Shopping for Tension Settings: 10 Popular Styles + Helpful Advice

Bold and beautiful: the tension setting...

When you find the perfect diamond, you just want to show it off to the world. While all ring settings amplify a diamond’s sparkle, the tension setting enhances each feature of your diamond for the ideal shine.✨ The daring, modern design of the tension setting is perfect for the bride who loves a dramatic look.👰🏻

Tension Setting Ring Illustration

But what is a tension setting? And how does it make diamonds appear as if they’re floating in mid air?

Let’s break down the tension setting, its pros and cons, and suggestions for how to style it and where to shop.

Basics: What is a tension setting?

When was the tension setting created?

Although the tension setting looks incredibly modern, it actually dates back to the 1960’s. Just a concept at the time, the ring was introduced in 1979 as the “Niessing Spannring” by its creator, Niessing. While the German company brought the design to life, it has since been recreated in several forms over time.

What does a tension setting look like?

Tension settings are unique in that there are no prongs, bezels, or other metal strips holding a diamond in place. Instead, tension settings consist of a single band that is specially crafted to hold a diamond tightly.  

The spring-loaded band uses pressure to hold the stone, with small grooves on both sides of the gem for added security. Because the diamond does not sit in the setting, it appears to float between the band’s two meeting points.

Due to the pressure holding the stone in place, diamonds and other gemstones appear to float in mid air within the setting.🤩

What gemstone shapes work best with a tension setting?

The most popular gemstone shape for a tension setting is a round stone. Because they have a strong table and no corners to chip or crack, round gemstones are ideal for tension settings. Princess cuts are also a favorite option, as they offer security and elegance. 

However, a few fancy shapes have become increasingly popular over the years. Wearers have stretched the limits of the tension setting, including pear and oval stones into their rings.

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10 popular tension setting styles for you

A tension setting sounds simple enough, but there are several ways designers manipulate the band of the piece to create daring looks.

Here are 10 popular tension setting styles to consider:

Minimalist Setting

The minimalist tension style is the design that most people recognize, and it’s perfect for men’s tension setting wedding rings. Simple yet elegant, the minimalist design offers wearers a chance to choose a smaller diamond surrounded by a thick band if they are concerned about the security of the tension setting.

Minimalist Tension Setting Band
Angara (SKU: WRMD_SR0774D)

Elevated Setting

An elevated tension setting is perfect for someone who wants to make their diamond appear larger. Mimicking the arches of the cathedral setting, this style puts your diamond on display. For those concerned with safety, some styles offer an additional metal band that runs below the center stone for a stronger hold.

Elevated Tension Setting Ring
Brian Gavin (SKU: 7076W18)

Contoured Twist Setting

For anyone who prefers a look with personality, the contoured twist setting offers the classic tension setting style with a twist—literally! This style takes the minimalist tension setting and slightly turns the stone and band, creating a dynamic design.💫

Contoured Twist Tension Setting Ring by James Allen
James Allen (SKU: 9003W14)

Edgy Spiral Setting

For a futuristic look, try a spiral tension setting. It has the same modern style as a regular tension setting, but the band juts out above and below the diamond for a trendier appeal. You can also add different diamond shapes to test the limits of this design and create a one-of-a-kind look.

Edgy Spiral Tension Style - James Allen
James Allen (SKU: 8809W14)

Elegant Swirl Setting

The swirl tension setting offers a softer look than the traditional style. Curving around your center stone, the band appears to embrace your diamond and gently hold it in place. Both swirl and spiral settings also offer more opportunities for light to enter the stone.

Rose Gold Swirl Style Tension Ring (Allurez)
Allurez (SKU: U474)

Split Shank Setting

Similar to a split shank prong setting, the split shank tension setting has two bands that run around your finger with a diamond in between. This look is great for someone who likes the look of thicker bands, as the two thin shanks create the illusion of a larger band. This design also offers more security, as it protects your diamond from hitting any surfaces directly.

Split Shank Tension Style Ring
Titanium Rings

V-Ring Setting

For a one-of-a-kind tension look, try a V-ring!

V-ring settings embrace your center stone, holding it in place with the side of one band and the end of the other. The finished look is bold yet modern, and it’s perfect for the bride who wants to draw attention to her ring.😁

V-Ring Tension Style Ring (Brian Gavin)
Brian Gavin (SKU: 7072)

Pointed and Etched Setting

Pointed and etched tension settings are a great way to optimize light reflection for your diamond. In this setting, the band holds the diamond within two gaps that can accommodate several different stone shapes. The band is also etched to create small designs that add character to the otherwise plain shank.

Pointed and Etched Tension Diamond Ring
James Allen (SKU: 8806W14)

Multi-Stone Setting

Enhance your ring’s sparkle with additional gemstones. A multi-stone tension setting adds more stones to your design, and you can even add colored gems to brighten it up. Or, if the multi-stone look isn’t for you, try adding diamonds to the band of your ring for further glam.

Multi-Stone Tension Style Ring
Allurez (SKU: u3570)

Mixed Metal Setting

Stuck between two different colored metals? Choose both! A mixed metal tension setting gives buyers endless ways to wear their piece. Try a yellow and white gold piece that will accent any other jewelry. With two metal colors, you can switch up your look daily.

Mixed Metal Setting (White and Yellow Gold)
White and yellow gold tension setting | James Allen (SKU: 8804W14)

Tension setting vs. Other ring settings

So how does the tension setting stack up to other popular setting styles?

Each setting brings its own unique set of characteristics to your personal style, but it’s important to choose the one that suits your needs.

When pitted against the most popular solitaire style—the prong setting, both designs bring different strengths to the table. Both settings focus on one to several stones, but prongs offer additional security that the tension setting does not. Regardless, diamonds may shine brighter in the tension setting, and there are fewer chances to snag your precious ring on fabrics with no prongs.

Tension vs. Solitaire Prong Setting

This setting is also the spiritual opposite of the bezel setting, which protects gemstones with its thick strip of metal around each edge. However, the tension setting provides much more fire, brilliance, and scintillation with diamonds than a bezel setting, where the stone is concealed and unable to shine as brightly. Although, a half bezel setting can offer nearly the same sparkle as a tension setting with more security!

While the tension setting brings its own drama to your personal style, it lacks the elegance of other dramatic settings, such as cathedral or halo styles. The tension ring typically highlights one to three stones, snuggly placed between the band. In contrast, a cathedral setting elevates a diamond above the band, making stones appear larger. In both halo and some cathedral settings, extra diamonds either around the center stone or within the band also add a touch of luxe personality not found in a tension setting.

So, what makes tension settings stand out?

A tension setting’s biggest selling point is the dazzling shine created by its minimalistic design.🎊 The lack of metal around the diamond enhances light reflection, amplifying the fire, brilliance, and scintillation of a diamond. The multiple angles of light create a perfect light display to mesmerize any wearer.

In addition to ideal light refraction, here are a few other benefits of choosing a tension setting ring:

  • For the contemporary bride, tension settings offer a modern or futuristic look that’s amazing for any occasion.
  • Tension settings securely hold diamonds in place, offering stability.
  • These settings are both easy to clean and easy to maintain over time.
  • Tension settings offer a unique appeal because of their seemingly floating gemstones.  As such, they make great conversation starters!
  • Some tension settings have meaningful and vivid symbolism, such as the swirl style. It resembles the hands of a couple firmly holding the gemstone in place.❤️
  • Tension settings are great for men and women, and tension setting wedding bands are an ideal option for someone who loves the style but wants a traditional engagement ring.

What are the downsides of tension settings?

As with all settings, the tension setting does have its downsides. Here are the cons you should be mindful of when considering a tension setting:

  • Because of the skill required to create tension settings, they can be more expensive than alternatives.
  • Tension settings shouldn’t be resized, as doing so affects the integrity of the pressure holding the stone in place.
  • Although diamonds look beautiful in tension settings, this design is not as secure as other styles. This means your diamond could receive more damage over time.
  • Tension settings require thicker, chunkier bands to maintain tension.
  • Due to the thick metal bands, some tension settings can make smaller diamonds appear even smaller.

What colored gems can I use in a tension setting?

When choosing a gemstone for a tension setting, keep the Mohs hardness scale in mind. The scale rates gemstones on their ability to withstand damage, and some gemstones score much higher than others.

Because of the intense tension necessary for security, gemstones that score below a 9.0 on the hardness scale are not suitable for this setting. However, there are a few colored gemstone options to choose from that can withstand the intensity of a tension setting:

Sapphires

Rating at a 9 on the Mohs scale, sapphires are a hard alternative to diamonds. Due to their soaring popularity over the last two decades, there are plenty of beautiful sapphire settings, including tension styles. Corundum, the mineral that sapphires are made of, also comes in several colors, such as green, pink, yellow, etc. However, deep blue sapphires are the perfect choice for tension setting engagement rings.

Deep Blue Sapphire Tension Ring

Rubies

Another form of corundum, rubies also measure at a 9 on the Mohs scale. Deep red rubies are reminiscent of royalty, and they have a decadent look that’s perfect for those who want a dramatic look. Try a ruby tension setting in yellow gold for an Old Hollywood look fit for modern fashion.

Colored diamonds

If you don’t want a white diamond, try any of the other amazing colors available that are just as strong. Diamonds come in all colors of the rainbow, but the most stunning options are blue, yellow, pink, and brown. A yellow diamond is a perfect way to add a touch of class to any tension setting.

Our advice on choosing a tension setting ring

Choosing the right tension setting for your needs can be challenging, as there are so many variations. Here are our recommendations for selecting a tension setting ring you’ll love:

Feminine or Masculine

If you’re looking at a tension setting for a family member or friend, take their personal style into consideration. Many tension settings—such as swirl, spiral, and v-ring designs—are feminine, and wearers with delicate style will appreciate their charm. However, there are some excellent minimalist designs for men as well. Make sure you choose the right style for your intended giftee.

Beautiful Bride Wearing Yellow Gold Tension Diamond Ring

Finger Size

The size of a wearer’s finger is another important aspect to consider when shopping for a tension setting. Because tension setting bands are typically thicker, they do not work well with shorter or wider fingers. If you have smaller hands, try a spiral or swirl style tension setting. These designs may actually elongate the finger and make it look thinner. For those with long fingers, rejoice: you can wear any style of tension setting without issue!

Carat

💡How big or small your diamond is may determine which tension setting you should choose. Those with a smaller stone may opt for a delicate band or an elevated setting that makes the stone appear larger. In contrast, larger gemstones look best in open settings to amplify their sparkle. Try to visualize your chosen gemstone in the setting to know what it will look like!

Security

There’s a healthy debate among jeweler professionals regarding the safety of a tension setting. While both sides disagree on the overall safety of a tension setting, they both seem to agree that an impact with enough blunt force could technically dislodge a diamond from the band.

As such, it’s important to keep your lifestyle in mind when shopping for the right setting. Individuals with active lifestyles may want to consider another setting or try a diamond shape with more security when placed in a tension ring. Princess cut diamonds have more contact with the metal surrounding them in a tension setting, whereas round, oval, and pear diamonds offer tension styles with a stronger hold. Titanium tension setting engagement rings are also incredibly durable with the same appeal, and they’re very affordable!

Alternatives

Do you want the look of a tension setting without the risk? Try a faux tension setting instead! This design looks extremely similar to the true tension setting, but the gemstone is actually held in place by a low bezel or small prong. You can wear your ring comfortably knowing your diamond is secure within the faux tension setting!

Where can I shop for quality tension settings?

So where should you buy your tension setting ring? We recommend these four retailers for all of your ring needs:

James Allen

When it comes to ring settings, James Allen has a wide selection that includes a few stunning tension styles. Known for their quality diamonds, James Allen also has beautiful rubies and deep sapphires in several colors to complete your custom tension setting. You’ll also enjoy 24/7 customer service and a comprehensive service plan—that includes a lifetime warranty—when you shop at James Allen.

Brian Gavin

The gorgeous tension settings of Brian Gavin are sure to please any wearer. The jewelers of Brian Gavin work with unique stone shapes, such as emerald cut diamonds, to bring you dynamic tension styles. Brian Gavin also offers signature lines of diamonds to provide a variety of new looks, so you can ensure you buy a stone that sets you apart.

Leibish & Co.

Leibish can help you on your journey to the perfect tension style ring by offering quality gemstones. Their tension setting inventory is limited, but their supply of fancy colored diamonds means you can create several looks with the same setting. Natural diamond warranties, conflict-free diamonds, and money-back guarantees are just a few reasons to shop at Leibish.

Whiteflash

Another well-known name in online ring retailers, Whiteflash offers a selection of tension settings that are sure to please. They also offer custom ring design services, which means you can bring your own tension setting ideas to life with their jewelers! Whiteflash offers a commitment to ethical sourcing and a money-back guarantee.

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The ethereal beauty of tensions settings

Tension settings are a sight to behold. They can make a diamond appear as if it’s levitating, and you can switch up your gemstone to make the look even more personalized.💃 While tension settings are a beautiful way to celebrate your diamond’s most beautiful features, they may put your stone at risk for damage. If you live an active lifestyle, you may prefer to admit the tension setting from afar.

There are so many amazing ring settings to choose from. If you’re not sold on the tension setting, take a look at these 15 popular ring settings for more inspiration.

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