Summary
The unusual shape of a marquise-cut diamond makes it a striking choice for a ring stone. However, finding one that looks great can take some effort. Learn the pros and cons of this unique diamond shape so you can choose the best one for your engagement ring.
Reading time: 6 min
0.49 cts stone, modern setting - marquise-cut diamonds

Marquise-cut diamonds are a great choice for vintage styles, but this curvy engagement ring is all modern. © CustomMade. Used with permission.

Marquise-Cut Diamonds: Pros and Cons

Before choosing any diamond shape, first and foremost, you must consider the shape itself and whether or not it appeals to you. Marquise-cut diamonds have a unique look — an elongated ellipse with pointed ends. If that’s not right for your style, there are still plenty of other diamond shapes you can pick.

Think about the style and type of ring you’d like. A marquise looks great in intricate vintage styles and halo settings but can also work as an eye-catching solitaire. Marquise-shape diamonds are also great for trendy East-West settings and double band rings.

Images © James Allen. Used with permission.

If a marquise shape fits your style, you’ll be happy to know it will offer significant savings when compared to a round diamond of the same carat weight. Marquise-cut diamonds also have a lot of face-up area and appear 15% larger than an equivalent-carat round. Furthermore, the elongated shape makes fingers appear longer and thinner and makes diamonds look absolutely huge. At one carat, most marquise diamonds are over 1 cm long.

However, the pointed ends of a marquise-cut diamond can snag and chip. Make sure these ends are secured and covered by prongs in their setting. The marquise’s unique shape can also make it a challenge to find one that’s well-cut and symmetrical without a ghastly bowtie region. Finding the perfect marquise shape may take some time, especially if you’re searching for larger sizes or have a tight budget.

marquise-cut brown diamond

This marquise-cut fancy brown diamond engagement ring has prongs that cover the stone’s tips. © CustomMade. Used with permission.

Judging Cut Quality and Shape in Marquise-Cut Diamonds

You can’t evaluate the cut quality of a marquise diamond the same way you evaluate a round brilliant. In fact, the cut quality of a marquise, like all fancy-shaped diamonds, is largely subjective. You absolutely have to get a good, closeup look at a marquise-cut diamond before you buy.

Shape Appeal

You’ll want to choose a diamond with great shape appeal. If a diamond’s appearance seems a little off, it’s likely due to poor shape or asymmetry.

A marquise shape should have pointed tips. The areas on either side of the tips are called “wings.” Make sure that these aren’t too flat or bulging. The middle area, called the “belly,” should also have a gentle curve, neither flat nor bulging.

Images © James Allen. Used with permission.

Symmetry

Visibly poor symmetry is detrimental to a marquise-cut diamond. To evaluate symmetry, draw an imaginary line down the diamond from tip to tip. Then, see if the tips, wings, and belly appear symmetrical. Next, draw another imaginary line across the center of the belly. Make sure that the diamond is symmetrical in this direction as well.

asymmetrical bulge - marquise-cut diamonds

This diamond has subtle asymmetry, with a slight bulge in the belly on the top side of this image. © James Allen. Used with permission.

Asymmetry really stands out in marquise-cut diamonds because of their elongated shape. If you end up with an asymmetrical marquise, you’ll notice it.

asymmetrical points - marquise-cut diamonds

This fancy yellow diamond is very asymmetrical, with the points going off-center. © James Allen. Used with permission.

Note that this “shape symmetry” isn’t the same as the “symmetry” on a diamond grading report, which only refers to facet symmetry. A facet symmetry grade of “Good” or better can get you a beautiful marquise-cut diamond.

Length-to-Width Ratio

Largely a matter of preference, the length-to-width ratio (L/W) dramatically changes the look of a marquise diamond. Lower ratios make shorter diamonds, and very short diamonds may look chubby. On the other hand, very long diamonds may have poor performance, since cutting a very long marquise without sacrificing brilliance can be difficult.

Most people prefer marquises with L/W from 1.7 to 2.2. Take a look at these stones set in engagement rings to see which L/W ratio you prefer.

Images © James Allen. Used with permission. Click here to compare these diamonds side-by-side.

Table and Depth

In order to weed out some poorly cut diamonds, you can limit the table to 53-63% and the total depth percentage to 58-62%. While this won’t remove every poor performer, you won’t have as many diamonds to sift through.

small table - marquise-cut diamond

With a small (50%) table and a L/W of 2.60, this yellow diamond certainly lacks appeal. © James Allen. Used with permission.

Bowtie Effect

Because of the faceting pattern, every marquise-cut diamond will have a bowtie — a dark band across the center of the stone. However, some will be more prominent than others. Avoid large bowties. Most importantly, remember that a diamond that doesn’t show sparkle in the middle of the stone isn’t worth your money.

Images © James Allen. Used with permission. Click here to compare these diamonds side-by-side.

Best Clarity Grade for Marquise-Cut Diamonds

Marquise-cut diamonds have great brilliance and will hide inclusions even with a low clarity grade. For this cut, an eye-clean SI1 diamond will give you the most for your money. Nevertheless, marquise diamonds with inclusions near the sides are preferable to those with inclusions near the center. Large, dark imperfections near the center will likely be eye-visible, but other types of imperfections may not be.

si1 not eye-clean - marquise-cut diamonds

Notice the crystal inclusion toward the left side in the middle of this diamond. As you can see in the video, even when zoomed out, the inclusion in this SI1 diamond certainly shows. © James Allen. Used with permission.

If your budget is tight, try to find an eye-clean SI2 or I1 diamond. The imperfections in many of these diamonds won’t be visible to the eye, especially at sizes below two carats.

si2 eye-clean - marquise-cut diamonds

The imperfections in this SI2 diamond are small and distributed throughout the stone, so it still appears flawless to the naked eye. © James Allen. Used with permission.

Best Color Grade for Marquise-Cut Diamonds

Like other fancy shapes, a marquise-cut diamond will reveal color more easily than a round diamond. Color usually shows most near the tips.

K color - marquise-cut diamonds

Notice the color at the tips of this K color diamond. © James Allen. Used with permission.

If you’re pairing a marquise diamond with white gold or platinum, stick to a color grade of H or better. An H color diamond will appear white and cost less than a higher color grade.

For yellow and rose gold rings, a marquise diamond will still look colorless all the way down to K color. Since the metal will reflect some of its color in the diamond anyway, the slight warmth in a K color diamond will still look white against colored metal.

Where Should I Buy a Marquise-Cut Diamond?

For marquise-cut diamonds, it’s essential to see its shape and performance before you buy. If you’re shopping online, stick to vendors with closeup videos so you can see what the actual diamonds look like.

Both Blue Nile and James Allen offer high-quality, closeup 360° videos of their diamonds. However, James Allen has a major advantage over Blue Nile. They have many more ring styles to choose from, including plenty of vintage options for marquise diamonds. Still, if you’re picky about the shape — if you’re looking for a replacement stone for an existing setting, for example — you may prefer to use Blue Nile. Their website lets you filter your searches by L/W, a feature James Allen lacks.

As an alternative, you could design a completely unique ring with CustomMade. Their experts will help you find the perfect marquise for your tastes and budget and place it in a ring made just for you.