The origin of the word 'Pave' comes from the intricately placed pieces of cobblestone that comprise many European Roadways. The main difference between Pave and Micropave is that the stones used in Micropave are smaller and are set using a different technique. Some key points which can be used for identifying micro pave are:
A perfect micro pave setting is indicated by perfect symmetry of all components - beads of metal that provide support and hold each stone, thus preventing them from falling off, a precise undercutting that gives the stones the appearance of floating above the surface. There is also a consistent spacing and positioning of the stones with their tables leveled. Each stone is also cut and well proportioned. Using micro pave is one of the most popular techniques employed to hide the metal and transform the appearance of a piece. Micro pave illuminates the surface of jewelry, making it appear thinner and more delicate. This is why micro pave is often used even on surfaces that are not directly visible from the top.
The most essential tool for the micro pave setting is a good microscope, since the size of the stones is quite small and the designs are quite intricate and delicate, providing a look that is difficult to achieve with larger stones. 'Micro' denotes not only to the smallness of the stones, but also that these settings can only be achieved with the use of a high-powered microscope.
The Micro Pave setting requires very skilled jewelry craftsmen since this setting not only involves the use of a microscope but also they must have the ability to hand carve each individual microscopic setting so that just the right amount of depth is achieved and the right amount of metal remains on the surface for the almost invisible prongs that hold the stones in place. Even the smallest miscalculation will result in an uneven surface.
Some telltale signs of poorly made micro pave are: roughness to the touch; unevenness of texture and clarity; ill-defined rows and patterns; misshapen beads; and too much metal covering the stones.
One disadvantage of micro pave setting can be the stones falling off. Some micro pave designs might have about 100-200 diamonds, and the diamonds are quite small. The prongs or beads that hold these diamonds are a fraction of the size of diamonds and are of malleable metal. Thus, the amount of metal holding these small diamonds are very small and any direct hit on one of these small prongs can dislodge the diamond.
That said, well made micro pave, when carefully worn and well cared for, can give many years of problem free wear. As with all jewelry, we recommend a minimum of twice yearly inspections.