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Types of Pave Settings

It’s the small details that really make fine jewelry sparkle. And those details are still crafted by hand by skilled goldsmiths, the people who transform a simple timeless style into an heirloom that you can pass along to the next generation. One of the little things that makes jewelry fine are the accent stones. 

Whether you choose a lab-grown diamond or a mined diamond, the setting can add to the beauty and brilliance of your jewelry piece. Adding pave lab diamonds is the most affordable way to make any piece of jewelry have the maximum amount of sparkle.

Your center diamond or gemstone is often surrounded by a supporting cast of small diamonds that add to the overall sparkle of your jewelry piece. These diamonds are held in a pave setting. There are different types of diamond pave settings that can add different effects to jewelry designs. Knowing the types of pave setting can help you analyze which you prefer to accent your jewelry design. 

Engagement ring designs often feature different types of pave settings on the band that accent the sparkle of the center diamond. The most popular engagement ring style right now is a solitaire with a diamond pave band. Because this pave engagement ring style is so simple, selecting the perfect type of pave is the most important difference between different styles.

If you commission a custom jewelry design, you can choose the type of pave setting you would like to use in you design. You can also search for different types of pave diamond settings to help narrow down your choices to help you find the perfect piece for you.

Here is an illustrated guide to types of pave diamond settings so you can find the one you like the best.

 

What are Pave Diamonds

Pronounced “pa-vay,” pavé originates from the French word “to pave.” (That’s why you often see it spelled with an accent on the final e.) In this style of setting, diamonds or gems are set like cobblestones, covering or lining the metal of a jewelry piece. The metal prongs or beads that hold the gems in place are barely visible. 

The diamonds in a pave setting can be positioned in a honeycomb pattern to cover a large area or in a single row to cover a band. Like prong settings, pave settings have small triangular claws which hold each stone low and very close. Together a group of pave set diamonds create a carpet of brilliance across the entire surface of a jewelry piece.

Because diamonds are so brilliant, even in small sizes, diamonds are most often used for pave. Pave diamonds might cover the entire piece of jewelry or they can be used to accent one area of a jewelry piece. The different types of pave setting are different techniques used to hold the diamonds in place. Depending on which type of pave is used, you’ll see more or less metal.

Single-row pave, which consists of a single row of small diamonds set into a narrow strip of metal, is the most popular type of pave diamond setting today, especially in engagement rings.

The diamonds used in every type of pave setting are as small as 0.5mm to 3mm. The smallest diamonds are used in micro pave settings, a type of pave setting where the diamonds are so small, the setters use a microscope to create the tiny bits of metal used to hold the gem in place.

 

What Are Pave Engagement Ring Settings

Pave engagement ring settings have ring bands covered or lined with small diamonds. These pave set diamonds are held in place with metal prongs or beads, creating the appearance of a line of continuous small diamonds. Technically, the halo around the center stone is not considered a type of pave setting because the stones are held in a basket rather than covering a metal surface but today any grouping of small diamonds is collectively referred to as pave diamonds.

A pave set band adds a lot of extra sparkle to an engagement ring design and helps to draw attention to the center stone. Pave setting is used in both vintage style engagement rings and modern engagement rings but different types of pave can help a ring look more or less vintage. Single-row pave, a single row of small diamonds set into the narrow strip of the band of a ring, is the most popular type of engagement ring pave setting.

 

Types of Pave Settings

There are several different types of pave used for engagement rings today, including the French pave, petite pave, shared prong pave, micro pave, and several others. Here are the most popular pave setting types and the unique design features of each type of pave.

 

Classic Pave

To create a pave setting in the traditional way, a jeweler lays out the pattern of diamonds on the metal then drills conical holes for each of the diamonds the size of the girdle and deep enough so the diamonds are level in height. The diamonds are placed in the holes and tiny beads or prongs are pushed over the edges of each stone to hold it in place from the side and top. The bead is raised with a tool called a graver, similar to the way that a wood chisel raises a curl of wood. This type of pave setting is also called bead setting. This technique requires a lot of skill to do well.

With modern computer-aided design, the seat and prongs for each of the tiny diamonds can be designed into the setting with great precision so the piece is cast with the holes and beads in it. You can tell modern pave techniques because the metal between the stones is not cut.

Modern pave setting techniques can be very intricate. Designers can create patterns in the pave and even use different size and shape gems.

 

Micro Pave

Basically, micro pave settings are just like other types of pave settings but smaller. That means the diamonds are smaller, the beads or prongs holding them are smaller and there are more diamonds per square inch than other types of pave. The diamonds in micro pave settings are 0.01 carat or smaller. They can be less than a millimeter in diameter. This type of pave setting generally uses stones that are all the same size.

To set such small stones, the diamond setters actually use a microscope. That’s how this type of pave setting gets its name. Because the diamonds are so small, most of the cost of micro pave is in the labor to set each of the tiny stones. In micro pave settings, holes generally aren’t drilled for each stone.

Because the prongs or beads holding each of these tiny stones are so small, it’s possible for them to loosen and for a stone to fall out. For example, if the setting snags on a sweater or scarf, the threads could pull on a tiny prong and loosen it. In particular, resizing a micro pave ring can loosen the settings and weaken the strength of the settings. We recommend when buying a micro pave ring setting to make sure you are buying the correct size.

 

French Pave

French pave settings have a different look than classic pave settings because each diamond is set inside a small v-shape groove. This cut makes the sides of each diamond more exposed letting in more light, with less visible metal so the line of diamonds looks more continuous. French pave is most often used for ring bands and halos of rings, earrings and necklaces.

If you view an engagement ring with a French pave band from the side, you can see the v-shape cuts made into the ring to accommodate the pave-set diamonds. Like other pave settings, the French pave setting creates a gorgeous sparkle, with less visible metal between each small diamond.  French pave has more of a vintage look with the V-shapes forming a star pattern.

 

Bright Cut Pave

Bright cut pave is one of the oldest and the most traditional types of pave settings. It’s sometimes called channel set pave, because the small diamonds are held in a row between two metal walls with tiny prongs to keep them in position. Single-row bright cut pave is the most popular.

One main benefit of the bright cut pave setting is that it protects the diamonds, keeping them safe between metal. However, compared to other types of diamond pave, there is more visible metal so the sparkle-per-square-inch ratio is lower. However, the extra metal also opens up design possibilities because there is space for extra details like milgrain (also spelled millegrain), the beads that give a design a vintage look, or filigree, wire like detailing.

 

Shared Prong Pave Settings

In shared prong pave settings, instead of each small diamond having its own four prongs, the piece is designed so each row of prongs holds the diamond on either side. This is generally used in eternity bands and engagement ring bands with slightly larger diamonds than typical pave settings. Shared prong pave settings are possible only today with modern precision design techniques and precision cutting since each diamond must be accurately calibrated to fit precisely in the setting.

 

Illusion Settings

In illusion settings, many small diamonds are set so closely together, with so little metal showing that they resemble one larger diamond. Because smaller diamonds cost less per carat, illusion settings offer the look of a large diamond for much less.

 

Judging the Quality of Pave Settings

The most important quality factor for a pave setting is the security of the diamonds. To tell whether the diamonds are secure tap each diamond individually.  The diamonds shouldn’t move or rock in the setting at all. Look to make sure that each stone is the same height in the setting and that no stones are tilted at an angle in the setting, which could indicate that there aren’t securely seated. Make sure there are no threads or lint from polishing cloths caught in the prongs. If a prong catches threads once, it might do so over and over again, loosening the stone over time. If you feel a diamond move in its setting, take it to a jeweler to be tightened.

 

Caring for Pave Settings

Because all types of pave setting have more nooks and crannies than all-metal settings they are more challenging to keep clean. To clean your pave set jewelry, soak it in a bowl of warm water with a few drops of dish soap. Gently rub with a soft brush behind the center stone where dust can collect. Air dry on a soft cloth. If your pave jewelry is all diamond, an ultrasonic cleaner may help you keep it clean.

Make sure you remove pave rings when cleaning, exercising or playing sports. Remove rings when sleeping, bathing and putting on lotions. Sizing and resizing rings with pave set bands can loosen the stones. We recommend buying the correct ring size rather than have the ring sized later to prevent sizing issues.

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