À jour

À jour

À jour is a term used in jewellery manufacturing which describes an open backed setting that allows the light to shine through the gemstone, enhancing the scintillation, brightness and colour. À jour settings are not found prior to 1800 when nearly all gems were mounted with closed backs.

The term à jour is from the French word for ‘day’.


Victorian earrings with À jour settings. Elder and Bloom.


Please note: Plique à jour is a type of enamelling that incorporates an open background which is filled with transparent enamel.

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Gemstone Settings

Here are the main types of gemstone settings:

Prong or claw setting

Usually four to eight prongs (but can be many more and sometimes only two).  Prong tips can be rounded, oval, flat or v-shaped.

This is the most common type of setting.


Europe, c. 1800-1869
Ring, faceted hessonite garnet
V&A Museum

Bezel or Semi-Bezel Setting

 A metal rim or collar completely encases the sides of a stone with the rim extending slightly above the stone.

In the case of a semi-bezel, the metal does not go all the way around the sides of the stone.

One of the oldest types of settings.

  • Ring

    Mid 19th century
    Ring, peridot intaglio set in gold
    V&A Museum

Channel Setting

Continuous row of stones set in straight line into a metal channel, with no metal inbetween.


Diamond eternity ring, Lang Antique and Estate Jewelry.

Crown Setting

A crown setting is in reality a type of prong or claw setting which looks like a crown.


Europe, c. 1800-1913
Ring, demantoid garnet, set in gold
V&A Museum

Pave or Bead Setting

The gemstones are set very close together so that no metal shows from underneath.


England, c. 1860
Brooch, pave set turquoises with brilliant cut diamond
V&A Museum

Inlay Setting

This is when the gemstone is embedded into a hollowed out place in the metal.


England, c. 1800-1830
Ring, gold set with rubies.
V&A Museum

Flush Setting (also called ‘Burnish Setting’ or ‘Gypsy Setting’)

This is the same as an inlay setting, but the stone and the metal are level.

Illusion or Invisible Setting

Several stones are laid side by side with no metal in between.

Grooves in each stone fit into a metal frame which is hidden from view below the surface.


Art Deco Diamond Bracelet

Image Courtesy of Lang Antiques

Tension Setting

This is a relatively new type of ring setting where the metal is used to hold the stone in place, suspended between the open shank.  Small groves are made into the metal to hold the stones in place.  First developed in the late 1960s.

Tension ring.JPG

Bar Setting

Stones are set between bars of metal. I have been unable to find an example of this used in antique jewelry.

À jour

Please see here. 

Sources / further reading:






Pavé is a type of setting in which the gemstones or pastes are set very close together and no metal is showing from underneath.  They stones are usually very small. The stones are held in place by small pieces of metal pushed over the girdle of the stone.  The stones are often laid out in concentric circles. The word ‘pavé’ comes from the Middle French for ‘pavement’.

There are many fine examples of this setting in antique and period jewelry.

Dress ornament in the form of a tulip flower-head.Silver in very high relief, hollowed out at the closed back, set with calibré-cut pastes. The later pin probably replaces sewing links; .

Russia, c. 1726-1775
Dress Ornament, silver with pave pastes.
British Museum

During the Victorian era, there are a lot of examples of pavé turquoises.

The color of turquoises was reminiscent of forget-me-nots, so would have had special meaning to the Victorians.


England, c. 1820-1830
Necklace, gold, pave turquoises and half pearls.
V&A Museum

England, 1830-1840
Brooch, gold pave turquoises, rubies, emeralds and pearls
V&A Museum

A small group of jewellery

Victorian pavé cabochon turquoise, rose-cut diamond and pearl floral spray brooch.
Christie’s Sale 8474

Art Nouveau designers were also fond of using Pavé settings.

1900 Rene Lalique cuff with enamel and pave-set diamond leaves

1900 Rene Lalique cuff with enamel and pave-set diamond leaves

During the Art Deco era, pavé set diamonds alone or accented with other boldly colored gems were especially popular to the point of being a signature style of the era. 


Art Deco Diamond Pave set bracelet
Christie’s Sale 3517


Art Deco Emerald and Diamond Brooch
Christie’s Sale 1393


Christie’s Sale 5388