Home » Diamonds » French Pave vs. Petite Pave (Differences)

French Pave vs. Petite Pave (Differences)

We’re reader-supported. Posts may contain links that provide a commission at no cost to you. Learn how we make money.

French Pave vs Petite Pave

Pave settings feature small diamonds lining the shank of the ring to enhance its sparkle.

There are many designs within this type of engagement ring setting, but two of the most popular are French and petite pave.

Let’s compare French pave versus petite pave settings, including an overview of each, their differences, and ways the two are similar, so you’ll know which is right for you.

What is a French Pave Setting?

French pave settings, also called “fishtail pave”, feature diamond accents placed into V-shaped grooves along the shank. Its purpose is to expose more of the pavilion to light and increase its brilliance.

Diamonds are wedged inside the cutout so prongs don’t block all the light. There’s less metal between each small diamond, which creates the illusion of a continuous row of accents.

You can see the V-shaped holes in this engagement ring

French Pave Setting

There are seven small diamonds cascading down each side of the shank. The grooves rise to hold the accents in place and fall to expose the pavilion, creating the French pave design.

When you twirl the ring, the diamonds in a French pave setting add more glimmer to the piece. 

It’s one technique buyers use to improve sparkle without increasing the size of the main diamond.

What is a Petite Pave Setting?

Six-Prong Petite Pave Diamond Ring

Petite pave settings mimic traditional pave, but the difference is the size of the prongs used to hold the diamonds. 

Classic pave settings feature large prongs that cover much of the small diamond, but petite pave settings solve this problem by using small prongs.

The diamond is more visible and able to better capture and reflect light, which adds brilliance to the piece.

For example, here’s a petite pave diamond engagement ring from Blue Nile. 

You can see the grooves are smaller compared to the French pave, but the diamonds on the shank are held in place by tiny prongs.

Petite pave is often confused with micro pave. 

The difference is micro pave settings use diamonds that weigh less than 0.01 carats. Petite pave diamonds are small, but it derives its name from the size of the prongs instead of the accents.

This type of setting is another way to enhance the glimmer and total carat weight of a ring without the costs associated with a larger center diamond. It’s why some buyers choose pave settings over solitaire.

What are the Differences Between French Pave and Petite Pave?

If you’re comparing French pave versus petite pave, you should understand the differences in their designs. 

Although the two types of pave may look similar at a glance, here are the details on their unique qualities.

French Pave Settings Often Holds Larger Diamonds

Larger diamonds on the shank increase the total carat weight and sparkle of the ring. 

French pave settings can often hold larger diamonds more securely because of how they’re placed in the V-shaped cutout. 

Petite French Pave Setting

Its pavilion is held in place by the grooves and in four places around its table. This helps prevent one of the most common problems with pave settings, where the accents are dislodged from the shank of the ring.

On the other hand, petite pave settings feature diamonds held in place by tiny prongs. The miniature prongs limit the size of diamonds it can hold. The upside is the prongs don’t block them from view.

Whether you choose French or petite pave, you’ll be dealing with small diamonds, but the ones in a French pave setting may have a higher carat weight.

Petite Pave Settings Have Fewer Variations

Petite pave settings have fewer variations than French pave. The petite pave design is simple. 

Tiny prongs hold diamond accents along the shank, whether halfway down both sides or all the way around in an eternity setting.

There are several types of French pave that each have a distinct aesthetic.

For example, the Neo-French pave includes designs similar to a U-cut setting, but the difference is the shape of the cutout.

Neo-French Cut Pave Setting

It starts out resembling a U shape, but there’s additional etching along the metal walls, and the bottom is pointed to form a V.

This vintage style can also feature two or three rows of pave diamonds.

There’s also the Delicate French pave.

The common design element is the V-shaped grooves that hold accents, but within this category, there are plenty of options to choose.

French Pave is More Labor Intensive

Creating a French pave diamond ring setting is more labor intensive than petite pave. Etching the intricate cutouts to hold the accents is a precise process with little room for error.

If the holes are too large, the diamonds will fall out. If they’re too small, the designer will have to find even smaller diamonds to fit inside.

Petite pave settings are less complex. Small prongs are placed on the shank to hold each diamond.

This is why French pave settings are often more expensive than petite pave. For example, this petite pave engagement ring from James Allen is listed at $742.

This ring with a French pave costs $907.

French Cut Pave Diamond Ring

You can find some exceptions. 

For example, a petite pave setting in platinum is often more expensive than a similar design in 14k white gold.

Like most decisions related to buying a diamond ring, it’s about weighing which traits are most important to you, and that’s true of French and petite pave settings.

Are There any Similarities?

French and petite pave settings also have similarities.

Their goal is to improve the brilliance of a ring in a more cost-effective way. Pave diamonds are inexpensive compared to larger diamonds. 

If you were to increase the carat weight of a ring’s center diamond by 0.25 carats, it would often cost more than adding a similar amount to the ring to create a pave setting.

In addition, the entire ring will sparkle when it’s twirled instead of only the main diamond.

French and pave settings are also used on both engagement and wedding rings. In fact, one way to pair the two rings is to include the same type of pave on both.

French Pave Wedding Ring

Or you could choose a knife edge ring with no accents for the engagement ring, and add brilliance to your wedding ring with small diamonds.

The two types of pave also make resizing the ring a difficult process.

French pave settings have such intricate detail and precise grooves that you should always be certain of your ring size before ordering. 

French Pave Diamond Ring

Jewelers aren’t often able to cut out a small piece and solder it back together because it would undo the V-shaped cutouts.

The small prongs on petite pave settings cause a similar problem for resizing.

Lastly, French and petite pave settings come in a variety of metals. The most popular are:

  • White gold
  • Yellow gold
  • Platinum

Most online jewelry retailers, like sell rings in all these types and more, so you aren’t limited in your search for a pave setting.

Is French Pave or Petite Pave Right For You?

If you’re comparing French pave versus petite pave, you should understand their subtle differences. 

Although they may not be noticeable at a glance, the way the diamond accents are placed on the shank is what makes the difference.

Explore a variety of French and pave settings and even other variations of the style such as micropave, U-cut, and bright cut. 

Each type of pave adds a unique touch to the ring that complements the main diamond.

No matter which you choose, you’ll have a ring with French or petite pave that has increased brilliance and is perfect for you.

Devon Tyler

Devon Tyler

Devon Tyler is the founder of TeachJewelry.com.

He earned an Applied Jewelry Professional Diploma from the Gemological Institute of America and now brings you essential information about diamonds, settings, and more.

Devon has consulted with leading jewelry brands, and his work has been cited in Diamond Nexus and other industry publications.

He's also a member of the International Gem Society.

Devon enjoys discussing jewelry with readers, so contact him with any questions at tyler.devon@teachjewelry.com.

Learn More About Devon