What is a Pavé or Micro-Pavé Setting?
Pavé is pronounced "Par-vay" and originates from the french word literally meaning paved, to best describe the arrangement of diamonds set across the surface. Diamonds are arranged at regular intervals, in a close proximity in a uniform arrangement, building up what appears to be a coating of diamonds, with each stone held within small grains of metal impossible to distinguish with the naked eye. The technique can be used to cover a wide expanse of precious metal, but is also popular for small meleé diamonds within wedding rings, and engagement rings such as the popular halo engagement ring style.
What is the difference between Pavé and Micro Pavé?
The main difference is between the size of the diamonds. Micro-pavé settings are created with the smallest stars (fully cut diamond melee in very small sizes) that are uniform in size and laid out in a honeycomb like arrangement over the surface. Traditional pavé settings utilise a variation of different diamond sizes, an assortment of small melee diamonds to best fit the space.
Best Diamonds for Pavé
By far the best diamonds used for this style of setting are small sizes of full cut diamonds. Each possessing 57 facets, the multi-dimensional surface created results in a dazzling effect, as any movement will cause light to literally dance across the diamond surface. Traditional eight cut diamonds, would not best serve any piece of diamond jewellery in the same way that a full cut diamond would. Also, due to the price of fully cut diamonds, smaller rough is more valuable when cut into fully cut diamonds, as opposed to single cut stones, which were at one time very common.
Techniques for Setting
Both pavé and micro-pavé setting styles utilise exceptional setting skill, but modern CAD design has provided an effective tool for laying out pre-drilled surfaces enabling the setter to position each diamond in a pre-positioned placement for a perfectly even, distribution. Traditionally, pavé settings were created by hand, working a flat surface of metal, and lifting the small grains of metal from the surface to hold each diamond. A very time consuming and precise technique perfected over many years of training.
Wear and Tear
Pavé and Micro-Pavé settings are both susceptible to stone loss, irrespective of the skill and quality of the setting. Provided each diamond is accurately set within the piece by a skilled setter, the diamonds will be secure, and avoiding knocks with careful wear, the diamonds should remain within their settings. Having said this, a diamond can be lost from a pavé setting but the cost to replace a stone should be minimal. With each retaining metal grain being susceptible to damage from the diamond itself if knocked, it is a risk for anyone wearing a pavé encrusted piece. Cleaning the item should only require a very soft brush, some warm water, and a small amount of mild detergent. Ultrasonic cleaning is best avoided, since this will most likely shake the diamonds from the setting as the piece vibrates within the cleaner.