Despite its relative lack of use compared to more popular modern cuts, the marquise has been around a long time. Unusually, though, for diamond cut types, it isn’t named for any actual corresponding shape. Back in the 18th century, King Louis XV of France commissioned a jeweler to design a new cut. Louis wanted the cut to resemble the lips of his mistress, Madame de Pompadour. Over time, the resulting cut evolved into what we now know as the marquise.
The name, itself, comes from the name of the hereditary rank between count and duke. Men would wear stones using the new cut, to display their rank at court. The name marquise soon became the accepted term for the hitherto nameless gemstone cut.
THE PROS OF THE MARQUISE CUT
The modern (post c1960) marquise cut is different to the original 18th version. Now, the cut is actually a version of the round brilliant cut. It has 58 facets in the same configuration of the round brilliant. This means that the standard of modern examples is usually excellent.
The elongated shape of the marquise lends itself well to making fingers look slimmer and longer. It also means the stone can look bigger than its stated carat weight, in comparison to different cuts of the same weight.
THE CONS OF THE MARQUISE CUT
We all know that diamond is the hardest natural mineral we know. What many find surprising is that it is also quite brittle. With any cut diamond, if you hit it just in the right/wrong spot, or at the right angle, there is a real risk of the stone chipping. Even worse, it may split or shatter altogether. The long nature of the marquise exposes the pointed ends far more than normal. Even just a sharp tap on the point risks serious damage.
Because of the 58 facet nature of the modern marquise, light is used differently by the diamond. If the cut isn’t done with enough care, what is called the bow-tie effect comes in. When viewed from above, almost all marquise diamonds display some darkening around the center point. This creates an effect similar to a bow-tie. A slightly deeper pavilion may reduce the effect, but few marquise cuts escape the phenomenon altogether.