues, carved bones, coins, Roman glass, and age-old keys. Here, we can see Coomi’s passion for sculpture fused with fine jewellery, allowing her to combine flat and three-dimensional elements together into something wearable. These trinkets are sourced from old museum collections, private owners, auctions, or Coomi’s personal collection, which began with a passion for coin collecting. She muses: “My antiquity collection started because I wanted to show the path that Alexander the Great took. When he died in 323 BC, he had put the known world together and opened the Silk Route. You may see a Persian coin with Hercules on the back, highlighting how Alexander merged cultures together.”

History, travel, culture, art and religious themes inform the 500 or so unique pieces that COOMI produces annually. As an example, our conversation journeys from the Basílica de la Sagrada Família in Barcelona and its stained-glass windows, swiftly followed by a discussion of the palm-shaped ‘Hand of Fatima’ amulet that’s popular across North Africa and the Middle East and an assessment of the earliest handprints in cave paintings across the globe. “I can look at something, such as a painting, or see someone flicking their hair and instantly come up with a design,” she says. “There’s so much happening in my mind all the time, so much information, designs and concepts coming in. I have to control myself!”

COOMI Chameleon pendant depicting the signs of the zodiac with 1.44 carats of diamonds and 1.25 carats of mixed coloured stones and pearls, set in 18k yellow gold

Amidst this flurry of intuitive creativity, the COOMI team has been instrumental in encouraging the production of new, repeatable collections, many of which stem from successful one-of-a-kind pieces, as is the case with the new Link collection of gold chains. The COOMI touches are still there, though, like the nuanced tint of 20k yellow gold and the granulated beads of gold that allow loyal customers to mix and match old and new, unique and ready-to-wear. It is this balance that wowed visitors to the Couture show in Las Vegas, which proved to be a fantastic homecoming for COOMI after five years away. “Traditionally, we have only sold to a few very high-end retailers, such as Neiman Marcus and Saks, but we felt now was the time to expand,” Coomi says, noting that a more diverse range of price points is what has encouraged new stockists to place orders.  

What really captured my attention in Las Vegas, however, was the Trinetra collection, which translates from Sanskrit to ‘three eyes’. The offering takes us on a spiritual journey through Hinduism, leading us to Lord Shiva and his third eye, which is a powerful symbol of spiritual insight, divine knowledge and enlightened perception. Coomi says: “Every piece that I design has some symbolism in it. For example, if there are five diamonds, there’s a reason for five diamonds! Four are for stability, three are for spirituality, two are for love, and the story continues.” Although designing this way certainly takes longer, the results are absolutely worth it… again, one only has to look at the reverse of COOMI jewels to see the effort that has gone into their construction. Coomi says: “The back has meaning thanks to ancient hand symbols, which are for protection, peace and love.” What’s also exciting here is the use of rock crystal, both as a surface to build upon and decorate but also as part of the storytelling – a third level – to tie back into the concept of a third eye. 

“We never, ever do anything that someone else has done. Everything I do has to be different; otherwise, it really bothers me. This is what guides my hand when designing new pieces,” Coomi Bhasin.

Finally, something that struck me during our conversation was this idea of Coomi being a ‘Renaissance Woman’ – someone who is constantly in a state of reinvention, learning, growth and creativity. It’s a romantic approach, but one that fits my own beliefs that jewellery is an art form and not, at its core, at least, an avenue for commerciality. Even now, in her early 70s, Coomi has 40 sketchbooks full of ideas that are ready to be moulded into her Spring 2025 offering. “I myself don’t know what I am doing yet,” she says. “I love surprises, and I love to surprise myself. So, we will see, but I know that I am going to be doing something different this year.”

I hope this article provides a keyhole view into the mind of a fascinating woman whose design principles and considered details, front and back, were enough to have our team swooning in Las Vegas. Whether you are considering a piece from the Trinetra collection or perusing the provenance report of an antique, now housed within a necklace, from the Antiquity Artifacts range, there’s so much to discover with COOMI.

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