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Pave settings feature a collection of small gems, usually diamonds, set closely together to accentuate the center stone. They’re held in place by prongs or small beads.
It’s an effective way to increase the total carat weight and brilliance of the piece without the price premium resulting from a heavier diamond on top.
At a quick glance, most variations of pave appear similar, but each design is unique in the way diamonds are placed and held on the ring.
Let’s explore seven types of pave settings and what to know about each.
1. Micro Pave
In a micro pave setting, small gems are fit closely together and secured by small prongs. The name is drawn from the size of the gems used in this setting, which are often less than 0.01 carats.
In fact, some micro pave settings have dozens of stones lining the band, which presents the illusion of a continuous line of diamonds.
Some are eternity style rings, where the pave diamonds wrap all the way around, while others only cascade down one half of the ring.
For example, this wedding ring with a micro pave setting has 25 round cut diamonds with a total carat weight of 0.10.
The goal of this setting is to draw attention to the gems while diminishing the visibility of the metal.
Because of the small stones and close fit, this is a precision-sensitive setting.
Lasers ensure the best results and avoid the diamonds dislodging from the beads or prongs.
2. French Pave (Fish Tail)
The French pave (or fish tail) setting is similar to micro pave. The goal is to minimize the visibility of the metal.
It features small, V-shaped cutouts underneath each gem, so they’re set flush with one another and held in place by multiple points on their table.
The design enhances the setting’s sparkle because light hits the pavilion instead of being blocked by prongs.
You can view the V-shaped grooves in this French pave engagement ring from James Allen.
There are 20 diamonds, totaling 0.16 carats. Each is placed in the cutouts that rise and fall along the top half of the shank leading to the center diamond.
Designing a French pave setting is labor-intensive because of the significant number of grooves in the shank.
Another downside is it’s difficult to resize. So have confidence in your ring size before ordering, or purchase from a vendor that offers free returns.
3. Petite Pave
Petite pave settings feature small prongs that hold gemstones in place.
While the prongs have some visibility, its name is drawn from the size of the prongs, not the diamonds.
Buyers choose this setting because it allows the pave diamonds to enhance the glimmer of the ring.
Check out this petite pave cathedral setting.
Rotate the image to view it from multiple angles and learn how the diamonds are set between the prongs. The combination of pave diamonds and a cathedral arch results in an elegant engagement ring.
Though this type of pave setting is similar to the micro pave, don’t confuse one for the another.
A micro pave setting earns its name from the tiny gems, while petite pave settings are about minimizing the prongs on the band to improve light performance.
One of the disadvantages of petite pave settings is their inability to hold larger diamonds. While pave diamonds are known for being small, the miniature prongs mean the accents will need to have a low carat weight.
If you want to maximize the size of the diamond accents placed on the band, you should opt against petite pave.
4. U-Cut (Scalloped)
The metal beads in a U-cut setting have a distinct cutout underneath that mimics a French cut.
The difference is the curve at the bottom, which contrasts with the sharp point of the V-shaped French cut.
You’ll also hear U-cuts referred to as scalloped pave.
U-cut pave settings expose more of the gem’s pavilion. It’s visible from more angles than the typical straight-on view.
Like many types of pave, it minimizes how much of the gems are covered by the shank and what’s holding them in place.
In this 14K white gold U-pave wedding ring, notice the U-shaped cutouts that rise and fall on half the ring.
Bits of metal extend over the gems’ tables to hold them in pace, but most of the table and sides are visible. It’s an exceptional complement to an engagement ring created with the same metal.
There are brilliant diamonds on both, but the U-cut pave won’t overwhelm the diamond ring.
5. Bright Cut (Chanel)
Bright cut (channel) is a classic type of pave setting that has grown in popularity because of its vintage aesthetic.
Gems are held between two metal walls and fastened in place by tiny prongs.
It mimics channel-set diamonds, where gems are placed inside the shank in shallow grooves.
Check out the image below of bright cut pave as part of an engagement ring.
There are two layers of pave diamonds, and milgrain lines both walls. The amount of detail on this piece is stunning, which allows the ring to impress at a glance and a close-up viewing.
Bright cut pave solves one of the most common concerns with pave settings, which is the small diamonds falling out.
The double fastening provides extra durability for the gemstones. So it’s safer to wear during physical activity and isn’t as vulnerable to bumps and drops.
The setting does have a higher metal-to-diamond ratio and can have less sparkle because the gems don’t reflect light from as large of a surface area.
As you’re deciding which setting is right for you, choose whether securing the diamonds or enhancing the ring’s brilliance is more important.
If it’s the former, a bright cut pave setting may be the right choice.
6. Shared Prong
In a shared prong setting, which is technically not pave, metal prongs are shared and used to hold two adjacent gemstones to one another.
It minimizes the visibility of the prongs and creates a tighter, more uniform look. There are usually two prongs used to hold each set of stones.
For example, this shared prong diamond engagement ring features 10 round cuts lining half the shank.
The gems’ tables are exposed in this setting, which leads to more sparkle as light enters from the top and bottom of each stone.
It also creates a cohesive appearance, as the line of diamonds matches the platinum band.
This design is typically used for larger diamonds because more metal is required to hold them in place securely.
Its durability is sufficient without sacrificing sparkle, so shared prong settings are a popular choice for eternity bands and engagement rings that imitates the look of pave settings.
This shared prong setting demonstrates how it’s also used as a piece of fashion jewelry.
It’s called an alternating diamond ring because every other diamond switches between large and small. In order to contrast the color of the diamonds and the band, you can select a metal other than white gold, like the rose gold variation above.
7. Random Pave
Random pave is less popular compared to many other types of pave. Its scattered design means it doesn’t have the same sense of elegance as other styles.
This alternative approach to traditional pave features a mix of gem sizes on the piece. You’ll often find this style includes pave diamonds on the face of the ring instead of the shank, like the example below.
It includes an emerald cut in the middle surrounded by large and small round cuts.
Some diamonds in a random pave setting weigh less than 0.01 carats, while others are the size you may find in a French or petite pave setting.
If you’re searching for an engagement or wedding ring, I don’t recommend random pave settings. It doesn’t have the cohesive aesthetic of classic settings.
Instead, find unique designs by exploring the different types of gems that can be placed in or on the shank or by choosing a cut such as princess or emerald diamonds.