The word ‘pave’ as it applies to jewelry is pronounced PAW-VAY and is derived from the French word for pave. With respect to jewelry, it refers to a setting that consists of tiny gemstones set very closely together so that they essentially pave the surface of the jewelry so that very little of the jewelry setting’s metal itself shows through.
The effect of pave set gemstones can be very striking, as each individual gemstone catches and reflects light back and the individually set stones provide a glittering textured surface for the jewelry.
An added plus to opting for a pave setting can be one of economy: It is generally easier to find gem quality stones in such a small size and less expensive, too. Gem quality is a little less paramount in importance with such small stones and a budget-conscious jewelry shopper might find a larger piece of jewelry that uses a pave setting is easily affordable, where a smaller piece of jewelry that uses a single stone or two is not.
Diamond pave settings are usually fashioned out of white gold or platinum, which continues the illusion of a piece of jewelry ‘paved with diamonds,’ without obvious contrasting metal showing. Gemstones are held in place by tiny prongs or tiny little beads of the jewelry setting’s metal that are placed between the stones. The jewelry setting itself has small indentations into which each stone is placed.
Because of the method by which gemstones are set, however, pave gemstone jewelry requires a little more caution and care than prong-set gemstone jewelry. Each gemstone essentially sits in its own little crevice, allowing dirt and grime from everyday wear to accumulate faster. Also, pave set stones will fall out more easily than prong-set ones. However, should this occur, the gemstones are also more easily replaced and at lesser cost than larger stones.
One last consideration to note with respect to gemstone rings: A fully pave-set ring, with diamonds or other gemstones set completely around the band, will be much more difficult to resize than a ring that utilizes a partial pave setting. If you love the look of gemstones fully encircling the finger, use extra care in finding the appropriate ring size.