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Photographed by Kirsten Beckerman
Dana Hoiles has always burst with team spirit, but she’s never had anything but a big yawn for typical, clunky sports jewelry.
The wife of former Orioles catcher Chris Hoiles and mom to three athletic sons, Hoiles noticed that she and other mothers, wives and girlfriends wore their team colors with passion and pride, but nobody was really accessorizing much. Those who did usually sported cheap elastic charm bracelets or zany mascot ensembles.
“All these years, I wanted something fun, and something to show my love for the sport, but I didn’t want to wear a mascot or big baseballs off my ears,” Hoiles says.
Hoiles’ husband, Chris, went from major league catcher to college coach to co-host of “Bird Talk,” a seasonal baseball program on Fox Sports 1370 AM (tune back in during spring training). Meanwhile, the couple’s sons have followed the family sports tradition with football and baseball. A travel baseball team out of Spring Grove, Pa., has taken the family all around the East Coast. And since it’s all sports, all the time, for the perennially baseball-capped Hoiles, she wanted accessories that could transition tastefully from bleacher to grocery store to charity event.
“I went to 90 percent of Orioles home games and most away games,” says Hoiles, 38. “I’ve been involved every day of my life, and I can’t escape it. So I thought I’d dabble in the jewelry thing.”
Though she’s not trained in jewelry arts, Hoiles likes to sketch, and stands ready to capture design ideas even on the many days she’s away from her in-home studio in York, Pa. “I always have a notebook with me,” she says. Once sketches leave the pages of Hoiles’ notebook, they are sent to a Rochester, N.Y. studio to be cleaned up on a computer.
Her favorite and first design was the Baseball Bat Heart, which appears to be a simple, common silver silhouette from far away, but on closer inspection is two bats twisted together to form the symbol of love.
Hoiles’ pieces currently come in two collections and pay homage to six sports: baseball, golf, hockey, basketball, football and soccer, with baseball being the most prominent inspiration. The larger Winn Collection features Hoiles’ more modest designs— an understated black onyx beaded necklace, for example— while the luxurious All-Star Collection might leave fans wondering if Hoiles went a little baseball diamond crazy with creations like a diamond-and-ruby studded baseball pendant on a white gold chain. Its toggle clasp, if you look closely, is a baseball bat.
Prices for the pieces range from $28 to $1,592. And although sterling silver, white gold and onyx black dominate Hoiles’ jewelry, most designs— like the “All-Star” football pendant— can be completely customized as far as the metal, the beads and the stones. And Hoiles doesn’t leave men in the dugout. Several pieces— such as the Baseball Bat Cross and the Interlocking Baseball and Basketball necklaces— can be easily worn by men or women.
“I put a lot of thought into my pieces,” Hoiles says. “It’s not a matter of putting beads together. I take it so personally. It’s in my heart.”
And that sports heart is not just on her sleeve, but she hopes it might soon be on local sports fans’ necks, wrists or ears.
“We all know Baltimore women love their sports,” says Hoiles. “No doubt about that.”
To view the collection or inquire about a custom estimate, visit http://www.danahoiles.com.