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If you want an engagement ring that stands out, look for more than just an unusual stone and opt for a unique setting. The tension setting is a departure from the more classic settings you’re probably used to seeing. This modern, sleek look is ideal for the bride-to-be who wants to put her own spin on the traditional engagement ring.
What Is the Tension Setting?
The tension setting is a ring setting that uses compression to hold a center diamond or gemstone in place. This makes the stone appear as if it's floating between two pieces of metal or within the band itself.
We consulted with several experts including Peter Amerosi, Ryan Gozlan, Olivia Landau, and Nicole Wegman to discover everything you need to know before selecting your dream tension-set engagement ring.
Meet the Expert
- Peter Amerosi is a diamond expert and vice president of Gerald Peters.
- Ryan Gozlan is a custom jeweler and co-founder of Lisa Gozlan Jewelry.
- Olivia Landau is a jeweler and the founder and CEO of The Clear Cut.
- Nicole Wegman has blurred the distinct line between jeweler and influencer as the founder and CEO of Ring Concierge.
Pros and Cons of the Tension Setting
Many people opt for a tension setting because they want something different than a traditional setting. “Tension settings are extremely unique and not seen very often,” explains Amerosi. “As a result, this style of gemstone setting leads to unique jewelry, and it’s admired for its unusual appearance.”
The tension setting can also put more attention on your diamond or gemstone. “A tension setting allows for the diamond to be held in a secure place while also enhancing its brilliance so it can be seen in full view from more angles with minimal metal surrounding the stone,” says Gozlan. “In essence, it’s all diamond and no metal, which really allows for the stone to sparkle.”
And while tension settings can appear quite fragile (it looks like the diamond might fall at any moment), they are actually much more secure than they seem. “It takes a great deal of force to loosen a tension set gemstone,” assures Amerosi.
For all the pros, however, there are several negatives to consider. The tension setting can be more expensive because it requires a specialized skill set to create. “Only 10% to 15% of jewelers actually know how to properly tension set, which is why it can be so costly, and a risk when you don’t choose the right jeweler,” says Gozlan.
They are also difficult to size. In fact, Amerosi recommends that you should never size them as it can increase the chances of the stone coming loose. Since it’s common for rings to be sized at some point, this is a pretty big disadvantage.
While tension settings aren’t going to fall apart immediately, they are still considerably more delicate than, say, a halo setting. “Due to the hardness of a diamond being greater than the hardness of precious metals, even with a strong and metal heavy setting, the diamond may eventually wear down the groove it’s held in place by and come loose or fall out anyway,” says Landau.
What to Look for in a Tension Setting
- How can I tell if the ring is high quality? According to Gozlan, one of the most important things to look for in a tension setting is picking a high-quality diamond since the setting attracts so much attention to the stone. There’s not much that distracts from the diamond, so you’ll want a stone with high-quality cut and color.
- Where should I shop for this type of ring? You should also make sure to do your research before picking a jeweler. Again, the tension setting is extremely difficult to perfect and you want someone who knows what they’re doing. Amerosi recommends using a reputable jeweler with a strong history of quality jewelry. “Generally, symmetrical cuts are best for tension setting,” Amerosi says. “Most often, round cuts and princess cut stones are favored.”
How to Care for a Tension Setting
Unlike many other engagement ring styles, tension settings require additional care and safety measures to ensure that the stone remains secure. Beyond regularly cleaning your ring with warm water and jewelry cleaner or dish soap, brides should be extra cautious before partaking in activities that may cause damage. "If you opt for a tension setting, take extra care to not wear your ring when doing any hand-heavy activities, as they have a higher likelihood of the diamond coming loose," warns Wegman.
While traditional prong-set rings possess a cross bar underneath the stone, tension-set rings do not, which results in less security. "In order for the ring to be secure, a significant amount of metal is required, resulting in a bulkier ring," Wegman says.
Now, scroll through these 20 stunning tension setting engagement rings.