Refrigerator art jewelry
Kind Code:

A method and machine for making personalized jewelry. A picture or drawing, preferably one with sentimental value, is scanned or digitally imported into a computer and saved as image data. The image data is manipulated by the computer's software and is used along with parameter information input by an operator to create numerical milling controls that are sent to a milling machine. The control instructions are executed by the milling machine and the result is that a replica of the scanned picture or drawing is milled into a piece of precious metal that is held by the machine. The piece of precious metal with the replicated image can be adapted to be worn as a pendant, a charm, earrings or as other types of jewelry. The method can be used to turn a whimsical piece of “refrigerator art” into a long lasting and treasured piece of “refrigerator art jewelry”, for example. Coloring agents can optionally be applied to milled areas of the metal to reproduce color drawings or pictures.

Zieverink, Robert M. (Wake Forest, NC, US)
Application Number:
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Primary Class:
International Classes:
A44C25/00; A44C27/00; (IPC1-7): A44C25/00
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Primary Examiner:
Attorney, Agent or Firm:

I claim:

1. A method for making a personalized piece of jewelry comprising the steps of: digitally capturing a picture or drawing in a computer; storing the captured picture or drawing as image data; manipulating the image data with computer software to produce a numerical milling command; replicating the picture or drawing on a piece of metal by executing the numerical milling command on a computer controlled milling machine; and adapting the piece of metal so it can be worn as a piece of jewelry.

2. The method of claim 1 wherein, the picture or drawing is in color and the step of replicating includes adding color to the piece of metal so that a color replica is produced.

3. The method of claim 1 wherein, the drawing comprises a child's drawing, a professional's drawing, or a handwritten message.

4. The method of claim 1 wherein, the step of digitally capturing comprises scanning or taking a digital picture of the picture or drawing.

5. The method of claim 1 wherein, the step of digitally capturing comprises importing a picture or drawing that is already in a digital form into the system.

6. A computerized milling machine for making a personalized piece of jewelry, comprising: a digital capturing device for importing a picture or drawing; a memory for storing a digital representation of the picture or drawing; a computer controlled milling machine; and, processing circuitry for reading the memory, creating milling machine instructions, and controlling the milling machine in a manner that results in the picture or drawing being replicated on a piece of metal by the milling machine.

7. The milling machine of claim 6 wherein, coloring agents are added to the piece of metal after milling so that a color picture or drawing is replicated.

8. The milling machine of claim 6 wherein, the drawing comprises a child's drawing, a professional's drawing, or a handwritten message.

9. The milling machine of claim 6 wherein, the digital capturing device is a scanner or a digital camera.

10. The milling machine of claim 6 wherein the picture or drawing is already in a digital form and the digital capturing device merely facilitates importing the digital form into the machine.

11. An article of jewelry comprising a precious metal with an image milled into a surface of the metal by a computer controlled milling machine wherein the image is a replication of a painting or drawing that was scanned or otherwise digitally captured by the computer controlled milling machine.

12. The article of claim 11 wherein, the image that is replicated on the metal is in color.

13. The article of claim 11 wherein, the image is a child's drawing, a professional's drawing, or a handwritten message.



[0001] The present invention relates generally to the field of jewelry design and manufacturing, and more specifically to a method for turning pictures and drawings into pendants and other jewelry.

[0002] Jewelry holds an important place in history and continues to play an integral role in society. The giving and receiving of precious metals, rare stones and other forms of jewelry has been the universal sign of love, gratuity and loyalty. Such gifts allow the poorest of recipients to temporarily feel like royalty. Rare stones, such as rubies and emeralds, can be cut and polished to accent light that shines through the stone and subsequently mounted on a ring or worn as a pendant. Precious metals, such as gold and silver, can also be worn as rings and pendants but have the additional characteristic of being malleable. This characteristic allows these metals to be shaped into many different forms, thus giving jewelry making many more possibilities. Precious metals can also be engraved with a name, initials or a short message, to personalize the gift. Personalizing gifts and otherwise making gifts unique gives an additional quality to the gift.

[0003] A novel way of personalizing a piece of jewelry for a parent is to turn a drawing made by their child into a piece of jewelry. For example, a drawing that had hung in the kitchen on the refrigerator for a period of time could be memorialized as a gold pendent that contained a replication of the family's “refrigerator art”. The present method involves digitally capturing a picture or drawing in a computer. The picture is then manipulated so as to produce milled and unmilled areas. Numerical codes are then produced and downloaded to a milling machine and a picture or drawing is replicated on the piece of metal in a 3 axis or 2 dimension cutting or a 4 axis or 3 dimension cutting by the computerized milling machine. Computer aided drawings as well as scanned in pictures are manipulated by the computer as to size, shape, and distortion. A milling numerical code is then produced by software and stored in memory. The milling numerical code is downloaded to the milling machine software and milling takes place. The piece of metal to be milled is held by a portion of the milling hardware during the milling process. Upon completion of the present method, the resulting piece of jewelry provides a permanent reminder of the picture or drawing that was imported into the computerized milling machine.

[0004] During the early part of the 20th century, machine tools were enlarged and accuracy improved. After 1920 they became more specialized in their applications. From about 1930 to 1950 more powerful and rigid machine tools were built to effectively utilize the improved cutting materials that had become available. These specialized machine tools made it possible to manufacture standardized products economically. The machines, however, lacked flexibility and they were not adaptable to a variety of products or to variations in manufacturing standards. As a result, in the past three decades engineers have developed highly versatile and accurate machine tools that have been adapted to computer control, making possible the economical manufacture of products of complex design.

[0005] Optical scanners are computer input devices that use light-sensing equipment to scan paper or another medium, translating the pattern of light and dark (or color) into a digital signal that can be manipulated by either optical character recognition software or graphics software. A frequently encountered type of scanner is “flatbed,” meaning that the scanning device moves across or reads across a stationary document. On a flatbed scanner such as the common office copier, such objects are placed face down on a flat piece of glass and scanned by a mechanism that passes under them. Another type of flatbed scanner uses a scanning element placed in a stationary housing above the document. Other scanners work by pulling in sheets of paper, which are scanned as they pass over a stationary scanning mechanism, as in the common office fax machine. Some specialized scanners work with a standard video camera, translating the video signal into a digital signal for processing by computer software. A popular type of scanner is the hand-held scanner, so called because the user holds the scanner in his or her hand and moves it over the document to be scanned. Hand-held scanners have the advantage of relatively low cost.

[0006] Regarding the milling process, there are many different methods for removing selected areas from a piece of metal. In a milling machine, a workpiece is fed against a circular device with a series of cutting edges on its circumference. The workpiece is held on a table that controls the feed against the cutter. The table conventionally has three possible movements: longitudinal, horizontal, and vertical; in some cases it can also rotate. Milling machines are the most versatile of all machine tools. Flat or contoured surfaces may be machined with excellent finish and accuracy. Angles, slots, gear teeth, and recess cuts can be made by using various cutters.

[0007] Grinding is the removal of metal by a rotating abrasive wheel; the action is similar to that of a milling cutter. The wheel is composed of many small grains of abrasive, bonded together, with each grain acting as a miniature cutting tool. The process produces extremely smooth and accurate finishes. Because only a small amount of material is removed at each pass of the wheel, grinding machines require fine wheel regulation. The pressure of the wheel against the workpiece can be made very slight, so that grinding can be carried out on fragile materials that cannot be machined by other conventional devices.

[0008] Unconventional machine tools include plasma-arc, laser-beam, electrodischarge, electrochemical, ultrasonic, and electron-beam machines. These machine tools were developed primarily to shape the ultrahard alloys used in heavy industry and in aerospace applications and to shape and etch the ultrathin materials used in such electronic devices as microprocessors.

[0009] Plasma-arc machining (PAM) employs a high-velocity jet of high-temperature gas to melt and displace material in its path. The materials cut by PAM are generally those that are difficult to cut by any other means, such as stainless steels and aluminum alloys.

[0010] Laser-beam machining (LBM) is accomplished by precisely manipulating a beam of coherent light (or laser) to vaporize unwanted material. LBM is particularly suited to making accurately placed holes. The LBM process can make holes in refractory metals and ceramics and in very thin materials without warping the workpiece. Extremely fine wires can also be welded using LBM equipment.

[0011] Electrodischarge machining (EDM), also known as spark erosion, employs electrical energy to remove metal from the workpiece without touching it. A pulsating high-frequency electric current is applied between the tool point and the workpiece, causing sparks to jump the gap and vaporize small areas of the workpiece. Because no cutting forces are involved, light, delicate operations can be performed on thin workpieces. EDM can produce shapes unobtainable by any conventional machining process.

[0012] Electrochemical machining (ECM) also uses electrical energy to remove material. An electrolytic cell is created in an electrolyte medium, with the tool as the cathode and the workpiece as the anode. A high-amperage, low-voltage current is used to dissolve the metal and to remove it from the workpiece, which must be electrically conductive. A wide variety of operations can be performed by ECM; these operations include etching, marking, hole making, and milling.

[0013] Ultrasonic machining (USM) employs high-frequency, low-amplitude vibrations to create holes and other cavities. A relatively soft tool is shaped as desired and vibrated against the workpiece while a mixture of fine abrasive and water flows between them. The friction of the abrasive particles gradually cuts the workpiece. Materials such as hardened steel, carbides, rubies, quartz, diamonds, and glass can easily be machined by USM.


[0014] A method and machine that replicates a picture or drawing onto a piece of precious metal which can subsequently be worn as jewelry. The method comprises the steps of capturing a digital representation of the picture or drawing through digital devices such as scanners and digital cameras, integrating the digital representation into instructions that control a computerized milling machine, and using the machine to reproduce the picture or drawing on a piece of precious metal wherein the precious metal can subsequently be worn as jewelry. The picture or drawing can be any scannable picture or drawing or digitally captured picture or drawing created by a novice or professional and preferable has some sentimental value to the wearer of the jewelry. The present system also allows for replication of color pictures and drawings. The system may comprise separate modules that are electrically connected or one integrated unit.


[0015] The invention of the present application will now be described in more detail with reference to the accompanying drawings, given only by way of example, in which:

[0016] FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of the present system;

[0017] FIG. 2 is a flow chart of the steps of the present method;

[0018] FIG. 3(a) is an example of a child's drawing;

[0019] FIG. 3(b) is an example a piece of jewelry made with the present method;

[0020] FIG. 4(a) is an example of a professional drawing;

[0021] FIG. 4(b) is an example of a piece of jewelry made with the present method; and,

[0022] FIG. 5 is another example of a piece of jewelry made using the present method.


[0023] FIG. 1 shows the main components of the present jewelry making system. Digital capturing device 1 is used to import an image contained in a picture or drawing into the memory of computer 2. Digital capturing device 1 can be a scanner, a digital camera or other similar device. The imported image can be from any picture or drawing, with the idea being that the founder the person is of the picture or drawing, the founder they will be of the resulting piece of jewelry. Alternatively, if the image to be captured is already in digital form, such as a computer assisted drawing or an e-mail, then the image can be imported directly to computer 2. The captured image is stored as a digital representation of the imported picture or drawing. This “image data” is processed by computer 2 and a set of machine instructions are produced. The machine instructions are sent to computer controlled milling machine 3 and are used to control the actions of machine 3. During the milling process, the picture or drawing is milled into a piece of metal, such as gold, by computer controlled milling machine 3. Machine 3 has the ability to reproduce intricate details of the imported drawing. Coloring agents such as colored resins or enamels can be added into milled areas to produce a final colored product.

[0024] The main components are shown in FIG. 1 as three separate modules that are electrically connected to each other. However in physical embodiments, the system may comprise separate modules or the modules can be combined into one integrated unit. In all embodiments, the system provides a user interface, such as a keyboard and display unit, for input by the operator.

[0025] FIG. 2 is a flow chart of the main steps involved in the present method of personalized jewelry making. In step 4, a picture, drawing or other image is digitally captured and imported into the system. One of the first drawings used by the present system was a young child's drawing that had previously been hung on the family's refrigerator door. The whimsical drawing was turned into a personalized pendant that serves as a lasting reminder to the family of a special time. Of course if the image is already in digital form, then step 4 can be skipped. The picture or drawing can be by a child, a novice, or a professional artist. Further, the image to be imported can also simply be handwriting, wherein a handwritten message, for example, would then be reproduced on the piece of metal. In step 5, a digital representation of the picture or drawing is stored in the system's memory as image data. In step 6, the image data is processed by the system to create a set of instructions that when executed by the milling machine will reproduce the imported image on a piece of metal. The present method works very well on gold and silver, but is not limited to these two precious metals, and may be used on other appropriate materials as well. In most cases, the imported image will be reduced in size when it is replicated on the metal. Also in step 6, an operator of the machine inputs parameters such as the type of metal to be milled and the desired size of the milled image. These “type” and “size” parameters are used in step 6 to create the set of machine instructions. In step 7, the machine instructions are sent to and executed by the milling machine. As a result of executing the instructions created in step 6, a replica of the captured image from step 4 is milled into the piece of metal. Optionally following step 7, color can be added by filling milled areas with coloring agents so that color images can also be replicated.

[0026] FIG. 3(a) is a sample child's drawing 8 that is typically brought home by the child that made it, given to the parents and hung on the family refrigerator as “refrigerator art”. These drawings can hold a special place in the hearts of the parents and many parents never forget certain pieces of their family's “refrigerator art”. In FIG. 3(b), the drawing has been turned into a piece of “refrigerator art jewelry”. Necklace 9 holds the piece refrigerator art jewelry, pendant 10, which is a reproduction of drawing 8 in FIG. 3(a). Enhancement 11 shows the enlarged image that has been milled into pedant 10. The image on pendant 10 is a duplicate of the image in drawing 8.

[0027] FIGS. 4(a) & (b) are similar to FIGS. 3(a) & (b), respectively, except that this time a professional drawing 12 has been used as the image to be scanned or imported. Professional drawing 12 is scanned by or imported to the present system, a set of machine instructions is created and executed, and the resulting piece of jewelry is shown in FIG. 4(b) as pendant 14, which hangs on necklace 13. Again, enhancement 15 is an enlarged view of the image that has been milled into pendant 14. The image milled into pendant 14 is a replica of the image in professional drawing 12.

[0028] FIG. 5 shows bracelet 16 with jewelry pieces of many different shapes hanging therefrom. FIG. 5 is intended to show that jewelry produced by the present method can come in many different shapes. Further, the produced jewelry pieces do not have to be pendants, as shown in FIGS. 3(b) and 4(b). Jewelry produced by the present method can also be charms worn on a bracelet, as is shown in FIG. 5. The produced jewelry can also be adapted to be worn as earrings, broaches, bracelets without charms, and even rings. For band type bracelets and rings, the image can be milled directly into the bracelet or ring, or the milled piece can be mounted on or inserted into the bracelet or ring.

[0029] The foregoing description of the specific embodiments will so fully reveal the general nature of the invention that others can, by applying current knowledge, readily modify and/or adapt for various applications such specific embodiments without departing from the generic concept. Therefore, such adaptations and modifications should and are intended to be comprehended within the meaning and range of equivalents of the disclosed embodiments. It is to be understood that the phraseology of terminology employed herein is for the purpose of description and not of limitation.