Tension Settings: The Pros and Cons of Tension Jewelry

If you are looking for truly unique jewelry that is bound to be a talking point, you might want to consider a tension setting. It makes an intriguing statement when it looks like your gemstones are floating in place. Tension settings make for a unique look but have some pros and cons.

We'll talk about these pros and cons and help you determine if jewelry with a tension setting is right for you.

What Is a Tension Setting?

Tension settings are typically found in rings. In other designs, the gemstones are held in place with prongs surrounding the stone. Or there are bezel settings where a metal lip surrounds the stone and different settings where the gem sits flush against the ring.

Related: The History of Cluster Rings

However, tension settings are slightly different and hold the gemstone in place using only tensile force. The idea for the setting is relatively new compared to more traditional options; it was created about 50 years ago. In the beginning, tension settings were somewhat unattractive and chunky, but today, they make for a sleek and modern style.

In a tension setting, the gemstone gets placed in an opening in the ring's metal and sits in invisible grooves. Then, the ring exerts pressure on the stone from both sides, holding it in place. The result is a diamond or gem that appears suspended in the air, with nothing holding it in place.

For engagement rings, tension settings have different variations in how they hold the gemstone. For example, some use large openings in the ring's metal to hold the stone, while others use suspension. 

Tension Settings Pros

First, let's talk about the benefits of tension settings:

  • It's a sleek and unique design. You might not think that jewelry can be attention-grabbing and minimal simultaneously, but that's what tension settings do. They are extraordinarily modernistic and unique, making tension-setting jewelry an ideal choice right for anyone looking to make a statement.
  • It's a durable setting. At first glance, a tension setting might not look very safe. However, it's not as fragile as it looks. Tension jewelry is highly valued for its security and durability. While the gemstone might seem to float, making it look like it will fall out, it's securely held in place by the tension created by the metal bands.

In addition, some tension settings include added prongs for another layer of protection. However, even though tension jewelry is durable, it is vulnerable to extreme force. So while it's unlikely to dislodge the stone, it is possible.

  • It sparkles. Perhaps one of the best aspects of tension settings is how the light gets distributed throughout the stone. Tension settings allow light to pass through a gemstone and reflect at all angles, resulting in an unrestrained brightness, brilliance, and sparkle. Tension settings are one of the most discreet settings, meaning that your stone will gleam from every angle.

  • It's easy to maintain. Tension settings are extremely easy to clean. Because there are no prongs or metal in the way, you don't have to worry about dirt accumulating like with other settings. Cleaning is simple, meaning less maintenance and more sparkle for you.

 A woman shopping for rings at a jewelry store

Related: Which Jewelry Is Hypoallergenic?

Tension Settings Cons

Now, let's talk about some of the challenges of tension jewelry:

  • You can't resize it. Because of the process it takes to create a tension setting, it's impossible to resize a tension ring without damaging it. This fact is a big con because if you need your ring resized in the future, the only option you have is to purchase a new setting. However, most jewelers offer a unique warranty for tension settings, allowing buyers to have their ring remade if it does not fit properly. You should still keep in mind that ring sizes change over time, and you will not be able to resize a tension ring in the future.
  • It's expensive. Jewelry with tension settings is custom-made, meaning it will cost more than putting the same gemstone in a different setting. Additionally, if you purchase a tension setting, and it has to be remade due to a change in ring size, you'll have to pay additional fees on top of the initial cost of your jewelry.
  • You get less variety. While many diamond shapes look great with a tension setting, you'll typically only see two: princess cuts and round brilliant cuts. They pair so well with tension settings because the symmetry and proportion of the gemstones look stylish and sleek with a tension setting. However, it is possible to pair a tension setting with other shapes, like rectangles; it's just less common.

Should You Buy a Tension Setting?

Tension settings are popular for engagement rings because of their unique design. Whether the gem is held by suspension or made to look that way, it creates appeal and intrigue. And because less metal surrounds the ring than in other settings, your gemstone will reflect more light, offering more sparkle and brilliance. Plus, most tension settings feature a larger band, making them ideal rings for men and women.

Tension jewelry offers a modern feel with a custom-made look that is special and unique.

Related: Choosing the Best Anniversary Jewelry

Will the Stone Stay in Place?

Since tension is used to keep the stones in place, do you need to worry about the gems falling out? Some jewelers have warned that daily wear and tear can compromise this jewelry's spring-loaded mechanisms over the years. Unfortunately, that can cause the stone to fall out. However, that will not happen for all tension-setting jewelry pieces. If the piece experienced any blunt trauma, then you may want to have it examined by a professional jeweler. For most jewelry, the tension of these items will never weaken, unlike in other settings. Think about a prong setting. Over time, these settings can become weak and need a jeweler to inspect and fix any issues. If you want to ensure that the stone stays in place, choose titanium for the metal. With that material, it can handle the tension of the setting. Silver, gold, and platinum can be used for a tension setting, but these materials are very soft and might need a readjustment down the road. 

Watch Out for Fake Tension Jewelry

Authentic tension jewelry can be a little more expensive than other pieces. If you are looking at tension pieces that come at a low price, you should ensure it is not faux tension jewelry. Most tension jewelry is handmade, which will increase the cost of the item. Those fake tension pieces are mass-produced, making them an attractive option for anyone on a budget. To the casual observer, they might not know whether the tension jewelry is authentic or not. Always check the ring, bracelet, earrings, or necklaces closely. If the metal underneath the gem looks weak and not well-made, it could indicate an imposter tension setting. 

What Gems Can Be Used in a Tension Setting?

With the amount of pressure to hold the stone in place, you need to have a gem that can withstand the tension. In some situations, the stones will crumble under that pressure. For a gemstone to hold up in the setting, it must have at least a 9 rating on the Mohs hardness scale. Diamonds, rubies, some sapphires, and simulated diamonds can be used in these settings. If you choose any other "soft" stone, it might look great but will deteriorate in a few years. 

Do You Need High Clarity Stones?

Why do many people love the look of tension jewelry? These pieces allow the gemstones to sparkle and shine, especially when you use diamonds. The clarity should be high if you are thinking about placing a diamond in the setting. According to the GIA clarity scale, you should have a grade of VS2 or above, especially for those who want to use diamonds in a tension setting. If you have a diamond below that level, all of its flaws will be visible in the ring. 

Tension jewelry is beautiful. You can use these tensions for a wide range of pieces. However, keep in mind that you can use these settings with only specific stones, types of metals, and clarity levels. 

Thinking About Buying Tension Jewelry? Read This First

 Engagement rings with different settings

Finally, we want to answer two common questions that we hear about tension jewelry:

  1. How do you tell if it's high-quality? When you're looking at a tension setting, the most important thing is picking a high-quality gemstone. Because of how the tension setting attracts all of your attention to the stone, there's not much distracting from the stone itself, meaning you need to choose one with a high-quality cut and color.
  2. Where should you look for a tension setting? Like with any jewelry purchase, you want to research before deciding on a jeweler. The tension setting is difficult to perfect, and you want to pick someone with experience. Symmetrical cuts, like round and princess stones, are ideal for tension settings. You should look for a reputable jeweler with a strong history of creating quality tension jewelry.

Looking for the hottest trending jewelry? Stop by our shop at LaCkore Couture to find your new style!