You’re ring shopping, and you’ve come across a phrase you don’t quite know: pavé engagement rings. Is it a particular setting style? It is just a fancy word to sound cool? Stop spiraling, we’re here to help. Read on to discover everything you need to know about pavé ring settings and pavé stones.
What Exactly Is a Pavé Setting?
On a ring blessed with a pavé setting, accent stones run along the surface of the metal band itself, also known as the shank. It is wildly popular as ornamentation, for both engagement rings and wedding bands, because the accent stones embedded so close to one another combine with dazzling effect.
How Do You Pronounce Pavé and Where Does It Come From?
Speaking of accents, don’t let the accent mark over the e confuse you. Pavé is just a French word that means “to pave.” And it’s pronounced puh - vey, by the way. On a related note, it’s also the French word for cobblestone. Which makes sense, because pavé settings date back to a time when cobblestones were the go-to pavement choice and carthorses clopped about the city streets. In the intervening centuries, our definition of pavé settings has widened along with our boulevards and highways, but pavé still refers to a ring embedded with a series of small stones for some extra sparkle.
What’s with the Road Construction Talk?
Think of the circular ring band as an unmarked trail. Pavé lays down a glittering pavement of jewels that directs all eye traffic to the centerpiece stone. The dull, rounded rocks of a cobblestone street are slightly raised to shed water and provide purchase for horse hooves. The sparkling pavers of a pavé setting are also slightly raised about the surface of the ring band, but that is part of a design to snare light for additional sparkle. Because that additional sparkle can either stand on its own or enhance a center stone, pavé settings are fixtures in wedding ring sets.Browse All Wedding Ring Sets
Collaborative sparkle is pavé’s forte, and an added bonus is the fact that the technique can be formed even on very slender rings. This allows dainty rings with a pavé band to punch above their weight — in terms of glamorous visibility — while still maintaining their delicate figure.
How Are Pavé Settings Made?
As we said before, pavé settings’ technology and terminology have expanded over the years. But, in general, a sequence of small holes is drilled into the metal band. The accent stones are then fitted into the holes, after which prongs or beads of metal are folded up to hold the gemstones in position. When the small prongs are especially tiny, obscuring the least amount of the accent stone possible, it is referred to as petite pavé.
Alternatively, the stones can be placed in a single channel, with the upper lip of the groove securing the glittering lineup. There is some vocabulary quibbling in the jewelry community regarding the distinctions between pavé settings, bead settings and channel settings. But they are all embedded together and are often used interchangeably.
What Are Accent Stones Exactly? What Kind of Size Range Do They Have?
A cobblestone is larger than a pebble but smaller than a boulder. Accent stones have a much more specific range: between .01 and .20 carats. Melee is another term for these small stones, except the melee range is even smaller on the low end: all the way down to 0.001 ct.
When those especially small melee stones are used in a pavé setting, they are often referred to as micropavé. Just for reference, there are over 2000 carats in a pound. By itself, a melee stone won’t sparkle that much, just as a single cobble doesn’t make much of a roadway. That’s why pavé requires teamwork to make the gleam work.
How Many Accent Stones Are Needed to Qualify as Pavé?
There isn’t an exact number. But if you just put an accent stone on either side of the centerstone, that’s not usually considered pavé. Those are just side stones.
Does a Pavé Setting Go All the Way Around the Ring?
Many rings — such as our Sadie — do indeed take pavé all the way. That’s going to be the path to maximum sparkle. But it’s also equally common to stop halfway. That’s because the lower half of the shank makes the most frequent contact with foreign surfaces. It’s also the part of the ring that jewelers typically cut into when they are called upon to resize. If the ring band is wide enough, more than one line of pavé can be set into the metal.
Keep in mind that the width is different from the thickness. Width determines how much space the ring covers on your finger while thickness determines how high the ring comes off your finger. Think of width as the part of the ring you measure from above and thickness as what you can observe when the ring is in profile.
Rings that have a continuous setting are referred to as eternity rings, while those that stop halfway are called half-eternity rings, for obvious reasons.
Those double lines of pavé can be laid right against each other but, sometimes, jewelers will split the shank and put pavé on both branches. The Princess is a great example of a split shank pavé.
Is Pavé Like a Halo Setting?
A halo setting also employs a series of accent stones to enhance the center stone, and some jewelers will indeed refer to this as a pavé technique. However, halo settings are exclusively clustered around the stone itself, while pavé is usually understood to refer to the band that encircles the finger.
However, many halo-style engagement rings also have pavé settings for even more sparkling splendor. Occasionally, jewelers will double up on both, combining a double halo with a double band of pavé. Or check out this exciting permutation: The Queen offers a triple channel approach with a halo setting.
Oh, and if you want to enter truly dizzying territory, there can also be hidden halos, which hover directly beneath the center stone but above the ring band. This is achieved by embedding accent stones in the strips of metal, called basket bars, which support the center stone.Explore All Halo Cut Engagement Rings
What Center Stone Settings Pair Well with Pavé Settings?
Pretty much all of them. Over the years, a number of different pavé styles have emerged, which means that for any centerpiece setting, there’s an ideal way to complement it with a band encrusted in glittering translucence. Don’t believe us? Just check out this Sweetheart situation.
An engagement ring with a pavé setting doesn’t just look like a gemstone perched on top of a metal band. It looks like a gemstone perched on top of a band of gemstones.
What If There Isn’t a Center Stone?
While pavé settings can bend their brilliance toward a center stone, they can also help simpler bands make more of a solo statement or do double duty as both engagement ring and wedding band. In fact, their supportive structure is what makes pavé settings such a staple in stackable wedding bands.
What Are the Different Pavé Styles?
Micropavé or Micropavé Set
As we mentioned above, this refers to the size of the gemstones, which are set very close together. Micropavé vs. micropavé set is a matter of using prongs vs. beads to secure the gemstones.
- The Bliss pairs a pear-shaped halo with a half-eternity band. Not only does it prove that exquisite halos don’t always come in perfect circles, but it’s compelling evidence for blanketing the field of vision with accent stones, whether that is a bird’s-eye view or a profile shot.
- The Lovely: The halo surrounding this lovely cushion-cut stone is so extravagantly gorgeous that its splendor overflowed onto the basket holding the cushion and the ring band as well.
Again, look at the versatility here. Whether the cut is pear or cushion, pavé makes an excellent partner.
Placing the accent stones in a groove rather than a succession of individually drilled holes is often described as an alternative approach to traditional pavé. But, oddly enough, this style is surging in popularity because those sleek lines of the retaining walls give it a vintage look. The accent stones are usually a little more flush with the surface of the metal band, but, as you can tell by the name, bright-cut pavé offers plenty of shine and can be the first image that comes to mind when pavé is mentioned.
- The Belle gathers the brightness of those channels in its eye-catching oval. It’s a further example of how pavé complements almost any setting. But it’s a transcendent example of how pavé settings on both an engagement ring and a wedding band put the two pieces of jewelry in the same resplendent groove. Place the Belle next to the Desire. Or the Promise. Or both.
- The Enchanted has that kind of magic, too. It channels the same sleek sturdiness, but it also feels like something that could have fallen out of a storybook ending. How's that for vintage appeal?
This pavé setting refers to the shape of the beads holding the accent stones in place. Just because they serve a utilitarian purpose doesn’t mean that they can’t provide their own unique contribution to the ring design, and the distinctive U-shape does just that.
- The Alexandria: OK, this is bold! The sharp lines of an emerald-cut center stone are placed across the scalloped waves of the band. But, together, they pull off the kind of vintage look with the elegance and efficiency that makes Art Deco designs so appealing.
- The Sofia: If you want to lean into the curves, check out how the scallop design works with this round-cut center stone. Or link up with a saucy (but still classy) pear-shaped number like The Scarlett.
Are Pavé Settings Hard to Care for?
Are they hard to care for? No. Are they as easy to care for as rings without them? Well, also no. Let’s talk about exactly what we mean by that.
Pavé Settings Take a Bit More Work
They’re beautiful, ornate and require a good amount of care. You want the light to shine through a window best? Well, you’ve gotta clean it, right? The same principle applies here. The pavé setting allows you to show off your ring's brilliance beautifully but you’ve gotta put in a bit more work to help it shine maximally. That said, you won’t be spending a significant amount of extra time on them, so the tradeoff is easily a net positive.
Sure, the only immediate downside to pavé settings is that they require a bit lighter touch in their care. If you’re fine with that, you should have no issues with your pavé setting and your life won’t change much when wearing it.
What About Lifestyle? Do Pavé Settings Affect That?
Well, that really just depends on your lifestyle. Yes, that sounds like a copout, but it’s true. If you live a quiet life, work an office job and are diligent about taking off your ring when you’re supposed to, then no, it doesn’t affect your lifestyle. If, however, you live a fast-paced life, love being active and could be a little bit better about removing your rings, it will affect your lifestyle. In that scenario, you either make some small lifestyle changes or get a silicone ring to wear on a day-to-day basis. Both of those scenarios sound fine, but one is certainly easier.
Cleaning Pavé Settings
Now, the advantage of pavé is that it allows lots of light to get to those embedded stones, but that means some grit can get there as well. It’s up to you to do a bit of street cleaning from time to time so that the ring stays encrusted with sparkle and not with grime. Feel free to consult our cleaning tips and other ring care suggestions.
We Keep to the Path
Creating pavé settings requires walking a narrow path of precision craftsmanship. Each accent stone has to be exactly placed so as not to compromise the pleasing sequence or the strength of the ring band itself. On the other hand, matching up with a pavé setting is an easy road to take. And we try to make it even easier with our generous exchange policy.Check Out Other Popular Types of Ring Settings