Jewelry Guide

Top 7 tips on choosing a marquise cut diamond

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At a glance:

Pros: Classy, sophisticated and unique. Makes the diamond appear larger and elongates your finger. Has a romantic and historic connection that makes it a perfect choice for an engagement ring.

Cons: Not as brilliant as round cuts. Can have the bow-tie effect. Can chip at the ends if not in a protective setting.

Known by a number of names, including football-shaped cut, boat-shaped cut or navette (which means little ship in French) the marquise cut is a unique vintage design that stands out on your finger. While not quite as popular as the round or princess shapes, the beautiful marquise design is a statement cut that is for the non-traditional couple and should not be overlooked. In fact, there is a lot to love about this cut!

Marquise diamond cut length to width ratio explained

Marquise diamond cut length to width ratio

One of the major benefits of the marquise cut is that it maximizes the carat weight and makes the diamond appear much larger than it is. Featuring 56 facets, it is an elliptical-shaped design that is pointed on either end. The outline and appearance of the marquise cut can vary depending on the length to width ratio. Choosing how narrow or wide you want your marquise cut diamond to be depends on personal preference. The classic marquise cut, however, has a ratio of 1.75 to 2.25. While the marquise cut cannot match the brilliance and sparkle of Round Diamond cuts, it has a unique luster that gives it an edge in terms of class and beauty. These diamonds are often used for other types of jewelry, but are most commonly chosen for engagement rings.

History of the Marquise Cut

The marquise has royal beginnings, having originated in the 18th century French court of King Louis XV. The king, out of love for his mistress Madame de Pompadour, ordered a diamond to be cut in the shape of her lips. The name ‘marquise’ (which refers to a rank at court) was eventually attributed to the cut as diamonds were often worn by the marquise to show their rank. The cut morphed into its distinctive present-day shape over time and is widely used not only for diamonds but also for other popular gemstones. This connection with love and royalty has given the marquise cut its sophisticated aura.

If you think a marquise cut could be for you, then make sure you check for the following aspects before you make your purchase. Using our top 7 tips will help you decide on your marquise cut diamond!

Tip 1 – Watch Out For the ‘Bow-Tie’ Effect!

bow tie effect in marquise cut diamond

bow-tie effect in marquise cut diamond

All elongated fancy cut diamonds, such as the marquise, pear and oval cuts, are susceptible to having a bow-tie effect. This is when there is a darkened area in the shape of a bow-tie that runs across the center of the diamond.

A bow-tie effect is caused by misaligned facets, which results in light moving out of the pavilion rather than being reflected from the surface. Due to the lack of light reflection, the dark area is created. This doesn’t mean that the diamond lacks clarity or that the diamond itself is dark. The bow-tie can be very light in which case you probably don’t have to worry about it. If, however, the bow-tie is the first thing that catches your attention when you look at the diamond, then it’s best to choose another stone. The issue is that you have to actually view the stone to see if it has an unsightly bow-tie, as the certification does not contain this specific information.

Below is a screenshot of a random selection of marquise cut diamonds from James Allen. Although all the diamonds have similar specifications and prices, they all have varying degrees of bow-tie. The point to note is that the lab reports of these diamonds would be nearly identical, making it impossible to pick out which one has the least bow-tie.

marquise diamonds

See this on James Allen 

An expertly cut marquise diamond has stunning sparkle and is a delight to behold. It’s best not to compromise on the cut quality too much when purchasing your diamond.

Tip 2 – Beware of Chips

Due to the shape of the marquise cut, its pointed ends can be in danger of chipping. For this, you have to choose a ring setting that will protect the diamond.

marquise shape diamond in v-tipped prong setting

V-tipped Solitaire Ring 

A setting that has prongs with a V-end or V-tip will be your best bet in ensuring the highest protection for your diamond. Remember, one of the most critical aspects of a marquise cut diamond is the quality of its sharp points.

Marquise shape diamond in halo setting

Marquise Diamond in Halo Setting.

Halo settings also offer high protection for the marquise shape, as the tips are surrounded by the diamond halo. This setting also adds an extra sparkle to the ring and increases the glamor factor.

Tip 3 – Make Sure There Is Perfect Symmetry!

How to choose marquise diamond cut

Symmetry is critical in a marquise cut diamond. The two ends should have perfect alignment with each other while the left and right sides should mirror each other closely. If there is any defect in the symmetry, however slight, it will affect the overall equilibrium of the diamond and the final setting of the ring will not have an ideal balanced look. When selecting your marquise cut diamond, ensure that the symmetry is in the excellent or very good range for the best appearance.

Tip 4 – Choose Your Color Preference

Choosing your diamond’s color is often based on individual preference. The D-F (colorless) diamonds are the most popular choice. Due to the laws of supply and demand, D-F color grades are the priciest as shoppers are prepared to pay a higher price for them. However, the difference between the grades are often negligible and can hardly be perceived by the naked eye. Because larger marquise cut diamonds can appear darker at the points, you can choose a lower color grade and still have a gorgeous colorless stone.

If your ring metal is yellow or rose gold, you can opt for a diamond with warm tones as this will not be very noticeable next to the metal. This is a great way to save on the price of your diamond, as the further down the color scale you go, the more the price of the stone drops (all else being equal).

For an Excellent grading for color in a marquise cut diamond, look for these specifications:

  • If the diamond is less than .50 carat, a color grade of D-G is considered Excellent. Avoid grades L-M for a Fair-Poor rating.
  • If the diamond is between .50 – 1.0 carats, choose grades D-F for an Excellent grading and avoid grading K onwards which will give you a Fair-Poor grade.
  • If your diamond is between 1.0 to 2.0 carats, D-F will is Excellent but avoid grading I onwards.
  • If the diamond is over 2.0 carats, choose D-F but avoid H onwards.

Tip 5 – Consider Your Fingers

One of the best things about elongated shapes such as the marquise, pear and oval cuts is that it tends to make your finger appear longer. This complements any hand and is especially perfect if you have short fingers.

Tip 6 – Choosing the Clarity Grading For Your Marquise Cut Diamond

When choosing the clarity grade of your marquise diamond, the most important thing to consider is whether or not the inclusions are visible. If the inclusions are invisible to the naked eye, then the grade is not highly critical. No one will be the wiser and you will save on the price of your stone.

However, there is a caveat to this when it comes to marquise shaped diamonds. It is likely that inclusions can be located at the two end points of the diamond, which can weaken these points and compromise their integrity. This is because these points were the closest to the outer edge of the uncut diamond and the likelihood of there being flaws are high. The points (and the inclusions, if any) will most likely be covered and protected by the V-shaped prongs which will render any inclusions located there invisible and afford extra protection to the stone.

As I mentioned above with the screenshot of the diamonds with bow-tie, it’s imperative that you see the diamond to ensure that there are no visible inclusions on the stone. Again, the lab report will not state where the inclusions are located and buying blind could lead to purchasing a stone with unsightly inclusions. Being able to see the actual diamond rather than simply a stock photo allows you to cherry pick the perfect stone from the lot. It also allows you to save on your stone as you could pick a stone with a lower clarity grade but with no visible inclusions.

Tip 7 – Evaluating the Marquise Cut

Unfortunately, the GIA does not grade the cut of fancy shaped diamonds, meaning that you are essentially on your own when evaluating the cut of a marquise shaped diamond. This is why you need to carefully inspect the stone’s appearance to make an informed decision about its cut quality.

Here is a list of general cut information that is taken into account to assess a marquise diamond’s cut quality. These specifications outline what would be considered an Excellent cut grade.


Excellent Grading ( % )


53 – 63


58 – 62


Very Thin – Slightly Thick

Pavilion Depth

42. 8 – 43. 2

Length to Width Ration

1.85 – 2.00



Where to Buy Online

There are many excellent places to purchase a round diamond online, be it a loose diamond or a pre-set engagement ring. Whichever retailer you decide to go with, make sure that they are reputable, are specialized in what they do and will provide you with a lab report.

Check that the certifying laboratory is recognized, such as GIA, AGS and EGL.

It is best to choose a professional retailer like James Allen, whose special Diamond Display Technology allows you to inspect your diamond closely, and make an informed choice.  Also check the after-sales policies, especially the returns policy.

Check out our quick comparison of the Top Online Engagement Ring Retailers for more information.

Jewelry Guide