History of the Marquise Cut

Marquise Cut Diamond
Marquise Diamond

A marquise cut gemstone is an elliptical shape with pointed ends. Usually faceted  in a brilliant cut, the term marquise may also be used for cabochons with a similar shape. But how did this unusual shape come to be fashionable, and where it did get the curious name marquise?

The history of the marquise cut goes back to the 18th century. According to legend, the French King Louis XV (1710-1774) commissioned his court jewelers to create a diamond to match the smile of of his chief mistress, Jean Antoinette Poisson, the Marquise de Pompadour. The story may be apocryphal, but the name marquise indicates that this elegant cut was associated with the aristocracy, since the term marquise (feminine form of marquess) referred to an hereditary rank midway between a duke and an earl. You will also sometimes hear the term navette (French, "little ship") used to refer to this shape.

Ruby Marquise Chrome Tourmaline Marquise Kunzite Marquise Tanzanite Marquise Mexican Opal Marquise

The marquise cut is essentially an elongated oval with pointed ends. Marquises are usually cut with length/width proportions of 1.75 - 2.25 to 1, with the ideal being 2 to 1. Though it first appeared as a cut for diamonds, it has become popular for colored gems as well. You will find marquises in ruby and sapphire, for example, as well as in other  colored stones such as tanzanite, spinel, tsavorite garnet, topaz and alexandrite.

The marquise cut has many attractions, but it also some presents some challenges. It is a long and elegant shape that makes the most of a gem's carat weight. A diamond marquise that is only 0.36 cts in weight can easily be 7 mm long. The marquise is a very flattering shape that makes a woman's finger look slender. It is a distinctly feminine cut that is rarely seen in male jewelry. 

However, the sharp ends can easily be chipped and need to be protected by the jewelry setting, especially in rings. Usually ring settings have V-shaped claws that protect the sharp points. Another issue with marquise cuts is that the long narrow shape can easily produce a window, or area of reduced color. This usually manifests itself as a bow-tie effect in the middle of the gem. This can usually be solved by additional crown facets when the gem is cut.

Marquises are popular for rings, including engagement rings, where are they are usually mounted "north-south" (vertically) or, occasionally, "east-west" (horizontally). Marquises are also well suited to necklace and pendant designs, as you can see below in the elaborate spinel and tsavorite layout we've created.

Spinel and Tsavorite Marquises
 48.51 ct Spinel and Tsavorite Necklace Layout