What Is Pavé?

There are many descriptive words which sellers use to identify the way that rhinestones are set in vintage jewelry. Prong settings, dog tooth settings, channel settings all come to mind. But one which is sometimes used that you may not know the meaning of is the word pavé.

The word is french and is pronounced pahvay. Pavé is the process of setting stones (notably rhinestones), where a number of small stones are set as closely together as possible. Better pieces use a claw setting. Less expensive pieces often have the stones simply glued in. The end result is what looks like a continuous surface of diamonds or other gems.

With the advent of so many people selling vintage jewelry online, there has become a real misuse of the term pavé, so much so, in fact, that the word has incorrectly become nearly a generic’description of any piece of jewelry with a lot of rhinestones.

The original French word meant paving, in a similar manner to paving a street. If you think of this meaning, it will help to get a better picture of pave settings in your mind. The jewelry piece should be literally "paved" with stones or rhinestones, with as little metal as possible showing. Often the whole top of the piece is completely covered with stones so that the metal appears to be a minor part of the design.

The word is also often used for a strip in a setting which is done in this same style. The strip will look like a little paved street, and is used as an accent, rather than covering the whole piece of jewelry. In this case, it can look similar to channel settings, but they are quite different. In a channel setting the stones are actually placed close together in one long channel. In pavé, the stones each have their own little holding area the shape of the stone. The holding areas are just very close together.

The dress clips pictured at the top are a good example of pavé in a strip setting. The apple pin shown above is the normal pavé look.

Carol Speake

Visit: The Finishing Touch Vintage Jewelry


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