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.
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.
Igorman 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. The contrast between these two features is a gorgeous element that makes this piece stand out.
Price at time of publish: $8,350
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.
Price at time of publish: $3,245
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 stunning contrast of the yellow gold band.
Price at time of publish: $6,090
Joseph Jewelry 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.
Price at time of publish: $2,798
Angara Square Emerald-Cut Aquamarine and Diamond Three Stone Ring
For the bride who is really seeking something a little different, opt for a color like these stunning aquamarine stones. The array of pavé diamonds in this tension set only enhance the tranquil essence of this design.
Price at time of publish: $1,679
Allurez Princess Cut Tension Set 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.
Price at time of publish: $2,213
DeBians Tension Set Style Princess Solitaire Flat Engagement Ring
This is another great option for the bride seeking a princess cut ring in a tension setting. Undeniably strong and bold, this piece is incredible in any of the metals or stones available.
Price at time of publish: $2,226
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.
Price at time of publish: $1,535
Serendipity Diamonds Tension Set Princess Diamond Solitaire Ring
Available in a variety of customizable features, this sleek princess cut tension set may be even prettier from its low profile view. Both subtle and striking, this is a classic take on a tension-set design.
Price at time of publish: $1,497
GLAMIRA Diamond Ring Julianne
This design is the definition of simplicity with a twist. Elegant and charming, this yellow gold ring is even available with black diamonds for a more sophisticated look.
Price at time of publish: $687
KrishnaGemsAndJewels 7.50 X 7.50 mm Round Cut Moissanite Solitaire Engagement Ring
This cable design band adds an elevated yet subdued visual interest to a classic diamond solitaire in a tension setting. You really can't go wrong with a piece like this.
Price at time of publish: $280 for 925 Sterling Silver
GLAMIRA Diamonds Glamira Ring Erin
Remind yourself that love is in the air just by a glance of your hand with this sweet style. Adorned with heart details surrounding the center stone, this is another piece that can be customized with your own metal and stone preferences.
Price at time of publish: $486
Allurez Diamond Tension Set Engagement Ring
There's nothing else quite like this extravagant tension-set ring in an eye-catching 18k yellow gold. Available in an array of metals, it's hard not to stare at this gorgeous piece in any of the options.
Price at time of publish: $3,351
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.
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.
Tiffany Ribbon Engagement Ring in Platinum
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.
Allurez Tension Set Solitaire Diamond in Palladium Engagement Ring
This stunner completely reimagines the appearance of the traditional three-stone engagement ring. Customize this unique look with your own choice of metal and stones.
Price at time of publish: $4,495