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Hardening gold in tension-set rings


Looking for tips and tricks to “Hardening” 14+18KT yellow/white/rose
gold Diamond Tension-set rings.

What equiptment and material is needed?

Once rings have been set+polished will hardening tarnish them? What
about Platinum and Palladium?

Do’s and donts?

Harold Eberle

I don’t mean to come off as an ass on this, but don’t do it…

tension rings are fickle beasts, they are actually really easy to
make, any one with a gold wedding ring and a jewelers saw could do

But, they are VERY hard to make right.

When I go to make a ring I start out designing the ring in
solidworks, and then using software to do a strength analysis (called
FEA) then I careful select a piece of material, I make the ring, I
measure it to make sure it’s exactly like the measurements I have
designed. Then I harden the ring, but not to hard, just the perfect
level of hardness/flexibility, which is all based on the gem type,
size of the gem, size of the ring, ect…

Then when the ring is done, I have to test it, I have quite a few
pieces of hardware that are used specifically for that task. Almost
all of them custom made by me for my uses.

I have seen a few jeweler try to make tension rings, people that are
fantastic jewelers and craftsman, and not one of them has been
successful. they don’t understand the fundamental physics behind
designing/making a tension ring.

I will even say this, I only make tension rings, I could probably
not even make the most simple of prong engagement rings, I’ve never
even learned to solder gold. The best I can do is clean and polish.
But when it comes to tension rings, I think I’m pretty decent.


First thing I would suggest is to read the patents that Steve
Kretchmer has on tension setting to make sure you are not violating
them. Then you will need to develop a set of heat treatable alloys to
gain the strength you will need. Standard alloys are not suitable. It
is not an easy process to get right.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts

First thing I would suggest is to read the patents that Steve
Kretchmer has on tension setting to make sure you are not
violating them. 

Niessing in Germany also holds patents on tension rings, and
protects them violently, as I have heard. So things may also depend
on where you are, geographically, not only where you are,

For tension setting, you first harden the metal, then finish, then
set. Hardening already set rings won’t work. And by “work” I mean
reliably holding the stone.

Not all metals or alloys are strong enough over time.

Tarnishing is not affected by hardening. The metal tarnishes or not.

There is a video on YouTube that shows the Niessing process. At
around 0:50 you see the magic: The ring is die struck. This is where
the hardness comes from. The video:

There are other ways, of course, to cold work the metal; tension
setting is possible without heavy machines. As an apprentice I made
quite some with the help of a ring-stretcher, others forged their
shanks, no doubt.

And having the right alloy certainly helps as well.

Ah, that brings back memories. I’ll make one tomorrow…

All is good! Some of us have success in making tension rings and some
of us don’t. I can only tell from my own experience and have pictures
to prove It. I have made several tension rings in several styles and
have not heat hardened them other than just work hardened and also
cast pieces, they have turned out very good and are still out there.
Non of Them have come back with problems.

Heat hardening is good but is it really necessary? I think the trick
is in the shape and the design of the mounting. I’m willing to share
pictures if anyone is interested.

Vasken Tanielian

Hello Vasken,

Yes, I would love to see photos of your tension-set rings. A lso,
any narrative on how you achieved the settings would be especially

Thank you,
Vicki Stone