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What is Pave Setting? All the things you wanted to know

This article discusses techniques and issues relating to pave setting a setting technique used in diamond jewelry. It covers different types of pave setting, the size, placement and quality of diamonds, and how the jewelry is finished. 

In many descriptions about diamond jewelry, one reads about pave diamonds. Pave is actually a style of setting and it comes in various forms. In addition to being a method for securing round diamonds, the method used can subtly affect on how a jewelry will look and how much of the diamond can be seen.

  

  

Closed Pave Set Ring

Closed Pave

The diamonds are set with beads securing the stone as opposed to claws. Most commonly many small round diamonds are used that sit together creating a bank of sparkling stones. The beads are balls of metal raised from the surface of the metal surrounding the diamond. The technique can be likened to scraping butter on a butter cube. The gold is scraped into a round bead that is pushed over the girdle of the diamond. In closed pave setting the bottom of the diamonds are not seen. Further more along the edge of the bank of diamonds, a bright cut is carved with a scorper (setting knife) , creating a clean edge to the array of diamonds. What's great about this technique is that the setting technique can be applied to any surface are and fill in plain gold areas of the jewelry with a sparkling array of diamonds. The ratio between surface area of diamonds to the surface area of metal is important. On a well made piece of jewelry, more diamond can be seen then carved metal. All the size of the diamonds are important and need to be suited to the center diamond and the curves in the metal surface. If cover a larger area, then larger diamonds maybe used in convex areas and smaller diamonds in concave areas

Milgrain

This is not an actually setting technique but rather a way to finish the bright cut metal edge of closed pave setting, that's been cut using a scorper. A rolling milling wheel is used to created small beaded notches in the metal. Its purely decorative and gives a pretty vintage look to the pave setting and jewelry.

Milgrain Pave Set Ring

 

Open Pave Setting

Open Pave

Small Mele´round diamonds are set close to one another however, usually in single rows, as in a halo around a center diamonds or along an diamond eternity band ring. The technique is used to expose the side of the diamonds. An open U shape is carved in the wall of the metal supporting the stones, exposing the diamond from the side. In this technique its important to notice the size of the diamonds used. The diamonds may sit close to one another but do they cover the width of the setting area? Is there too much metal exposed on either side of the diamonds? Or are the diamonds too large and jut out from the side of the setting area? Planning the size of the diamonds used in relation to the setting area underneath is very important. The stones are secured with four beads that are naturally created when the open U shape is cut in the sides of the walls. Its the four beads that secure the stone.

 

   

   

French Open Pave

This style of setting is similar in nature to regular open Pave´setting accept that the cutting technique is slightly different. The metal is cut in the side of the wall leaving an W shape. The center point covers the side of the diamond. Again four beads secure the diamond. Just as with open pave, it is important that the correct size of diamonds are used. This style is more decorative then regular open pave.

French Open Pave Setting

Micro Pave Setting

Micro Pave

This is quite a recent term used for open pave setting, where very small diamonds are used as a halo surrounding a center diamond or gemstone. The diamonds are used as a decorative edge and the MM size of the stones can be anywhere from 1.0-1.3MM. Obviously the larger the stone the larger the diamonds in the halo, proportionate to the center stone.

It's important that little metal is exposed when using this technique, so that one sees net diamonds and little else. The technique is very pretty and delicate in nature. The idea of micro pave is to lend an almost subliminal decorative edge.

Channel pave

Or line setting as its sometimes referred to is simply one row of closed pave with a higher more noticeable wall on either side of the row of diamonds. Its similar to channel setting, however there are no spaces in between the diamonds, and from the metal surrounding the diamond, as with closed pave setting, beads are raised to secure the stone. This is different to regular channel setting where the walls of the setting edge actually cover part of the stone. I prefer this technique as it shows more of the diamond and its quite pretty. The surface of the metal can have a slight domed contour so that the tables of the diamonds sit higher then the surrounding walls. 

Channel Pave Setting

 

Aligned of area pave setting

When setting mele round diamonds over an area of metal so that many stones sit next to one another; how the stones are arranged and the sizes used can make a difference to the look of the jewelry. The stones can be symmetrically arranged next to one another in rows, one stone parallel to another, or arranged to fit in a tight honeycomb formation that fit closer together. With the honeycomb technique less metal is exposed. Also different size diamonds can be used to allow for curvatures in the setting area.

Curved Pave Surface

Flat surface v Domed surface

As mentioned before the diamonds can be set on a flat surface, within a grooved channel or on a domed surface. In a grooved channel the stones are kind of buried. They are less exposed to being knocked on surfaces when wearing the ring, however less diamond is seen and the walls dominate the stones. On a flat surface more of the stones are exposed, however there is little relief to the jewelry I.e. the jewelry has little 3D definition. With a domed surface, the jewelry has full relief and more definition, also the stones are fully exposed. 

Back-holes

My father always says that on a piece of jewelry the back should look as good as the front. He always cared about the jewelry we made in the workshop and was insistent that the model should be made with consideration from all views. The vast majority of pave set diamond jewelry today, has the holes simply drilled all the way through the metal to allow rinsing and cleaning behind the stone or simply doesn't have a hole at all. However a well made piece of jewelry has 'Back-holes'. These are decorative shapes that create a beautiful carved pattern on the reverse side of a piece of jewelry. The devil is in the details. Its what differentiates a masterpiece piece of jewelry from a average mass produced work. The back-holes can be  carved into a honeycomb shape, a serpentine shape, tear shapes, in-fact any shape that the imagination can come up with. More then just decoration, it makes the jewelry lighter to wear. If your wearing a drop pair of earrings and you don't want them to be to heavy, and they can be seen from both sides, then nicely carved back-holes are the answer. To get away with not creating back-holes today, designers add back-plates or 'biza' which is also decorative, however can make the jewelry very heavy to wear.

Pave Backholes

 

  

Bead size and finish

What differentiates a good setter from an average setter is the way the pave set diamonds are arranged and spaced one next to another, and how the beads are finished off. Are they too large that they dominate the stone, or are they too small that they don't cover the stone enough? Are they rounded nicely? How is the metal carved in between the stones. If the metal is bear is it carved with additional beads?

  

Metal Color

A last note about metal color. The base metal color that the stones are set in can make a big difference to the color of the stones and feel of the jewelry. Most jewelers set there white diamonds in white gold. However using rose or yellow gold in certain sections can differentiate and accentuate the design. If using pink or yellow diamonds, it may be more effective to use rose or yellow respectively. Regular fancy pink diamonds won't show well and may get washed in color if setting them in white gold. Be aware though that rose gold is not the same color as pink diamonds. The tone is different. Depending on the alloy used, rose gold is more salmon in color. Fancy pinks are usually more purplish in color unless brownish pinks are being used. 

If you want greater intensity of color in rose gold, it may be better to use 14K rose gold instead of 18K rose gold. 14K has more copper alloy mixed in it. When choosing a piece of jewelry consider these issues and you will begin to swim in a world of artful details that can make your treasured jewelry that much more special and unique.  

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