Buyer’s Guide to Marquise Cut Diamonds
It all started with a brilliant smile. Louis XV of France requested that the court jewelers cut a diamond in the shape of the lips of his mistress, the Marquise de Pompadour. The resulting diamond cut is the marquise: two curved sides ending in two points. Because the shape also resembles a boat, it’s also sometimes called the navette diamond.
The marquise appeals to women looking for something different. This elegantly elongated diamond shape is an enticing combination of soft and sharp, with its graceful curves and narrow pointed tips.
The History of Marquise Cut Diamonds
Whether or not the story about Louis XV and his mistress is true, the marquise cut is part of the revolution in diamond cutting in the eighteenth century, as better equipment allowed cutters to experiment with adding more facets to a wide range of brilliant cuts.
The marquise cut suited the decorative taste at the time and represented innovation. In Britain, the shape’s nautical shape found favor with the Edwardians. Sailing was a popular pastime for King Edward VII.
In America, the marquise was particularly popular in the 1950s and again in the 1970s. Jacqueline Kennedy received one from Aristotle Onassis. As oval, cushion, and pear shaped diamond engagement ring have become popular with celebrities, those looking for something unusual have begun to turn to the marquise cut again.
Why We Love Marquise Shape Diamonds
Marquise cut diamond engagement rings are famously flattering to your fingers, making them look long and slim.
But the thing we love most about marquise-cut diamonds is that they are relatively shallow.
Why? That means that they look larger than almost any other diamond shape. Just look at a comparison of rings set with 1.25-carat diamonds in six different shapes.
See how big the marquise looks in comparison to the round brilliant? It’s as if your diamond magically grew 20 percent in size!
And there’s one more thing we love about marquise shape diamonds. They are 30-40 percent cheaper than round brilliant diamonds of the same size and quality. So they look bigger and they cost less? How could you not love marquise cut diamonds?
How to Buy Marquise Diamonds
Here’s what you need to know about shopping for marquise diamonds. The basics of the 4Cs are the same as for round brilliant diamonds but the GIA grading reports for marquise diamonds don’t include a cut grade. That means any cut grade you see on a retailer’s website is more about marketing than science.
Because marquise cut diamonds are less common than round brilliants, many retailers won’t have any in stock. You are much better off buying fancy shapes like this online because you’ll have a much better selection in your target color, clarity and carat weight. This really helps you compare the shapes and cut qualities and pick a really beautiful diamond that’s a good value too.
It’s important to rely only on diamond grading reports from GIA or AGS, the world’s most respected diamond grading laboratories. You can’t rely on the grades from other labs to be equivalent.
When you are shopping for marquise diamonds, the first factor that you’ll want to consider is the length to width ratio: a comparison of how round or elongated the marquise shape is.
A ratio of 1.5 would be fatter and a ratio of 2.5 would be skinnier. Which you like best is a matter of personal taste but most people prefer something in the middle.
No matter which shape appeals to you most, there is one important factor to consider in the cut. Almost every marquise cut diamond has an optical effect called the “bow tie”: a dark pattern of light across the center of the diamond. It’s usually the reflection of your head (or the camera in photographs.) The effect can be really obvious in some diamonds and less so in others.
Although your marquise shaped diamond will have a bow-tie in some form, it’s important to choose a marquise that sparkles with brilliance across the whole diamond, even in the bow tie area.
What ROSI Recommends
With all the variables to consider, buying a marquise-shape diamond can be challenging. That’s why we created ROSI, an artificial intelligence personal shopping tool powered by IBM’s Watson: to sort through all the Marquise cut diamonds available on the market to find the best balance of quality and value for your budget. See the best marquise shaped diamond for your budget.
ROSI generally recommends a color of H for a marquise shape diamond: J and lower colors will start to show noticeable color near the points of the marquise. Clarity should be at least VS2.
The most visible factor in the appearance of your marquise shape diamond is the length to width ratio. ROSI recommends a ratio of 1.75 to 2.25, which results in an elegantly elongated shape without exaggerating the bow-tie effect.
ROSI recommends a ratio of 1.75 to 2.25, which results in an elegantly elongated shape without exaggerating the bow-tie effect.
Marquise Shape Diamond Quality Checklist
- Color: H
- Clarity: VS2
- Length to width ratio: 1.75 to 2.25
- Depth: 58%-65%
- Table: 56%-60%
- Symmetry: Very Good-Excellent
- Polish: Very Good-Excellent
ROSI looks for diamonds with the best combination of depth and table percentages to reflect the maximum light back to the eye as brilliance. The cut quality of a marquise shape depends on its angles and proportions. Large depth and table percentage ranges will include combinations that work well together and combinations that don’t. ROSI chooses combinations of proportions that provide the brightest possible gem. In most cases a depth percentage of 58-65% is best to avoid a dark bowtie effect. ROSI most often recommends a table percentage of 56-60%.
Marquise Diamond vs Oval Diamond vs Pear Shaped Diamond
The two diamond shapes that are most similar to a marquise cut are the oval diamond and the pear shaped diamond.
The oval shape diamond is much more classic and traditional than the marquise cut. It has a similar elongated silhouette and shallow depth so it also looks relatively large on your finger. It is more subtle than the marquise.
Pear shaped diamonds are as unconventional as the marquise cut, with the added drama of asymmetry.
All three are much larger in appearance than the round brilliant and less per carat for the same quality. The marquise cut is the most affordable of the three.
Best Marquise Shaped Diamond Engagement Ring Styles
Our customers’ favorite setting for marquise engagement rings is an elegant marquise diamond solitaire with a pave band. If you prefer a classic look, a marquise halo engagement ring has extra diamonds and extra sparkle. Because the marquise cut also lends itself to sleek modern engagement ring styles, a simple bezel-set marquise solitaire engagement ring appeals to many minimalist brides. Three stone marquise engagement rings most often have tapered baguettes on the sides. Looking for something more unique? Try setting a marquise shape diamond east-west across the finger for a twist on a classic. No matter which way you set your marquise make sure those points are protected by the setting. Any prong setting needs v-shaped prongs over the points.