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What Is An Marquise Cut Diamond? - Buying Guide

Marquise cut diamond.

The marquise shaped diamond features pointed ends with a curved middle for an eye catching look. With a larger surface area than any other diamond shape, the marquise shape maximizes perceived size and lends a unique look to any setting style.

Marquise Cut Diamond

Marquise cut diamond.

Originally commissioned in 18th century Paris by King Louis XV to emulate the smile of his mistress the Marchioness Madame de Pompadour, the Marquise harkens back to the glory of the age d'or, and is also an ideal way to optimise carat weight and elongate the finger.

Marquise Cut Diamond Buying Guide


Also referred to as: NAVETTE SHAPE


Marquise Cut Diamond Quick Guide


Unique Features
Long "navette" oval shape
Facets
Usually 56 to 58
L/W Ratio
Ideally 1.85 - 2.10
Origin
1745 French Royalty
Expert Tip
Optimises carat weight and elongates finger


Marquise Cut Diamond Ring

Marquise Cut Diamond Ring

Marquise cut diamond ring.


Marquise Cut Diamond Features

Marquise Cut Diamond Features

Marquise cut diamond features.

The marquise brilliant cut may also be referred to as the "Navette" shape, meaning "little boat," as the shape of the diamond is said to mirror the hull of a small boat. It is generally comprised of 58 facets, with 33 on the crown and 25 on the pavilion, although the number of pavilion facets may range between 4 and 8. Additionally, marquise shapes are sometimes cut with a "French tip," which replaces the large bezel facet at the point with star and upper girdle facets.

French tips are also used in the heart and pear shapes. Even though the optimal ratio of the Marquise is 2.10, the shape is more traditionally cut to ratios ranging between 1.85 and 2.10 according to personal preference.

The Marquise can suffer from a so called "bow-tie effect" when light passing through the diamond casts a shadow across the central facets of the diamond. This shadow can be reduced by altering the depth of the pavilion, and adjusting the angles of the table and facets to better diffuse light in the central area. This effect also occurs in the pear, oval and heart shapes.

Marquise Cut Diamond Bow-tie

Marquise cut diamond bow-tie.

The biggest drawback of the marquise cut is one that affects all other elongated cuts, the bow-tie effect. The bow-tie effect is a dark shadow that can appear in the middle of the stone when viewed from certain angles. It appears because light is reflected off the bottom of the stone and out of the sides, rather than back through the top of the diamond to the viewer's eye. The visibility of the bow-tie effect depends on how well each individual stone has been cut, but a well-cut diamond will dramatically reduce its visibility.

Depending on its intensity and size, a bow-tie detracts from the overall appearance of a marquise diamond. However, in most cases, you may not be able to avoid a bow-tie, as those without a bow-tie effect usually tend to look dull and less brilliant.

Sometimes the bow-tie effect in marquise diamonds is easily noticeable and other times it is hardly visible. That is why you should make sure the diamond you choose doesn't have a dominant bow-tie, meaning it's not the first thing you see when looking at a marquise cut diamond.

Marquise Cut Diamond Expert Guide

The marquise cut can maximise carat weight, making it appear larger than other diamonds of the same size and is often set with round or pear shaped side diamonds. As with other elongated shapes, the Marquise can make fingers appear longer and more slender. It is important that the marquise is not too shallow so as to avoid light passing through the back of the diamond and diminishing its brilliance and fire. Carat for carat, the marquise diamond has one of the largest crown surface areas of any diamond shape, making it a good choice when trying to maximize the perceived size of a diamond.

Marquise Diamond Body

Marquise diamond body.

Symmetry is very important in marquise cuts. The two end points should align with each other, and the right and left sides should form a near mirror image. Even a slight misalignment in the points can result in an off kilter look in the final setting. For this reason, excellent or very good symmetry is strongly recommended.

A marquise diamond should always be set with prongs to protect the two points (the most likely location for chipping). Because these points were once nearest the outer edge of the rough diamond, flaws such as naturals, extra facets, and other inclusion may be located here. Since the points are covered by prongs, these flaws will be invisible once the diamond is set. The only remaining concern would be if the flaws are significant enough to affect the stability of the diamond (this is extremely rare, however).

Marquise Cut Diamond - Cut Guide

While the GIA provides cut grading for some cuts, such as the round brilliant, it doesn't provide cut grading for marquise cut diamonds due to their complex and unique structure. However, there are some key features to be considered to have a brilliant and sparkly diamond.

Diamond symmetry is extremely important in marquise cut diamonds. The two points should align with each other and the right and left sides should form a mirror image. Even a slight misalignment in the points can greatly impact the final look, which is why excellent or very good symmetry is strongly recommended.

The chart below serves as a general guideline for evaluating the cut of a marquise diamond:

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Marquise Cut Diamond Excellent Very Good Good Fair Poor
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Depth refers to the distance between the culet and the table when a diamond is viewed from the side.

The depth % of a diamond is calculated by dividing the depth of the diamond by the width of the diamond. So, if a diamond is 3 mm in depth, and 4.5 mm in width, its depth % is 66.7.

The lower the depth %, the larger a diamond of a given carat weight will appear when viewed from above (since more of the diamond's size is in its width vs. in its depth).

Depth % is incorporated in the cut grade of a diamond. For this reason, when purchasing a diamond, use the cut grade first (since it balances multiple measurements, not just depth %). Once two diamonds of equal cut are being compared, consider depth % as a further refinement.

Learn more about the anatomy of a diamond.

58 - 62 56 - 57.9 or 62.1 - 66 53 - 55.9 or 66.1 - 71 50 - 52.9 or 71.1 - 74 <50 or >74
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The table is the uppermost, flat surface of a diamond, which runs parallel to the plane of the girdle.

The table % of a diamond is calculated by dividing the width of the table facet by the width of the diamond. So, if the table facet is 3 mm across, and the diamond is 4.5 mm wide, its table % is 66.7.

Table % is incorporated in the cut grade of a diamond. For this reason, when purchasing a diamond, use the cut grade first (since it balances multiple measurements, not just table %). Once two diamonds of equal cut are being compared, consider table % as a further refinement.

Learn more about the anatomy of a diamond.

53 - 63 52 or 64 - 65 51 or 66 - 68 50 or 69 - 70 <50 or >70
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A diamond's symmetry is the arrangement, size, and shaping of diamond's facets. The facets are the flat planes that run along the surfaces of the diamond. Symmetry is angles and lines that form the placement of the facets. Nowadays, symmetry is completely controlled by the manufacturing process. Machines very carefully cut diamonds to produce the most accurate shapes. However, at times the diamond cutter will leave a symmetry imperfection in the diamond in order to prevent a different inclusion from showing in the finished diamond. Symmetry is a subset of the diamond's cut grade.

Learn more about diamond symmetry.

Good to excellent Good to excellent Good to excellent Fair to Excellent Poor to Excellent
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The term "polish" refers to the overall condition of the surfaces of a finished diamond. A rating is assigned based on the amount of polishing lines that are visible. These polishing lines are caused by very small diamond crystals which are embedded in the polishing wheels used by diamond cutters to polish the surface of the diamond after cutting. Diamond polish is important because it can affect the degree to which light is able to pass through a diamond, rendering it more or less brilliant. Diamonds that are laboratory certified with a good, very good, or excellent polish rating are the most desirable. Diamonds that have poor polish will be less brilliant and not as desirable or valuable. Reputable jewellers diamonds are graded after examining the diamond facet by facet.

Learn more about diamond polish.

Good to excellent Good to excellent Good to excellent Fair to Excellent Poor to Excellent
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The girdle is the outer edge of the diamond, where the crown (top) meets the pavilion (bottom).

A girdle may be faceted (a series of tiny polished sides going around the diamond), bruted (a single continuous unpolished surface going round the diamond; no longer common), or polished (a bruted girdle that has been polished smooth). Whether a girdle is faceted, bruted, or polished usually has no impact on the appearance or value of the diamond.

The girdle is described according to its width. Often, the width of the girdle varies at different points around the diamond, and is quoted in a range designating the thinnest and thickest point along the girdle (e.g. "Thin - Medium" means the diamond's girdle varies in width from thin at the narrowest point to medium at the widest point).

Learn more about the anatomy of a diamond.

Very Thin - Slightly Thick Very Thin - Slightly Thick Very Thin - Thick Very Thin - Very Thick Ex. Thin - Ex. Thick
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The culet (pronounced cue-let) is the small area at the bottom of a diamond's pavilion. The culet can be a point or a very small facet sitting parallel to the table.

The culet size as determined by the GIA, is shown using the following scale:

None, Very Small, Small, Medium, Slightly Large, Large, Very Large.

Any culet size of Medium or smaller will be invisible to the naked eye, and have no negative impact on a diamond's appearance. However, if a culet is Slightly Large or larger, it may allow light entering from the crown to pass straight through the culet facet, reducing the diamond's brilliance. This may also make the culet appear as an inclusion, or create a dead area on the diamond where the light is escaping through the bottom.

Learn more about the anatomy of a diamond.

None Very Small Small Medium > Medium
×

The length to width (L/W) ratio is calculated by dividing a diamond's length (the longer measure) by its width (the shorter measure that runs perpendicular to length).

For example, an Oval Cut diamond that is 5.00 mm in length and 3.3 mm in width will have a L/W ratio of 1.50 (5.00/3.33). A perfectly round or square diamond will have a length to width ratio of 1.00, but many will be off slightly since they are often not perfectly cut. Any L/W ratio of 1.05 or less will appear perfectly round or square to the naked eye.

L/W ratio is more commonly used in fancy shapes. There is no "ideal" L/W ratio in a fancy shape diamond. What is important is what looks pleasing to you.

1.85 - 2.00 1.75 - 1.84 or 2.01 - 2.15 1.65 - 1.74 or 2.16 - 2.30 1.55 - 1.64 or 2.31 - 2.45 <1.55 or >2.45

Marquise diamond cut guide.

Marquise Cut Diamond Ratio

Marquise cut diamond length to width ratio.

Marquise Cut Diamond - Color Guide

Evaluating color in a marquise cut diamond is subjective. Keep in mind that many buyers may actually prefer the ever so slightly warmer colors of a G-H diamond over the cool colorlessness of a D-F diamond. In fact, most of the premium in price associated with a marquise cut diamond at the higher end of the color scale is driven by supply and demand; customers want the D-F color grades, and are willing to pay a premium to get them. In a world without diamond color grading, the price premium for higher grades would be much lower, as the actual differences in color are difficult to perceive.

In larger marquise diamonds (over 1 carat), the color may appear slightly darker at the points. For this reason, buyers may choose to move up one color grade as compared to other diamond shapes.

Color of marquise cut diamonds is graded on a scale from D to Z. where D signifies a completely colorless diamond and Z means an easily noticeable yellow or brown tint.

Like most diamonds, smaller marquise diamonds hide color better while larger diamonds show tints easier. However, as marquise diamonds look larger than other diamond shapes, even smaller diamonds may appear slightly darker at the points. For this reason, if you want a really colorless diamond, it is best to opt for the D-E-F range. The color chart below provides a general guide for evaluating color in marquise diamonds:

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Marquise Cut Diamond Excellent Very Good Good Fair Poor
< .50 ct. D - G H - I J - K L - M > M
.51-1.0 ct. D - F G H - I J - K > K
1.0-2.0 ct. D - F D - F G - H I - J > J
> 2.0 ct. D - F D - F G H - I > I
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Fluorescence refers to a diamond's tendency to emit a soft colored glow when subjected to ultraviolet light. Roughly 30% of diamonds fluoresce to some degree.

Colorless (D-F) fluorescent diamonds sell at up to a 15% discount since the fluorescence is perceived as a defect, even though the visible effects of Faint to Medium fluorescence are perceptible only to a gemologist using a special UV light source.

Because the fluorescent glow is usually blue (which is the complementary color to yellow) fluorescence can make diamonds of I-M color appear up to one grade whiter. For this reason, I-M diamonds tend to sell at a slight premium when they possess Medium to Very Strong fluorescence.

Exercise caution in purchasing a diamond with Strong fluorescence in D-F color diamonds or Very Strong fluorescence in G-H color diamonds (which do not possess enough body color to offset the higher degree of fluorescence).

Learn more about diamond fluorescence.


None Faint - Med Strong Very Strong Very Strong

Marquise diamond color guide.

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Marquise Cut Diamond Color

Marquise cut diamond color.


Marquise Cut Diamond - Clarity Guide

Like color, evaluating clarity in marquise diamonds is subjective. GIA provides excellent help with their clarity grades. Still, it is important to understand that each customer will have a unique standard for clarity. Some may be perfectly comfortable with an inclusion as long as they cannot easily see it. Others may insist on a more technically flawless appearance.

The GIA grades clarity of marquise cut diamonds on a scale from FL to I3, where IF means a flawless diamond and I3 indicates a heavily included diamond:

As mentioned, evaluating clarity in marquise diamonds is subjective like in case of all other diamond shapes. Let's not forget that each consumer has their standard for clarity: some feel comfortable with inclusions as long as they are not eye-seen. others prefer to have a flawless diamond. The clarity chart below provides a general guide for evaluating clarity in marquise diamonds:

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Marquise Cut Diamond Excellent Very Good Good Fair Poor
< .50 ct. FL - VS2 SI1 - SI2 I1 I2 > I2
.51-1.0 ct. FL - VS1 VS2 - SI1 SI2 I1 - I2 > I2
1.0-2.0 ct. FL - VVS2 VS1 - VS2 SI1 - SI2 I1 > I1
> 2.0 ct. FL - VVS2 VS1 - VS2 SI1 SI2 > SI2

Marquise diamond clarity guide.

Marquise Cut Diamond Clarity

Marquise cut diamond clarity.


Marquise Cut Diamond History & Background

The Marquise cut first appeared in Paris circa 1745 and its fascinating history can be traced back to the height of the French monarchy. King Louis XV commissioned his court jeweller to create a diamond that resembled the smile of his beautiful mistress, the Marchioness Madame de Pompadour. A well educated and intellectual woman who exerted strong political opinions on the French court, Madame de Pompadour was the official maitresse en titre of King Louis XV between 1745 and 1750.

The shape was then developed and modified throughout the 20th century, evolving into the marquise brilliant cut as it is known today, seeing an especial rise in popularity between the 1960s and 1980s. The marquise cut first appeared in Paris in approximately 1745. The fascinating history of the marquise cut can be traced back to the height of the French monarchy reign.

Marquise Cut Diamond History

Marquise cut diamond history.

Learn more about what you need to know in our ultimate buying guide, if you're thinking of buying a marquise cut diamond. We break it all down from pricing, other shapes comparison and engagement ring setting choices.