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.
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.
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
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.
Cutdown (Cut-down) Pavé
As the stone size gets bigger, the metals relationship to the stones begins to increase. The profile of the metal gradually changes to being rounded with the stones being somewhat smaller than the width of the metal. The arches, with the slits separating them, create a distinct pattern on the side of the metal. Hardly any metal is seen when viewed face down. The sides of the metal are sloped away from the stones and are shaded in contrast to bright stones.
Once the stone sizes reach a point where there is simply too much metal on the sides, a relief of V-shaped elements is added. Instead of a two dimensional pattern in the cut-down pavé, the pattern on the V-cut pavé becomes three dimensional. It is done to hide as much metal as possible from the line of sight.
Most often used in cheap jewelry, this pavé style recently found a second life. The setting style is similar to cut-down pavé, but there are additional bright facets facing up, or tilted, to the side. These facets "fake" the sparkle of diamond facets creating an appearance of bigger stones when viewed from a distance. An increase of mechanical engravers is mostly responsible for the revival. Even a rookie setter is able to create bright and symmetrical faceting on metal using a tool such as a GraverMax. Fishtail pavé has a pretentious, cheap, and gear-like appearance unless the stones used are 1.1 mm or less. On a small scale, fishtail pavé looks very lovely and smooth. The fishtail pavé is acceptable when used on thin round shanks and halo rings. Nevertheless, big jewelry retail chain companies manufacture tons of jewelry set with fishtail pavé, and many customers insist on this type of setting even when presented with other choices.
Two rows of micro pavé are set at a steep angle next to one another. The second row is completely hidden when viewed from the top. Belgium pavé is great for round or oval/cushion halos. This is the most complicated way of setting micro pavé.
Belgium pavé is very similar to V-cut pavé, but with stones spaced farther away from each other. Additionally, there is an extra bead between the stones. This is an obscure type of a setting perfectly fitted for maximizing the look of the stones by using less stones. This is a premium type of setting with very limited use.
Random pave is an artistic way of arranging pave stone where different sizes are mixed together in a nature-invoking way.
Old fashioned royal pavé
Old fashioned royal pavé has a common bead technique where two or three adjacent stones are held by one large bead. At times, the old fashioned royal pavé is called a "six bead" setting, because every stone has contact with exactly six beads. It is suitable for larger stones (2.0 mm and up), but is unacceptable for the smaller versions (micro pavé). This pavé type was derived from an older way of setting round diamonds with a common prong (shared prong). Due to improvements in automated cutting, diamonds were produced in smaller sizes. On stones smaller than 0.20 carats, the prongs were replaced by beads that were carved from the underlying metal. Royal pavé outlived its usefulness, but is still sometimes used on larger diamonds that are bigger than 0.05 carats.