Marquise Cut Diamond Guide – Everything You Need to Know

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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!

If you’re thinking of buying a marquise cut diamond, here’s what you need to know.

What Is the Marquise Cut?

marquise diamond in yellow gold setting
Marquise cut diamond engagement ring by Whiteflash. See it here.

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.

Pros and Cons of Marquise Cut Diamonds

The marquise cut offers many advantages for engagement rings and diamond jewel, but there are also some downsides to consider. Here’s a quick rundown of the pros and cons of this diamond cut.

Marquise Cut Diamond Pros

  • Marquise cut diamonds look larger than their per carat weight compared to other cuts like the round brilliant. As our eyes run down the length of the cut, we’re tricked into seeing it as larger than it really is.
  • 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 and thinner. This complements any hand and is especially perfect if you have short or chubby fingers.
  • The marquise is an affordable cut, costing less than more popular cut options like round, princess, or cushion. While a good quality stone will still cost thousands of dollars, it’s relatively more affordable.
  • Because of the many facets of a marquise cut diamond, this cut is great at hiding flaws like color and inclusions. This means that you can save on your diamond by dropping a little lower on the color and clarity scales.

Marquise Cut Diamond Cons

  • The biggest issue with marquise diamonds is the bow-tie effect, which can mar the beauty of the stone. Read more about this phenomenon below.
  • The pointed ends of the marquise cut are quite sharp and vulnerable, meaning that they can easily chip if dealt a hard blow.
  • While the cut is brilliant, it doesn’t have the same sparkle as a round or princess cut diamond.

How to Choose Marquise Diamond Color

marquise-diamonds-d-vs-f color
D color diamond (left) and F color diamond (right). See more here.

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 also the priciest as they’re much rarer than yellow tinted diamonds and 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.

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

.50 carat Diamond or SmallerD-G color is Excellent. Avoid L-M grades for a Fair to Poor rating.
.50 – 1.0 carat DiamondD-F is Excellent. Avoid grading K onwards which will give you a Fair-Poor grade.
1.0 – 2.0 carat DiamondD-F will is Excellent but avoid grading I onwards.
2.0 carat Diamond and LargerD-F grades are recommended but avoid H onwards.

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).

As you can see from the two settings below, the yellow gold setting complements any yellow hues in the diamond, blending into it to create a seamless transition from metal to stone. Because the basket of the setting also influences the color of the stone, some jewelers choose to place a yellow or rose gold basket even in a white gold setting to hide any yellow tints in the stone.

marquise diamond in yellow gold
marquise diamond in white gold

In the same way, white metals can highlight yellow tints, making the stone appear yellower than it is. But if you choose a D-F color grade, a white metal setting can accentuate the colorlessness even more, enhancing its cool tones.

Watch Out For the ‘Bow-Tie’ Effect!

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.

image of man in bow tie and diamond with bow tie

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 more marquise diamonds 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.

Choose a Protective Setting

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.

There are many ring settings that will offer this protection, most notably prong settings with v-tips, halo settings, bezel settings, and vintage settings that create a buffer around the diamond.

marquise shape diamond in v-tipped prong setting
V-tipped Solitaire Ring from James Allen

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, so when choosing the diamond, ensure that the stone’s edges aren’t compromised.

Marquise shape diamond in halo setting
Marquise Diamond in Halo Setting from James Allen

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 glamour factor. You can also choose a double halo setting for even more sparkle.

Symmetry is Everything

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.

How to Choose Marquise Diamond Clarity

cluster of marquise diamonds in ring
Statement diamond ring with marquise and round diamonds by Blue Nile. See it here.

When choosing the clarity grade, 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 mentioned above with the screenshot of the diamonds with bow-tie, it’s imperative to 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.

How to Choose Marquise Cut Quality

marquise diamond search filter

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 ( % )
 Table53 – 63
Depth58 – 62
GirdleVery Thin – Slightly Thick
Pavilion Depth42. 8 – 43. 2
Length to Width Ratio1.85 – 2.00

These cut parameters will give you an excellent grading, but there’s nothing quite like seeing the actual diamond from a variety of angles and light sources. Even if a diamond has an excellent cut grading, it could still showcase issues like slightly-off symmetry or the dreaded bow-tie.

Marquise diamond cut length to width ratio explained
Marquise diamond cut length to width ratio

Another factor to consider is the shape of the marquise. If you choose a length to width ratio below 1.85, you will end up with a squat stone, while a ratio above 2.0 will result in an overly elongated marquise. This comes down to a matter of preference, including factors such as the shape of your hand and fingers.

Where to Buy Marquise Diamonds 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. Choose a retailer that offers high quality imagery allowing you to inspect your diamond closely, and make an informed choice.  Also check the after-sales policies, especially the returns policy.

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

Why: Superior diamond imaging, competitive prices, high quality, wide range

An online giant in the diamond space, James Allen a stunning collection of high-quality round diamonds. The images and videos are unparalleled in quality and makes shopping online similar, if not better, to shopping in store.

Why: Competitive prices, wide range, great quality

Known for dominating the online diamond industry since the late 1990s, Blue Nile offers one of the largest online diamond inventories. Search round diamonds here at competitive prices, solid after-sales policies, and good customer service.

Why: Superior cut quality, exclusive range, stunning designs

Whiteflash has earned an international reputation for the elite quality of their precision cut diamonds, and for their impeccable collection of designer engagement rings. Check their stunning range of diamond jewelry and loose diamonds.

Why: Impeccable quality, superior cut, small but exclusive inventory

Brian Gavin is a renowned expert in diamond cut – and it shows in their superior diamond quality. For the very best in diamonds, search their inventory of designer diamond jewelry and loose diamonds.

Why: Try before you buy, build your own ring, great quality  

If you want to try out how a round diamond ring looks on your finger before you commit to buying one, check out With Clarity’s Home Preview Service which is completely free. Find out more here.

Wrapping Up

Classy, sophisticated and unique, the marquise cut makes the diamond appear larger and elongates your finger. It has a romantic and historic connection that makes it a perfect choice for an engagement ring. However, this unique cut is not as brilliant as round cuts, and can have the bow-tie effect quite severely. The marquise cut is also quite vulnerable, and can chip at the ends if not in a protective setting.

Overall, it’s a beautiful and uncommon choice, and one that stands out on any finger. If you’re looking to purchase a marquise diamond, we recommend starting your browsing here.

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