Marquise Engagement Rings
An uncommon but classic choice
Updated 5th February 2017
Legend has it that the shape of Marquise engagement rings comes from the smile of the mistress of Louis XIV of France. He requested that the state jewelers cut a stone to match as brilliant and the shape of her smile.. I suppose that’s the 16th century form of getting your lover’s name in a tattoo.. Although Louis XIV was pretty brave to go for his girlfriend’s smile, rather than his wife’s.
The modern cut of the marquise is probably much different to the one that was originally created. Modern knowledge about how light travels through diamonds and is reflected off surfaces has been utilised to make the Marquise one of the ‘brilliant’ cuts, meaning that the angles between the surfaces of the stone have been optimised to reflect as much light as possible, making it sparkle brilliantly.
We’re going to look at:
- What’s good about marquise diamond engagement rings
- What’s bad about marquise engagement rings?
- Marquise engagement ring setting styles
- A marquise engagement ring buying guide to tell you what you really need to know
- Recommended specs
What’s good about marquise engagement rings?
Diamonds that aren’t the traditional round shape are known as ‘fancy’ shapes, and they are all considerably less expensive than a round brilliant stone.
The marquise is one of the fanciest shapes of all, with its brilliant facets an elegant shape, but it’s also one of the most competitively priced diamond shapes.
The table on the right shows the price difference on of our recommended retailers between a round brilliant diamond and a marquise cut diamond of the same size and quality:
- 1 carat
- Color F
- Clarity VS1
That’s nearly a 40% saving, just for changing the shape of the stone, which is definitely not to be sniffed at. The exact proportion that you save will be dependant on the size and the quality of the stone that you’re looking at, but there will always be a considerable saving available.
But because the marquise is shallow, it has a larger surface area, so actually looks considerably bigger than most other shapes. The picture on the right is a to-scale diagram of a 1 carat round brilliant diamond and a 1 carat marquise – you can see that the marquise looks much bigger, even though it weights the same.
Another advantage of the marquise shapes is that is gives a flattering elongation effect for shorter fingers. Marquise diamond engagement rings always have the stone mounted along the finger, which will make the finger look longer and more slender than it really is.
Lastly, as one of the sparkly ‘brilliant’ cuts, the marquise can be a little more forgiving of lower clarity grades than other, less sparkly shapes. The fire (coloured light) and brilliance can help to hide minor imperfections and a lower color grade.
What’s bad about marquise engagement rings?
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.
How visible the bow tie effect is depends on how well each individual stone has been cut, but an excellent cut diamond will dramatically reduce its visibility.
The other thing to be careful about with marquise engagement rings is that the sharp points at either end, and the narrow ‘girdle’ (the edge that runs around the stone) are relatively delicate, which make it vulnerable to potentially being chipped if it is hit on a hard surface.
Although diamonds are the hardest naturally occurring material out there, care does still need to be taken of them, so if the person who is going to be wearing the ring has a reputation as a bit of a klutz, another elongated style without the exposed points may be a better option for them e.g. the oval.
Marquise engagement ring settings
Marquise diamonds lend themselves extremely well to a range of settings, and the elegant shape of the stone can elevate even a simple setting into something really special.
Click through on any of the links to find out more about any of the individual settings or to view the full range of settings available from that retailer.
While solitaire settings for most other shapes of diamond only have 4 prongs, the Marquise has two extra V-shaped prongs at either end of the stone to hold the points firmly in place and give them a measure of protection as they are the most fragile parts of the diamond.
Check out this marquise diamond solitaire engagement ring here on James Allen.
James Allen is my #1 recommendation to check out for marquise diamonds because you can rotate each stone through 360°, allowing you to check its shape from all angles and ensure that the bow tie effect is as minimal as possible.
If you have a particularly active lifestyle but have your heart set on a marquise engagement ring then I’d recommend you consider a bezel setting, which surrounds and protects the whole diamond with a lip of metal around its edge.
Find out more about this at Enchanted Diamonds here.
This is known as a east-west marquise engagement ring setting and while there aren’t as many setting styles available as the north-south orientation, it adds an extra layer of individuality to your ring choice.
Click here to find out more about this east west marquise setting at Enchanted diamonds.
See more info on this pavé marquise diamond ring here at Ritani.
This example is available in gold, white gold, platinum and palladium and Ritani have a wide range of settings for marquise diamonds, ranging from simple and classic to dazzlingly brilliant.
A further variation on the pavé marquise ring can be found by tweaking the style of the ring band. This setting is known as the ‘infinity twist’ as the split ring shank forms an ∞ infinity symbol, which is a great metaphor for what the ring symbolises.
Click here to check it out at Blue Nile.
Check out this marquise halo engagement ring at Blue Nile here.
Marquise diamond buying guide
Despite being an excellent choice for style and sparkle, marquise diamond engagement rings are still something of an alternative choice. The low demand means that most bricks and mortar stores will have an extremely limited choice of rings to pick from, if they have any at all. However, online retailers will have a much larger selection and allow you to dial in the specifications to exactly what you want.
In this section we’ll look at each of the 4Cs of diamonds specifically in relation to the marquise. It’ll get a wee bit technical, but I’ll sum up my final recommendations in a section at the bottom of the page.
Unlike the round brilliant cut, most laboratories don’t grade marquise diamonds with an overall ‘cut grade’, which definitely makes it a bit more difficult to ensure that you’re getting a quality stone. So, in this section we’ll take a look at what you should look at to ensure that you get the most brilliant stone possible while reducing the bow tie effect.
Length / width ratio
Usually a ratio of 1.75:1 to 2:1 results in stones that look visually pleasing. To me, anyway! The exact ratio that you go for is down to personal preference- whichever one you like the look of.
Another reason that the L / W ratio is important though is because it can affect the degree to which the bow tie effect that is visible: a stone with a ratio over 2.1 is more likely to have a significantly visible bow tie effect.
However, the only way to really judge how visible the bow tie will be is to examine the stone that you are considering buying. James Allen’s images show every stone from 360 degrees, which allows you to judge how much of a bow tie effect will be present.
Symmetry is important for marquise settings to ensure that the stone not only looks good, but also reflects light properly. The two ends should be inline with each other and the two sides should be mirror images of each other.
If possible, it’s best to be able to see the actual stone that you are looking to purchase. However, if there are no images available of the stone online then you can rely on the grading report, as long as it is from a reputable certifying agency – sticking to either GIA or AGS is my recommendation. You should be looking for an ‘excellent’, or ‘very good’ at a minimum, symmetry grading on the report.
Poor symmetry – the top point is not aligned with the bottom point and the wings (sides of the stone) are not even.
Depth percentage is the ratio of the depth to the width of the stone. It has a less obvious effect on the overall appearance of an oval diamond compared to some other shapes, but does play a big part in how prominent the bow tie effect is. It can also affect how much light is reflected back to your eyes and therefore how much the diamond will sparkle.
56% – 66%
54% – 72%
52% – 76%
If you can, look for a marquise diamond with a table percentage within the excellent range below to ensure that you get the best sparkle. The ‘very good’ table range will also mean that your diamond will perform well.
54% – 64%
52% – 66%
50% – 68%
The best way to use the above percentages is to enter them into the ‘advanced’ options on online jewelers search tools so that you only see stone that fit within the desirable specs. If you can, try and get ‘excellent’ for both depth percentage and table percentage to ensure that your stone sparkles as brilliantly as possible.
But although it is a brilliant cut diamond, marquise stones are different. The points of the stones tend to concentrate the colour and make the stone appear darker, so any yellow tones will show up much more clearly.
The image on the right clearly shows that the middle of the diamond is quite colorless, but the points have a much warmer, almost yellow color.
So, while with some shapes you can safely go to I on the colour scale without any danger of it appearing noticeably yellow, with marquise engagement rings I’d recommend going to G as a minimum if you want your stone to appear white.
Color E – extremely white, but also more expensive as more rare
G color – a great mix of colorless and value
I color – yellow ‘warmer’ tones much more obvious
If you go lower than G then your stone won’t necessarily immediately look yellow straight away, but will have warmer tones, rather than the ice white that many people are looking for with their diamonds.
Again, the pointed ends of marquise diamonds means that you will have to go with a slightly higher clarity rating than with other brilliant cut stones to ensure that any inclusions aren’t visible.
Going with a VS2 grading or above will ensure that your stone is eye clean throughout. If you are considering either a Slightly Included stone (either SI1 or SI2), then ensure that you can get a high quality magnified image of the exact stone that you’re investigating, to make sure that no flaws are visible – James Allen and Enchanted Diamonds are the best for this.
Carat weight is something that people often get overly hung-up on. They want to choose a stone with a certain carat weight, even if it means that they end up making sacrifices on other, more important attributes of the ring.
The relationship between a diamond’s carat weight and its visible size isn’t always a direct one. When we judge a diamond’s size, we look at it from the top – known as the ‘face up’ position in the jewelry trade. However, much of the weight of a diamond is actually carried on the bottom half of the stone, where it can’t be seen.
The images below show the difference in size for marquise cut diamonds at a range of carat weights:
Hopefully you can see that increasing the carat weight doesn’t necessarily translate into a much visibly larger diamond. Changing the size from 0.8 carat to 1 carat is an increase in width of less than 0.4mm – less than 10%. However, the difference in price will be much more significant – over 75%:
Compare to 1 carat diamond prices here
The priority that you place on diamond carat weight and how big you want to go is totally up to you. However, my recommendation is that you definitely don’t make it the most important attribute when choosing your engagement ring. Get the setting you love, find a diamond with a great cut that is going to sparkle brilliantly, make sure that it is eye-clean and has a good color and then see what carat weight you can fit into your budget.
A well-rounded diamond with excellent sparkle will much much more impressive than a big stone with obvious flaws.
Each certificate has a unique report number and detailed information about the stone, covering the four Cs, the height, depth and other info. As well as providing assurance that the stone that you’re buying is the quality that you are paying for, a certificate also proves what you’re buying is not a substitute.
The lab to trust and to look for certification from is the non-profit Gemological Institute of America (GIA). It’s the most internationally recognised and generally seen as the most impartial of all of the gem labs.
The reason that the GIA is so well respected is because most others labs are part of trade bodies that contain jewelry retailers, or are ‘for profit’. While the GIA is very consistent with its gradings, the others have a reputation for being overly generous. What the GIA say is merely a diamond with a ‘good’ cut, maybe be graded ‘excellent’ by another lab, with an excellently large price to match.
Diamond certificates are what makes buying online safe and the best way to get a fantastic diamond at the lowest price. Knowing that each diamond you’re considering has been measured and graded by independent experts allows you to make an informed decision. You can take your time to consider the differences between diamonds and make sure you choose what experts have graded as the best stone, meaning that you get your perfect engagement ring at the best possible price.
You can of course go higher than these specs, if your budget allows, but for many of the characteristics you are paying for improvements that are very difficult, if not impossible, to see by the naked eye, especially when mounted in a ring setting.
If you’re unsure about what any of these terms mean, check out this page which talks you through them all.
1.75 – 1.96
56 – 66%
54 – 64%
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