Title:
METHOD OF FORMING HOLLOW AND SOLID JEWELRY CHAINS AND CHAINS FORMED THEREFROM
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method of forming a decorative chain includes joining a first and second material in a layered relationship, each material having a different appearance, and forming such joined material into a thread comprising a core of a third material. In one embodiment, the thread is introduced onto a support to form a spiral, and the spiral is separated into chain elements or links that are intertwined to form jewelry chains. Thereafter a portion of the first material along the outer surface of the chain is removed to reveal or expose a portion of the sub-layer of second material along the outer surface. In one embodiment, the thread core is maintained for solid link chain. In another embodiment, the thread core is removed to form hollow link chain. In either case, the outer surface of the chain is provided with contrasting appearances from the first and second materials.



Inventors:
Solanilla, Angel Ramon (Lima, PE)
Application Number:
12/134358
Publication Date:
10/01/2009
Filing Date:
06/06/2008
Assignee:
ARIN S.A. (Lima, PE)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
59/35.1
International Classes:
A44C11/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20050050920Chain and mounting for stonesMarch, 2005Heskett-brem
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20090205369SILVER-PALLADIUM ALLOYAugust, 2009Bennett
20050050918Pendant with a retractable and custom-fit chainMarch, 2005Saintil-van Goodman et al.
20050252240Jewellery element and chainNovember, 2005Junod
20050005639Precious stone settingJanuary, 2005Shagalov
20070119211Rings and method of making sameMay, 2007Nguyen



Primary Examiner:
MORGAN, EMILY M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MYERS WOLIN, LLC (WHIPPANY, NJ, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method of forming a jewelry chain comprising: a) joining a strip of first material and a strip of second material to form a joined strip comprising the first material on one side of the joined strip and the second material on an opposite side of the joined strip; b) wrapping the joined strip around a core of third material to form a thread having an exterior defined by the first material; c) creating chain links from the thread and joining the chain links together to form a string of links having an exterior; and d) removing a portion of the first material from the exterior of the string of links to expose the second material at such removed portion.

2. The method of claim 1, further comprising removing the core from one or more chain links to form links of hollow cross-section.

3. The method of claim 2, wherein the first and second materials are precious metals and the third material is a non-precious metal.

4. The method of claim 1, wherein a portion of the first material is removed by polishing, grinding, cutting, burnishing, faceting or a combination of the same.

5. The method of claim 1, wherein the chain links are joined together by hand.

6. The method of claim 1, wherein the jewelry chain comprises one of a box chain, ball chain, Forzatina chain, or rope chain.

7. A jewelry element comprising: a) a first material and a second material, b) the first material forming an exterior of the jewelry element, the second material comprising a sub-layer to the first material; and c) a portion of the first material being removed from the exterior to expose a portion of the second material.

8. The jewelry element of claim 7, wherein the jewelry element is hollow in cross-section.

9. The jewelry element of claim 7, further comprising an annular, toroidal configuration.

10. The jewelry element of claim 7, further comprising a spiral configuration.

11. The jewelry element of claim 7, further comprising a square or rectangular configuration.

12. The jewelry element of claim 8, further comprising a plurality of jewelry elements assembled to form a jewelry chain.

13. The jewelry element of claim 7, the first and second materials each has a different appearance.

14. The jewelry element of claim 13, at least one of the first and second materials comprising a precious metal.

15. The jewelry element of claim 14, each of the first and second materials comprising a different precious metal.

16. A jewelry chain comprising: a) a plurality of chain elements each formed from a first material and a second material, b) the first material forming an exterior of the chain element, the second material comprising a sub-layer to the first material; and c) a portion of the first material being removed from the exterior of one or more chain elements to expose a portion of the second material; d) wherein the one or more chain elements is hollow in cross-section.

17. The chain of claim 16, wherein the first and second materials have a different appearance.

18. The chain of claim 16, wherein the first and second materials are different precious metals.

19. The method of claim 16, wherein the jewelry chain comprises one of a box chain, ball chain, Forzatina chain, or rope chain.

20. A method of forming a jewelry chain comprising: a) providing a plurality of chain links, each chain link comprising a first material and a second material, the first material forming an exterior of the chain link, the second material comprising a sub-layer to the first material; b) forming an assembly of the plurality of chain links; and c) removing a portion of the first material from one or more chain links of the assembly to expose the second material on the one or more chain links; d) wherein the one or more chain links is hollow in cross-section.

21. The method of claim 20, wherein the one or more chain links further comprises a core of a third material prior to being formed into the assembly, the core being removed from the one or more chain links after being formed into the assembly in order to achieve a hollow cross-section.

22. The method of claim 21, wherein the core is removed after the portion of the first material is removed from the one or more chain links.

23. The method of claim 21, the first and second materials each has a different appearance.

24. The method of claim 21, wherein at least of the first and second materials are precious metals and the third material is a non-precious metal.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Application 61/039,222, filed Mar. 25, 2008, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference. This application is also related to U.S. application Ser. No. 12/054,793, filed Mar. 25, 2008, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a method of forming a jewelry chain generally, and more particularly to a method of forming hollow or solid jewelry chain, links, rings, and the like, with a decorative appearance preferably formed from at least two materials.

BACKGROUND

Jewelry chains, whether formed by hand or machine, are typically made from separate elements that are intertwined or woven together, with such elements typically defined as rings, spirals, links, and the like. Such elements also tend to be either solid or hollow and are formed from precious metal, semi-precious metal, non precious metal, or a combination of the same. Of course, jewelry chains formed from non-metallic elements are also known.

Typically, each chain element is formed from a single material, such as gold or silver, for example, and various elements of the same or different materials are intertwined to form chains of the same material or combinations of different materials as the case may be. Chains formed from single-material elements tend to be rather ordinary. This is particularly true for hollow chain elements, where the primary goal is to achieve an appearance of greatest value with the least amount of element material, and such elements tend to be formed from a single material of relatively thin-walled construction. Hollow elements in particular have limited material usage, and are generally only decorated through outer peripheral surface deformation by means of a finger, stamp, or some other tool that flattens, with one example illustrated in U.S. Pat. No. 6,223,516. Other examples are known in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,129,220 and 5,353,584 to Strobel. Thus, with hollow links or elements, it is rare that such link or element would be formed from anything more than the bare minimum amount of material.

Similarly, links or elements, whether solid or hollow, that are each formed from a single material, but that are arranged with other elements of the same or different material in a repeating or random pattern, to form a decorative jewelry chain or the like, also tend to be somewhat common. In this case, the chain as a whole is decorative, but each element or link tends to be, again, somewhat ordinary.

However, what is not commonplace is a chain or an element comprised of more than one material, and/or where there a contrast between different materials or appearances on the element or link level when assembled in a chain. This is particularly evident with hollow links or elements of single-material, thinned wall construction, where cross-sectional thickness of the link wall is at a minimum. Thus, it is not only rare to incorporate more than one material into a link or chain element of solid construction, but it is perhaps more rare to have a hollow link or chain element formed from a plurality of materials of varying appearances.

SUMMARY

A method of forming a decorative chain includes joining a first and second material in a layered relationship, each material having a different appearance, and forming such joined material into a thread comprising a core of a third material. In one embodiment, the thread is introduced onto a support to form a spiral, and the spiral is separated into chain elements or links that are intertwined to form jewelry chains. Thereafter a portion of the first material along the outer surface of the chain is removed to reveal or expose a portion of the sub-layer of second material along the outer surface. In one embodiment, the thread core is maintained for solid link chain. In another embodiment, the thread core is removed to form hollow link chain. In either case, the outer surface of the chain is preferably provided with contrasting appearances from the first and second materials.

The method is particularly useful on any handmade or machine-made chain manufactured with links, segments, rings, spirals and other accessories or the like, containing, for example for solid chains, an external gold sheet (or first material) and an internal silver sheet (or second material), and additionally, a core of silver or another metal (or third material), and for hollow chains, an external gold sheet of a first material and an internal silver sheet of a second material with a core of a non precious metal that will be extracted at the end of all processeses resulting a hollow element. Other materials, precious, semi-precious or non-preciously, are contemplated for use herein.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates one embodiment of the joining of two materials in accordance with a method of forming a jewelry chain in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 2 illustrates the two materials of FIG. 1 joined together.

FIG. 3 illustrates one embodiment of a processing of the joined material of FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 illustrates one embodiment of a processed strip formed from the processing illustrated in FIG. 3.

FIG. 5 illustrates one embodiment of a cutting process used to obtain smaller resultant strips of material.

FIG. 6 illustrates one embodiment of a resultant strip of FIG. 5 and a core used to create a thread of material.

FIG. 7 illustrates the formation of a tubular section through the introduction of the core to the resultant strip of FIG. 6.

FIG. 8A illustrates an end view of the tubular section of FIG. 7.

FIG. 8B is a cross-section of the tubular section of FIG. 8A.

FIG. 9A illustrates the creation of a thread from the tubular section of FIGS. 8A and 8B.

FIGS. 9B-9G illustrate different shapes and cross-sections obtained through the operation illustrated in FIG. 9A.

FIG. 10 illustrates one embodiment of the winding of a thread on a support.

FIG. 11A illustrates the cutting of a thread into link elements.

FIGS. 11B-11F illustrate various link elements capable of being formed by the method of the present disclosure.

FIG. 12A illustrates the cutting of a thread into spiral elements.

FIGS. 12B-12D illustrate various spiral elements capable of being formed by the method of the present disclosure.

FIG. 13A illustrates the formation of a Forzatina jewelry chain including the link elements of the present invention.

FIG. 13B illustrate the chain formed from the method of FIG. 13A.

FIG. 14A illustrates the formation of a jewelry rope chain including the link elements of the present invention.

FIG. 14B illustrate the rope chain formed from the method of FIG. 14A.

FIG. 15 illustrates one embodiment of the removal of a portion of the outer surface of a jewelry chain to reveal the sub-layer of material below the outer surface.

FIG. 16 illustrates one embodiment of a method of forming a strip into box chain links.

FIG. 17 illustrates one embodiment of a method of forming the box chain links of FIG. 16 into a string of box chain of links.

FIG. 18 illustrate the box chain formed from the method of FIGS. 16-17.

FIG. 19 illustrates one embodiment of the removal of a portion of the string of chain links to form a decorated jewelry box chain.

FIG. 20 illustrates one embodiment of a method of forming hollow link chains.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

This disclosure describes the best mode or modes of practicing the invention as presently contemplated. This description is not intended to be understood in a limiting sense, but provides an example of the invention presented solely for illustrative purposes by reference to the accompanying drawings to advise one of ordinary skill in the art of the advantages and construction of the invention. In the various views of the drawings, like reference characters designate like or similar parts.

This disclosure illustrates various methods of forming a jewelry chain, chain elements and the like, in accordance with the present invention. While the present discussion refers to a jewelry “chain” per se, it will be understood that the chain could be a portion of a chain, a necklace, an earring or a loop used for earrings, a bracelet, a pin, a ring, pendant, etc. and the like. It will also be understood that the jewelry chain could be a chain designed to be worn by a user, or a spool of chain material typically used by a wholesaler to create separate length chains for distribution to retailers or end customers. In addition, the method of the present invention could be used to create spirals, segments, or links that are formed into earrings for example, or that are woven or intertwined to form various chain designs such as box chain (see FIGS. 16-18), ball chain, Forzatina chain (FIGS. 13A-13B), rope chain (FIGS. 14A-15) and others.

One embodiment of the method starts with FIG. 1 with the provision of a first material 100 and a second material 200, typically in strip or sheet form, where the first and second materials 100, 200 are preferably precious metals such as gold, silver, platinum, etc., and more preferably where the first and second materials are different precious metals having different appearances. For example, one material could be yellow gold and the other material could be silver. In addition, the materials could be the same metal but have different colors, such as with gold that is yellow, white or rose in color. It should be appreciated that while it is preferred to use precious metals, other types of materials may be used, such as non-precious metals or non-metals, and the like. It should also be appreciated that the materials described herein can have any structural composition and configuration, size, shape, cross-section, length, width, thickness, hardness, etc., to be determined by the manufacturer and/or the user's liking and budget.

Returning to FIG. 1, the first and second materials 100, 200 are joined together preferably in a layered relationship, one material on top of the other, using a joining medium 150 such as solder or the like, to form a joined material 300 shown in FIG. 2 having opposing surfaces formed from the first and second materials 100, 200. While a welding process using a solder material is shown and described, it will be appreciated that other joining processes may be used as desired. The joined material 300 is then processed to form a predetermined dimension as shown in FIG. 3. For example, the thickness of the material can be reduced (thereby increasing the length) by passing the joined material 300 through rollers 350 or the like to form a processed material 400 as shown, for example, in FIG. 4.

FIG. 5 illustrates further processing of the processed material 400 using a multi-disc cutter 450 or the like, to form resultant strips of 500 of material that can be stored on spools 550 or the like for the next step in the process. In the embodiment shown, it is preferred that the resultant strip 500 comprises the first material 100 of one appearance or color welded on top of the second material 200 of a different appearance or color, processed so that both materials 100, 200 are the same width. Of course, while FIGS. 3-5 illustrate certain processing steps and end results, it will be appreciated that such processing steps may be optional, or other processing steps may be suggested, depending on the desired outcome. For example, it may be preferred to facet, bevel or otherwise re-design certain portions of the material 100, 200, 300, 400 and/or 500 during one or more stages of processing. The type and extent of processing is dependent on the user and should not be limited in scope by what is shown or not shown in the present disclosure.

FIG. 6 illustrates the resultant strip 500 positioned adjacent a core 600 comprising a third material, with the strip 500 and the core 600 being joined in accordance with the method illustrated in FIG. 7 below. The material composition of the core 600 will depend to some extent on the type of chain, whether hollow or solid. For solid chains, the core 600 will preferably be of a material that will remain inside the chain to form the central cross-section of a link or other element that will be used to form the chain. For hollow chains, the core 600 will be of a material that will be removed at the end of the manufacturing process of the chain, using any method known in the art. For example, with hollow chain, the core 600 may comprise iron or the like that is chemically removed from the chain to form hollow chain links or elements. In the case of solid and hollow chain, however, some material is used as a core 600 during the manufacture process of the chain.

FIG. 7 illustrates the process for joining the resultant strip 500 with a core 600 that might initially be stored on a spool 610 or the like. The resultant strip 500 passes through a first set of rollers 710 that initially prepares the resultant strip 500 to receive the core 600. The core 600 is then introduced into the prepared strip within a second series of rollers 720 and simultaneously the strip 500 is formed around the core 600 to form a tubular section 800 (FIGS. 8A, 8B) that is closed after passing through a third series of rollers 730. When the tubular section 800 is closed and the tube edges touch each other, the seam 810 of the tube is preferably welded 740 using any method that results in a good resistance and finish, such as, for example, by TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) welding. As shown in FIGS. 8A (end view) and 8B (cross-section), the processed tubular section 800 comprises the first material 100 positioned adjacent the core 600 and the second material 200 forming the exterior of the processed tube section 800.

As shown in FIG. 9A, the tubular section 800 is then introduced through a die or dies 820 of different diameters in descending order, as the case may be, to reduce the tube section 800 to a thread 900 having a cross-sectional configuration (FIG. 9B for example) that is determined based on the shape of the die outlet 840 and that is stored on a spool 910 (FIG. 10) or the like. FIGS. 9B-9G illustrate various non-limiting examples of thread cross-sections including, but not limited to, round, oval, cat eye, square, rectangular, triangular, and others, it being understood that other thread-cross sections are contemplated.

FIG. 10 illustrates one method of winding the thread 900 on a mandrel or other support 920, via a guide 930 to form a spiral 1000. The spiral 1000 can have any cross-sectional or peripheral configuration limited only by the outer peripheral configuration of the mandrel 920. For example, a round mandrel or support 920 will produce a round spiral 1000 and thereafter a rounded link 1100b (FIG. 11B). Similarly, a square mandrel or support (not shown) will result in a square link 1100d (FIG. 11D) for example. A variety of non-limiting spiral and link configurations are contemplated and shown in FIGS. 11A-11F. As shown in FIG. 11A, the spiral 1000 can be cut into separate links 1100a using a saw 1050 (FIG. 8) or the like, for example. Alternatively, as shown in FIGS. 12A-12D, the spiral 1000 can be cut into separate spiral-shaped segments 1200a of varying length using a blade 1210 or the like. These segments might be measured by number of complete turns from end-to-end, such as two (FIG. 12B), three (FIG. 12C), four (FIG. 12D) or more or less. Other methods of separating the spiral 1000 into segments, elements or links, are contemplated.

Separate links may be combined and intertwined by hand or by machine as is known in the art. FIG. 13A illustrates the successive joining of oval-shaped links 1100f (FIG. 11F) to form a so-called Forzatina chain 1300 as shown in FIG. 13B. FIG. 14A illustrates the successive intertwining of toroidal links 1100b (see FIG. 11B) to form a so-called rope chain 1400 as shown in FIG. 14B. This rope chain 1400 may be subject to a faceting operation or the like 1450 as shown in FIG. 15 to arrive at a faceted rope chain 1500 that shows part of the second material 200 contrasting in appearance with the first material 100. A variety of decorating methods can be used, such as, but not limited to, polishing, grinding, cutting, burnishing, or a combination of the same.

FIGS. 16-17 show one example or embodiment of making a jewelry chain, and in this case a box chain, using the principles of the present disclosure. For ease of explanation, strip 500 of FIG. 16 is similar to strip 500 from FIG. 5, which strip 500 is typically stored on spools 550 (FIG. 5) or the like. Strip 500, which comprises the joinder of first and second materials 100, 200, is fed into a processing machine 1600 that cuts the strip 500 into links 510. The processing machine 1600 comprises a strip support 1610 for supporting the strip 500 during feeding, and a cutting press 1620 and support 1630 for cutting the strip 500 and forming the cut strip into a shaped link 510. The shaped link 510 is then automatically delivered to another processing machine 1700 (FIG. 17) that comprises a further press 1710 and support 1720 that forms the links 510 into shaped links 520, such as box-shaped links 520 for example, that are then weaved one after the other to form a string of intertwined links 530. This string of links 530 is then soldered together in a belt furnace with solder powder, for example, to arrive at a continuous final chain 1800 (FIG. 18). Thereafter, the final chain 1800 may be placed on a support or mandrel 1910 and subject to further processing where the first material 100 or a portion thereof can be removed from portions of individual links 520 by a variety of means to expose the second material 200 as discussed above. While FIG. 19 illustrates the engagement of a faceting blade 1920 or the like along the outer surface of the chain 1800 for imparting a decorative appearance to the chain 1800 to form a resultant chain 1900, it will be understood that a variety of decorating methods can be used, such as, but not limited to, polishing, grinding, cutting, burnishing, or a combination of the same, or others. The resultant chain 1900, comprising in the embodiment of FIG. 19 a box chain having faceted links, is then removed from the support or mandrel 1910 and stored on a spool (not shown) and/or cut into chain segments (not shown) for sale to customers or the like.

FIG. 20 illustrates one example or embodiment of a rope chain 1400 of FIG. 14B, with a chain element cross-section 1400a, comprising a first, outer material 100, a second, inner material 200, and a third, core material 600, that is subject to a processing operation to remove the core 600 and create a chain 2000 having hollow links or elements that are devoid of a core 600 as shown in the cross-section 2000a. In this case, if the core 600 comprises iron or copper or another suitable metal, it can be removed under any permitted method, such as boiling 1950 for example, or a chemical bath, resulting in hollow links or elements and therefore, a hollow chain 2000.

The process of FIG. 20 can take place before or after a decorating operation is imparted to the chain, such as by faceting, polishing, grinding, deforming, or the like. For example, the faceting operation of FIG. 15 can occur before or after the core 600 is removed, although it is preferable to have the core 600 in place during the faceting operation for purposes of chain stability and the like. In other words, it is easier to facet a solid chain than it is a hollow chain, although methods are known in the art to facet hollow chain for example. In either case, the goal of the decorating operation is to create a differentiating appearance between the first and second materials 100, 200 on the separate links or elements, and along the chain as a whole.

For handmade chains: the elements or links will be manufactured using the thread described above as a material, whether by hand with mandrels or using roll-former machines. In some cases, the machine manufactures the entire element or link, in other cases, it will be necessary to use an additional cutting operation to obtain it. Subsequently, each element will be assembled to another one, forming a chain of elements, which will be welded in the corresponding place to obtain an adequate flexibility as well as the necessary strength in the towing hook of elements, to prevent the chain from breaking. For machine-made chains, automatic machines may be used containing the tools in the required measures necessary to form and assemble links or elements among themselves. In some cases, the machine not only assembles the element but also welds it. In the event that the chain is not welded, the chain will be processed with a material, which allows it to weld it when it passes through a furnace, or by hand. For chains, where the chain core includes a precious metal (not limited), the core will remain and the chain will be identified as a solid link chain.

The method described herein will allow the quantity of high-value precious metal as gold or platinum, for example, to be used in the chain surface with a minimum thickness upon using other precious metal. In one embodiment described here, the use of silver or any other metal as a support or core, a metal with a lower value, which will allow to manufacture a piece of identical external appearance, in weight as well as in structure and resistance, but with an extremely lower value, which will be a great benefit for the final consumer, who will be able to use and feel the highest-value precious metals for the lowest price. Another advantageous part of this method occurs when diamond cuts, for example, are made in the chain surface, which exposes the appearance of the internal material, contrasting with the appearance of the external material, giving a very special appearance of two tonalities.

While the present invention has been described at some length and with some particularity with respect to the several described embodiments, it is not intended that it should be limited to any such particulars or embodiments or any particular embodiment, but it is to be construed with references to the appended claims so as to provide the broadest possible interpretation of such claims in view of the prior art and, therefore, to effectively encompass the intended scope of the invention. Furthermore, the foregoing describes the invention in terms of embodiments foreseen by the inventor for which an enabling description was available, notwithstanding that insubstantial modifications of the invention, not presently foreseen, may nonetheless represent equivalents thereto.