A magnificent marquise cut diamond engagement ring in 14k rose gold.
The marquise diamond (a.k.a. navette cut) is a type of modified brilliant cut that resembles an American football. With its long and slender shape, it has a unique appeal that is well-received by people looking to make a fashion statement.
Besides portraying an elegant appearance, one main benefit of the marquise cut is that they appear bigger when compared to other diamond shapes with similar carat weights.
The marquise brilliant cut diamond can have a varying amount of facets which depends on how it was cut (usually around 56-60 facets). This is due to the different faceting patterns where the pavilion section can be polished with four, six or eight pavilion mains.
Here is a list of topics we will be covering:
The marquise cut diamond above is an example of one with 8 pavilion mains in its facet pattern.
Due to their fancy, elongated shape, it’s tricky to determine the cut quality and light return of a diamond based on a set of “ideal proportions” alone.
Below is a table of recommended proportions that I’ve compiled based on my experience with handling well cut marquise diamonds but these “best proportions” should not be taken as a hard and fast rule.
Bear in mind that it should only serve as a rough guideline to help you weed out poorly cut diamonds. Ultimately, you will need to rely on unbiased videos taken in neutral lighting to help you assess the cut quality of a marquise.
|Table %||55% – 62%||53% – 64%||52% – 65%||Outside Ranges|
|Depth %||58% – 64%||56% – 66%||55% – 68%||Outside Ranges|
|Polish/Symmetry||Excellent – Very Good||Good||Outside Ranges|
|Length to Width||1.70 – 1.80||1.60 -1.90||1.40 – 2.10||Outside Ranges|
|Girdle Thickness||Thin – Slightly Thick||V. Thin – Very Thick||Outside Ranges|
|Culet Size||None||Very Small||Small||Outside Ranges|
* Note: The above table should be used as a reference only. When dealing with fancy cut diamonds, numbers only serve as a useful guideline to follow if you are buying blind. Nothing beats a visual examination either in person or via a video. Also, I highly recommend using an ASET to evaluate the diamond’s optical performance.
In the market, you can easily find marquises that have various outlines due to the different length to width ratios they are cut to. Personally, I prefer marquises that have a l/w ratio within the “goldilocks” range of 1.70 -1.80 as they look just right.
If the l/w ratio is too long, the stone will take up a “malnourished” look. Vice versa, if it is too short, the marquise will look like a squashed and deformed oval. That said, beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.
It is perfectly OK if you think a marquise with l/w ratio of 2.30 looks great and you should make choices based on your preferences.
To help you visualize how diamonds with various length to width ratios may look like in real life, you can use the following photographs as a reference.
Both diamonds above have a l/w ratio that is close to 1.75:1 and I love the pleasant outlines they portray.
With a shorter 1.6:1 ratio (diamond on the left), the marquise appears squashed and can be mistaken to be a deformed oval shape. On the other hand, when the length-width ratio is too high (1.98:1 for the diamond on the right), the diamond’s outline becomes very awkward.
In both of these extreme cases, the diamond’s brilliance and structural integrity can be negatively affected.
#1: Stay Above an SI1 Clarity Rating to Get an Eyeclean Diamond
With marquise cut diamonds, they tend to do fairly well in hiding inclusions when they are well cut. This means you don’t have to pay a premium for high clarity ratings as most diamonds in the lower clarity tiers are eyeclean.
As a general guideline, I recommend at least an SI1 rating as they will usually have unnoticeable inclusions to the naked eye. For example, this VS1 marquise costs $4,990 while this SI1 marquise costs only $4,130 and they both have no visible blemishes.
That said, it is important to review each diamond based on its own merit and the best way to do this is to utilize magnified videos or high-quality photography. James Allen and Blue Nile are vendors that excel in providing HD videos to help you make informed decisions.
#2: Marquises Require Higher Color Ratings to Face Up White
Like many other fancy shapes, marquises tend to absorb and reveal their inherent body color. More notably, the diamond’s color tends to concentrate near the tips. If you are a color adverse person, my advice is to select diamonds with G or better color ratings.
Note: If you are buying bigger sized stones (e.g. >1.50 carats), the color will stick out even more and it is easier for the eyes to discern yellow nuances. To achieve an white icy look in larger diamonds, I recommend buying within the colorless grades of D-F instead.
#3: V-Prongs Are Required to Protect the Vulnerable Tips
Even though diamonds are the hardest substance on Earth, they are brittle and can be chipped when an excessive force is applied. In a marquise shape, the 2 pointed tips are especially vulnerable to damage and special care is required to protect them.
When choosing a setting for a marquise diamond, my recommendation is to select one that has two V-shaped prongs properly positioned to safeguard the tips.
From a practical point of view, most people don’t know that the two pointed ends of a marquise ring can easily catch onto things. If your recipient is a relatively careless person or regularly performs heavy work, a marquise might not be the best shape for her.
An ugly marquise that is dark and lifeless throughout.
Whenever we deal with fancy shapes where the length of the diamond is greater than its width, it is hard to maintain an even distribution of light within the stone. This results in a phenomenon which manifests itself as a bowtie (dark looking patches) across the diamond’s mid-section.
The bow tie effect is most noticeable when the diamond is observed from a 90 degrees head-on view and is usually pronounced in diamonds with shallow depths (since proportions of the pavilion main facets largely influence it).
It depends. I find that having some degree of a bow-tie can actually be a good thing as it adds contrast to the diamond’s scintillation pattern. On the other hand, if the bowtie is too pronounced, it can be detrimental to the diamond’s appearance and make it unappealing.
Which would you choose? I think the choice is pretty clear!
In the examples above, we can see varying intensities of the bow tie effect from a face-up view. Obviously, a dark black bow-tie is undesirable and the example on the far left is what you want to avoid.
While the ones in the middle and the right looks OK in the photographs, it still doesn’t tell you the full story about the diamond. To me, passing a check for bowties is a prerequisite but it doesn’t automatically qualify the diamond as a keeper.
Poor light distribution within this diamond results in many dark looking areas.
At the end of the day, bowties are a subjective issue in which you have to make decisions yourself. It is best to observe diamonds physically where you can tilt and examine the stone at different angles to see how the bow-tie interacts with light.
With that said, I am sure the following questions are probably on your mind now:
1) My local store only carries 2 marquises in stock. How do I make good comparisons and come up with a sound judgment when I am only limited to two choices?
2) The marquises I see in stores are usually above 1 carat or out of my budget range. Where can I find one that is beautifully cut and falls within my budget?
Here’s an industry fact: more than 90% of fancy cut diamonds have dismal light performance and proportions. For a diamond shopper, the odds of finding a well cut diamond from 2-3 choices are stacked against your favor.
That’s why the best method of buying fancy shaped diamonds is to shop online. The reason is simple. Online shopping is the only method where you can easily access thousands of diamonds for cherry picking.
Before we can talk about the issue of symmetry and girdle thickness, we first have to understand what makes up a diamond’s anatomy. The various parts of a diamond can be broken down into three main portions:
When you see a diamond that has a “very thin” or “extremely thin” girdle, you need to exercise extreme caution. Diamonds with very thin girdles are very susceptible to chipping during the setting process and normal daily wear.
In the example below, I had circled the portion of the diamond where the girdle thickness is going to be a major durability issue. To get a better idea of what I am talking about, do click on the corresponding links and view these diamonds under high magnification.
This particular diamond has an extremely thin – slightly thick girdle.
As I had mentioned before, the most vulnerable locations of a marquise diamond are found at its two pointed ends. In the following example, you can see that the girdle area at the tips is not thick enough to provide sufficient mechanical strength.
A slight knock at the correct angle can cause significant damage and makes this diamond a very risky purchase. And if you look closely at this particular example, you can already see that parts of the girdle have already been damaged.
The very thin girdle thickness at the tips makes this stone a poor choice.
Marquises have better spread and tend to look larger than other diamond shapes with similar carat weights. If you are a smart shopper and want to get more value out of your purchase, look out for diamonds with medium to slightly thick girdles. This will help you avoid diamonds that have excess weight “trapped” within the girdle area.
Why should you pay for “dead weight” that can’t be seen from a face up view?
To give you some perspectives on size and face up appearance, let’s take a look at the following diamonds:
#1: 0.81 Carat D Color VVS2 with a thin to slightly thick girdle. It measures up at 9.42 mm * 5.19 mm * 2.97 mm (L/W/D) and has a pretty decent face-up size for its carat weight.
#2: 0.82 Carat H Color SI2 with a very thick – extremely thick girdle. In contrast, this diamond measures up at 8.67 mm * 4.72 mm * 3.20 mm.
Both diamonds weigh approximately the same and yet the 0.80 carat stone faces up significantly smaller. Here’s another comparison of 2 stones with different girdle thicknesses.
– 0.46 Carat D Color VVS1 with a medium to very thick girdle that measures up at 8.05 mm * 4.19 mm * 2.41 mm
– 0.49 Carat D Color SI2 with a very thick to extremely thick girdle that measures up at 7.51 mm * 3.88 mm * 2.63 mm
Again, the sizes differ significantly and the lighter diamond actually looks larger!
Now, please don’t misinterpret my intentions about maximizing spread to the extent that you start choosing diamonds with extremely or very thin girdles. A safe girdle thickness that would ensure better durability lies in the range of thin to very thick.
Lop-sided marquise diamond that doesn’t look good at all.
In my humble opinion, a diamond needs to be sparkly and be full of brilliance. However, a good diamond goes beyond that and only careful cutting can yield stones with character and enormous appeal.
By now, you should know that a marquise has the advantage of maximizing spread for its carat weight. However, this advantage comes at a price as marquises are very sensitive to symmetry details. As a result of poor cutting, a marquise can easily lose much of its shape appeal.
Here are more examples of marquises with symmetry issues and outlines you should avoid.
These images depict marquises with undesirable outlines and serve as a reminder to why shopping “blindly” is a bad idea. You need to understand that it is impossible to gauge the looks of a fancy shaped diamond based on its certification alone.
Sadly, I’ve seen it happened many times where eager shoppers buy solely based on a grading certificate only to be disappointed with the outcome. It’s always a roll of the dice when you shop blindly and you won’t know what to expect until it is too late.
This ugly lop-sided marquise looks more like a pear.
Symmetry flaws are irregularities in the diamond’s cut and can occur as a result of many reasons. More notably, the presence of inclusions at undesirable locations and the decision to remove them often lead to intentional symmetry flaws.
This phenomenon happens because cutters are under immense pressure to polish rough diamonds for maximum weight retention and they often do it at the expense of cut.
Diamonds with poor symmetry also tend to exhibit a wavy girdle when viewed from its profile and these problems are so blatant they can be easily noticed by the unaided eye.
The main issue with such symmetry flaws is that it makes the setting process very difficult and also causes the diamond to appear out-of-shape.
Notice how the red line I had drawn to follow this diamond’s girdle isn’t straight? Avoid at all costs!
Compared to round cut diamonds, the prices of marquise-shaped diamonds are generally 20-30% lower. Not only are you able to buy a larger carat size diamond for less money, the elongated shape of the marquise also enhances the size of the diamond.
As a reference, I’ve compiled a price comparison chart to show you the prices of 1ct marquise diamonds and how they vary with color/clarity grades.
Price chart comparison of GIA certified 1ct marquise shape diamonds.
For a 1 carat size diamond, you can expect to pay between $3,000 to $8,000 for a diamond with decent qualities. Obviously, the higher the color/clarity grades, the more expensive the diamond will become.
Here, I want to point out that a diamond with higher color/clarity grades may not necessarily look better or be discernible from one with a lower color/clarity grade. For example, most people will not be able to notice visual differences between a well cut G/VS2 diamond when compared against a D/IF diamond.
However, the price differences would be very significant! So, if you are someone who is on a budget, consider going down in color or clarity grades to save money.
When it comes to marquise cut diamonds, the most popular size is 1 carat because they are relatively more affordable compared to round diamonds.
The elongated outline of the marquise cut diamond offers good finger coverage even if you are someone with larger hands. To give you a better idea of real world appearances, here’s a comparison of a 1 carat marquise cut diamond ring vs a 2 carat marquise cut diamond ring.
1 carat vs 2 carat marquise cut diamond ring on size 7 finger.
While the carat weight of a 2 carat diamond is twice that of a 1 carat diamond, the price differences differ in an exponential manner. As an example, this 1 carat, D color/VS2 clarity diamond costs $7,200 but the cost of a 2 carat, D color/VS2 clarity diamond can be 4 times more!
In terms of physical dimensions, the 1 carat marquise diamond measures up at 10.74 x 5.12 x 3.20 mm while the 2 carat marquise diamond measures up at 12.82 x 6.52 x 4.14 mm.
In order to pick out well cut marquise diamonds that have strong light return and superb scintillation patterning, it does require some experience and knowing where’s the best place to shop.
Below are two examples of marquise diamonds that are purchase worthy by my standards. These are selected for their excellent shape appeal and light performance. Hopefully, this gives you a better idea of how the well cut marquises look like in real life.
I’ve also included a couple of badly cut marquise diamonds to highlight issues you should beware of when making a selection. Again, feel free to click on the images to interact with these diamonds for yourself.
If you are looking for ideas for a marquise cut diamond engagement ring, I’ve listed some of my favorite designs below. These are real life diamond engagement rings that other people had purchased.
Hopefully, this section here will provide you with some inspiration and help you find your own perfect engagement ring. If you are interested in finding out full details about any of the settings, simply click on the corresponding images to learn more…
A sleek and modern ring with intertwining shanks to symbolize everlasting love and unity.
This knife edge diamond solitaire offers an affordable yet evergreen looking ring design.
A vintage-inspired ring showcasing multiple diamonds in a stunning display of bezel and pavé settings.
Tapered pave shanks draw the attention of your eyes towards the center diamond in this beautiful ring setting.
Here are a couple more designs from Blue Nile that caught my eyes. Two things I love about them are their superb craftsmanship and highly affordable prices.
What I’ve shown you above are just a few designs out of 100s of available ring settings. If you want to see more engagement ring designs for marquise diamonds, head over to Blue Nile and James Allen to start browsing!
To recap, here are my recommended guidelines for buying a marquise shaped diamond:
Depth: 58% to 64%
Table: 55% to 62%
Polish/Symmetry: Very Good or Excellent
Length to Width Ratio: Within a range of 1.70 to 1.80
Color: G or better
Clarity: SI1 or better
When you are shopping for marquise diamonds, it is imperative to view diamonds with magnified videos taken in neutral, fluorescent lighting. This will enable you to assess the diamond without bias and make better buying decisions.