The Artistry of Pavé Settings: Types and Differences

Few stone-setting methods are as intricate and alluring as pavé. Derived from the French word “pavé,” meaning “paved” or “cobblestone,” it entails meticulously setting small gemstones closely together, creating a surface paved with a brilliant mosaic of sparkle and shine. The artistry and precision that go into executing pavé settings make them a hallmark of fine jewelry design.


How Pavé Is Set

Modern pavé settings create the illusion of a surface embellished with captivating, freestanding diamonds or other stones. While some artisans still hand-cut gems, technological advances in machinery have expedited the process and enabled the cutting of minuscule, uniform stones.

Using a microscope and other special tools, a skilled jeweler can set these very tiny stones onto precious metals with precision and finesse. Once everything comes together, the result is a truly beautiful, custom creation that enhances the overall appearance of any jewelry.


Types of Pavé Setting

You have several pavé setting styles to choose from. Whether you are looking for a subtle yet elegant touch of sparkle, or want to go all out with super small gemstones set so close together that the surface appears to lack metal – there is a stunning pavé style for you.


1. Classic Pavé

The classic pavé setting, sometimes referred to as “full pavé,” features tightly packed diamonds covering the whole surface of the metal. It leaves minimal visible metal between each stone, giving the illusion of plentiful and bigger diamonds. This arrangement maximizes the brilliance of gemstones, as light constantly refracts off the many facets.

A grand and masterful classic pavé setting requires exceptional skills to ensure each stone is secure and perfectly positioned. This type of pavé setting is common on engagement rings, wedding bands, and other statement jewelry pieces, where the goal is to achieve a head-turning, all-encompassing shimmer.


2. Micro Pavé

Micro pavé takes the concept of classic pavé to another level by using even smaller gemstones, often no larger than 0.01 carats. The gems’ miniature size demands an artisan’s deft touch and the use of specialized tools, such as gemological microscopes and ultra-fine pointed tweezers. The final outcome is a delicate and refined surface exuding an ethereal glimmer.

The average micro pavé ring design can hold as many as 50 diamonds or more, making rings of this style extra attractive to those who adore all things luxury and shiny.


What Is the Difference Between Pavé and Micro Pavé?

In general, the term “pavé” describes gemstones of any size set in metal. Meanwhile, micro pavé refers to stones of the same minuscule size and are often far smaller in carat weight (thus, the term “micro”) compared to those in more traditional pavé settings.


3. Petite Pavé

A petite pavé setting uses small prongs to ensure each micro pavé diamond stays in place. The idea is that the smallest prongs allow for more visible and prominent diamonds. In other words, petite pavé settings accentuate the gemstones’ appeal, making them more “blinding” and eye-catching.


4. French Pavé (Fishtail Pavé)

The French pavé setting enhances the overall visual impact of a piece by creating geometric textures with the metal. In this setting, a jeweler sets the stones into tiny V-shaped grooves cut into the metal. This technique reinforces the gemstones’ shimmer and makes them visible from all angles.


5. U-Cut Pavé

The u-cut is one of the most popular types of pavé settings. Contemporary in design and striking in appearance, the u-cut pavé features a sequence of grooves cut into the precious metal. Like the French pavé, a skilled artisan will set diamonds into each space. It creates a U-like shape when viewed from the side, as opposed to the V-like shape in a French pavé setting.


French Pavé vs. U-Cut Pavé: Which Is Better?

While similar in concepts, the French pavé enhances the twinkle of a gemstone even more, as it allows more light to pass through. Regardless, couples adore both of these settings in wedding bands, as they require less metal to hold the stones into place.


6. Scalloped Pavé 

Featuring similar design elements as the U-shaped pavé, the scalloped pavé is among the most elegant styles that immediately captivates with its unrivaled detailing.

A scalloped pavé setting features metal beads with slightly bigger and deeper U-shaped cutouts beneath to hold and secure accent diamonds. This setting style is less common in engagement ring designs, with most people choosing it for their wedding bands or right-hand rings.


7. Bright Cut Pavé

The bright cut pavé is one of the earliest pavé settings in the world. Also called the channel set pavé, this traditional design features small prongs between two metal walls to hold the stones in place. Considered the most secure of the pavé setting types, the bright cut pavé reduces the risk of diamonds falling out and going missing. However, you may need to sacrifice the high sparkle prevalent in other settings, as the bright cut pavé’s design exposes less of each diamond.


Which Pavé Setting Is Best for You?

In high-end jewelry designs, pavé settings stand as a testament to the ingenuity and artistry of jewelers. Whether it’s the dazzling brilliance of classic pavé, the delicate refinement of micro pavé, the integration of tiny prongs in a petite pavé setting, the geometric elegance and unique texture of French, U-cut, and scalloped pavé, or the clean lines of bright-cut pavé – each style offers a distinct visual and tactile experience. The perfect choice of pavé setting depends on the design’s intent, the desired level of brilliance, and the wearer’s overall preference.

As admirers of fine jewelry, it’s important to appreciate the talent and attention to detail involved in crafting these remarkable pavé styles. Whether you are drawn to the glamor of classic pavé or the modern aesthetic of French pavé, knowing the differences between each type enriches your appreciation for the glittering world of pavé jewelry and the artisans behind them.


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