Title:
Fingernail jewelry
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Jewelry for fingernails and toenails that is removably but securely attachable to a natural or artificial nail, such as false fingernails. The fingernail jewelry comprises a nail plate that attaches to the distal end and/or sides of the nail. The nail plate has an upper portion and a lower portion defining a cavity at the first end of the nail plate. The distal end and/or sides of the nail is received in the cavity. In one embodiment, the cavity tightly holds the nail to prevent the fingernail jewelry from being easily dislodged. In another embodiment, an adhesive secures the nail plate to the nail. In yet another embodiment, connectors pass through the nail plate and threadably attach to the nail. The connector heads are incorporated into a design element. In a further embodiment, stud members extend downward from the nail plate into apertures on the nails.



Inventors:
Tucker, Colleen (Merced, CA, US)
Gorman, Teresa (Merced, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/251343
Publication Date:
04/19/2007
Filing Date:
10/14/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A45D29/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MANAHAN, TODD E
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
RICHARD A. RYAN (Fresno, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A fingernail jewelry for use on a nail having a distal end and a pair of opposing sides, said fingernail jewelry comprising: a nail plate having a first end, a second end and a pair of opposing sides, said nail plate further comprising an upper portion and a lower portion, said upper portion and said lower portion defining a cavity at said first end and/or said opposing sides of said nail plate, said cavity configured to receive said distal end and/or said opposing sides of said nail; and means for securing said nail plate to said nail.

2. The fingernail jewelry according to claim 1, wherein said nail plate comprises one or more apertures and said securing means is one or more connectors received through said apertures into said nail.

3. The fingernail jewelry according to claim 2, wherein said one or more connectors are threadably received into said nail.

4. The fingernail jewelry according to claim 2, wherein said one or more apertures are located in a design element on said upper portion of said nail plate.

5. The fingernail jewelry according to claim 2, wherein said one or more connectors have a head member and a post member, said head member configured with an enhancing element, said post member configured to pass through said apertures and threadably engage said nail.

6. The fingernail jewelry according to claim 1, wherein said upper portion has an upper surface and a lower surface and said lower portion has a upper surface and a lower surface, said cavity disposed between said lower surface of said upper portion and said upper surface of said lower portion, said lower surface of said upper portion and said upper surface of said lower portion configured to tightly engage said distal end of said nail.

7. The fingernail jewelry according to claim 1, wherein said securing means is an adhesive disposed between said distal end and/or said sides of said nail and said cavity of said nail plate.

8. The fingernail jewelry according to claim 1, wherein said securing means comprises at least one stud member extending generally downwardly from said nail plate and at least one fingernail aperture in said nail, said fingernail aperture configured to received said stud member therein.

9. The fingernail jewelry according to claim 8, wherein said fingernail aperture is sized and configured to tightly receive said stud member therein and hold said nail plate on said nail.

10. The fingernail jewelry according to claim 8, wherein said securing means further comprises an adhesive disposed between said distal end and/or said sides of said nail and said cavity of said nail plate.

11. The fingernail jewelry according to claim 1, wherein said upper portion of said nail plate has an upper surface, said upper surface having one or more design elements and/or one or more enhancing elements thereon.

12. A fingernail jewelry for use on a nail having a distal end and a pair of opposing sides, said fingernail jewelry comprising: a nail plate having a first end, a second end and a pair of opposing sides, said nail plate further comprising an upper portion and a lower portion, said upper portion and said lower portion defining a cavity at said first end and/or said opposing sides of said nail plate, said cavity configured to receive said distal end and/or said opposing sides of said nail, said upper portion of said nail plate having an upper surface, said upper surface having one or more design elements and/or one or more enhancing elements thereon; one or more apertures on said nail plate; and one or more connectors received through said apertures and threadably engage said nail.

13. The fingernail jewelry according to claim 12, wherein one of said one or more apertures are located in at least one of said design elements.

14. The fingernail jewelry according to claim 12, wherein said one or more connectors have a head member and a post member, said head member configured with an enhancing element, said post member configured to pass through said apertures and threadably engage said nail.

15. A method of installing fingernail jewelry on a nail having a distal end and a pair of opposing sides, said method comprising the steps of: a) placing a template on said nail at the position desired for said fingernail jewelry; b) identifying a trim area on said nail to be removed therefrom; c) removing said trim area from said nail; d) removing said template from said nail; e) placing a nail plate of said fingernail jewelry on said nail, said nail plate having an upper portion and a lower portion defining a cavity therebetween at said first end of said nail plate, said distal end and/or said sides of said nail received in said cavity at said first end and/or a pair of sides of said nail plate; and f) securing said nail plate to said nail.

16. The method according to claim 15, wherein said nail plate placing step comprises placing an adhesive on said nail and/or in said cavity and said securing step is accomplished by allowing said adhesive to set.

17. The method according to claim 15, wherein said securing step is accomplished by inserting a connector through an aperture in said nail plate and threadably engaging said connector with said nail.

18. The method according to claim 17 further comprising the step of drilling a fingernail aperture in said nail through a template aperture in said template after said template placing step, said fingernail aperture sized and configured to receive said connector.

19. The method according to claim 15 further comprising the step of drilling a fingernail aperture in said nail through a template aperture in said template after said template placing step, said securing step accomplished by a stud member extending generally downward from said nail plate into said fingernail aperture.

20. The method according to claim 19, wherein said nail plate placing step comprises placing an adhesive on said nail and/or in said cavity and said securing step is further accomplished by allowing said adhesive to set.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

None.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

A. Field of the Invention

The field of the present invention relates generally to apparatuses and processes for decorating or adorning fingernails, whether natural or artificial, with artwork and/or jewelry. More particularly, the present invention relates to such apparatuses and processes that are simple to utilize, relatively low cost and reusable. Even more particularly, the present invention relates to fingernail apparatuses and processes that utilize a decorative nail plate which is configured to be received on a fingernail and secured thereto with a connector, a post or an adhesive.

B. Background

The enhancement or modification of fingernails to improve their appearance and that of the person generally is well known and practiced by many people, although primarily women. One such very common modification is to color or paint the fingernails with fingernail polish and other materials so as to enhance or change the color of the natural fingernail. Another very common and desirable modification is to have longer length fingernails such that the fingernail tips extends some distance past the end of the person's fingers. Many people consider colored and longer length fingernails to enhance femininity and beauty. Unfortunately, use of the hands and fingers for common everyday activities, such as cleaning, typing, handling various materials and the like, make it very difficult to maintain the desired polish or length of the fingernails. As is well known, such activities tend to break, tear, scar or otherwise damage a person's fingernails, thereby taking away from the desired femininity or beauty enhancement. Due in part to the difficulty associate with maintaining fingernails in the desired aesthetic condition, an entire sector of the cosmetic industry has developed that specializes in taking care of a person's fingernails. In addition, although a number of people at least attempt to take care of their own fingernails, many people go to nail or beauty salons and the like that have manicurists who trim, file, polish and decorate a person's fingernails.

Although the visual “look” of the fingernails can be changed relatively easy by removing any existing fingernail polish and applying new fingernail polish on the fingernails, growing long fingernails takes some time. The difficultly in growing and maintaining long fingernails has led to a number of artificial fingernail attachments that, when installed on the fingernails, longitudinally extends the length of the person's natural fingernail. Generally, the devices for extending the natural length of the fingernails comprise acrylic or press-on fingernail extensions that are attached through adhesives to the person's natural fingernail. Once attached, the fingernail extension is then trimmed, filed and polished, in much the same way as long natural fingernails. One advantage of artificial fingernails is that, depending on the manner or materials used to attach the fingernail extensions, the person can have longer fingernails for the weekend, weekday social engagement or other activity when desired, and then remove them when the longer fingernails are no longer desired or are inappropriate.

In addition to merely coloring the fingernails or utilizing artificial fingernails, a number of different devices and methods of enhancing or modifying the fingernails are also well known. For instance, nail artists are available to paint designs on a person's fingernails. These designs can be from simple lines and other geometric shapes to sophisticated and elaborate designs incorporating a variety of animals, plant and other figures. Needless to say, to obtain a well done design requires the skills of a person of sufficient artistic ability. As such, the use of such a method of fingernail enhancement is somewhat limited by the availability and cost of such artists. In addition to artwork, it is also well known to adorn the fingernails with rhinestones, gems or jewels by adhering the material to the fingernail. As one would expect, this can be a time consuming process. The use of stencils to apply designs to fingernails is a well known alternative to the skills of an artist. Fingernail stencils are typically provided in a sheet that requires the applier to lift the stencil from the sheet, remove the cutout (the design) from the stencil and then press the stencil on the fingernails at the desired position(s). Once the stencil is attached, the person then applies the desired nail art color over the stencil, allows the material to set, carefully removes the stencil and then applies a topcoat and bonder over the entire fingernail. The use of decals and striping tape is also well known. For this method of fingernail enhancement, the striping tape and decals are placed in the desired position, pressed down firmly against the fingernail and then a topcoat and bonder is applied over the striping tape and decals. If desired, rhinestones are placed on the fingernails and then sealed with a topcoat and bonder. Another method of enhancing fingernails is directed towards a French manicure style and comprises applying a basecoat to the fingernail, placing a white tip guide onto the fingernails just below the desired white tip area, applying a white nail polish to the area above the guide, allowing the polish to dry, peeling off the guide and then covering the entire fingernail with a sheer color topcoat. Use of jewelry to enhance the fingernails is also well known. A common method of attaching jewelry to fingernails involves the use of a specially configured nail drill that is used to drill a hole in the fingernail and then placing the post of the jewelry through the drilled hole, tightening a hex nut onto the post from below and then cutting the post off close to the nut with post cutters. Various combinations of the foregoing are also well known.

A number of prior art patents have addressed various issues with regard to enhancing or modifying fingernails. For instance, U.S. Pat. No. 5,975,087 to Jang describes an artificial nail overlay that is configured with a picture or pattern offset-printed on a fabric strip having an adhesive coated on the opposite surface of the fabric strip. U.S. Pat. No. 5,675,989 to Abraskin describes a fingernail adornment that comprises a selected display object, such as a charm or the like, that is spaced apart and interconnected to the fingernail by a nominally-sized chain that is attached to the fingernail with an adhesive in a manner that enables the display object to move in a dangling manner. U.S. Pat. No. 1,238,046 to Nuss describes a fingernail ornament that comprises a plate at the end of the fingernail and utilizes a spring tongue configuration to secure the plate to the fingernail. U.S. Pat. No. D445,542 to Dubnicka discloses a removable fingernail ring and charm holder that is similar in concept to a ring for pieced ear. U.S. Pat. No. 2,013,290 to Rohrbach describes a fingernail device that is in the shape of a crescent that fits over the tip of the fingernail. U.S. Pat. No. 4,751,935 to Mast, et al. describes an artificial fingernail formed of a polymer plastic having light diffusing means in the front or tip end portion of the artificial fingernail to obtain a natural appearing contrast between the front portion of the fingernail and the back portion of the fingernail. U.S. Pat. No. 6,394,100 to Chang describes an ornamental fingernail overlay having reusable, pressure-sensitive layer on the bottom surface thereof, which is textured to enhance the adhesion of the adhesive layer. U.S. Pat. No. 6,382,217 to Coker, et al. describes a process for fabricating custom fit removable and reusable false metal fingernails. U.S. Pat. No. 5,309,365 to Sullivan, et al. and U.S. Pat. No. 6,525,724 to Takami describe systems and devices for sensing the contours and shape of a person's fingernail for placement of a decorative design or pattern on the fingernail, either directly on the fingernail or by way of a material having an adhesive layer thereon.

While the foregoing prior art and patents describe a variety of different devices and methods of enhancing or modifying fingernails, there is a need for an improved device and method. Initially, the foregoing have generally been available for a number of years and are somewhat stale from a fashion sense or at least their popularity is somewhat limited. In addition, a number of the prior art devices and methods are not easy for an individual to place on their own fingernail, particularly when placement on the fingernails of the dominant hand are desired, thereby requiring the person to utilize his or her less dominant hand to adorn the fingernails of the dominant hand. In addition, a number of the prior art devices are not readily reusable, therefore requiring the consumer to buy fresh supplies each time he or she desires to enhance their fingernails. Many of the prior art devices and methods are somewhat awkward, tedious and require a number of different steps to place on the fingernail, thereby being quite time consuming to apply. Certain of the prior art devices and methods of enhancing or modifying fingernails are best accomplished by professional manicurists, which is known to be somewhat costly and require the person to set aside sufficient amount of time to have the tasks completed, including whatever travel or waiting time is necessary.

What is needed, therefore, is fingernail jewelry that is easier and faster to apply and configured such that most individuals will be able to enhance or modify their own fingernails without the need of a professional manicurist, thereby reducing the cost of enhancing or modifying the fingernails. The improved fingernail jewelry should be adaptable to a wide variety of different designs, configurations and materials, including the use of gold, silver and other metals and precious or semi-precious gems or other jewels. The improved fingernail jewelry should be removable and reusable to further reduce the cost of applying the fingernail jewelry to the person's fingernails. The fingernail jewelry should be adaptable to both natural and artificial fingernails, including acrylic and press-on nails.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The fingernail jewelry of the present invention provides the benefits and solves the problems identified above. That is to say, the present invention discloses fingernail jewelry that enables most people to easily and quickly enhance and modify their own fingernails without the need to attend and pay for an appointment with a professional manicurist. As such, the present invention reduces the cost and amount of time necessary to enhance and modify a person's fingernails. In addition, the fingernail jewelry of the present invention further reduces the cost of enhancing fingernails by being reusable. The fingernail jewelry of the present invention is adaptable to both natural and artificial fingernails and can be made out of a wide variety of different materials in a wide variety of different designs and configurations. The fingernail jewelry is adaptable for use with virtually all types of precious, semi-precious and artificial gems and jewels.

In one general aspect of the present invention, the fingernail jewelry of the present invention is configured for placement on a fingernail, natural or artificial, having a proximal end near the cuticles, an opposite distal end and a pair of opposing sides. The fingernail jewelry comprises a nail plate having a first end, a second end and a pair of opposing sides. The nail plate has an upper portion that is placed above the fingernail and a lower portion that extends below the fingernail to help hold the nail plate in place and prevent the fingernail jewelry from flopping around. The upper portion and lower portion of the nail plate form a cavity at the first end thereof that receives the distal end of the fingernail. The nail plate can be made out of a variety of materials, including gold and/or silver, and in a nearly infinite number of designs that utilize both positive and negative spacing, including various geometric, animal or other figure designs. Design elements, such as stars, flowers or other objects and enhancement materials, such as diamonds, rubies, cubic zirconium, cut glass and the like, can further adorn the outer surface of the upper portion of the nail plate.

The fingernail jewelry also includes an attachment mechanism for securely attaching the fingernail jewelry to the fingernail. In one embodiment, the fingernail and cavity are cooperatively sized and configured such the distal end of the fingernail is tightly received inside the cavity to prevent the fingernail jewelry from being easily dislodged or knocked off of the fingernail. In this configuration, the lower surface of the upper portion and the upper surface of the lower portion are in abutting relation with the top and bottom sides of the fingernail. In another embodiment, an adhesive is disposed between the distal end and the sides of the fingernail and the cavity to secure the fingernail jewelry on the fingernail. The adhesive can be applied to the fingernail and/or the cavity and should be of the type that is dissolvable with a commonly available and utilized solvent, such as nail polish remover. In another embodiment, the nail plate is secured onto the fingernail by one or more connectors, such as small screws or bolts, that extend through the nail plate and into the fingernail. Fingernail apertures can be located on the fingernail to receive the connectors. Preferably, the apertures on the fingernail jewelry can be incorporated into a design element thereon such that it is not easily discernable that the connector is utilized. In one configuration, the head of the connector is attached to an enhancement material to further hide the connector in the design. The process of installing the fingernail jewelry on a fingernail includes the use of a template to locate the fingernail apertures and identify any trim area at the distal end that needs to be cut, filed or otherwise removed to provide a fingernail shaped and configured with a distal end that fits well into the cavity of the nail plate. The present invention is also suitable for use with toenails.

Accordingly, the primary objective of the present invention is to provide fingernail jewelry that has the advantages discussed above and that overcomes the disadvantages and limitations which are associated with presently available fingernail jewelry.

It is an important objective of the present invention to provide fingernail jewelry for enhancing or modifying fingernails that is relatively easy and quick to install so that most users thereof will be able to install it themselves to reduce or eliminate the costs and time associated with having professional manicurists enhance or modify their fingernails.

It is also an important objective of the present invention to provide fingernail jewelry that is removable and reusable.

It is also an important objective of the present invention to provide fingernail jewelry that is adaptable for both natural and artificial nails, including acrylic and press-on nails.

It is also an important objective of the present invention to provide fingernail jewelry that can be manufactured out of a wide variety of different materials and in a wide variety of different designs that can incorporate many different types of jewels, gems, rhinestones, artificial materials and the like, such that the decoration is inherent in the nail jewelry.

The above and other objectives of the present invention will be explained in greater detail by reference to the attached figures and the description of the preferred embodiment which follows. As set forth herein, the present invention resides in the novel features of form, construction, mode of operation and combination of processes presently described and understood by the claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In the drawings which illustrate the preferred embodiments and the best modes presently contemplated for carrying out the present invention:

FIG. 1 is a top exploded view of one embodiment of the fingernail jewelry configured according to the principles of the present invention showing the use of connectors to attach the fingernail jewelry to the fingernail;

FIG. 2 is a proximal end view of the fingernail jewelry shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a bottom view of the fingernail jewelry shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a top view showing the fingernail jewelry of FIG. 1 installed on the fingernail;

FIG. 5 is a top view of an alternatively configured fingernail jewelry of the present invention installed on a fingernail;

FIG. 6 is a top view of another alternatively configured fingernail jewelry of the present invention installed on a fingernail;

FIG. 7 is a top view of another alternatively configured fingernail jewelry of the present invention installed on a fingernail;

FIG. 8 is a proximal end view of an alternative configuration for the fingernail jewelry of the present invention showing the use of a pair of attached stud members affixed to and extending generally downwardly from the fingernail jewelry; and

FIG. 9 is top view of a fingernail having a fingernail jewelry template configured according to the principles of the present invention placed thereon.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

With reference to the figures where like elements have been given like numerical designations to facilitate the reader's understanding of the present invention, and particularly with reference to the embodiment of the fingernail jewelry of the present invention that is illustrated in the figures, various preferred embodiments of the present invention are set forth below. The enclosed description and drawings are merely illustrative of various alternative embodiments and represent only several different ways of configuring the present invention. Although specific components, materials, configurations and uses of the present invention are illustrated and set forth in this disclosure, it should be understood that a number of variations to the components and to the configuration of the components described herein and in the accompanying figures can be made without changing the scope and function of the invention set forth herein. For purposes of this disclosure, references are generally to use of the jewelry of the present invention with fingernails, however, it will be readily understood by those skilled in the art that the disclosure herein is not so limited as the jewelry of the present invention is also useful, if desired, for toenails.

Fingernail jewelry that is manufactured out of the components and configured pursuant to the concepts and principles of the present invention is shown generally as 10 in the figures. As shown in FIG. 1, fingernail jewelry 10 is configured for use with a fingernail 12, which can be a natural fingernail or an artificial fingernail (such as those which are acrylic or press-on nails), or a toenail. Fingernail 12 has a distal end 14 that is the tip of fingernail 12 and a proximal end 16 that is generally adjacent to or towards the cuticles of fingernail 12. As those skilled in the art know, the proximal end 16 of an artificial fingernail 12 may or may not be adjacent to the cuticles of fingernail 12 depending on where the user adheres the artificial fingernail to the natural fingernail. Fingernail jewelry 10 comprises nail plate 18 formed into upper portion 20 and lower portion 22 with first end 24 which, when installed on fingernail 12 as shown in FIGS. 4 through 7, is positioned generally adjacent distal end 14 of fingernail 12 and second end 26 which is positioned generally towards, though not usually at, proximal end 16 of fingernail 12. Upper portion 20 of nail plate 18 has top surface 28 and bottom surface 30 and lower portion 22 of nail plate 18 has top surface 32 and bottom surface 34, as shown in FIG. 2. As also best shown in FIG. 2, upper portion 20 and lower portion 22 are cooperatively configured to form cavity 36 therebetween at first end 24 of fingernail jewelry 10, in which the distal end 14 of fingernail 12 is received when fingernail jewelry 10 is placed on fingernail 12. In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1 through 4, cavity 36 extends around to the sides 38 and 40 of fingernail jewelry 10, as best shown in FIG. 3. The sides 38 and 40 of fingernail jewelry 10 are sized and configured to receive sides 42 and 44, shown in FIG. 1, of fingernail 12. As shown in FIG. 2, nail plate 18 is sized and configured, such as with the curvilinear shape, such that distal end 14 of fingernail 12 fits within cavity 36 between upper portion 20 and lower portion 22 of fingernail jewelry 10. This may require providing fingernail jewelry 10 with different sized cavities 36, such as small, medium and large, for different thickness of fingernails 12 and/or the trimming of distal end 14 of fingernails 12 to fit inside of cavity 36. Lower portion 22 of nail plate 18 helps hold fingernail jewelry 10 in place and prevent undesirable movement (i.e., flopping around) of the fingernail jewelry.

In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, nail plate 18 is cooperatively sized and configured with fingernail 12, as set forth below, such that fingernail 12 conforms to the shape of fingernail jewelry 10 so that it fits snugly into cavity 36. In one configuration, the bottom surface 30 of upper portion 20 abuttingly engages the top side of fingernail 12 and the top surface 32 of lower portion 22 abuttingly engages the bottom side of fingernail 12. When properly configured, the sides 38 and 40 of fingernail jewelry 10 will tightly engage the sides 42 and 44, respectively, of fingernail 12. In an alternative preferred embodiment of the present invention, an attachment mechanism is utilized to fixedly attach fingernail jewelry 10 to fingernail 12. For instance, and adhesive 46 can be placed in cavity 36 prior to placement of fingernail jewelry 10 on fingernail 12 (i.e., by the insertion of distal end 14 into cavity 36). Preferably, adhesive 46 is of the quick dry type of nail glue utilized in various prior art fingernail decorative devices and methods. This type of adhesive 46 is generally provided in a dispenser that is suitable for directing adhesive 46 towards cavity 36 of fingernail jewelry 10 or onto distal end 14 of fingernail 12, is known to bond well with the materials of fingernail 12 and fingernail jewelry 10 and is easily unbonded or separated with the use of an acetone-type nail polish remover of the type that is utilized to remove nail polish.

As will be readily recognized by those skilled in the art, nail plate 18 can be made out of a wide variety of materials or combinations of materials, with gold, silver and other precious metals likely being the most popular, and in wide variety of designs, a few samples of which are shown in FIGS. 4 through 7. The designs for nail plate 18 can incorporate positive and negative space, symmetric designs, scroll designs and various curved or angular shapes. In addition, to the basic design configuration, fingernail jewelry 10 can also comprise one or more design elements, examples of which are shown as 48 in the figures, placed on nail plate 18. A wide variety of configurations are also available for design elements 48. If desired, one or more enhancing materials 50, such as jewels or other precious, semi-precious or non-precious items, including diamonds, rubies, rhinestones, cubic zirconium or cut glass, can also be placed on nail plate 18. Enhancing materials 50 can be incorporated into design elements 48, as shown in FIG. 5. The materials for nail plate 18, the designs which nail plate can be configured, the design elements 48 and the enhancing materials 50 which can be utilized with fingernail jewelry 10 of the present invention are virtually unlimited. As will be recognized by those skilled in the art, however, some materials may be more costly, harder to work with or fragile compared to others, particularly depending on the design chosen for nail plate 18 or design element 48.

As set forth above, a method of attaching fingernail jewelry 10 to fingernail 12 is to size and configure it to snugly fit onto distal end 14 and sides 42 and 44 of fingernail 12 or, in an alternative to or in conjunction therewith, to utilize adhesive 46 inside cavity 36 to attach fingernail jewelry 10 to fingernail 12. A more preferred attachment mechanism for attaching fingernail jewelry 10 to fingernail 12 is the use of one or more connectors 52, shown in FIG. 1, that are configured to engagedly connect nail plate 18 to fingernail 12. Connectors 52 can be screw, bolt or like elements that engage fingernail 12. Preferably, the use of connectors 52 are incorporated into the design or design elements 48 on nail plate 18 such that their utilitarian function is not obvious to the casual observer. For instance, design elements 48 can be provided with an aperture 54 therein that is sized to allow the post member 56 of connector to pass through and engage fingernail 12. The head member 58 of connector 52 can be shaped and configured (i.e., by choosing the appropriate material or colors) such that it “blends” with design element 48 or resembles a diamond or other favorable component. If desired, the head member 58 of connector 52 can have one or more decorative stones imbedded thereon or be configured to cooperatively engage a charm or other item. Fingernail 12 can be provided with a like number of fingernail apertures 60 configured to receive the post member 56 of connector 52. In one configuration, fingernail apertures 60 can pass entirely through fingernail 12 or only extend part way into fingernail 12 as a start for receiving connector 52. With natural fingernails 12, it is likely not preferred to have to drill a hole entirely through fingernail 12 due to the risk of injury to the finger underneath fingernail 12. Artificial fingernails 12 can be provided with fingernail apertures 60 prior to attachment to the natural fingernail so as to avoid this risk of injury. If connector 52 is of the self-tapping screw type of connecting element, it may only be necessary to provide a slight indentation into fingernail 12 to provide a start for the insertion of post 56 of connector 52. In any such configuration, fingernail jewelry 10 should be sufficiently attached to fingernail 12 such that incidental contact against fingernail jewelry 10 or fingernail 12 will not dislodge fingernail jewelry 10 from fingernail 12.

In an alternative configuration for fingernail jewelry 10, shown in FIG. 8, the attachment mechanism comprises one or more generally downwardly extending stud members 62 that are configured to engage a like number of fingernail apertures 60. As shown, stud members 62 protrude from the lower surface 34 of lower portion 22 of nail plate 18 to engage fingernail apertures 60 when fingernail jewelry 10 is placed on fingernail 12. Preferably, stud members 62 are sized and configured to be tightly received in fingernail apertures 60 such that fingernail jewelry 10 is secured onto fingernail 12 in a manner that it is not easily disengaged by incidental contact against fingernail jewelry 10 or fingernail 12 while the user is wearing fingernail jewelry 10. As will be readily understood by those skilled in the art, stud members 62 can be molded with fingernail jewelry 10 as part of the process of making nail plate 18 or they can be welded, glued or otherwise securely attached to nail plate 18 after it is manufactured. If desired, stud members 62 and fingernail apertures 60 can be configured such that stud members 62 are merely inserted into apertures 60 without being tightly engaged thereby. To protect against loss of fingernail jewelry 10 in this configuration, it is preferred that adhesive 46 also be utilized.

Due to the need to pre-drill fingernail apertures 60 into fingernails 12 with the use of either connector 52 or stud member 62 attachment mechanisms, it is important to ensure that the location for fingernail apertures 60 are carefully positioned. The use of cavity 36 at the first end 24 and sides 38, 40 of fingernail jewelry 10, which is in engaged relation with the distal end 14 and sides 42, 44 of fingernail 12, requires that the position of fingernail apertures 60 be set relative to the distal end 14 and sides 42, 44 of fingernail 12. Although proper positioning can be obtained through careful measurements, it is preferred that template 64 be provided, as shown in FIG. 9, having one or more template apertures 66 that are numbered and positioned in cooperation with apertures 54 on design elements 48 or elsewhere on nail plate 18. Template apertures 66 are sized to receive a drill bit or other hole means for forming fingernail apertures 60, which only has to be deep enough to receive post member 56 or stud member 62 (but preferably not through the fingernail 12 so as to protrude on the finger side of the fingernail). As it is necessary for the distal end 14 and sides 38, 40 of fingernail 12 to be properly received in cavity 36 of fingernail jewelry 10, template 64 is also configured to identify trim area 68 on fingernail 12 that the user should cut, file or otherwise remove so as to obtain the proper shape to correspond with first end 24 and sides 43, 44 of fingernail 12. As shown in FIG. 9, template is placed on fingernail 12 at the location where fingernail jewelry 10 is desired, held in place by tape, adhesive (i.e., press-on type of configuration) or otherwise by holding it still and then fingernail apertures 60 are formed and trim area 68 removed. Once fingernail 12 is configured, template 64 is removed and fingernail jewelry 10 is attached.

As stated above, fingernail jewelry 10 of the present invention can be manufactured out of a variety of different materials and in a nearly infinite variety of designs with designs elements 48 and enhancing materials thereon. Fingernail jewelry 10 can comprise a variety of different shapes, such as curved or square ends, and should be provided in different sizes for different sized fingernails 12. In use, the user places template 64 on fingernail 12 where use of fingernail jewelry 10 is desired. With template 64 in place, using a press-on or other type of arrangement, the user will remove trim area 68 by cutting and/or filing away that portion of fingernail 12. If the attachment mechanism for fingernail jewelry 10 is of the type having one or more connectors 52 or stud members 62, then the user will drill or otherwise provide one or more fingernail apertures 60 by utilizing the like number of template apertures 66. Once fingernail 12 is properly shaped and provided with apertures 60, the user removes template 64 and prepares to place fingernail jewelry 10 on fingernail 12. If adhesive 46 is to be utilized, with or without the use of connectors 52 or stud members 62, then the user applies the adhesive, such as quick dry nail glue, to inside cavity 36 of nail plate 18 and/or at the distal end 14 of fingernail 12. The distal end 14 of fingernail 12 is slid into cavity 36 to engage the distal end 14 and sides 42, 44 of fingernail 12 with the first end 24 and sides 38, 40 of fingernail jewelry 10. If connectors 52 are utilized, the user inserts connectors 52 through apertures 54 on fingernail jewelry 10, which may or may not be incorporated into a design element 48, to engage the previously provided fingernail aperture 60 and secure fingernail jewelry 10 in place on fingernail 12. If stud members 62 are utilized, then the user will insert distal end 14 into cavity 36, which will preferably have adhesive 46 therein, in a manner that facilitates stud members 62 engaging fingernail apertures 60. If fingernail apertures 60 are sized to tightly receive stud members 62, then adhesive 46 may not be required. For removal of fingernail jewelry 10, the user removes any connectors 52 and then uses a fingernail polish remover or other appropriate solvent to dissolve any adhesive 46 and disengage fingernail jewelry 10 from fingernail 12.

As will be apparent from the foregoing, the fingernail jewelry 10 of the present invention provides a less expensive way of enhancing or modifying one's fingernails 12 by reducing or eliminating the need to have installation by a professional manicurist or other nail assistance, thereby eliminating that cost and the time necessary for the appointment. The fingernail jewelry 10 is also less expensive due to is reusable nature. Because it can be manufactured out of a wide variety of materials and designs, the user can select materials and a design which is most personal and/or unique to them. In addition to serving decorative purposes, the fingernail jewelry 10 also protects the tip of the fingernail 12 from damage, such as chipping, tearing, breaking or bending, that typically occurs to longer fingernails from daily activities. The fingernail jewelry 10 can be used on one or all fingernails 12 or on one or more toenails, as desired by the user.

While there are shown and described herein certain specific alternative forms of the invention, it will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art that the invention is not so limited, but is susceptible to various modifications and rearrangements in design and materials without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. In particular, it should be noted that the present invention is subject to modification with regard to the dimensional relationships set forth herein and modifications in assembly, materials, size, shape, and use. For instance, there are numerous components described herein that can be replaced with equivalent functioning components to accomplish the objectives of the present invention.





 
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