Marquise Shape Diamond Engagement Rings: A Definitive Guide
26 November 2021
Marquise - a truly beautiful shape
The Marquise shape or Marquise cut diamond is a graceful option for the bride who is looking for an engagement ring with a point of difference. Or perhaps we should say, two points of difference! More about that below. The Marquise diamond is a unique shape and has a really interesting history. Writing for the International Gem Society, gemstone specialist Diana Jarrett pens that, “The Marquise effortlessly fits into the most complex design layout. This may be the cut for you if you enjoy admiring a stone that appears much larger than it actually is – and has a super-romantic history to boot.”
Pronounced mar-keys, the Marquise has right royal ancestry. It was born in the royal court of France in the middle of the 1700s. The King, Louis XV, had a favourite mistress – whose name was Jeanne Antoinette Poisson, aka Madame Pompadour. The King bestowed an aristocratic title upon her in 1745 – that of Marquise. At this time, he commissioned a jeweller to fashion a new diamond shape that should resemble the shape of her lips – and the Marquise shape was created.
A long-standing history
The Marquise has also been called a ‘Navette’ diamond, which means ‘little boat’ in French, in reference to the shape. The diamond’s form has variously been compared to a football, a leaf and an eye. Marquise diamonds were very popular during the Edwardian era (early 20th century), when yachting was the number one sporting pursuit of the rich and famous, and this may have had something to do with the ship shape.
At that time (around 100 years ago) the Marquise began to be cut with the same combination of facets as a brilliant round diamond. The Marquise cut is a super sparkly-shaped stone. Marquise diamonds are generally more affordable than brilliant rounds. A high-quality Marquise shape diamond engagement ring is very much a distinctive, stand-out jewellery item, and a real work of art.
The shape of the marquise
The shape’s affinity with leaves and petals means that Marquise diamonds are often found on engagement rings that employ stylised floral motif elements in their design. It is actually a very versatile shape, in that it can star in any number of quite different settings and pull off a wide range of looks, from old-world romantic to edgy-contemporary. Because the shape is an elegant elongated ellipsis, it has the tendency to make the wearer’s fingers look long and slender. It is one of the ‘fancy’ cuts, along with the pear shape, heart shape, emerald cut, radiant, cushion and Asscher cut diamonds. Most of these fancy shapes are actually older than the round brilliant cut. This is because fancy shapes were a way to preserve carat count whilst at the same time optimising brilliance, and also these shapes were coveted in earlier days for their whimsical nature.
Essentially the Marquise is oval-shaped with points at either end, and the central part is cut in the same manner as a brilliant round. Most Marquise shape stones have 58 facets. The overall proportions and symmetry of the shape are very important with Marquises. This shape is admired for its ability to appear larger than it really is. Because there is so much more going on with the shape of a Marquise, there are even additional descriptive words we use when discussing them, which are:
belly:the diamond’s central part where it is fattest – width is measured here
points: the sharp terminals to either end, also called tips
wing: curved quarter between the point and the belly
girdle: edge which runs around the stone lengthways laterally
keel line: line which goes up/down & around – longitudinally
Over the course of the 20th century, the cut of a Marquise has been perfected so that nowadays it is most definitely one of the most scintillating diamond shapes. Experts agree that the Marquise reflects and refracts rays of light as well as the brilliant round. The best Marquise diamonds have perfect balance, in terms of their proportions. A Marquise should look neither too long & skinny nor short & squat. Also, it mustn’t be too flat or too rounded. There must be 33 facets around the crown (top) and 25 to the pavilion (underside). The ideal proportions are 1:1.75 – 2.25. So that leaves reasonable room for artistic licence from the craftsperson.
Many Marquise diamonds are finished differently at the points, with what is known as ‘French tips’. This is when a number of tiny facets are applied instead of the one bezel, and it makes the tip look star-like, which brings added sparkle to the pointed extremities.
Finding a marquise that's right for you
What to look for in a Marquise diamond?
For many people who love this shape, the most appealing attribute is the Marquise diamond’s propensity to look larger than it is. But it is also very important with a Marquise to look beyond the big picture and examine the fine print, so to speak. Which is why it is recommended that you seek assistance from a specialist jeweller when buying one. The virtuosity of the cut and shape needs to be carefully considered; as does the clarity. Many Marquise shape diamonds will exhibit what is known as the ‘bowtie effect’, which is an intermittent dark shadow around the stone’s midriff from certain angles. This is not a flaw, and is a natural phenomenon which occurs due to the unusual shape.
However, the best Marquise stones will only display odd flashes of this central dark shape, which in fact should only add to the contrasting play of light and therefore increase scintillation.
Looking after a Marquise-shaped diamond ring:
The singular shape is surely a stand out, but is also something you need to take extra care with. It’s a diamond, so it’s one of the hardest materials on the planet, but the elongated form with tips is obviously more susceptible to damage than a round stone.
All Marquise diamonds should have at least two solid V-prongs covering the tips; some are set in the claw-style double prongs. Bezel-set – with the stone enclosed entirely in a strip of protective precious metal, is the safest option, and it also looks great – very modern and sleek. Marquise diamonds need to be very highly polished and kept absolutely squeaky clean in order to make the most of their sensational sparkling properties.
Should a Marquise diamond be worn longways, or sideways?
Also expressed as up and down and side to side, or north-south and east-west, or vertically or horizontally; you know what we mean.
Typically, the Marquise is worn vertically, and this is no doubt the most practical way. This is the way to wear it to do that elongated, svelte fingers styling.
Well known marquise engagement rings
All Marquise diamond rings stand out from the crowd, that’s one of the main things to love about them. But these ones found on famous fingers are worth noting:
Michael Douglas gave her a Marquise shape diamond engagement ring; it’s an east-west extravaganza!
Simpson wears a gorgeous Marquise cut engagement ring; the central ‘navette’ surrounded by rubies in vintage art deco style.
Portia de Rossi:
de Rossi received an engagement ring from Ellen De Generes; it sits horizontally on the band which is decorated with pink diamond accents.
Beckham has loads of rings, but the first engagement ring from David was a whopper of a Marquise.
Lopez also had a magnificent Marquise as the hero on her first engagement ring.
Frequently asked questions?
Are Marquise diamonds more expensive.
Although the name makes them sound as though they should be, in actual fact they are typically more affordable than round brilliant diamonds.
Will a Marquise diamond engagement ring go out of fashion though?
No. This diamond shape has been around for a long time, and its form is timeless. They have recently enjoyed a surge in popularity, but will always be stylish.
What is the ideal length to width ratio of a quality Marquise cut diamond?
There is not a correct ratio, there are a number of variations which look superb. The most popular is 1.75 – 2.15.