Types of Pavé


The word “pavé” (pronounced Pah-vay) is French, and in jewelry refers to a setting technique that utilizes carved metal beads to hold the stone in place. The beads are "raised" from the surface using a special tool or, alternatively, left standing by carving out the underlying metal.

Any pavé could be referred to as "bead work". Many of our clients love the traditional, so called "bright-cut" pave, which creates a striking, nostalgic Edwardian meets Deco style appearance.

Modern borderless pave styles such as cut-down, V-cut, or mushroom intensify visual connection to the stones by concealing the metal, and when woven into a contemporary piece, like a tree wrapped in garland, show only the glowing outline.

On the flip side, we offer an ultra-modern “South Beach” style of fishtail pave for clients who want an edgier, more minimalist feel. One could count more than fifty different pavé styles, mostly minor variations belonging to one of two major pave groups: Modern and Traditional.


Traditional pavé

Very often confused for a channel setting (which is completely different technique not related to pave at all), traditional pave is easily recognized by the borders or edges separating each pave row and tracing the outline.

Bright cut pave is formed by diamonds set in a V-grooved channel formed by mirrored walls meeting each other at steep angles. Diamonds are held by raised beads. The purpose of the highly polished wall is to blend and diffuse the diamond's reflection pattern, tricking the eye with an illusion of edge-to-edge diamonds.

Individual stones can only be observed in a shadow. In an actual channel setting, a continuous diamond surface is formed by square stones held by the wall itself.

Bright-cut pave is best described as a square spotlight reflector shaping the light of a row of round light bulbs (the diamonds) into a geometric, most often rectangular, shape.

Just like a knife edge can be sharp or serrated, the edge can be left smooth, or can have a millegrain - an embossed pattern resembling a string of tiny beads.

Millgraining is done with a special rolling tool, leaving a pattern similar to the edge of a coin when pressed against the metal. Bright cut pavé highlights straight geometric lines and creates a chiseled, sharp, and contrasting appearance.




pave types comparison leon mege bright cut no millegrain

Bright-cut pavé without millegrain

A more modern and bold look, non-destructing, more bright, used to be considered to have an "unfinished" look, but gaining popularity. It is also worth mentioning that it is always possible to add millegrain to the edge, while the opposite is usually impossible. Removing a millegrain will result in an uneven, wavy edge that is too low to be useful as a reflector.




Bright-cut pavé with millegrain

Intricate and lacy, slightly velvety in its appearance, typically seen in antique or reproduction jewelry, or very traditional high end jewelry. In the day before microscopes become a staple of jewelry making, when stones that were less than 1.2 mm were unheard of and tools were scarce and expensive, millegrain was a useful technique for concealing imperfections of workmanship by hiding rough, uneven edges.




Modern style pavé

In the past, the illusion of a bright-cut pave worked well for poorly cut small stones. Oddly shaped, distorted, and mismatched, they blend into a continuous diamond strip. Once machines took over and the small round stones were practically identical, the reflector become unnecessary. The diamonds are so bright and well-cut that they can be shown without masking their shapes with metal. In modern pave, diamonds are sitting atop metal that is clearly visible from all sides. The underlying metal is either hidden by stones or rounded to make sure that it is barely visible.

Although rarely seen, setting antique stones into modern pave is like getting a square peg into a round hole - the result is mediocre at best. Because the lower color grades of melee (small stones) are usually poorly cut, they are not well suited to being used in modern pave.

  • Mushroom pavé
  • Cutdown pavé
  • V-cut pavé
  • Fishtail pavé

Micro pavé is not a style, it's a multi-row variety of a cut-down or fishtail pavé.

Modern four bead pavé

Very similar to each other in technique, the styles listed below appear different even though they are closely related


Mushroom Pavé

These are a contemporary, modern style of layered diamonds on a metal surface. The look is rounded, soft, and less metallic. The mushroom pavé is appropriate for stones under 1.2 mm in diameter. Stones between 1.2 and 1.5 mm will be set in cutdown pavé, whereas stones larger than 1.5 mm are generally set in V-cut pavé to achieve the same look. The best way to describe mushroom pavé is as a string of small stones seemingly suspended in the air because they are of the same width as the metal in which they are set. On such a small scale the lack of roundness is not an issue.