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Ask a Diamond Pro: Buying a Marquise Cut Diamond for $4,000

By Mike Fried,

Every week, we receive emails from readers asking for help buying diamonds in fancy shapes, such as the Marquise cut.

We’re big fans of fancy shape diamonds. Not only do they look unique and interesting, but they can also offer exceptional value for money when they’re chosen carefully, making them a great alternative to the conventional round brilliant cut. 

Recently, a reader contacted us to ask if it was possible to buy a ¾ to 1 carat Marquise diamond for $3,000 to $4,000. They preferred to keep the diamond cost close to $3,000 in order to buy a beautiful diamond-enhanced setting to match the center stone. 

Here’s the reader’s original email:

“Hi. Thanks for the blog/website. Very informative. 

As anyone, I want to get the best possible ring for my girlfriend. I am very interested in a marquise cut – I love the style and uniqueness and think it will look great on her finger. She is a smaller size, like 5.5 or maybe 6. 

I originally targeted about 3/4 carat for my budget. I can spend $3-4k but prefer to keep it closer to $3k so that we can also get a nice diamond-enhanced band.

I am going to start doing some research on my own but would be interested in hearing your suggestions.”

This reader’s email is great, and it gives us an opportunity to talk about two things that can be difficult as a diamond buyer: finding a good quality Marquise cut diamond and staying within a budget of $3,000 to $4,000.

While finding a good quality 1 carat diamond at this price point is challenging, it’s very possible to find a beautiful Marquise cut diamond in the 0.75 to 0.90 carat range. In the end, this reader selected a gorgeous 0.83 carat diamond that matched their tastes and budget nicely.

Below, we’ve explained what to look for when choosing a Marquise cut diamond and shared a few recommendations for if you have a similar budget.

An example of a marquise diamond engagement ring
An example of a marquise diamond engagement ring

What to Look for When Buying a Marquise Cut Diamond

The Marquise cut is a stunning diamond shape with a fascinating history. According to the GIA, it was “named for the Marquise de Pompadour, a mistress of King Louis XV, because its outline resembled the shape of her mouth.”

The name Marquise comes from the female version of the term Marquess — a rank in European nobility just below duke. This diamond shape is also occasionally referred to as a “navette” — Old French for “little ship.” After the Marquise cut was first cut, people of high status opted for the diamond shape to display their rank and social status.

Today’s Marquise cut diamond is different from the 18th century original, but it still shares many of its features, namely an elongated shape with 56 facets. This unique and eye-catching shape gives the Marquise cut its personality and sets it apart from many other diamond shapes.

Diamond Shape Chart

As a diamond shape, the Marquise cut offers several advantages. The first is that its elongated shape makes it appear larger than similar diamonds of the same carat weight, such as a round brilliant cut diamond

The second is that its long, thin shape also creates the appearance of longer, thinner fingers for the wearer.

Finally, because more of the rough diamond is preserved during the cutting process, a Marquise cut diamond can provide excellent value for money. In our guide to the most affordable diamond shapes, we found that Marquise diamonds were about 25 percent less expensive per carat than round brilliant cut diamonds of the same quality. 

With this background out of the way, let’s get into greater detail about what to look for if you, like this reader, are interested in buying a Marquise cut diamond.

Like with any diamond, one of the most important features to look for in a Marquise cut is the diamond cut. Cut is the most important of the four Cs, and a well cut Marquise diamond will look more impressive than a poorly cut one due to its extra brilliance and visual presence.

As a fancy diamond shape, Marquise cut diamonds don’t receive cut grades from the GIA. This means that identifying cut quality in a Marquise cut diamond means looking at it closely to check for signs of excellent cut, as well as common issues.

One unwanted feature to look out for in a Marquise cut diamond is a strong bowtie — a dark line that runs from the top to the bottom of the diamond. Nearly all Marquise diamonds display some bowtie effect, but the best ones are typically thin and virtually impossible to notice.

We recommend checking all Marquise cut diamonds using the high-resolution image tools from James Allen and Blue Nile, then ruling out any that contain wide, obvious bowties.

A second feature to look out for in a Marquise cut diamond is an overly elongated shape. Overly long, thin diamonds can look disproportionate, and the thinness of the diamond can compromise durability.

True to its “little ship” nickname, the length of a Marquise cut diamond is called its keel line. A diamond with an overly long keel line can lose much of its beauty, making it important to avoid diamonds with a high length to width ratio.

For optimal appearance, we suggest looking for a Marquise cut diamond with parameters in the following range:

  • Table %: 53 to 63
  • Depth %: 58 to 62
  • Girdle: Very thin to slightly thick
  • None: None
  • Length/width ratio: 1.85 to 2.00

If you need some extra help finding a Marquise cut diamond with excellent cut quality, feel free to contact us.

Thanks to its facet pattern, the Marquise cut does a good job of hiding small inclusions that can affect clarity. We generally recommend limiting your search to eye-clean Marquise cut diamonds with a clarity grade of SI1 or SI2 for optimal value for money.

As for color, a grade of G or H will generally give you a diamond that looks colorless to a human eye without costing a fortune. If you plan to select a yellow or rose gold setting, a color grade of I, J or even K may also be acceptable. 
As with all diamond shapes, we recommend restricting your search to diamonds certified by the GIA or AGS to ensure the cut, clarity, color and other characteristics match the report.

Finding a Marquise Cut Diamond for Under $4,000

As a more affordable diamond shape than the round brilliant cut, the Marquise cut can provide great value for money. As such, it’s very possible to find a stunning 0.75 to 0.90 carat Marquise cut diamond with a budget in the $3,000 to $4,000 range.

For example, this beautiful 0.80 carat, G color, VS2 clarity diamond from James Allen is priced at $2,710. This slightly lower in color 0.80 carat I color, SI1 clarity diamond is priced at only $2,390 — an excellent value considering its cut quality and eye-clean clarity.

Paired with this classic petite pavé setting, you have an elegant Marquise diamond engagement ring for just over $3,500. 
If you have a slightly larger budget, you could select this 0.90 carat, H color, SI1 clarity Marquise diamond, which — thanks to its 10.48mm length — offers lots of extra presence on your partner’s finger.

A marquise cut diamond engagement ring example
A marquise cut diamond engagement ring example

Our Recommendation

The Marquise cut can look stunning, especially when it’s paired with a setting that complements its elegant, elongated shape. It also offers excellent value for money.

Like with all diamonds, there’s an art to buying the right Marquise cut diamond. We recommend using our cut parameters above, then selecting clarity and color grades that provide a diamond that’s eye-clean and colorless in relation to its setting.

This allows you to spend the majority of your budget where it matters most — on a large, nicely cut diamond that has maximum visual impact.

As always, we recommend carefully reviewing diamonds using the 360° image tools offered by James Allen and Blue Nile. This makes it easier to detect a prominent bowtie, visible inclusions and other unwanted features in a diamond.

If you need help with this process, feel free to contact us for personalized advice. Our team can help you track down the best diamonds for your tastes and budget, then give expert tips to help you select something that will look truly special for your partner.

James Allen James Allen is the leader in online diamond sales. Their imaging technology is the same as inspecting a diamond with a jeweler's loupe. They have the largest exclusive loose diamond inventory online and fantastic prices. They also have the nicest collection of lab-created diamonds online.
What we love about them:
  • No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. James Allen will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Free International Shipping
  • Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
  • Provide insurance appraisals
  • One free resizing within 60 days of purchase
  • Free ring inscriptions
  • Best-in-class high quality imagery of all diamonds in stock
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • Best-in-class packaging
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Blue Nile Blue Nile is the largest and most well-known internet jewelry seller. They have a very large exclusive online inventory. Their high-quality images are catching up to James Allens' and their prices are amazing. 
What we love about them:
  • No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. Blue Nile will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Free Shipping
  • Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
  • Provide insurance appraisal
  • One free resizing within the first year of purchase
  • High quality images of about half of their diamonds
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • 100% credit towards future upgrades (must be at least double in value)
  • Best in class fulfillment
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