Eclectic jewelry designer fashions a niche in Mah Jongg culture

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Jewelry designer Sandra Davis creates an eclectic look for jewelry featuring beads based on the popular Mah Jongg strategy game. Many designs include gemstones, precious metals and Davis' handmade beads. The designer finds that not only are many of her Mah Jongg customers and wholesale clients Jewish, but she may be the country's only African-American designing Mah Jongg jewelry.

In a cluttered second-floor studio filled with beads, wire and small hand tools, Sandra Davis places two bone and bamboo tiles on a jewelry design board, and then reaches into a tray for red Austrian crystals.

A couple of ornate sterling silver beads and fancy ear wires later, Davis has created a pair of Mah Jongg earrings she calls Rushing Wind Chimes.

Davis, of Detroit, is the principal jewelry artist and designer for Esdee & by HIS hand, and GEHAZI COLLECTIONS, specializing in earrings, bookmarks, pendants and much more designed with Mah Jongg tiles. (Mah Jongg is an ancient Chinese game of strategy played with tiles resembling dominoes.)

Davis is creating an eclectic and contemporary look using gemstones, precious metals and her handmade beads -- a more sophisticated look for Mah Jongg.

Davis finds that not only are many of her Mah Jongg customers and wholesale clients Jewish, but she may be the country's only African-American designing Mah Jongg jewelry.

A native of Tampa Florida, Davis is a graduate of Florida A & M University. She has worked as a journalist in Florida, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Michigan. Davis, who now works full-time in public relations, spends the rest of her time running the burgeoning jewelry design company.

It has been a business that has quickly grown in popularity, especially among those who play Mah Jongg, know someone who does, or just like the jewelry. Players who once clamored for the traditional clunky Mah Jongg pieces are now turning to the sleeker, funkier designs Davis creates.

Although her other designs include African-inspired pieces and contemporary chunky styles fashioned out of turquoise, amber, coral, Austrian crystals and precious metals, Davis has created a real niche for her Mah Jongg collection.

“As an African American, I grew up around ethnic designs that I now incorporate into my pieces. I wear my hair in Sisterlocks. I often wear afrocentric clothing. That has always been a part of my core. It’s who I am. Mah Jongg is a different story. It’s something outside of who I am that I have fallen in love with. It doesn’t change who I am, but it does give me a new connection to those outside my immediate frame of reference,” Davis says.

“I was playing Mah Jongg long before I knew what it was. I went through a phase where I found computer games very relaxing and therapeutic, so I bought a program that featured these beautiful tiles with various symbols. Later, years later, I began designing jewelry and as I looked for unusual beads, I ran across tiles similar to the ones I had clicked on my computer game."

“Now, I’m hooked on the tiles, but have little time to play the game. So holding the beads and drawing inspiration from their beauty is about as close I come these days to being a Mah Jongg maven. The least I can do is help other folks look good while they play!”

Esdee & by HIS hand, LLC

P.O. Box 24654

Detroit, MI 48224-2068

313 506-1571

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Sandra Davis