While many men opt for buying a traditional solitaire diamond ring to give to their girlfriend as an engagement ring, not every woman likes to stick with tradition. Vintage rings, which may be a family heirloom, are often given as an engagement ring or, a ring featuring other gemstones may be used as well. For women who like more modern designs, tension set engagement rings may appeal to them more than the traditional solitaire style rings.
What is a Tension Set Ring?
Rather than the diamond being held in place by a mounting, a tension set ring holds the gemstone in place with pressure from the setting. The setting has springs that exert pressure on the stone and a shelf is etched into the metal allowing it to help hold the stone in place. The diamond looks as if it is suspended in air rather than being held in place with the tiny grooves and springs of the setting.
Differences Between Traditional & Tension Style Engagement Rings
Another difference between a traditional setting and tension style engagement rings is that the tension setting is made after it is bought. Manufacturing the tension setting after it has been sold is important for several reasons. First, resizing the band cannot be easily done to tension ring settings because the spring-loaded effect would have to be removed to resize the ring. Depending on the setting, it may be made so it can be resized up to two sizes. However, with most rings, the manufacturer has to melt down the setting and create a new one in the correct size.
Secondly, tension set engagement rings are calibrated to the specifications of the diamond that is used in the setting, so until the stone is selected, the setting cannot be made. A computer uses light to identify the areas of the stone where the pressure can be applied in order to hold it in place with the tension setting. If the calibrated is incorrect, the diamond can fracture under the pressure of the setting.
Stones That Can Be Used for a Tension Engagement Ring
Diamonds are one of only four stones that can be used with a tension setting and they cannot contain too many inclusions, or flaws, otherwise they could fracture. Sapphires, Rubies and moissanite are the other three gemstones that can be used for a tension set ring. Moissanite is a rare gemstone that resembles a diamond, but it exhibits more brilliance than diamonds.
Who Created Tension Setting Rings?
The concept for tension setting engagement rings has existed since the 1960s, but the first one wasn’t put on the market until 1979. Friedrich Becker, who worked for the German company Niessing, developed the original idea, but the rings created were very bulky because they had to be made to exert the proper amount of pressure to hold the stones in place.
An American named Steven Kretchmer was able to create a thinner tension setting by hardening the metal enough so it could exert enough pressure to hold stones in place. Although the 1979 version, the “Niessing Spannring,” was the first tension set ring marketed, these rings became more popular in the 1990s. Kretchmer’s work with metals has allowed tension rings to be made lighter, but still maintain the strength needed to secure hold diamonds in place.
Tension Engagement Ring – Which is Better, Tension or Traditional Settings?
Most jewelers contend that a tension set diamond ring will hold the diamond in place more securely than a prong setting can. A tension setting applies 12,000 pounds of pressure per square inch, if not more, to hold the stone in place. Since there is no prong used, the ring cannot be snagged by a shirt or sweater and the stone will not fall out. There are jewelers that think the prong setting is just as secure as a tension setting, even though a prong can bend and the stone can fall out of the setting.
A tension setting will not lose its tension over time, although the stone can be lost or damaged if blunt force is applied directly to it or if the setting is damaged in some way. This is the exception though and, under normal circumstances, a stone will not fall out of a tension setting unless it is damaged.
Metals Used for a Tension Set Engagement Ring
It is important that the metal used for a tension engagement ring is strong enough to hold the diamond in place. The ideal metal for these rings is titanium because it is strong enough to allow for thinner, lighter weight rings. Stainless steel is also a good metal for tension rings, but since it is a more common metal, many rings made with steel hold cubic zirconias and the workmanship isn’t always the best. Gold, silver and platinum can be used for engagement rings with a tension set, but these are softer metals and the resulting tension setting engagement ring will be bulkier.
Advantages of a Tension Ring Setting
Along with the security of the stone, there are other advantages to choosing a tension set engagement ring. The setting can be easily customized because the setting isn’t made until it and the stone has been bought. The buyer can have it engraved or etched it give it a truly one of a kind look for their intended bride.
In addition, the ring can be shaped in many different ways. The setting doesn’t have to be round, it can be oval shaped or have the stones set between two twisted ends so the setting doesn’t look as if it touches.
Another advantage is that the diamonds in tension engagement rings are displayed in such a way as to show their beauty all the way around since there isn’t a mount hiding any part of the diamond. This allows light to reflect off any surface of the diamond and display its brilliance and fire.
Tension set engagement rings are a truly unique design that will capture the attention of others. Since it does require a strong metal, a ring made with titanium will highlight its diamond in style and last for a bride’s lifetime and more.