US 20020092323 A1
A decorative bead of substantially round, clear molded acrylic of given diameter having a decorative, preferably 3-dimensional ornamentation discretely placed by hand and fixedly embedded within, with one or more apertures on surfaces of the bead of a diameter several times less for receiving a thread joining the decorative bead as part of a bracelet, necklace, earring, hair clip or other beaded accessory.
1. A decorative bead of substantially round molded acrylic of given diameter having a 3-dimensional ornamentation discretely placed and fixedly embedded within, and an aperture through a surface thereof of a diameter several times less than said given diameter.
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14. A decorative bead of substantially round molded acrylic of given diameter having a decorative ornamentation discretely placed and fixedly embedded within, and an aperture through a surface thereof of a diameter several times less than said given diameter.
15. A decorative bead of molded acrylic having a decorative ornamentation discretely placed and fixedly embedded within, and an aperture through a surface thereof of a diameter several times less than a major dimension of said acrylic bead.
 This invention relates to decorative beads, in general, and to such decorative beads as are employed with bracelets, necklaces, earrings, hair clips, and the like, in particular.
 As is well known and appreciated, the decorative bead industry for bracelets, necklaces and like accessories is presently of the order of $200 Billion per year. As is also well known, such beads are manufactured by machine—essentially of either plastic or glass, of very high volume. Because such beads are primarily of one color, or shades of one color, they tend to be very bland in appearance—with the overall result being that a wearer usually owns 5-10 of each such item, whether they be of bracelet, necklace or earring design, for example.
 As will become clear from the following description, on the other hand, a new and novel decorative bead can be had, which extends dramatically the entire industry, by making available a bead with a decorative ornamentation included therein of any shape, configuration or characteristic desired. An entire upscale industry will thus be seen to develop—and, specifically, one in which purchasers have almost an unlimited choice of designs with which to accessorize.
 As will become clear from the following description, a decorative bead according to the invention is of substantially round molded acrylic of given diameter having a decorative, preferably 3-dimensional ornamentation discretely placed and fixedly embedded within, and an aperture through a surface thereof of a diameter several times less than that of the bead itself. Only one such aperture may be needed when the decorative bead is to be configured for wearing as an earring to which a thread is joined. When the decorative bead, on the other hand, is to be employed in a bracelet, necklace, hair clip—or even as part of an earring assembly—a second aperture may be included on an opposite surface of the bead, to be threaded at each aperture by an elastic fabrication, or otherwise, as desired.
 In accordance with the preferred embodiment of the invention, the decorative bead includes the 3-dimensional ornamentation discretely placed by hand within the bead. In this embodiment, the bead may incorporate substantially hemispherical upper and lower sections, into each of which the 3-dimensional ornamentation extends. So as to take on the desired appearance, the substantially hemispherical upper and lower sections of the decorative bead are rounded to such shapes after hardening from a malleable intermediate state. There, the 3-dimensional ornamentation is discretely placed by hand within the substantially hemispherical acrylic lower section when it is in such malleable intermediate state, within a mold, into which additional acrylic is then poured in forming the overlying substantially hemispherical upper section once allowed to harden.
 In the preferred embodiment of the invention, a clear acrylic is employed so as to allow for a pleasing viewing of the 3-dimensional ornamentation fixed within. In one very attractive appearance, a miniature sea shell is fixed, available in size to fit within a decorative bead of given diameter as low as ½ inch, when configured to fit on a bracelet. In accordance with the invention, even somewhat larger sea shells, or other items of ornamentation can, of course, be included within decorative beads of this rounded, clear molded acrylic for assembly into larger bracelets, necklaces, or other beaded accessories in accordance with wearer preferences and manufacturer's designs. In such accessories, as will be understood, elastic or other type threads could be employed to join with one or both apertures on the surfaces of the bead in stringing together as the beads are to be worn. Disney characters, sports figurines, celebrity caricatures, and varieties of football helmets, baseball caps and a whole myriad of objects could thus be manufactured in 3-dimension, discretely placed and fixedly embedded by hand within the molded clear acrylic in forming these decorative beads for assembly in displaying a wearer's preference, allegiance, or anything else of selection at any given instant of time.
 These and other features of the present invention will be more clearly understood from a consideration of the following description, taken in accordance with the accompanying drawings, in which:
FIG. 1 pictorially shows a decorative bead constructed in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 2 is an illustration helpful in understanding how the decorative bead of FIG. 1 may be fabricated; and
FIG. 3 illustrates a manner of stringing individual beads of the invention for use in completing a bracelet or necklace—or any other type of bead accessory desired.
 In the drawings, the decorative bead of the invention is shown by the reference numeral 10 as being of substantially round molded acrylic of given diameter, with a 3-dimensional ornamentation 12 discretely placed and fixedly embedded within, preferably by hand. A first aperture 14 is incorporated on a surface 16 of the bead 10, of a diameter several times less than the diameter of the bead 10. In accordance with the invention, a second aperture 18—also of several times less diameter—may be included on an opposite surface of the bead, shown at 20.
 As more particularly shown in FIG. 2, the decorative bead 10 incorporates substantially hemispherical upper and lower sections 22, 24, respectively—into each of which the 3-dimensioned ornamentation extends. Such ornamentation may be in the form of a sea shell (illustrated at 26) fixedly embedded within the substantially hemispherical upper and lower sections 22, 24 after the sections 22, 24 are allowed to harden. While such ornamentation is depicted as the sea shell 26, it will be appreciated that any other type of ornamentation may be incorporated instead—such as a Disney characterization, a sports insignia, a celebrity caricature, or any other type of charm, symbol, talisman, or otherwise. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, also, the substantially hemispherical upper and lower sections 22, 24 are fabricated of a clear acrylic—and, in such manner, permits the 3-dimensional ornamentation to display through the surfaces 16, 18 without significant disfigurement or degradation in transmissivity.
 In a preferred fabrication of the decorative bead 10, the lower hemispherical section 24 is constructed from a mold into which the acrylic is poured, and once set to a malleable intermediate state, the 3-dimensional ornamentation 12 is then manually placed by hand. A second half of the mold is then placed on top, and liquid acrylic poured atop the ornamentation 12 and allowed to set in well known manner, in forming the substantially hemispherical upper section 22. Once the bead 10 has thus hardened, its surfaces 14 and 16 are smoothed by hand or in a mechanical tumbler (or otherwise) to produce the substantially round molded acrylic configuration.
 With the decorative bead 10 thus fabricated, a thread 28 (or 28 a) is then employed in arranging the bead as an accessory, joined with at least one of the two apertures 14, 18. Such thread 28 may join with a single aperture, only, in those instances where the bead, by itself, might be utilized to hang from a lobe as an earring. Where the decorative bead 10, on the other hand, is intended to be used as a bracelet or necklace, for example, the thread 28 a may join with both apertures 14, 18, passing through a channel 30 within the bead between the apertures, with knotting formed between adjacent beads in a typical and well known manner in forming the ultimate design (as at 32, not to scale). In such instance, a strand of decorative beads would then result, each with 3-dimensional ornamentations showing through the clear molded acrylic bead of the characterization selected—be it the sea shell 26 or otherwise. With the thread 28 or 28 a being composed of an elastic fabrication in this use, the individual beads may be selected of the order of ½ inch diameter (as when employed as an earring or on a bracelet) or may be of a larger diameter (as when employed in a necklace). Obviously, the diameter selected for the decorative bead depends upon the “size” of the 3-dimensional ornamentation to be discretely placed into the acrylic forming mold as befits the personal dictates of the wearer. As will be understood, the thread 28 or 28 a employed—whether elastic in nature or of some other fabrication—would be of a much smaller diameter, to fit into the aperture 14 (or 18), or to pass entirely through the channel 30 of the decorative bead, as exemplified in FIG. 3.
 While there have been described what are considered to be preferred embodiments of the present invention, it will be readily appreciated by those skilled in the art that modifications can be made without departing from the scope of the teachings herein. Thus, whereas a substantially round molded acrylic bead has been described as constituting a preferred embodiment of the invention, an acrylic bead of other shape and/or cross-section may be utilized instead, in which a 3-dimensional or other decorative ornamentation may be embedded, in providing a bracelet, necklace, earring, clip, etc. of especially pleasing appearance. In such version, the diameter of the aperture within the decorative ornamentation would be several times less than a major dimension of the acrylic bead. For at least such reason, therefore, resort should be had to the claims appended hereto for a true understanding of the scope of the invention.