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1. WO2020110054 - FERMOIR POUR ARTICLE DE BIJOUTERIE ET PROCÉDÉS D'UTILISATION

Note: Texte fondé sur des processus automatiques de reconnaissance optique de caractères. Seule la version PDF a une valeur juridique

[ EN ]

CLASP FOR ITEM OF JEWELRY AND METHODS OF USE

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present patent application claims the priority benefit of U.S. Patent Application No. 62/704,035, filed on November 29, 2018 for“Clasp for jewelry,” and also claims the priority benefit of U.S. Patent Application No. 29/672,764, filed on December 8, 2018 for “Clasp for jewelry item.” In addition, the present patent application hereby incorporates by reference both U.S. Patent Application No. 62/704,035 and U.S. Patent Application No. 29/672,764 in their entirety for all purposes. For purposes of claim construction, if there are any unresolvable inconsistencies between the teaching of the present patent application and either U.S. Patent Application No. 62/704,035 and/or U.S. Patent Application No.

29/672,764, then the teachings of the present patent application shall govern.

BACKGROUND

The present inventive disclosure pertains to a clasp for connecting two ends of a necklace, bracelet, or anklet; that is, an“item of jewelry.” Most necklaces, bracelets, and anklets are comprised of some form of chain, string, other cordage (e.g., leather strips, ribbon, etc.), or a series of linked ingots or charms, that have two ends that are connected with some form of dedicated mechanical-connector device, and may or may not also include one or more adornment members attached to said chain, string, or other cordage. Hereinafter and for simplicity, said chain, string, other cordage, or a series of linked ingots or charms for an item of jewelry is collectively referred to as“a chain for an item of jewelry” and is intended to encompass any of the chains, string, other cordage, or linked ingots or charms that an item of jewelry might employ.

The aforementioned dedicated mechanical-connector device, typically referred to as a “clasp,” or“jewelry fastener,” is the mechanism that allows a necklace or bracelet to easily be put on and taken off without causing any damage. Some fasteners are meant to be hidden or rotated out of sight, while others are a key element to the design. Such clasps employed by most necklaces, bracelets, and anklets usually takes the form of any of the following:

• Ball Clasp /also known as a bead clasp!: A ball clasp is a round, spherical jewelry fastener that is sometimes adorned with gemstones or texturing. A ball clasp

typically has an“eye” extending form the“ball” in which a bent hook coupler can engage. The actual coupler in a ball clasp is fully exposed and lacks security.

• Barrel Clasp: A barrel clasp is a small barrel or torpedo-shaped closure that

fastens two ends together through a screw, box, or hook-insert mechanism. While this type of jewelry clasp generally provides more security than a ball clasp, a barrel clasp can be unsightly.

• Fishhook Clasp: A fishhook clasp is a delicate fastener that involves a hook

inserted into an encasing and is commonly used for lightweight necklaces and bracelets and can be relatively easily decoupled; that is, the coupling is somewhat insecure.

• Hook Clasp: A hook clasp uses an easy hook-on, hook-off motion, wherein a curved piece at the bottom of the hook catches onto a loop or circle to hold it in place. This type of coupling can be easily inadvertently uncoupled.

• Lobster Clasp: A lobster clasp is named after the pinching style of the hook, which resembles a lobster claw, which engages a loop or circle. Its lever is exercised to open the clasp in order to open the clasp and the lever is released to close the clasp. Many view this type of clasp as unsightly, especially when a necklace or bracelet rotates such that the lobster clasp is visible.

• Swivel Clasp: A swivel clasp is a variant of a lobster clasp in that it can swivel 360 degrees at its base.

• Push-Button Clasp: A push-button clasp has a female receptacle and a male

member that "clicks" into the female receptacle. The mechanism relies on a lever or button that must be pushed to release the clasp. This type of clasp usually does not match well with the balance of the jewelry item, especially when a necklace or bracelet rotates such that the push-button clasp is visible.

• Springring Clasp: A springring clasp is a hollow circular metal fastener with a spring opening that keeps the clasp closed. Many consider this type of clasp as unsightly and it does not match well with the balance of the jewelry item, especially when a necklace or bracelet rotates such that the springring clasp is visible.

• Buckle Clasp: A buckle clasp is sometimes used as a clasp for leather or material bracelets. A buckle clasp features the same mechanism as a classic belt buckle, wherein the buckle straps one end through a loop and secures it with a hinged prong that inserts into a hole and rests against a metal frame. This specialized clasp is generally inappropriate aesthetically for most applications for necklaces, bracelets, and anklets.

• Ladder Clasp: A ladder clasp is an old-fashioned fastener often used for

wristwatches. With one end-piece resembling a two-spoke ladder, the fold-over side can be hooked into one of two slots to adjust size. The size and look of this type of clasp is generally inappropriate for most necklaces, bracelets, and anklets.

• Slide Clasp: A slide clasp secures closure with two bars, each having one or more eyelets for attaching to chains, cords, or the like, wherein one of the bars slides into the other, which has a slot to allow the eyelet(s) of the interior bar to extend outside of the interlocked bars. This type of clasp is very specialized and is relatively large and intended for thick necklaces with more than one chain, cord, strand, etc.

• Magnetic Clasp: A magnetic clasp relies on a magnet to hold ends of the

necklace, bracelet, or anklet together, allowing for easy-on, easy-off closure. However, depending on the strength of the magnets, this type of clasp may lack the level of security many users desire.

• Toggle Clasp: A toggle clasp is a two-piece jewelry fastener that closes when a t- shaped or decorative bar is threaded through a circular loop. This stylized clasp type often serves as the centerpiece of a design for specialized jewelry items and is not intended to be hidden from view.

The aforementioned (and other) prior-art clasp arrangements are not necessarily space filling, but in many designs, they have voids or hollow areas. Such voids or hollow areas can led to the misalignment of moving parts and might not provide an overall elegant geometric shape, but instead a shape with openings or hollows that can make a clasp more difficult for a user as well as one that is less appealing in its general look and feel to a user. In addition, most prior-art clasp arrangements have overall shapes that are not cylindrical but are instead rectangular or made up of other flat faces.

Each of the aforementioned clasp types has securement issues or is unsightly with respect to the balance of the item of jewelry. Hence, the present inventive disclosure is intended to disclose an improved type of clasp (and associated applications) that address both of these issues.

BRIEF SUMMARY

The inventive disclosures described herein pertains to a clasp for connecting two ends of an item of jewelry, such as a necklace, bracelet, or anklet. The clasp provides for both easy and secure coupling of two ends of an item of jewelry, while providing a decorative “hiding” of the clasp. In variations, the clasp can appear as just one of several ingots or charms that the item of jewelry may contain.

The foregoing Brief Summary is intended to merely provide a short, general overview of the inventive disclosures described throughout this patent application, and therefore, is not intended to limit the scope of the inventive disclosure contained throughout the balance of this patent application, including the appended claims and drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

Figure 1 is a right-front isometric view of a clasp with the clasp cover open.

Figure 2 is a left-front isometric view of the clasp with the clasp cover open.

Figure 3 is a top view of the clasp with the clasp cover open.

Figure 4 is a bottom view of the clasp with the clasp cover open.

Figure 5 is a front view of the clasp with the clasp cover open.

Figure 6 is a rear view of the clasp with the clasp cover open.

Figure 7 is a right-front isometric view of the clasp with the clasp cover closed.

Figure 8 is a left-rear isometric view of the clasp with the clasp cover closed.

Figure 9 is a top view of the clasp with the clasp cover closed.

Figure 10 is a bottom view of the clasp with the clasp cover closed.

Figure 11 is a right-front isometric view of the clasp with the clasp cover open and the clasp disengaged.

Figure 12 is a left-front isometric view of the clasp with the clasp cover open and the clasp disengaged.

Figure 13 is a left-rear isometric view of the clasp with the clasp cover open and the clasp disengaged.

Figure 14 is a top view of the clasp with the clasp cover open and the clasp disengaged.

Figure 15 is a bottom view of the clasp with the clasp cover open and the clasp disengaged.

Figure 16 is a front view of the clasp with the clasp cover open and the clasp disengaged.

Figure 17 is a rear view of the clasp with the clasp cover open and the clasp disengaged.

Figure 18 is a right-side view of the clasp with the clasp cover open.

Figure 19 is a left-side view of the clasp with the clasp cover open.

Figure 20 is a partial cross-section view of the clasp with the tongue inserted part way into the main body.

Figure 21 is a cross-section view of the clasp with the tongue seated in place in the main body.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

I. Overview

The inventive disclosures described herein pertains to a clasp for connecting two ends of an item of jewelry, such as a necklace, bracelet, or anklet. The clasp provides for both easy and secure coupling of two ends of the item of jewelry, while providing a decorative “hiding” of the clasp. In variations, the clasp can appear as just one of several ingots or charms that the item of jewelry may contain.

II. Terminology

The terms and phrases as indicated in quotes (“”) in this Section are intended to have the meaning ascribed to them in this Terminology Section applied to them throughout this document, including the claims, unless clearly indicated otherwise in context. Further, as applicable, the stated definitions are to apply, regardless of the word or phrase’s case, to the singular and plural variations of the defined word or phrase.

The term“or”, as used in this specification, drawings, and the appended claims, is not meant to be exclusive; rather, the term is inclusive, meaning“either or both”.

References in the specification to“one embodiment”,“an embodiment”,“a preferred embodiment”,“an alternative embodiment”,“a variation”,“one variation”, and similar phrases mean that a particular feature, structure, or characteristic described in connection with the embodiment is included in at least an embodiment of the invention. The

appearances of the phrase“in one embodiment” and/or“in one variation” and similar phrases in various places in the specification are not necessarily all meant to refer to the same embodiment.

The term“couple” or“coupled”, as used in this specification, drawings, and the appended claims, refers to either an indirect or a direct connection between the identified elements, components, or objects. Often, the manner of the coupling is related specifically to the manner in which the two coupled elements interact.

The term“removable”,“removably coupled”,“readily removable”,“readily detachable”,“detachably coupled”, and similar terms, as used in this specification, drawings, and the appended claims, refer to structures that can be uncoupled from an adjoining structure with relative ease (i.e., non-destructively and without a complicated or time-consuming process) and that can also be readily reattached or coupled to the previously adjoining structure.

Directional or relational terms such as, but not limited to, left, right, nadir, apex, top, bottom, vertical, horizontal, back, front, lateral, proximal, and distal are relative to each other, are dependent on the specific orientation of an applicable element or article, are used accordingly to aid in the description of the various embodiments, and are not necessarily intended to be construed as limiting in this specification, drawings, and the appended claims.

As applicable, the terms“about” or“generally”, as used herein unless otherwise indicated, means a margin of +- 20%. Also, as applicable, the term“substantially” as used

herein unless otherwise indicated means a margin of +- 10%. It is to be appreciated that not all uses of the above terms are quantifiable such that the referenced ranges can be applied.

The terms“item of jewelry” or“wrap-around jewelry item,” as used in this specification, drawings, and the appended claims, are each intended to be a generic reference to any kind of necklace, bracelet, or anklet that a person may wear.

The terms“chain for an item of jewelry,”“chain for a wrap-around jewelry item,” and similar terms, as used in this specification, drawings, and the appended claims, are intended, for simplicity, to also include alternatives for a chain; that is, a chain (or plurality of chains), a string, other cordage, or linked ingots/charms. Therefore, it is to be understood by a person of ordinary skill in the art that a reference to a“chain for an item of jewelry,”“chain for a wrap-around jewelry item,” or similar term that are connected to a clasp as described herein includes alternative embodiments where a literal chain may be instead substituted with string, other cordage, etc.

III. A Clasp for An Item of Jewelry

This Section is directed generally to a clasp for connecting two ends of a wrap-around jewelry item, such as a necklace, bracelet, or anklet. The clasp provides for both easy and secure coupling of two ends of an item of jewelry, while providing a decorative“hiding” of the clasp, as it can appear as just one of several ingots or charms that form part of the item of jewelry.

An exemplary clasp 25 is shown generally in Figs. 1-21. The clasp 25 is comprised of a main body 13 that is configured to mate with a tongue 16, 17. The main body 13 and tongue 16, 17 may be most easily seen and appreciated in Figs. 11-17 where they appear separately from each other.

With particular reference to Figs. 11-17, the tongue 16, 17 comprises a base 17 and a mating projection 16. The tongue 16, 17 is adapted to be received by a through-hole 23 in the main body 13. The tongue mating projection 16 may include two extended members separated by a space 22 that is sized to closely receive a protrusion 18 in the main body 13. This may be seen for example in Fig. 11. The extended members 16 of the tongue mating projection are joined together by a member 16A at the bottom and distal (relative to the tongue base 17) end of the extended members 16 of the tongue mating projection, visible for

example in Fig. 11. In this way, when the tongue 16, 17 is fully inserted and seated in the main body 13, the protrusion 18 of the main body 13 overlaps the joining member 16A of the tongue mating projection’s 16 extended members in order to provide additional security for the coupling, and the joining member 16A of the tongue mating projection 16 substantially fills the through-hole 23 in the main body 13 such that the tongue 16, 17 and main body 13 form a substantially space-filling flat bottom surface. This may be seen for example in Figs. 4, 10 and 17 and the space-filling flat bottom face is best appreciated in Fig. 4.

In an embodiment, the tongue 16, 17 and main body 13, when fully engaged, form a flat/flush upper surface so that a locking cover 11 can fully close against the top surface of the body 13. The locking cover 11 may include a hinge 11A coupled to the rear of the main body 13 and may include a locking tab or“nib” 12 that is adapted to engage via interference fit with a locking-tab-receiving cavity 12A disposed at the front side of the main body 13. Figs. 18 and 19 show this particularly clearly.

The top-right side edges of the main body 13 may be sloped downward to help facilitate the initial engagement with the tongue 16, 17. This may be seen particularly clearly in Fig. 12. Similarly the edges at the top-distal end of the tongue mating projection 16 may be sloped downward to help facilitate easier insertion of the tongue 16, 17 into the main body 13 via through-hole 23. This may be seen particularly clearly in Fig. 11.

The right side of the main body 13 may be adapted to be coupled to one end of a chain for a wrap-around jewelry item 15, and the base of the tongue 17 may be adapted to be coupled to the other end of a chain for a wrap-around jewelry item 14. Depending on the type of“chain” used (see the definitions in Section II,“Terminology”), this coupling can be by welding, clamping, tying, and any other form of coupling known in the jewelry industry.

Returning briefly to Fig. 10, cross-section lines A are shown, indicating a plane in which cross section and partial cross sections in Figs. 20 and 21 are taken. We can then discuss in some detail the steps to be followed by the user when engaging the clasp 25. As shown in Fig. 20, when engaging the clasp 25, the locking cover 11 (omitted for clarity in Fig. 20) on the main body is opened and a user inserts the mating projection 16 of the tongue into the through-hole 23. There is just barely enough room for the projection 16 to slip past the protrusion 18 and downwards as shown in Fig. 20. Protrusion 18 is shown in cross section in Fig. 20 and tongue 16 is shown in full rather than in cross section, to assist the reader in appreciating the path followed by the tongue 16 when it is inserted through the though-hole 23.

The user then pivots the tongue 16, 17 downward as shown in Fig. 21 where the tongue 16, 17 is seated into place. In Fig. 21 both the protrusion 18 and the tongue 16 are shown in cross section. Depending on the exact dimensions of the various parts, the user may then slip the tongue slightly toward the right side of the main body 13 so that the tongue base 17 can slip past the sloped edges and the tongue 16, 17. The tongue engages with the protrusion 18 of the main body 13. Once the tongue 16, 17 is fully engaged and seated, a substantially flat upper surface is formed with the main body 13. This is most clearly seen in Figs. 1-3. This in turn allows the cover 11 to be fully closed over the coupled tongue 16, 17 and main body 13. The configuration with the closed cover 11 may be seen for example in Figs. 7-10. The cover 11 is latched via the locking tab 12 and locking-tab-receiving cavity 12A.

The opposite procedure is used to open and disengage the clasp 25. The cover 11 is opened. The tongue 16, 17 is rotated as shown in Fig. 20. The tongue 16, 17 may then be withdrawn from the main body 13. The tongue 16, 17 is then separate from the main body 13 as is depicted in Figs. 11-14.

It should be appreciated that when engaged, any attempt to pull apart the clasp 25, even with the cover 11 open as depicted in Figs. 1-4, results in the protrusion 18 further engaging the joining member 16A of the tongue mating projection 16, thus greatly inhibiting, if not fully preventing inadvertent decoupling of the clasp 25 short of catastrophic mechanical failure.

A particularly interesting embodiment for the item of jewelry incorporates multiple charms or ingots, and the main body 13 and the cover 11 of the clasp 25 are sized, shaped, and ornamented to look like one of the charms/ingots in order to effectively conceal which charm or ingot on the item of jewelry contains the clasp 25. In this sense, it will be appreciated by the alert reader that there may be decoration, writing, or iconography on the charms/ingots and on the clasp 25. Such decoration, writing or iconography is best appreciated for example in Figs. 6-9 and 13 and 17.

In one extreme example, all of the charms or ingots and the clasp 25 are identically ornamented or bear identical writing or iconography. In another example, in the case where every charm ingot is in fact a clasp 25, a user can assemble a custom item of jewelry chain that is non-identical to an item of jewelry that anyone else might be wearing, with

combinations of icons or writing on the various clasps 25 or charms or ingots that are uniquely selected by the user (for example, a user-constructed charm bracelet). In such cases, a user can assemble one arrangement for wear at one event and a different arrangement to wear at a different event.

In another embodiment, multiple clasps 25 are incorporated in a single item of jewelry; that is, multiple lengths of chain 14, 15 are used and coupled via a clasp 25 such that the effective length of the item of jewelry can be varied by a user by adding or removing one of more lengths of chain and an associated clasp 25. In an extreme case, every charm or ingot in an item of jewelry (e.g., a necklace) could also incorporate a clasp 25, which allows a user to insert or remove lengths of chain to vary the overall length and size of the item of jewelry. The alert reader will appreciate that the jewelry item may include any number of lengths of chain 14, 15 coupled with any number or combination of clasps or charms or ingots.

In another embodiment, the clasp 25 is incorporated in a Cuban link chain. The clasp 25 design is well suited for use with jewelry made of nearly pure precious metals such as nearly pure gold, silver, or platinum because of the clasp’s 25 relatively simple and uncomplicated and reliable design, which does not require alloys to provide great strength or great rigidity. Even though some nearly pure precious metals are somewhat soft and somewhat malleable, the clasp 25 design offers very reliable functionality that does not require finely structured features. For example, if the piece parts such as the main body 13 or tongue 16, 17 were to deform slightly due to the somewhat the soft and somewhat malleable nature of the precious metals of which they might be comprised, the simple and reliable design offers its benefits including the low likelihood of the clasp coming loose. In one variation, a suitable choice of fabrication metal for the clasp 25 is 24-karat gold.

In some embodiments of the clasp 25, the main body 13 can be made with a two-part mold or can be made with a simple gravity-fed lost- wax molding technique. For gravity-fed lost-wax molding techniques, the lost-wax forms can be very easily fabricated, either by simple two-part molds, or with simple additive manufacturing, or by the simple milling of wax blocks or forms. The same may be said of the tongue 16, 17 for the clasp 25. This is in contradistinction to many known clasps in the prior art, wherein a main body must itself be assembled from two or more parts that need to be joined together to form the main body. It is likewise in contradistinction with many known clasps in the prior art wherein complicated milling processes must be undertaken to construct the main body from larger blocks.

IV. Alternative Embodiments and Other Variations

The various embodiments and variations thereof described herein, including the descriptions in any appended claims and/or illustrated in the accompanying Figures, are merely exemplary and are not meant to limit the scope of the inventive disclosure. It should be appreciated that numerous variations of the invention have been contemplated as would be obvious to an alert reader with the benefit of this disclosure. Hence, the alert reader will have no difficulty devising myriad obvious variations and improvements to the invention, all of which are intended to be encompassed within the scope of the Description, Claims, and Figures herein.