Title:
Selectively self-adjustable jewelry item and method of making same
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An article of jewelry is disclosed wherein a stretchable filament is threaded through or otherwise attached to a desired number of ornaments and maintained in loop form by a knot tied in the filament. The filament is formed of a material that may be stretched between two extremes: a minimally stretched length and a fully stretched length. The filament further has a relaxed length that is less than the fully stretched length. The filament is selectively adjustable in that the relaxed length may be adjusted upward but not downward. Also disclosed is a method for tying a symmetric, sturdy knot in the stretchable filament that includes the step of simultaneously pulling with substantially equal force on each of the trailing ends exiting the knot in such a way that a portion of the filament including the knot is stretched to or almost to its fully stretched length.



Inventors:
Robertson, Catrina M. (Gilbert, AZ, US)
Robertson, David G. (Gilbert, AZ, US)
Application Number:
09/952545
Publication Date:
03/20/2003
Filing Date:
09/14/2001
Assignee:
ROBERTSON CATRINA M.
ROBERTSON DAVID G.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A44C11/00; (IPC1-7): A44C5/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
MITCHELL, KATHERINE W
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SCHMEISER OLSEN & WATTS (MESA, AZ, US)
Claims:

We claim:



1. An article of jewelry comprising: a filament stretchable between a minimally stretched length and a fully stretched length, said filament forming a loop, said filament having a relaxed length less than said fully stretched length, said relaxed length selectively adjustable such that said relaxed length may be adjusted upward but not downward; and a knot tied in said filament, said knot maintaining said loop in said filament.

2. The invention of claim 1, further comprising at least one ornament slidably engaging said filament.

3. The invention of claim 2 wherein said ornament contains an opening sized to restrictively admit the passage of said knot through said ornament.

4. The invention of claim 1 wherein said relaxed length is initially equal to said minimally stretched length.

5. The invention of claim 1 wherein said filament has a thickness greater than or equal to 0.3 millimeters and less than or equal to 0.6 millimeters.

6. The invention of claim 1 wherein said fully stretched length is at least double said minimally stretched length.

7. The invention of claim 1 wherein said relaxed length is such that said loop may removably engage a portion of a human body.

8. The invention of claim 7 wherein said relaxed length self-adjusts during an adjustment period to conform to said portion of a human body.

9. The invention of claim 8 wherein said adjustment period is at least two hours.

10. The invention of claim 7 wherein said portion of a human body is a toe.

11. The invention of claim 1 wherein said knot is a square knot.

12. A method of making an article of jewelry, said method comprising the steps of: (1) threading a desired number of ornaments onto a filament, said filament having a minimally stretched length, a fully stretched length, and a relaxed length less than said fully stretched length, said relaxed length selectively adjustable such that said relaxed length may be adjusted upward but not downward; (2) forming a loop in said filament; and (3) tying a knot in said filament, said knot maintaining said loop in said filament.

13. The method of claim 12 wherein a portion of said filament is stretched to or substantially to said fully stretched length during the tying of said knot, said portion of said filament comprising said knot.

14. The method of claim 12 further comprising the step of concealing said knot inside said ornament.

15. The method of claim 12 wherein said knot is a square knot.

16. A display card for an article of jewelry comprising a stretchable filament having a minimally stretched length, a fully stretched length, and a relaxed length less than said fully stretched length, said display card comprising: (1) a plurality of attachment points to vary the size of said filament; and (2) first and second side portions, said first side portion sloped with respect to said second side portion such that said display card has a region of narrowest width at or near said first side portion, wherein said filament may slide on said display card such that said article of jewelry adopts said minimally stretched length.

17. A method of selecting a size for an article of jewelry, said article of jewelry comprising a stretchable filament having a minimally stretched length, a fully stretched length, and a relaxed length less than said fully stretched length, said method comprising the steps of: (1) placing said article of jewelry on a display card such that said article of jewelry contacts said display card at a plurality of attachment points, said display card having a plurality of widths; and (2) selecting said attachment points such that a distance between said attachment points is substantially equal to said size for said article of jewelry.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Technical Field

[0002] This invention generally relates to jewelry, and more specifically relates to an article of jewelry that selectively self-adjusts to fit the portion of the body where it is worn.

[0003] 2. Background Art

[0004] Rings, necklaces, bracelets, and similar articles of jewelry conventionally form loops that are worn around a portion of the body such as a neck, arm, ankle, toe, finger, or wrist. Some of these loops are made of stretchy, elastic material that may expand while being placed on the body, and that may contract after being so placed. Many bracelets and rings are made by threading beads or other ornaments onto a band of stretchy material prior to forming the band into a loop. In these cases, the loop must be permanently joined in some fashion so that the ornaments and the jewelry item remain in their proper place: the ornaments on the band and the jewelry on the body.

[0005] Toe rings are one example of the jewelry items described above. However, toe rings are unique when one considers the areas, circumstances, and parameters involved in wearing these pieces of jewelry. With other pieces of jewelry, such as those that fit around a neck, wrist, etc., the portion of the body being encircled does not experience a significant amount of impact or strain under normal conditions. Furthermore, other body extremities do not experience as much of a change in size as might one's toes. This is generally true since the flow of blood, and pressure due to a significant amount of walking, often result in the enlargement of one's feet and toes. In addition, most of the other areas of the body are not covered or restrained in the same way an individual's foot may be. These factors, and the fact that various pressures and impacts can easily cause pressure from one toe to the next, create a much different environment when considering a toe ring. Additionally, there is a great deal of versatility required due to the fact that many different types of foot coverings are worn by individuals, including not only shoes and sandals and the like, but also a variety of socks and stockings.

[0006] Existing toe rings form loops that encircle the toe and are maintained in loop form by crimping the ends of the band of stretchy material. This is conventionally done either by enclosing the ends in a casing that presses against and prevents the ends from moving, or by overlapping the ends and applying enough force to the ends themselves that they tend to stick to each other, fuse together, or otherwise remain joined. The crimping process compromises the strength and integrity of the band, and thus of the toe ring or other jewelry item itself, often leading to breakage. Furthermore, certain crimping methods don't work on some popular band materials or sizes, causing some jewelry manufacturers to use alternative band material that is less comfortable, or otherwise less desirable.

[0007] A further drawback of existing toe rings is that many of them are constructed using band material that does not adapt well to changing size requirements. For example, because a particular toe ring may be worn on different toes, the ring should be able to adjust in size while remaining comfortable to wear. Much existing band material is too thick, too inflexible, or otherwise unsuitable for needed size adaptation and comfort.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0008] Therefore, there exists a need for a jewelry product that is comfortable, adapts easily to changing size requirements, and is strong enough to withstand the pressures placed upon it. The present invention fills that need by providing an article of jewelry wherein a thin stretchable filament is threaded through or otherwise attached to a desired number of ornaments and maintained in loop form by a knot tied in the filament. The filament is formed of a material that may be stretched between two extremes, referred to herein as a minimally stretched length and a fully stretched length.

[0009] The filament further has a relaxed length that is less than the fully stretched length. The filament material has a potentially retrainable memory and is thus selectively adjustable in that the relaxed length may be adjusted upward to the limit represented by the fully stretched length, but not be adjusted downward. Once the filament has adapted to a particular size, corresponding to a particular relaxed length, it will not afterwards return to a smaller size, even if its previous relaxed length corresponded to that smaller size. However, the filament memory may be retrained, during an adjustment period, to have a larger relaxed length, i.e., a larger quiescent state.

[0010] The ability of the filament to selectively self-adjust to an appropriate size contributes significantly to the ring-wearer's comfort. It enables the wearer to place the ring in the desired location with confidence that, after an adjustment period, the ring will adopt a size suitable for its location. When properly adjusted, the ring may fit so well as to be virtually undetectable on the toe.

[0011] A method of making a toe ring according to the present invention includes a method for tying a symmetric, sturdy knot in the filament. This method comprises the step of simultaneously pulling with substantially equal force on each of the trailing ends exiting the knot in such a way that a portion of the filament including the knot is stretched to, or almost to, its fully stretched length. This knot-tying method contributes to the integrity of the toe ring by discouraging slippage. “Trailing ends” are the portions of the filament that exit the knot, as will be further explained below.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0012] The foregoing and other features and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following more particular description of specific embodiments of the invention, as illustrated in the accompanying drawings, wherein:

[0013] FIG. 1 is a view of toe ring components and a completed toe ring configured according to an embodiment of the present invention;

[0014] FIG. 2 is a view of a knot used in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

[0015] FIG. 3 is a view of a toe ring placed on a display card according to an embodiment of the present invention; and

[0016] FIG. 4 is a view of an alternate placement of a toe ring on a display card.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

[0017] The present invention is an article of jewelry wherein a stretchable filament is threaded through one or more ornaments and maintained in loop form by a knot tied in the filament. The filament is formed of a material that may be stretched between two extremes: a minimally stretched length and a fully stretched length. The filament further has a relaxed length that is less than the fully stretched length. The filament is selectively adjustable in that the relaxed length may be adjusted upward but not downward. Also disclosed is a method for making the loop which includes tying a symmetric, sturdy knot in the stretchable filament that includes the step of simultaneously pulling with substantially equal force on each of the trailing ends exiting the knot in such a way that a portion of the filament including the knot is stretched to, or substantially to, its fully stretched length.

[0018] Referring now to the figures, and in particular to FIG. 1, a filament 10 comprises a stretchy material characterized by a minimally stretched length, a fully stretched length, and a relaxed length. The relaxed length is less than the fully stretched length, meaning that in its quiescent state, filament 10 is shorter than when it is fully stretched. Filament 10 may in one embodiment be generally round such that it may easily roll or slide along a generally smooth object. In one embodiment, the fully stretched length of filament 10 may be at least double its minimally stretched length. In a particular embodiment, the fully stretched length may be between double and triple the minimally stretched length. The more filament 10 stretches, the greater the options for sizing the toe ring upward in size, as will be further explained below.

[0019] Filament 10 is further characterized by an ability to self-adjust from smaller to larger relaxed lengths. In other words, once filament 10 has adopted a particular relaxed length, it may not then assume or be returned to a smaller length, except under certain circumstances which will be described below. This quality of filament 10 contributes to the comfort of the present invention.

[0020] In one embodiment, filament 10, after adopting a particular relaxed length, may be returned, or induced to return, to a smaller relaxed length upon heating filament 10 above a certain temperature. Various materials exist that exhibit this quality, as will be readily apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art, and any of such materials may be used in the present invention, provided they have the further properties described above for filament 10.

[0021] In one embodiment of the invention, filament 10 comprises the elastic polymer sold under the name Stretch Magic™ by Pepperell Braiding Company located in Pepperell, Mass. In other embodiments, filament 10 is any stretchable cord that has a relaxed length capable of selective self-adjustment as explained above. In one embodiment, filament 10 may have a diameter of 0.5 millimeters, although diameters greater than or equal to 0.3 millimeters and less than or equal to 0.6 millimeters are also acceptable. Diameters above 0.6 millimeters may cause discomfort, even cutting off circulation in the toe, due to increased force. Furthermore, with a diameter greater than 0.6 millimeters, filament 10 does not stretch as easily and may not change its relaxed length. This is because the extra thickness creates a much stronger filament that retains its initial relaxed length, interfering with the ability of filament 10 to adapt to toe size.

[0022] In this description of the invention, “minimally stretched length” means the original, unaltered length of a piece of filament 10. “Fully stretched length” means the length of the same piece of filament 10 when it is stretched to the point beyond which it will break. “Relaxed length” means the length possessed by the same piece of filament 10 when it is unaffected by stretching and other forces, i.e., when it is in its quiescent state. Initially, the relaxed length of filament 10 is equal to its minimally stretched length. In one embodiment, filament 10 may have a fully stretched length that exceeds its minimally stretched length by at least a factor of two.

[0023] The relaxed length of filament 10 may be adjusted by subjecting filament 10 to a stretching force. A stretching force is one that tends to increase the length of filament 10. In one embodiment of the invention, filament 10 may be made into a loop and formed into an article of jewelry, as will be further described below, and placed around a portion of the body such as a toe. If the circumference of the toe is greater than the relaxed length of filament 10, the relaxed length adapts to more nearly match the circumference of the toe. This adaptation takes place automatically, without any action other than the placement of filament 10 on the toe, and makes possible a very comfortable fit of the jewelry. Further adding to the comfort of the wearer, filament 10 will not resume its smaller relaxed length once it has thus adjusted, meaning the adjustment must be made only once, during a single adjustment period. The length of the adjustment period may vary, but may conventionally be on the order of a few hours or days. Accordingly, stretching filament 10 to be moved over a body part will not affect the relaxed length.

[0024] Referring still to FIG. 1, an ornament 12 may be threaded onto filament 10 by passing filament 10 through an aperture 18 that passes through ornament 12. In one embodiment, multiple ornaments 12 may be used, while in another embodiment, no ornaments are used. Alternatively, ornaments 12 may be attached to filament 10 in some other fashion, such as by gluing or tying them. A ring 14 is depicted in completed form, and comprises filament 10, ornaments 12 and a knot 16. Knot 16 maintains filament 10 in loop form. Where ornaments 12 are threaded onto filament 10, knot 16 may be pulled through aperture 18, in part because filament 10 is stretchable, and be retained within ornament 12 or its mounting. Aperture 18 may be sized to allow knot 16 to be restrictively pulled through aperture 18, meaning that knot 16 may pass through aperture 18, but it may not pass through unimpeded.

[0025] FIG. 2 depicts knot 16 in a semi-completed state before it has been fully tightened. Knot 16 has trailing ends 20. “Trailing ends” herein means those portions of filament 10 that exit, or protrude from, knot 16. They may, but need not necessarily, terminate after exiting knot 16. According to one embodiment of the present invention, knot 16 may be tightened by simultaneously pulling on each of trailing ends 20 with substantially equal force in a direction away from knot 16. In the pictured embodiment, knot 16 is a square knot, used for its strength and integrity, and has four trailing ends 20. Square knots tend to resist unintentional untying. However, knot 16 may be any knot or arrangement of filament 10, with any number of trailing ends 20, that tends to maintain filament 10 in loop form.

[0026] Knot 16 may be created by intertwining opposing ends of filament 10 in any manner that creates a trailing end 20. As mentioned above, trailing ends 20 may then simultaneously be pulled in a direction away from knot 16 with substantially equal force. If desired, trailing ends 20 that terminate after exiting knot 16 may be trimmed or cut. In one embodiment, trailing ends 20 are trimmed so as to be long enough that knot 16 does not fall apart as a result of slippage of filament 10. Knot 16 is also tied so as to resist slipping, as follows. During the tying process, the portion of filament 10 that contains knot 16 is stretched to or substantially to its fully stretched length. This method of tying knot 16 also contributes to the aesthetics of ring 14 by discouraging lopsidedness. Furthermore, when tied according to the above method, knot 16, due to its size and uniformity, enhances the comfort of a wearer of ring 14.

[0027] The above method of tying knot 16 may be used as part of a method of producing an article of jewelry according to the present invention, as will now be outlined. A desired number of ornaments 12 may be threaded onto or otherwise attached to filament 10. A loop may then be formed in filament 10, after which a knot 16 may be tied, as in the preceding, or some other, manner. Knot 16 tends to maintain filament 10 in loop form, thus preventing ornaments 12 from becoming separated from ring 14.

[0028] In FIG. 3, ring 14 is shown displayed on a display card 22. As it is pictured in FIG. 3, display card 22 has the shape of a human foot, but it may also take any other form or shape suitable for displaying ring 14. As shown, display card 22 offers various points of attachment, for example between and around toes 24, as well as widths in a variety of values, such as the width at a lower toe line 26 and the smaller width at an instep 28. At least one of the sides of display card 22 slopes inward toward the other side of display card 22 at instep 28, so that ring 14 can on its own find a resting place most appropriate for its relaxed length without significant stretching.

[0029] Display card 22 has a top surface 33 having four indents 25, 27, 29, and 31. Opposing sides 35 and 37 extend downwardly from top surface 33. The bottom of the indents are curved, and side 35 is curved inward toward the opposite side 37 so that filament 10 may be placed on display card 22 and the proper size chosen and secured.

[0030] Although ring 14 and filament 10 are stretchable and thus capable of fitting toes in a range of sizes, a particular ring 14 may have a size especially suitable for a particular person. The multiple points of attachment and the varying widths of display card 22 offer a way to check that size visually, eliminating the need to physically place ring 14 on the body. Display card 22 displays ring 14 in such a way that ring 14 is stretched slightly beyond its minimally stretched length to a length that may closely match the circumference of a person's toe or other body part. This allows a person to hold ring 14 next to the body part and visually determine whether ring 14 offers a good fit. This selection method is advantageous for many reasons, including reasons related to sanitation and convenience.

[0031] A square or rectangular display card would not offer the useful variety discussed above, although such cards may be used in conjunction with the invention. The width variations allow jewelry items of various sizes to be displayed on display card 22. A further advantage of display card 22 is that a foot-shaped card is instructive in that it is shaped like a portion of the human anatomy. Ring 14 may thus be displayed on a foot-shaped display card. Other appropriately shaped display cards 22 may be used for other styles and versions of ring 14.

[0032] In FIG. 4, ring 14 rests in toe gap 31 of display card 22. Because filament 10 may be trained to adopt various relaxed lengths based on the amount filament 10 is stretched, display card 22 may act as a sizing device in addition to a mechanism for displaying ring 14. Display card 22 may take rings 14 of substantially identical initial relaxed lengths and create, after an adjustment period, rings 14 of differing relaxed lengths depending on where rings 14 are mounted on display card 22. For example, ring 14 as mounted in FIG. 4 may have a different relaxed length than may ring 14 as mounted in FIG. 3. The points of attachment for rings 14 on display card 22 may be selected depending on what relaxed lengths are desired for rings 14.

[0033] The foregoing description has described selected embodiments of an article of jewelry wherein a stretchable filament is threaded through or otherwise attached to a desired number of ornaments and maintained in loop form by a knot tied in the filament. The filament is formed of a material that may be stretched between two extremes: a minimally stretched length and a fully stretched length. The filament further has a relaxed length that is less than the fully stretched length. The filament is selectively adjustable in that the relaxed length may be adjusted upward but not downward. Also described was a method for tying a symmetric, sturdy knot in the stretchable filament that includes the step of simultaneously pulling with substantially equal force on each of the trailing ends exiting the knot in such a way that a portion of the filament including the knot is stretched to or almost to its fully stretched length.

[0034] While the invention has been particularly shown and described with reference to selected embodiments thereof, it will be readily understood by one of ordinary skill in the art that, as limited only by the appended claims, various changes in form and details may be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.