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Tension Setting Engagement Ring – A Guide to a Unique Style

Man proposing with cubic zirconia engagement ring

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The tension setting is one of the most unique engagement ring settings out there. Unlike other engagement rings which hold the diamond in baskets or prongs, tension settings use compression pressure to keep the diamond in position. At first glance, the diamond appears to be floating in the middle with nothing holding it in place.

Tension settings are ideal if you’re after a contemporary, stylish choice that’s sure to get people talking. Here’s what you need to know about them.

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Tension engagement ring setting explained

What Is the Tension Setting?

Tension settings are minimalist ring designs featuring a diamond or gemstone held in place between the parted bands of the setting. The diamond appears to be floating in mid-air, with minimal metal obstruction.

tension set ring rotating

See the 360-degree video of this ring here showing you the tension setting from all sides.

Tension settings are the only ring settings that allow light to interact with the diamond from all angles with minimal interference from the metal of the setting. As there are no prongs, baskets or bezels to cover parts of the diamond, you get to see the diamond in its entirety, with maximum light passing through the stone.

So what holds the diamond in place?

It’s the pressure of the metal clamping into the sides of the diamond from opposite ends. This compressive force holds onto the diamond in an invisible grip, with a tensile strength of about 65 to 95 pounds. In addition to this, there are invisible channels cut into the metal which the diamond is set into.

For those who know little about tension settings, they appear fragile and weak, but in reality, this is a highly secure setting.  The metal used in tension setting is typically stronger and thicker and the diamond is held securely (sometimes more so) than the average prong setting.

According to one of our readers:

I love the way the tension setting looks from the side. It’s really unique and when the extra light plays over the diamond, you can really see the sparkle and color of the stone. They look like they’re just hanging from mid-air. I could just stare at it forever!

Best Tension Setting Ring Designs

In the past, when the style first came out, tension ring settings tended to be chunky, as the metal needed to be thick enough to hold the diamond securely. Today, with technological advancements, tension settings come in a wider range of styles, with sleek stylish options on the market.

Tension setting engagement ring

Two-toned tension ring setting. Check price here.

This sleek and stylish two-toned tension setting has a confident, bold look, incorporating silver and rose gold elements. It’s perfect for any skin tone and has a dramatic, statement look. The additional row of melee diamonds adds to the sparkle of the center stone and highlights its size.  

Tension set engagement ring face up

Princess cut diamond tension ring. See it here.

For a less dramatic look, this tension setting features a princess cut diamond and bypass setting, that looks perfect for smaller fingers. It’s sleek and sophisticated look makes it perfect for someone who wants an elegant looking diamond ring.

Milgrain tension engagement ring in white gold

Vintage tension setting in 14K gold. See it here.

For a bold, vintage look, pick a tension setting that features elements of a vintage ring style, like milgrain and filigree. This sort of tension setting creates a striking look because it’s spans the bridge between ultra-modern and vintage. The vintage elements and the contemporary tension style makes for a contrasting yet harmonious look.

Tension set minimalist style engagement ring in rose gold

Classic tension setting in 14k rose gold. See it here.

If you want a classic tension setting with no extra elements, look no further than this beautiful 14k rose gold ring setting with a round center diamond. It has a sleek, minimalist look with no distracting elements. It’s all about the center diamond sparkling in all its glory.

Pros and Cons of a Tension Setting Ring

If you aren’t convinced already, let’s take a look at the reasons to buy a tension ring setting, followed by a list of why not to choose tension settings.

Tension setting pros:

  1. Tension settings are easily the most unique of all engagement ring settings and ideal if you’re after something different. It’s a conversation starter and is bound to draw attention from everyone who sees it.
  2. They make your diamond appear bright and sparkling. It’s perfect to show off the size and cut of the diamond to maximum advantage.
  3. These settings are easy to clean and maintain, as there are minimal grooves, prongs and channels in which dirt can get lodged.
  4. They have a contemporary look, perfect for a modern bride.

Tension setting cons:

  1. Tension settings are notoriously difficult to resize because doing so could compromise the tensile strength of the metal. While this won’t be a major issue at the time of buying the ring, note that over time finger sizes tend to change. This means that down the track, your fingers could go up or down a size and your ring won’t be able to go with you.
  2. Because of the expertise and technology required to make these rings, as well as the extra metal that goes into it, tension settings can be much more expensive than other types of settings.
  3. There aren’t many options available if you’re after a tension setting because not all retailers offer them.
  4. Most tension ring settings have thicker, chunky bands, which can make the center diamond look smaller than it actually is. This means that you would have to go up in diamond size to have a larger looking diamond which adds to the overall cost of the ring.

Gemstones for Tension Settings

Tension settings impart a great deal of pressure on the gemstone, meaning that only very hard and tough gemstones would be able to hold up in the setting.

While diamond is the best choice because of its supreme hardness, other options like sapphire, rubies moissanite and even cubic zirconia are also good choices.

Gemstones that have softer rankings, like pearls, opal, turquoise or tanzanite are typically too soft to be set into tension settings and are best avoided.

Tension Ring Setting Metals

Strong and durable metals are essential for tension settings, which is why these settings are typically made of platinum, gold, titanium or even stainless steel. You can also find settings featuring two tones like rose or yellow gold, as we’ve mentioned above.

Wrapping Up…

Tension settings are an excellent option for a statement ring style. Their clean, minimalistic look is perfect for someone who wants a futuristic look and a diamond taking all the attention.

Because these settings require skill and expertise to craft, it’s paramount that the ring you purchase is of excellent craftsmanship and quality.

If you’re going for this look, make sure that you purchase from a reputable retailer who’ll stand by their products. We recommend James Allen or Brian Gavin, two of the top retailers who offer this style.