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.
Pros 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 Peter Amerosi, diamond expert and vice president of Gerald Peters. “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 Ryan Gozlan, a custom jeweler and co-founder of Lisa Gozlan Jewelry. “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.
Cons of the Tension Setting
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.
If you’re looking for a ring that is delicate with a thin band, then you probably won’t like a ring with a tension setting. “Because tension settings need to be strong to prevent the diamond or gemstone from coming loose, they tend to be very thick and metal heavy,” explains Olivia Landau, diamond expert and CEO of The Clear Cut.
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
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.
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.”
Now, scroll through these stunning tension setting engagement rings.
Retrouvai Modern Love Round Brilliant Solitaire
A thick yellow gold band holds a round diamond in place. This setting is certainly different than what is often seen or expected.
SHOP NOW: Retrouvai, $9,965
Tiffany Ribbon Engagement Ring
A center round diamond appears to be suspended in midair between what looks like a platinum ribbon. Lots of small pavé diamonds on the band add extra sparkle.
SHOP NOW: Tiffany & Co, price upon request
Shiree Odiz White Gold Tension Set Round Engagement Ring
A dazzling round diamond is suspended in the middle of the white gold band in this uniquely shaped ring. This is a slightly more delicate band size for a tension setting if that’s what you’re looking for.
SHOP NOW: Shiree Odiz, $1,575
Yellow Gold and Tension-Set Diamond Engagement Ring
This ring manages to look more delicate even with the wider band as a center diamond sparkles between yellow gold.
SHOP NOW: I.Gorman, $6,950
Allurez Tension Set Swirl Solitaire Engagement Ring
The band on this ring creates the look of a swirl with a round diamond in the center. Without any other stones on the ring, the diamond gets all the attention.
SHOP NOW: Allurez, $1,481
Laraci Princess Moissanite Ring
If you’re looking for a moissanite stone over a diamond, this Laraci option is ideal. The princess cut center stone takes center stage in the middle of a thick band.
SHOP NOW: Laraci, $3,880
Turgeon Raine Pear Shaped Diamond Tension Set Ring
Another unique shape for a tension ring is the pear cut. Since you don’t typically see this, it will definitely stand out, especially with the yellow gold band.
SHOP NOW: Turgeon Raine, $4,896
Contemporary Tension Set Pave Diamond Engagement Ring
The round center stone on this ring contrasts nicely with the sharp edge of the white gold shank wrapped around it. It’s a strikingly different design.
SHOP NOW: Joseph Jewelry, $2,816
Danhov Voltaggio Tension Engagement Ring
This is a different take on the tension setting, as it looks like the diamond is tucked inside the raised metal. Since many tension-set rings don’t sit higher up, this is ideal for someone who doesn’t want something flatter.
SHOP NOW: Danhov Voltaggio, $5,900
Ecksand Tension Round Cut
This beautiful tension ring features yellow gold and a band full of pavé diamonds for added sparkle. This is one of the more delicate tension set rings you'll find.
SHOP NOW: Ecksand, $2,029
Gelin Abaci Unique Twist Tension Set Engagement Ring
The thicker band on this ring has an interesting twist with a center diamond that appears to be floating. It’s a minimalist design that still looks classic.
SHOP NOW: Mervis Diamonds, price upon request
Blue Nile Round Solitaire Engagement Ring
The thick platinum band on this ring protects the diamond in the center and gives the style a more modern look. This is ideal for someone interested in a thicker look.
SHOP NOW: Blue Nile, $6,419
Tension Set Style Princess Solitaire Flat Engagement Ring
This is a great example of a princess cut with a tension setting. From the flat appearance of this ring to the thick band, this one is certainly going to stand out.
SHOP NOW: DeBebians, $2,120
Angelic Diamonds Round Diamond Engagement Ring
The style of this particular ring makes it look like the round diamond is almost hidden within the band—perfect for someone looking for something less flashy than the typical style.
SHOP NOW: Angelic Diamonds, $778
Ecksand Tension Baguette Cut
Many tension-set rings feature a princess or round cut diamond, but this ring is proof that a baguette works just as well. With small pavé diamonds in the band, this is a unique geometric design.
SHOP NOW: Ecksand, $2,656