Title:
Tiara/necklace
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Provided is a jewelry system that is selectively configurable between a tiara configuration and a necklace configuration. In the tiara configuration, the jewelry system comprises a band member having decorative articles rotatably mounted thereon. The band member has band ends and defines a band plane. In the tiara configuration, the decorative articles are rotated to project generally laterally outwardly relative to the band plane such that the jewelry system may be worn as a tiara. In the necklace configuration, the jewelry system further comprises a pair of necklace extensions that are releaseably connectable to the band ends with the decorative articles being rotated so as to be generally aligned with the band plane. The necklace extensions are releaseably interconnected at extension ends to form a substantially continuous loop such that the jewelry system may be worn as a necklace.



Inventors:
Ward, Christina G. (Kennebunk, ME, US)
Leylekyan, Gevorg (Van Nuys, CA, US)
Application Number:
10/844718
Publication Date:
11/17/2005
Filing Date:
05/13/2004
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
63/1.11, 63/1.16, 63/1.17, 63/1.18, 63/3.2, 63/40
International Classes:
A44C5/00; A44C13/00; A44C15/00; A44C25/00; (IPC1-7): A44C5/00; A44C13/00; A44C25/00
View Patent Images:
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20030159463System for sizing and re-sizing articles of jewelryAugust, 2003Rosenberg
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20040244199Message-displaying necklaceDecember, 2004Kasten



Primary Examiner:
LAVINDER, JACK W
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Kit M. Stetina, Esq. (STETINA BRUNDA GARRED & BRUCKER Suite 250 75 Enterprise, Aliso Viejo, CA, 92656, US)
Claims:
1. A jewelry system that is selectively configurable between a tiara configuration and a necklace configuration, the jewelry system comprising: a band member having opposing band ends and defining a band plane; at least one decorative article mountable to the band member and being selectively positionable relative to the band plane; and a pair of necklace extensions releaseably connectable to respective ones of the band ends, each one of the necklace extensions having extension ends being configured to be releaseably interconnectable; wherein: the tiara configuration of the jewelry system comprises the band member with the decorative article being positioned thereon to project generally laterally outwardly relative to the band plane such that the jewelry system may be worn as a tiara; the necklace configuration of the jewelry system comprising the band member with the decorative article being positioned thereon in general alignment with the band plane, the necklace extensions being connected to the band member at the band ends and being interconnected at the extension ends to form a substantially continuous loop such that the jewelry system may be worn as a necklace.

2. The jewelry system of claim 1 comprising a plurality of decorative articles mountable to the band member and being selectively positionable relative to the band plane.

3. The jewelry system of claim 2 further comprising a plurality of hinge members rotatably connecting respective ones of the decorative articles to the band member such that each one of the decorative articles is angularly positionable into one of the tiara and necklace configurations.

4. The jewelry system of claim 2 wherein each one of the hinge members is configured such that the decorative article is generally freely pivotable relative to the band plane when positioned in the necklace configuration.

5. The jewelry system of claim 2 further comprising: a plurality of detent mechanisms 66 disposed between the band member and respective ones of the decorative articles; wherein each one of the detent mechanisms 66 being configured such that decorative articles are generally non-rotatably fixed relative to the band plane when positioned in the tiara configuration.

6. The jewelry system of claim 2 further comprising at least one comb member configured to be releaseably attachable to the band member for engaging the band member to the wearer's hair.

7. The jewelry system of claim 6 wherein the comb member is comprised of an elongate shaft having a comb portion and a shaft end portion, the comb portion including a plurality of teeth configured to engage the wearer's hair.

8. The jewelry system of claim 7 comprising a pair of the comb members, the shaft end portions thereof being configured to be releaseably connectable to respective ones of the band ends.

9. The jewelry system of claim 8 wherein each one of the comb members includes a connector assembly connected to the shaft end portion and configured to releaseably secure the comb member to the band end.

10. The jewelry system of claim 1 wherein each one of the necklace extensions includes a connector assembly configured to releaseably secure the necklace extension to the band end.

11. The jewelry system of claim 9 wherein each one of the connector assemblies is hingedly moveable.

12. The jewelry system of claim 9 wherein: each one of the band ends has an open interior end portion; each one of the connector assemblies being configured as a resilient V-shaped clasp member configured to be removably insertable into and engagable with the interior end portion for releaseably connecting the necklace extension to the band end.

13. The jewelry system of claim 1 further comprising a mating mechanism having a pair of mating members mounted on respective ones of the necklace extensions adjacent the extension ends, the mating members being configured to be releaseably securable together.

14. The jewelry system of claim 13 wherein: the mating mechanism further includes an elongate locking pin; one of the mating members comprising a spaced pair of generally axially aligned hollow elongate first and second end tubes mounted upon and generally axially aligned with one of the necklace extensions; the other one of the mating members comprising an elongate hollow intermediate tube mounted upon and generally axially aligned with the other one of the necklace extensions, the intermediate tube being sized and configured to be complementary to the first and second end tubes so as to be positionable therebetween; the locking pin being sized and configured to be selectively insertable through axially aligned ones of the first and second end tubes and intermediate tube such that the extension ends may be releaseably secured together.

15. A jewelry system that is selectively configurable between a tiara configuration and a necklace configuration, the jewelry system comprising: a generally rigid arcuately shaped band member having opposing band ends and defining a band plane; at least one decorative article hingedly mountable to the band member and being selectively positionable relative to the band plane; a detent mechanism disposed between the decorative article and the band member and being configured such that decorative article is generally non-rotatably fixed relative to the band plane when the decorative article is positioned in the tiara configuration; and a pair of generally flexible, elongate necklace extensions having a connector assembly mounted on one of the respective ends thereof and being configured to releaseably secure the necklace extension to respective ones of the band ends, each one of the connector assemblies having a connector hinge with a hinge axis oriented generally perpendicularly to the band plane such that the necklace extension may freely pivot thereabout, each one of the extension ends being further configured to be releaseably connectable to one another; wherein: the tiara configuration of the jewelry system comprises the band member with the decorative article being positioned thereon to project generally laterally outwardly relative to the band plane such that the jewelry system may be worn as a tiara; the necklace configuration of the jewelry system comprising the band member with the decorative article being positioned thereon in general alignment with the band plane, the necklace extensions being connected to the band member at the band ends and being interconnected at the extension ends to form a substantially continuous loop such that the jewelry system may be worn as a necklace.

16. The jewelry system of claim 15 comprising a plurality of the decorative articles being hingedly connected to the band member such that each one of the decorative articles is angularly rotatably positionable into one of the tiara and necklace configurations.

17. The jewelry system of claim 16 comprising: a plurality of detent mechanisms 66 disposed between the band member and respective ones of the decorative articles; wherein each one of the decorative articles is configured to be maintained in a generally non-pivotal relationship relative to the band plane when positioned in the tiara configuration.

18. The jewelry system of claim 15 comprising a pair of comb members configured to be releaseably connectable to respective ones of the band ends.

19. The jewelry system of claim 15 wherein: each one of the band ends has an open interior end portion; each one of the connector assemblies being configured as a resilient V-shaped clasp member configured to be removably insertable into and engagable with the interior end portion for releaseably connecting the necklace extension to the band end.

20. The jewelry system of claim 15 further comprising a mating mechanism having an elongate locking pin and a pair of mating members, wherein: one of the mating members comprises a spaced pair of generally axially aligned hollow elongate first and second end tubes mounted on one of the necklace extensions adjacent to the extension end thereof in general axial alignment with the necklace extension; the other one of the mating members comprising an elongate hollow intermediate tube mounted on the other one of the necklace extensions adjacent to the extension end thereof in general axial alignment with the necklace extension, the intermediate tube being sized and configured to be complementary to the first and second end tubes so as to be positionable therebetween; the locking pin being sized and configured to be selectively insertable through the first and second end tubes and intermediate tube when generally axially aligned such that the extension ends may be releaseably secured together.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

(Not Applicable)

STATEMENT RE: FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH/DEVELOPMENT

(Not Applicable)

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to jewelry and, more particularly, to a uniquely configured jewelry system that may be selectively configured between a tiara, such as may be worn on a person's head, and a necklace, such as may be worn around a person's neck.

Most women consider their wedding day as one of the most important days of their life. Many brides spend a considerable amount of time and energy in selecting a wedding gown. In addition, many women spend an equal amount of time in selecting coordinating bridal accessories that will make their wedding attire unique and memorable. Many brides may choose to accessorize their wedding gown with a tiara that is chosen to accent the bride's wedding attire in accordance with her personal preferences. Tiaras are typically worn on the bride's head and comprise an arch-shaped band member having decorative articles such as jewelry pieces that are permanently fastened to the band member.

The decorative articles are mounted so as to extend upwardly or outwardly from the band member so as to be plainly visible to others. The band member is held in place on the bride's head through the use of comb members that are inserted into the bride's hair. The tiara may be crafted of precious metals and may also include diamonds and other precious stones that are selected to provide an exquisite accent to the bride's wedding attire during the wedding ceremony. Tiaras that are crafted of such precious metals and which include precious stones can be quite expensive. Immediately following the wedding ceremony, the bride typically removes the tiara in preparation for the wedding reception or to leave for the honeymoon.

Unfortunately, the bride's costly tiara is typically stored in a safe location and is seldom retrieved or used after the wedding ceremony as it is neither prudent nor fashionable to wear an expensive tiara during daily activities of living. In addition, because the decorative articles of prior art tiaras are permanently extended outwardly from the band member, it is impractical for the bride to wear the tiara around her neck as the decorative articles may contact the her chin or chest areas and thereby interfere with the her daily activities.

Furthermore, most prior art tiaras are not sufficiently dimensioned to extend around the neck of the wearer. Consequently, unlike conventional jewelry items such as bracelets, earrings, broaches and the like that are periodically worn at different times throughout the life of the owner, the beauty and elegance of precious metals and precious stones that make up tiaras of the prior art are only briefly appreciated during the wedding ceremony before they are stored out of sight for the remainder of their useful life.

As can be seen, there exists a need in the art for a tiara that may be selectively configured such that, in addition for the bride to wear on her wedding day, it is practical for wearing on various other occasions during the bride's life. Furthermore, in light of the fact that the bridegroom traditionally presents a wedding gift to his bride as a meaningful symbol of their union, there exists a need in the art for a tiara which may be presented by the groom as a wedding gift and which may be easily converted or reconfigured into a necklace such that the tiara may be worn as a wedding day memento in the form of an anniversary necklace.

In addition, there exists a need in the art for a tiara wherein the decorative articles may be rotated into alignment with the band member such that when the tiara is worn as a necklace, the decorative articles lie flat against the wearer's chest to avoid interfering with the wearer's daily activities of life. Finally, there exists a need in the art for a tiara that can be easily reconfigured from a necklace back into a tiara such that the bride's daughter, for example, may wear the tiara during her wedding ceremony.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Provided is a jewelry system that is selectively configurable between a tiara configuration and a necklace configuration. In the tiara configuration, the jewelry system comprises a uniquely configured tiara that includes a band member which defines a band plane. The band member preferably has several decorative articles mounted thereon which are configured as ornamental objects and which may be provided in varying motifs in accordance with the wearer's personal preferences. The decorative articles are preferably outwardly extended when the jewelry system is in the tiara configuration. Separate comb members may be connected to the band member to facilitate positioning of the tiara on the wearer's head.

The tiara is provided with additional utility as part of a necklace by connecting a pair of necklace extensions to the band member. Extension ends of the band member may be connected together to form a continuous loop which may be suspended around the wearer's neck in the necklace configuration. The decorative articles are configured such that they may be selectively positioned into general alignment with the band member so as to lie flat against the wearer's chest or to extend upwardly from the band member when the tiara is worn on the wearer's head. The jewelry system may include a detent mechanism to hold the decorative articles laterally upwardly when the tiara is worn on the wearer's head.

The band member may be generally shaped as a partial loop having opposing band ends which are releaseably connectable to the necklace extensions. In the necklace configuration, the decorative articles are positioned on the band member so as to be positioned in general alignment with the band plane. Connector assemblies may be included with the necklace extensions to facilitate connected with the band member. Hinge members may be included with the decorative articles such that each one of the decorative articles is selectively angularly positionable (i.e., manually rotatable) into one of the tiara configuration (i.e., the decorative articles are extended outwardly relative to the band plane) and necklace configurations (i.e., the decorative articles are in general alignment with the band plane).

The necklace extensions may be configured as generally elongate flexible members fabricated of generally broad woven metallic material to comfortably wrap around the neck of the wearer. The necklace extensions may include a connector assembly on one end to releaseably secure the necklace extensions to the band ends. A connector hinge may be integrated into the connector assembly to allow the necklace extensions to freely pivot. The necklace extensions may be provided in varying increments of lengths which may be selected to accommodate differing neck sizes of a given wearer as well as appeal to the wearer's stylistic preferences.

Extension ends of the necklace extensions may be interconnected in order to form the continuous loop of the necklace configuration. A mating mechanism for interconnecting the necklace extension may comprise first and second end tubes mounted on one of the necklace extensions in spaced relation to one another. An intermediate tube may be mounted on the other one of the necklace extensions. The intermediate tube is of a length that is positionable between the first and second end tubes when the extension ends are parallel to one another. A locking pin is slidably engagable with the first and second end tubes and intermediate tubes to permit secure engagement of the necklace extensions to one another. Reciprocation of the locking pin into and out of the first and second end tubes and the intermediate tube connects or disconnects the extensions ends.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These as well as other features of the present invention will become more apparent upon reference to the drawings wherein:

FIG. 1 is perspective view of a jewelry system of the present invention configured in a tiara having a band member and decorative articles mounted thereon and illustrating the interconnectivity of a pair of comb members to the band member;

FIG. 2 is a front view of the tiara showing a plurality of decorative articles mounted on the band member with the decorative articles being oriented to extend laterally outwardly relative to a band plane of the band member;

FIG. 3 is a top view of the jewelry system configured in a necklace and illustrating the interconnectivity of a pair of necklace extensions to the band member;

FIG. 4 is a partial top view of a mating mechanism for connecting extension ends of the necklace extensions and illustrating the decorative articles being generally aligned with the band plane of the band member when the jewelry system is in the necklace configuration;

FIG. 5 is a sectional view taken along line 5-5 of FIG. 1 and illustrating a hinge member connecting one of the decorative articles to the band member and further illustrating a detent mechanism as may be incorporated into the hinge member; and

FIG. 6 is a side view of the hinge member taken along line 6-6 of FIG. 5 and illustrating a hinge member pin 76 engaged to a tab notch 72 formed in a detent tab 70 of the detent mechanism.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring now to the drawings wherein the showings are for purposes of illustrating the present invention and not for purposes of limiting the same, shown in FIGS. 1-6 is a jewelry system 10 that is selectively configurable between a tiara configuration 24, such as may be worn on the wearer's head, and a necklace configuration 26, such as may be worn around the wearer's neck. In its broadest sense, the jewelry system 10 comprises a uniquely configured tiara 12 which includes a band member 16 having at least one but preferably several decorative articles 38 mountable to the band member 16.

The decorative articles 38 may be configured as ornamental objects that are stylishly fashioned in varying motifs such as a leaf motif. In addition, the decorative articles 38 may be fabricated of precious metals and may include precious stones or gems mounted thereon. The band member 16 and the decorative articles 38 may alternatively be fabricated from a variety of alternative materials including, but not limited to, semi-precious metals and semi-precious stones, polymeric materials (i.e., plastic), textile materials such as ribbon, or any other natural or man-made materials or combinations thereof. The tiara 12 is provided with additional utility as part of a necklace 14 by including a pair of generally elongate necklace extensions 42 with the jewelry system 10. Importantly, the necklace extensions 42 are connectable to the band member 16 leaving a pair of freely disposed extension ends 44.

When the extension ends 44 are interconnected, the jewelry system 10 is assembled into the necklace configuration 26 forming a continuous loop to allow the tiara 12 to be suspended around the wearer's neck. In addition, the decorative articles 38 may be configured such that they may be positioned into general alignment with the band member 16. In such a position, the decorative articles 38 lie flat against the wearer's chest for comfort as well as to provide the proper outward display of the decorative articles 38 of the tiara 12 so as to emphasize the aesthetic beauty of the precious metals and stones that may included therewith.

As shown in FIGS. 1-4, the band member, 16 may be generally configured as a partial loop so as to include opposing band ends 18 which are each preferably configured to be releaseably connectable to one of the necklace extensions 42. The band member 16 may be formed of generally rigid material such as metallic material although other materials having varying flexibility characteristics may be utilized. The band member 16 may also have an arcuate shape so as to better conform to the shape of the wearer's head when the jewelry system 10 is configured in the tiara configuration 24. The arcuate shape may be a generally circular shape. The band member 16 may have a generally rectangular cross sectional shape as is shown in FIGS. 1-3 or a generally circular cross sectional shape as is shown in FIG. 5. However, it is contemplated that the band member 16 may be formed in a number of alternative shapes and sizes and in a variety of alternative cross sectional shapes.

As shown in FIG. 2, the band member 16 defines a band plane, indicated by the letter “A”. The band member 16 may include at least one decorative article 38 mountable to the band member 16 although any number of decorative articles 38 may be mountable thereto. In the tiara configuration 24, the jewelry system 10 comprises the band member 16 with the decorative article 38 being positioned thereon to project generally laterally outwardly relative to the band plane A. In this manner, the jewelry system 10 may be worn as a tiara 12. The decorative members are preferably configured to be selectively positionable relative to the band plane A.

In the necklace configuration 26, the decorative articles 38 are preferably positioned on the band member 16 so as to be disposed in general alignment with the band plane A. In addition, in the tiara configuration 24, the jewelry system 10 includes the necklace extensions 42 which are connectable to the band member 16 at the band ends 18 and are releaseably interconnectable at the extension ends 44 to form the substantially continuous loop, as was earlier mentioned.

To better facilitate positioning of the decorative articles 38 relative to the band plane A, the jewelry system 10 may further comprise a plurality of hinge members 40 rotatably connecting respective ones of the decorative articles 38 to the band member 16 such that each one of the decorative articles 38 is angularly positionable into one of the tiara and necklace configurations 24, 26, as is shown in FIGS. 5-6. The hinge members 40 allow for pivoting or rotation of the decorative article in a direction general indicated by the arrow B in FIG. 5. In order to improve the comfort of the jewelry system 10 when assembled into the necklace configuration 26, each one of the hinge members 40 may be further be configured such that the decorative article 38 is generally freely pivotable relative to the band plane A when positioned in the necklace configuration 26.

As shown in FIG. 6, each one of the hinge members may be comprised of a pair of spaced apart band member hinge portions 80 mounted on the band member. Each one of the decorative articles may include a corresponding article hinge portion 78 mounted thereon. The article hinge portion 78 may preferably be sized and configured to be complementary to a spacing between the band member hinge portions 80. Each one of the article hinge portion 78 and band member hinge portions 80 may be configured as an elongate hollow tube in the manner of a convention hinge. The article hinge portion 78 may be pivotally connected to the band member hinge portions 80 via a hinge member pin 76 extending therethrough.

Furthermore, each one of the hinge members 40 may be configured to maintain the decorative article 38 in a generally non-pivotal relationship relative to the band plane A when positioned in the tiara configuration 24. More specifically, each one of the hinge members 40 may include a detent mechanism 66 configured to hold the respective decorative article 38 laterally upwardly or outwardly relative to the band plane A when rotated into the tiara configuration 24.

However, upon repositioning the decorative articles 38 by rotating into general alignment with the band plane A in the necklace configuration 26, the hinge member 40 may be configured such that each one of the decorative articles 38 may be freely pivotable into and out of the band plane A. Such freely pivoting movement as provided by the hinge members 40 may enhance the look or aesthetics of the jewelry system 10 when worn in the necklace configuration 26. In addition, the freely pivoting movement may prevent interference with the wearer's chest when the wearer is performing certain body movements such as bending over.

Referring briefly to FIGS. 5-6, the detent mechanism 66 may be comprised of a detent tab 70 fixedly secured to a side of one of one of the band member hinge portions 80. The detent tab 70 may include a tab notch 72 formed in an upper portion of the detent tab 70. A detent pin 68 may be disposed to a side of the decorative article or to the article hinge portion 78. The detent pin 68 may preferably extend laterally outwardly and may be sized to be complementary to the tab notch 72 such that when fully engaged therein, the detent pin 68 is partially nested within the tab notch 72.

The detent tab 70 may also include a ramp surface 74 as shown in FIGS. 5-6 along which the detent pin 68 may slide when the decorative articles are positioned between the tiara configuration and the necklace configuration. As was earlier mentioned, the detent mechanism 66 and, more specifically, the detent pin 68 and detent tab 70 are preferably configured such that the decorative articles are generally non-pivotably fixed relative to the band plane when positioned into the laterally outwardly extending orientation of the tiara configuration.

Although the detent mechanism 66 is shown as comprising the detent tab 70 cooperatively engagable to detent pin 68, it is recognized herein that there are an infinite number of alternative arrangements of the detent mechanism 66 that may provide the desired non-pivotal characteristics of the decorative articles when positioned into the tiara configuration. For example, each one of the detent mechanisms 66 may be configured as a frictional engagement means between abutting ends of the article hinge portion 78 and band member hinge portion. Alternatively, the detent mechanism 66 may include a ball detent system wherein a ball is slidable within an arcuate groove formed in a plate and having recessed ball receiving apertures formed at opposite ends of the arcuate groove to receive the ball bearing therein when the decorative articles are rotated into one of the tiara and the necklace configuration.

Referring to FIG. 1, in the tiara configuration 24, the jewelry system 10 may further comprise at least one, but preferably two, comb members 28 in order to secure the band member 16 to the wearer's head and to restrict movement thereof in all directions. As shown in FIG. 2, each one of the comb members 28 may be comprised of an elongate shaft 30 having a comb portion 32 and a shaft end portion 30 on opposing ends of the shaft 30. The comb portion 32 may include a plurality of teeth 36′ arranged in a manner similar to the teeth of a conventional comb. The comb members 28 provide quick and easy securement of the band member 16 to the wearer's head by engaging the wearer's hair.

The comb members 28 may be secured to the band member 16 in any suitable manner. However, in order to facilitate reconfiguration (i.e., disassembly and reassembly) of the jewelry system 10 between the tiara configuration 24 and the necklace configuration 26, the shaft end portions 30 of each one of the comb members 28 may be configured to be releaseably connectable to respective ones of the band ends 18. Each one of the comb members 28 may include a connector assembly 46 connected to the shaft end portion 30 to releaseably secure the comb member 28 to a respective one of the band ends 18.

Referring to FIG. 3, each one of the connector assemblies 46 may include a means for articulated or hinged movement of the comb member 28 by incorporating a connector hinge 48 separately or integrally with the connector assembly 46. Such connector hinge 48 may provide improved flexibility in mounting or securing the band member 16 on the wearer's head when the jewelry system 10 is in the tiara configuration 24. The connector hinge 48 may allow the comb member 28 to be selectively and freely rotated or pivoted about a hinge axis 64 of the connector hinge. The hinge axis 64 may be oriented generally perpendicularly with respect to the band plane A, as is shown in FIG. 3. Such hinged movement essentially allows a gap between the comb members 28 to be narrowed or widened to suit the shape and size of any given wearer's head.

Connection of the connector assemblies 46 and, hence, the comb members 28, may be facilitated by providing an open interior end portion 20 in each one of the band ends 18. The connector assembly 46 may be configured to be received by the end portion 20. In addition the connector assembly 46 may optionally include a locking feature configured to engage a corresponding locking feature on the band end 18 such that the comb member 28 may be temporarily locked to the band member 16. Toward this end, each one of the connector assemblies 46 may be configured as a V-shaped clasp member 50 configured to be removably insertable into and engagable with the interior end portion 20 of the band member 16 for releaseably connecting the comb member 28 to the band end 18.

Although any number of shapes and sizes may be used for configuring the clasp member 50, the V-shape of the clasp member 50 may facilitate digital manipulation thereof. More precisely, the V-shape of the clasp member 50 may facilitate manual alignment of the connector assembly 46 to the interior end portion 20 such that the clasp member 50 may then be easily inserted thereinto. The clasp member 50 may also be resiliently configured to allow for selective engagement and release of complementary locking features on the band end 18 and the connector assembly 46 by simply squeezing opposite sides of the clasp member 50 together during insertion into the interior end portions 20. Although the connector assemblies 46 are shown as V-shaped clasp members 50 and the band ends 18 are shown as having generally hollow interior end portions 20, it is recognized herein that any number of alternative configurations may be provided to such components to allow for selective releasable engagement therebetween to provide the feature of reconfiguration of the jewelry system 10 between the tiara and necklace configurations 24, 26.

Now referring more particularly to FIGS. 3-4 wherein the jewelry system 10 is shown in the necklace configuration 26, the pair of necklace extensions 42 are shown connected to respective ones of the band ends 18. The necklace extensions 42 may be configured as generally elongate flexible members to comfortably wrap around the neck of the wearer. Although metallic material may be preferred for constructing the necklace extensions 42, it is contemplated that the necklace extensions 42 may be fabricated from a variety of alternative materials including leather, polymeric material (i.e., plastic), ribbon, textile, wood or any natural or man-made material. The necklace extensions 42 may be provided in varying increments of lengths which may be selected to accommodate differing neck sizes of a given wearer. In addition, the length of the necklace extension 42 may be selected according to stylistic preferences of the wearer in accordance with the choice of the wearer regarding the height at which the tiara 12 hangs from the neck.

The flexibility of the necklace extensions 42 may be provided by fabricating the necklace extensions 42 of a generally broad woven metallic material. However, any flexible structural element, such as a single or multiple strands of decorative gold or silver chain, may be used to fabricate the necklace extensions 42. In addition, it is contemplated that the necklace extensions 42 may be fabricated as a semi-rigid or even a rigid structure in order to achieve a desired style or look. For example, the necklace extensions 42 may be fabricated of generally arcuately shaped members and may be fabricated of rod or tubing material although the generally flexible characteristics of the necklace extensions 42 are preferred.

The necklace extensions 42 may be connected to the band member 16 using the connector assemblies 46 in the same manner as was described above and as is shown in FIG. 1 for connecting the comb members 28 to the band ends 18. As such, the band ends 18 may have the generally open interior end portions 20 for receiving the V-shaped clasp members 50. It should be noted that the connector assemblies 46 may be configured in any number of alternative arrangements. For example, the clasp members 50 may be configured to provide a frictional fit with the interior end portions 20 of the band ends 18. Alternatively, threads may be provided on ends of the connector assembly 46 to engage mating threads formed within the interior end portions 20.

In addition, the connector assembly 46, as used to connect the necklace extensions 42 to the band ends 18, may be articulated in the same manner as was earlier described such that the necklace extensions 42 are generally freely pivotable. The hinge members 40 may provide the articulated or hinged movement through the connector hinge 48, which may be separately or integrally formed with the connector assembly 46 as was earlier described for the attachment of the comb members 28. The detent mechanism 66 provides a means for non-pivotably fixing the decorative article in the tiara configuration while allowing the decorative articles a limited degree of pivotal movement when rotated into the necklace configuration.

Regarding the interconnection of the extension ends 44, the jewelry system 10 may include a variety of mating mechanisms 52. As is shown in FIG. 4, the mating mechanism 52 may preferably, but optionally, comprise a pair of mating members 54 mounted on respective ones of the necklace extensions 42 adjacent the extension ends 44. Generally, the mating members 54 may be configured to be releaseably securable together such that the necklace extensions 42 may be easily connected and disconnected from one another. Toward this end, the mating mechanism 52 may include an elongate locking pin 56 configured to engage the pair of mating members 54 wherein the mating members 54 are configured as axially alignable elongate tubes.

More specifically, one of the mating members 54 may include a spaced pair of generally axially aligned hollow elongate first and second end tubes 58, 60 and which may be mounted on one of the necklace extensions 42 adjacent to the extension end 44. As shown in FIG. 4, the first and second end tubes 58, 60 may be disposed in general axial alignment with the necklace extension 42. The other one of the mating members 54 may comprise an elongate hollow intermediate tube 62 mounted on the other one of the necklace extensions 42 adjacent to the extension end 44. The intermediate tube 62 may also be disposed and mounted on the necklace extension 42 in general axial alignment therewith. Both the first and second end tubes 58, 60 and the intermediate tube 62 are preferably oriented to be facing one another when the necklace extensions 42 are connected to the band member 16. Such orientation of the end tubes 58, 60 and the intermediate tubes 62 is preferable to minimize contact of sharp edges thereof with the wearer's skin.

The intermediate tube 62 may be sized and configured to be complementary to the first and second end tubes 58, 60. More specifically, first and second end tubes 58, 60 and the intermediate tube 62 may have equivalent inner diameters which are preferably complementary to an outer diameter of the locking pin 56 to allow for a relatively close axially sliding fit therebetween. Furthermore, the intermediate tube 62 is preferably configured to be of a length that is insertable or positionable between the first and second end tubes 58, 60 when the pair of extension ends 44 are brought into substantially parallel alignment with one another, as is shown in FIG. 4.

The locking pin 56 may preferably be sized and configured such that full engagement of the locking pin 56 into the first and second end tubes 58, 60 and intermediate tube 62 permits secure engagement of the necklace extensions 42 to one another. The locking pin 56 may include a laterally outwardly extending tab that may be easily accessed when the jewelry system 10 is worn in the necklace configuration 26. The tab may allow for digital reciprocation of the locking pin 56 into and out of the first and second end tubes 58, 60 and the intermediate tube 62 in order to connect or disconnect the extensions ends 44.

Alternatively, the mating mechanism 52 may be configured as a barrel clasp (not shown) wherein one half of a fitting screws or threads into a mating half of the fitting such that the threadably engaged halves resemble a barrel. However, there are a wide variety of other configurations of the connector assembly 46 well known in the art such as a lobster clay clasp or a spring ring clasp, which may be used as the mating mechanism 52 to secure the necklace extensions 42 together such that the necklace extensions 42 and band member 16 essentially form the continuous loop. In addition, the mating mechanism 52 may be configured using a variety of alternative components that are well known in the art, including pins, hooks, tabs, or posts that may be mechanically interconnected by a hinged band or similar components.

In operation, the jewelry system 10 may be easily reconfigured between the tiara configuration 24 and the necklace configuration 26. For example, in the tiara configuration 24, the jewelry system 10 comprises the band member 16 having the decorative articles 38 preferably positioned thereon to extend generally laterally outwardly relative to the band plane A as is shown in FIGS. 1-2. Optionally, the comb members 28 may be connected to the band member 16 at the band ends 18 by inserting the connector assemblies 46 into respective ones of the interior end portions 20. The tiara 12 may then be positioned on the head of the wearer with the comb members 28 placed into engagement with the wearer's hair.

When reconfigured into the necklace configuration 26, the comb members 28 are removed from the band ends 18 and are replaced by the pair of necklace extensions 42 which are simply connected to respective ones of the band ends 18. If the connector assemblies 46 are included with the necklace extensions 42, the connector assemblies 46 may be inserted into the interior end portions 20. The decorative articles 38 may be rotated into general alignment with the band plane A. The extension ends 44 may be connected together by first axially aligning the first and second end tubes 58, 60 of one of the extension ends 44 with the intermediate tube 62 of the other one of the extension ends 44.

The intermediate tube 62 is preferably positioned between the first and second end tubes 58, 60 as is shown in FIG. 4. The locking pin 56 may then by axially inserted through the first and second end tubes 58, 60 and the intermediate tube 62 to secure such components together thereby forming the continuous loop. The necklace 14 may be worn around the wearer's neck with the tiara 12 being properly displayed on the chest of the wearer such that the ornamental features of the decorative articles 38 are outwardly visible. Reconfiguration of the jewelry system 10 into the tiara configuration 24 is achieved by reversing the above-described steps.

Additional modifications and improvements of the present invention may also be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art. Thus, the particular combination of parts described and illustrated herein is intended to represent only certain embodiments of the present invention, and is not intended to serve as limitations of alternative devices within the spirit and scope of the invention





 
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