Title:
Earring with pivotal hook wire and fastener
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An earring with a hook-shaped wire that is connected to one end of the body of the earring by a hinged or pivoting connector and is secured by fastening the free end of the wire to the back of the body by snapping it into a catch or installing into a clasp.



Inventors:
Miller, Linda Gail (Petaluma, CA, US)
Application Number:
10/913595
Publication Date:
02/09/2006
Filing Date:
08/09/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A44C7/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LAVINDER, JACK W
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BERT P. KRAGES II (PORTLAND, OR, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. An earring comprising an earring body having a top end and another end and a front face and a back face, said top end connecting pivotably to one end of an ear wire, and said back face containing a fastener to which the other end of the ear wire is located and secured in a locked position.

2. The earring described in claim 1 where the fastener is a catch having an opening wider than the diameter of the ear wire into which the other end of the ear wire is snapped over a restricted portion at the entrance of the opening that is narrower than the diameter of the ear wire.

3. The earring described in claim 1 where the fastener is a catch having an opening slightly wider than the diameter of the ear wire into which the other end of ear wire is snapped over a restricted portion at the entrance of the opening that is slightly narrower than the diameter of the ear wire.

4. The earring described in claim 1 where the fastener is a clasp having an opening into which the other end of the ear wire is shifted through a space in the opening which can be opened and closed by selectively moving an obstructing member.

5. An earring comprising an earring body having a top end and another end and a front face and a back face, said top end connecting pivotably by a hinge to one end of an ear wire, and said back face containing a fastener to which the other end of the ear wire is located and secured in a locked position.

6. The earring described in claim 5 where the fastener is a catch having an opening wider than the diameter of the ear wire into which the other end ear wire is snapped over a restricted portion at the entrance of the opening that is narrower than the diameter of the ear wire.

7. The earring described in claim 5 where the fastener is a catch having an opening slightly wider than the diameter of the ear wire into which the other end of the ear wire is snapped over a restricted portion at the entrance of the opening that is slightly narrower than the diameter of the ear wire.

8. The earring described in claim 5 where the fastener is a clasp having an opening into which the other end of the ear wire is shifted through a space in the opening which can be opened and closed by selectively moving an obstructing member.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCED TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

None

FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH

No

SEQUENCE LISTING OR PROGRAM

Not Applicable

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates to pierced earrings, specifically those of the type that utilize a hook-shaped wire to secure the earring to the ear lobe. These are referred to in the trade as the fishhook, shepherd's hook, and sometimes the french wire style. This type of earring consists of a body portion incorporating the design element of the earring and a hook shaped wire affixed to the body which passes through a pierced ear. When a plain hook-shaped wire is placed on the ear, the only security against loss depends on the length of the ear wire.

2. Prior Art

There have been several means developed to secure earrings that utilize hook-shaped wires. One method is to incorporate a small hook in the wire or the back of the earring body to hold the loose end of the wire by the spring tension of the wire. A version of this type of design is commercially available and is popularly known in the trade as kidney wires. The use of small hooks to secure earrings by spring-loaded wires has been the subjects of several patents. The earring described in U.S. Pat. No. 148,390 to W. S. Tuppan requires the wearer to push and pull on the wire to get it on and off which eventually results in malformed wires and the loss of spring. F. W. Moore in U.S. Pat. No. 293,268 offers a hooked wire which uses a spring-loaded hinge to supply the pressure needed to secure the wire in the hook. However, the loop and coil in this design allow for lateral shift which makes the connection between the ear wire and the hook difficult and ultimately insecure. S. F. Merritt in U.S. Pat. No. 326,135 designed a very complicated solution which features an upper wire hinged to the base of the earring that attaches to a lower hook hinged to the base. The lower hook incorporates a catch wire that engages the upper wire to provide leverage that results in the pressure needed to secure the upper wire in the hook. It is difficult to manufacture, difficult for the wearer to put on, and vulnerable because of its delicacy and complicated construction.

Another approach to securing earrings that are attached to the ear lobe through an upper wire is to use a hinged arm at the bottom of the earring that pivots upwards to engage the upper wire. This style is known generically in the trade as the lever back. Both U.S. Pat. Nos. 411,509 by C. P. Pike and 5,644,823 by Montaquila have a short curved wire secured by a hinged element snapping up from the bottom. The problem with these styles is that it is hard for the wearer to put on such short ear wires. The earrings are more often than not out of balance, and the decorative design feature falls forward and down creating an undesirable look.

M. Auerbach in U.S. Pat. No. 983,598 attempts to solve the problem of securing ear wires with the addition of threads at the end of the ear wire, and a screw device that hinges up to meet the ear wire that fits onto the threads. A. C. Cicerchi takes the same approach to solving the problem in U.S. Pat. No. 1,419,021. However, designs that feature threaded wires are extremely difficult and uncomfortable to put on because the wearer has to run the threaded wire through the ear lobe. Furthermore it is time consuming and cumbersome to perform the screwing operation required to latch the earring.

Another means of securing ear wires that is known in the prior art is the use of keepers. A keeper is a small cylinder with a hole along the longitudinal axis which is placed over the end of the wire after the earring is installed in the ear. A friction fit is normally used to secure the keeper but as shown by Auerbach in U.S. Pat. No. 983,598, a nut attached to the threaded end of the wire can also be used. Once installed, the keeper prevents the ear wire from slipping off the ear because it has a larger diameter than the hole pierced through the ear. The disadvantage of keepers is that they can difficult to place over the wire and are prone to getting lost.

To date, the use of a hinged wire combined with a snap catch has not been used to secure earrings of the hook-shaped wire style. This use of a hinged or pivoting wire has been used with snap catches in earrings of the hoop design as shown by R. Pintarelli in U.S. Pat. No. 3,673,815 and G. Silveri in U.S. Pat. No. 5,761,928. A hoop earring consists of a hoop portion and a ear lobe connection portion which is either a continuation of the wire hoop or a short span of wire connected at one end of the hoop and that latches into the other end. They present a distinctly different appearance than earring designs utilizing hook-shaped wires.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention consists of an earring with a hook-shaped wire that is connected to one end of the body of the earring by a hinged or pivoting connector. The earring is installed by passing the free end of the wire through a pierced ear and then fastening the free end to the back of the body by snapping it into a catch or installing into a clasp.

There is a need for earrings that utilize hook-shaped wires that can be secured in a manner that does not stress or fatigue the wire and that are simple and comfortable to install. The present invention has the following objects and advantages:

1. It uses a hook-shaped wire that is long and very easy to guide through the ear lobe and in to position. The pivot atop the body element allows the earring to open for unrestricted access to the wire without bending or misshaping it. When closing, the pivot aligns the hook wire in a proper position for closure. The earring when put on the ear prior to clasping is well balanced and hangs correctly facing forward.

2. The hook wire is easily guided into the catch or clasp without the necessity of visual observation. In the variation with a catch, the positive locking mechanism is extremely convenient and simple to use. When snapping into place a click is heard indicating that the hook wire is secure. Slight force is required by the wearer to unclasp the earring, reducing the risk of loss. The variation using a clasp has similar features except that no click is heard indicating that the hook wire is secure. Suitable clasps are of the type that consists an opening that can be closed by a selectively engageable tab or member. Spring ring clasps are one example of a suitable clasp and are operated by retracting a spring-biased member from a hollow portion of the C-shaped housing that supports the spring biased member. Lobster clasps are another kind of suitable clasp, consisting of a spring-biased tab and hook resembling a lobster claw that can be selectively articulated to open and close around the wire.

3. The hinge mechanism as shown provides a stop mechanism when the earring is fully open. The earring is stable and easy to handle when in the open position.

Further objects and advantages of the invention will become apparent from a consideration of the drawings and ensuing description.

DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the back of the invention with the wire in an open position and constructed with a catch.

FIG. 2 is a side view of the invention with the wire depicted in the closed position and in the open position.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the back of the invention in an open position showing an alternative orientation and construction of the catch.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the back of a variation of the invention employing a length of wire beyond the pivot to effect a tension on the wire in the closed position, and employing a variation of the orientation and configuration of the fastener.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a variation of the invention showing an alternative positioning of the catch and the application of the wire.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a variation of the invention showing a spring ring clasp instead of a catch.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a variation of the invention showing a top opening safety clasp instead of a catch.

DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The earring comprises a main body element 10 which is also the design element. Atop the body element 10 is a pivot 12 or hinge configuration affixed to the center of the top of the body. It is positioned to accept the pivotal hook wire 14 which when connected through the hinge extends upward from the design element, through the ear lobe, curves down behind the body element to meet the catch mechanism 16 attached to the back of the body element. The hinge mechanism itself 12 controls any lateral movement in the ear wire. When the pivotal end of the ear wire 18 is shaped it accepts the pivot portion of the hinge mechanism 19 and should curl back to allow the front facing part of the ear wire to remain flat as shown at 20. This will insure that the ear wire will stop at a 90-degree rotation when opening as shown at 22 and allow for a stable configuration for placement through the ear. The restricted lateral movement due to hinge mechanism 12 forces the earring into the correct positioning for closing. The ear wire is easily grasped by catch mechanism 16.

This catch mechanism consists of a unit containing a slot 26 terminating in a wider opening 24. The slot is enlarged to define a wide mouth 26 wherein the free end of the pivotal hook wire 30 is easily guided into the slot and at the intersection of said extended slot and wider opening is a restricted neck section 28 through which the free end of the pivotal hook wire 30 is snapped for positive locking. The latch end of the pivotal wire 30 may curve up slightly 32 to allow the wearer to grasp and pull the ear wire through the restricted neck section for removal.

The slot of said latching member may be oriented in various ways relative to the body portion of the earring, thereby offering different measures of security regarding the latch. When the enlarged slot is oriented directly in the plane of the pivotal hook wire (FIG. 1) the ear wire can be successfully guided into the slot 26 through the restricted neck area 28 and into the enlarged portion 24 of the clasp for positive locking. When the enlarged slot of the catch mechanism is placed on the back of the body portion perpendicular to the plane of the pivotal wire 34 (FIG. 3), the free end of the hook wire 40 may be pushed into the enlarged slot 38 by guiding the free end of the wire around the clasp mechanism and through the slot 38 on the side of the mechanism. In this configuration the upper portion of the slot has been modified 36 by reducing one side of the neck to facilitate the proper location of the ear wire. After the wire is positively locked in place, the catch mechanism itself forms a hook 40 which acts as an additional security feature.

A spring feature may be added to the invention as shown in FIG. 4. An extension of wire 42 beyond the pivot 44 and opposite free end of the hook wire can serve to provide tension in a closed position between the back of the body of the earring and the top of the clasp mechanism.