The marquise cut diamond flies under the radar most of the time, but this is a truly unique and elegant shape with a romantic history. If you’re looking for a diamond that stands out from the crowd, conveys a bit of the unconventional, and breaks out of a traditional mold, look no further than the marquise cut. With a royal pedigree and statement-making elegance, the marquise cut has a lot of features in its favor, so let’s dive in.
The Guide to Marquise Cut Diamonds
History of Marquise Cut Diamonds
This graceful, elegant diamond cut with curved sides and pointed ends was developed in France in the 1740s. It is believed that the style was named for the Marquise de Pompadour, a mistress of King Louis XV. The king felt very deeply for the Marquise, and commissioned this particular cut as a gift to her because its outline resembled the shape of her mouth.
Pronounced “mahr-keez,” the marquise cut has at once been closely associated with incredible romance due to King Louis and the Marquise’s love affair, as well as with the hull of a racing yacht. During another round of extreme popularity, the cut was a favorite with 20th century Edwardians. Sailing was a hobby for the aristocratic court of the era and Britain’s King Edward VII. This earned the marquise cut its second moniker of navette, meaning “little ship.”
The marquise cut diamond had additional bouts of popularity during the Art Deco period when geometric shapes were the standard, and again in the 1970s as the disco era brought with it a love for the unconventional and a flare for the dramatic in styling. Since then, the marquise diamond has dipped in popularity, but that hasn’t stopped it from appearing in showstopping rings.
When to Go Marquise: Pros & Cons
The marquise diamond is considered a “fancy shape” diamond, and this beautiful cut has similar advantages and disadvantages as oval and pear cut diamonds:
- - The shape of the marquise cut will make fingers appear longer and more slender.
- - The shape will also make the marquise diamond look larger face-up than most other diamonds of the same carat weight.
- - Because the marquise is so unique and different, no setting style can overpower it.
- - The cost of a marquise cut will be up to 30% less expensive than a round brilliant diamond.
- - The points on the marquise are very susceptible to damage from accidental bumps.
- - A high quality marquise with the ratio and size you want may be hard to find.
- - There’s a fine line for choosing a stone with a girdle that isn’t too thick or too thin.
- - You cannot judge a marquise by certification alone; you must see it in person or at least in a video showing movement and a face-up angle.
Evaluating a Marquise Cut Diamond: The 4Cs
Marquise cuts may be slender and long, or plump and wide. The majority, however, fall into a ratio where they are about twice as long as they are wide. As with all the fancy cut diamonds, marquise cut diamonds are not given a cut quality grading. And while there are no set standards per se, there are some industry and consumer preferences.
But first, we must discuss the anatomy of the marquise diamond. Similar to the pear cut, the marquise has the belly where the sides curve out the most and where the width measurement is taken, the points at each end, and the wing, which is the curved area reaching from the belly to the point. The overall beauty and value of a marquise cut diamond is affected by the cut quality of all these components.
Three things largely determine cut quality in the marquise cut diamond: shape appeal, symmetry, and length to width ratio.
The shape appeal of the marquise cut refers to its body outline. The issues with the shape mainly concern the wings. They can appear to bulge and look plumper, be flat with less curve, or be uneven. An attractive outline seeks a balance of these features. The other shape concern is undefined points. They should be pointed and not rounded, as though it’s a stretched out oval.
The symmetry of the marquise cut is evaluated by certification agencies like GIA and is given an assessment grading based on a scale from Excellent to Poor. To determine the symmetry by visual observations, draw an imaginary line down the center of the diamond. The curve of the wings should be the same and facets should match on the two sides. Drawing a line across the middle, the two halves should be mirrors and equal in length.
The length to width ratio of marquise cut diamonds determines how slender or plump the diamond appears. A classic length to width ratio range is 1.70 to 2.15 with stones closer to the 1.70 side being plumper and those closer to 2.15 being thinner. Choosing a ratio is very subjective and up to the aesthetics of the wearer, but the higher ratio stones may have slightly less durability.
Length to width ratio of 1.66
Length to width ratio of 1.74
The color grade of a diamond refers to how much color or lack of color is displayed in the diamond. As with all diamonds, smaller ones that are less than 1 carat hide more color than larger stones. And because of the marquise’s cut making them appear larger than other diamonds of the same carat weight, there’s more surface area for body color to show through.
However, color is also going to be up to your personal preference. For a marquise cut diamond, a general guideline to follow is that color gradings of D-F will likely be visibly colorless. Stones in the G to Z range will have increasing amounts of yellow tint. How strongly the yellow tint appears will be dictated largely by the quality of the cut and the size of the stone and will appear concentrated near the points.
Practically all diamonds have inclusions to some degree. Fortunately for marquise diamonds, they are part of the brilliant cut family. With their 56-60 facets, they’re fairly good at hiding blemishes within their sparkle and shine. But since marquise diamonds appear larger, there’s more surface area for inclusions to be seen.
Similar to the pear cut diamond, marquise cut diamonds are more susceptible to damage around their points. Larger inclusions in these areas should be avoided for the integrity of the diamond. To increase the durability of the stone in these spots, some cutters use French tips. These are modified star and upper girdle facets in place of a large bezel facet. This technique keeps multiple facet lines from converging at the tip of the point.
And if you’ve already read about oval and pear cut diamonds, you may have expected to hear about the bow-tie effect with marquise diamonds as well. The bow-tie effect is a dark shadow that appears across the middle of the diamond. The darker and wider it is, the more negatively it will affect the appearance. While all marquise diamonds are likely to show some degree of bow-tie, it should be possible to find a pleasing one with minimal effect.
Marquise cut diamonds are available in a variety of carat weights and proportions. Similar to pear cuts, the marquise diamond won’t necessarily have linear changes in carat size and dimensions because the quality of the stone being cut will dictate the resulting weight and size.
It will be universal that when compared with other diamond shapes of the same or similar carat weight, marquise cut diamonds will appear larger. This is an extremely beneficial feature of this cut since it allows for greater emphasis to be put on value building quality factors like cut without necessarily having to compromise or sacrifice on size.
Choosing an Ideal Marquise Cut Diamond
Deciding the shape of marquise cut diamond that most appeals to you is always the first step. It’s best not to get hung up on a particular ratio because it may be expressed differently in the final look of the body shape. Once you’re looking at a few that you like, you can get into the details of cut, color, and clarity and how the stones may differ.
Beyond that, a marquise diamond will have a special situation regarding desired girdle thickness. The girdle functions as the diamonds setting edge and when it’s sufficiently thick, it will reduce the risk of damage. In brilliant cut styles, an overly thick girdle can trap weight there and diminish the spread of the face-up diamond. On the other hand, an overly thin girdle can increase the risk of damage such as chipping. Since the marquise cut diamond has such vulnerable areas at its points, it is usually acceptable to have a slightly thicker girdle than is desirable for other fancy shapes so that the integrity of the stone is better protected.
There’s also one drawback to the marquise appearing larger than other stones – it’s very sensitive to issues with symmetry. Even a slightly off cutting job can cause a marquise to lose much of its visual appeal. Be mindful of the symmetry and body outline and never gauge the look of the marquise diamond based solely on its certification.
Marquise Cut Diamond Prices
Compared to the prices of round cut diamonds, marquise cut diamonds are generally priced 20-30% lower. This is partly due to less diamond rough being wasted in the cutting process, and partly due to their relatively low demand. While less expensive, the price will exponentially increase at each full carat value, so choosing a weight just shy of the full carat will be a money saver that likely has no visual effect of the diamond appearing smaller.
For a 1 carat size marquise cut diamond, you may see prices ranging from $4,000 to $8,000. This wide range is the result of varying quality grades between the selection. But it’s important to note that the marquise diamond with higher color and clarity grades may not discernibly look better than one with a lower color and clarity grade. Most people cannot tell the difference in diamonds when the gradings are within a couple of ratings. So as always, choose the diamond that most appeals to you!
Designing a Ring With a Marquise Cut Diamond
Just like the pear cut, the marquise cut diamond is most vulnerable at its points. Choosing a setting that protects these areas is vitally important for the integrity of the stone and the longevity of your engagement ring. Placing prongs directly on the points is standard practice. But that doesn’t mean you can’t include some unexpected details that capture a sparkling personality fit for the marquise cut, like prongs sculpted to resemble leaves in our Lucci.
A v-prong will extend slightly up the side of each point in a V shape. This style is a nice protective element that follows the shape of the stone and still looks great when paired with other regular style prongs. You can see in our Bianca how the prongs flow from one to the other naturally and create a completely stable setting with a vintage flair.
With a marquise cut diamond, your setting can really play up the elegant drama. In our Rachael, we’ve taken an already large marquise with a plumper shape and placed it in a halo setting to add a protective and enlarging layer together with side band details that help to draw the visual look of the diamond even wider. It’s the ultimate go big or go home vintage-inspired marquise look.
On the other hand, the marquise cut can also play perfectly as a timeless, elegant solitaire as well. In our Jebaun, the length of the marquise has maximum impact on a 1.5mm band. We’ve added a mix of metals and a peekaboo halo to convey the unconventional, statement-making power of a marquise cut diamond.
If unique, classic, and unforgettable are in your engagement ring goals, you may have met your match with a marquise cut diamond. When you find one that takes your breath away, just pay extra close attention to the symmetry and give it a protective setting, and your ring will inspire awe and delight every time you catch a glimpse of it!