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The Search for the Adjustable Shank
by: Anonymous

With the Baby Boomers reaching their retirement years, the problems associated with ring fit and finger joint swelling will become a major issue for jewelers.

The United States Patent Office chronicles the quest to find the ideal adjustable ring design by many jewelers and inventors from the 1800s to the present day. The patent papers provide a vast array of brilliant devices.

Some appear very uncomfortable to wear while others are extremely complex and difficult to fabricate. The sheer
volume of submissions makes a strong case for this being an opportunity for the future.

The inventions tend to fall into four distinct categories. The first being a floating inserts design. In this case, there are spring loaded pads or sections of the inside of the ring that allow the enlarged knuckle to pass thru while deflecting
the pads. The inserts then return to their former position when in place at the base of the finger and hold the ring upright.

The second design is the hinged ring that expands by sliding apart. With this type, the band never fully separates and remains attached.

The third type is similar to a hose clamp. The band itself sometimes enters the head of the ring and has notches or holes that index the ring to the proper fit. Some even exhibit adjusting screws!

The last type is a hinged shank that involves opening a latch and separating the ring at the latch point. There are some designs that are made of three moving parts with two hinges.
Several current manufacturers use this method.

Most of the designs found in the
archives of the patent office are not universal, nor can they be retrofitted to existing rings.

Many consumers become sentimentally attached to their rings and would like to wear them throughout their lifetime. With the changes in their joints, this is not always possible without a good conversion.The present generation of adjustable shanks is targeted at this very market.

It would appear that rings made to retrofit to an existing piece of jewelry became popular during the late 1940s and early to mid 1950s. This was a distinct departure from what had gone before. The idea that a customer could continue to wear their important jewelry by modifying it, set the tone for the inventions currently used.

Some designers chose to make complex devices that had many moving parts. These were
invented at a time when labor was inexpensive and skills plentiful.

There are extensive numbers on file with the patent office and and do not permit more to be examined here.

One of the oldest examples presented was a design by R. J. La Grange, patented on Sept 5, 1882. This is an interesting invention that suggests a strong watchmaking background on the part of the inventor.

More Information in search of the adjustable shank can be found at the following link -

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