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If you consider an engagement ring design incomplete without optimal sparkle, then you should be searching for one with a pavé setting. This popular technique adds an extra element of radiance without distracting from your center stone and an artisanal touch that's equal parts bold and romantic.
What Is the Pavé Setting?
The pavé setting is a ring setting that features small diamonds along the band of the ring. The French word translates to ‘paved’ and this jewelry technique was named as such because it resembles a paved or cobblestone road.
We spoke with experts Anna Sheffield, Olivia Landau, and Nicole Wegman to discover everything you should consider before selecting your pavé-set ring. Ahead, learn about the pros and cons, what goes into crafting a high-quality pavé setting, how to care for your diamond, and why this style supports the argument that more sparkle = more fun.
Meet the Expert
- Anna Sheffield is a jewelry designer and the founder of Bing Bang, a collection of modern minimalist jewelry that was established in 2002.
- Olivia Landau is a jeweler and the founder and CEO of The Clear Cut.
- Nicole Wegman has blurred the distinct line between jeweler and influencer as the founder and CEO of Ring Concierge.
The History of Pavé Settings
Pavé settings have been around for hundreds of years with notable designs dating back to the Georgian era. “You’ll see jewelry from this time with diamond and even other stones like turquoise pavé set in the design of rings, lockets, brooches, earrings, and precious objects,” explains Sheffield. The technique is achieved when a hole (or divot) is carved in the material and the tiny gemstone is inset. “Next, a metal tool is used to make eensy beads, or another type of prong, to push up and over the stone to hold it in place,” Sheffield explains. “There are a number of ways to do this, stylistically, and slight differences in how they look in the end. But the gist of it is that pavé adds a diamond or gem outline or all-over surface covering to the piece.”
Pros and Cons of Pavé Settings
The reason to go for a pavé setting comes down to two words: more sparkle. "Pavé settings are a great way to add additional sparkle," says Wegman. "The diamonds are set in a way so there is minimal metal, keeping the focus on the center stone. They can also be set on very thin bands, keeping your ring delicate in appearance."
Pavé settings do a wonderful job of adding more bling to an engagement ring without taking the spotlight away from the center stone," adds Landau.
An obvious disadvantage of the pavé setting is its delicacy. While the prominent design of pavé-set rings are often favored by brides-to-be because it accentuates the diamonds, it requires more maintenance than other styles. “Like all fine jewelry, pavé settings can be delicate and since they have so many tiny stones set into the design, if your ring takes a hard hit it may cause a stone to come loose,” Landau says.
As for the price tag, “The majority of costs for jewelry made with pavé is found in the labor,” Sheffield notes. “Skilled setters are requisite for this type of work. Not only is their artisanship valuable, but it is also more expensive (and well worth it).” Landau adds that it can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to around a thousand dollars more than a classic solitaire setting.
What to Look For In a Pavé Setting
- What stones, cuts, and materials pair best with pavé settings? “I love incorporating pavé into an engagement ring by adding a hidden halo, which is made by adding pavé to the basket bar (which supports the prongs on your ring) around the sides of your center stone,” says Landau. “It’s a nice little touch that you don’t see from the top of the ring but makes the sides of your ring just as special and sparkly as the rest.”
- What types of settings pair well with pavé-set rings? “Pavé is a beautiful complement to any setting, in my experience,” Sheffield says. “We have paired pavé with bezel set center stones as well as those in prong settings.” There is also a technique called micro-pavé, which is comprised of even tinier diamonds and achieved with the aid of a microscope. “I call this look ‘diamond-dusted,’” Sheffield notes.
- Wearability? Wegman warns that the small prongs holding the stones in a pavé-set ring are more likely to bend if too much pressure is added. "For this reason, we highly recommend taking extra caution when wearing this style. But not to worry, replacing lost stones is super easy!"
How to Care for Your Pavé Setting
Due to the more fragile nature of pavé settings, experts recommend removing your ring before participating in activities that may cause harm. It’s not out of the ordinary for these damages to happen and thankfully the repairs are relatively easy for jewelers. When in doubt, take off your ring if you are going to be partaking in any high-contact activities.
As for cleaning, Sheffield recommends getting your pavé setting steam cleaned and limit your use of a polishing cloth “as the fibers can snag the tiny prongs.” You can also fill a bowl with warm water and a squeeze of dish soap, Landau adds. “Soak your jewelry in there and scrub with a clean toothbrush to get into all the nooks and crannies. Then rinse in a bowl of warm water (without soap) and set to dry on a clean paper towel.”
Ahead, 20 beautiful engagement rings featuring a pavé setting.