The History of Asscher Cut Diamonds
6 Minute Read
All faceted diamonds exhibit some special charm. Each shape has its own allure and most women have a preference for one or another diamond cuts. Many diamond shapes derive their name from what they look like: round brilliant, pear (sometimes called teardrop), oval, or heart shape. But one stand-out diamond shape is both sophisticated and bears a fascinating historical appellation that has nothing to do with its shape. It's called the Asscher Cut.
A Cut Above The Rest
The distinctive Asscher cut diamond is easily recognizable by a couple of its most dominant traits. It may look similar to the emerald cut whose straight step cut facets allow for a perfect glimpse inside the stone. But Asscher cuts are a clip-cornered squarer version of that popular cut rather than elongated and rectangular like emerald cuts. Looking straight down on the Asscher cut diamond, it reveals an X shape made by converging equidistant facets centering toward the culet on the bottom (pavilion side) center of the stone. By viewing the stone from its side profile, you notice that the crown is higher than that of other diamond shapes.
The wide step cuts, the near perfect square symmetry, and the high crown all contribute to creating a stone with exceptional beauty, style and brilliance. You get the sense that you're becoming lost in a deftly crafted set of mirrors reflecting so much light back to the eye that it simply dazzles the viewer. As with emerald cut diamonds, which are similar in their step-cut faceting, a cutter must start with a high clarity stone to create an Asscher cut diamond. The plain broad facets on an Asscher cut allow the viewer an unobstructed look straight into the stone. You don't want to be able to see its flaws. So, most cutters start out with a VS2 clarity stone at least when considering an Asscher cut. Now, it's highly unlikely that a friend will ask you about the clarity grade of your diamond, but just looking at an Asscher cut (or even an emerald cut too) they'll know they're looking at an exceptionally high clarity stone. Similar decisions are made with regards to color when cutting an Asscher shaped diamond. The unimpeded look into the Asscher stone by way of its step cut facets suggests that the diamond color needs to be at least I or better, especially when the carat size approaches 1.5 carats and larger.[caption: Sometimes the way to go is to start with your diamond and then build a ring around it. Why not get a stunning Asscher cut in a fancy color diamond as well?]
Art Deco Discovers The Asscher Cut
The attractive Asscher cut has a loyal following owing to its clean lines and chic presentation. You'd think it was a modern diamond cut created for today's innovative jewelry designers. If so, you'll be surprised to learn it was actually created over a century ago, in 1902. From its original entree onto the diamond market, it took a few decades for this diamond shape to gain traction. But with the emergence of the Art Deco era, the Asscher cut found its fan base. During the 1920s, everything was undergoing a tremendous shift away from tradition. It was the industrial age. Architecture projected a new message, one of modernity and geometric influence. Jewelry paralleled this inspiration. High jewelry became geometric in design, welcoming the Asscher cut as its darling muse at famous houses like Cartier, and other European jewelers to aristocracy.[caption: Contemporary eternity bands benefit from the Asscher cut which creates a seamless ribbon of light all around this ring.]
What's In A Name?
You may have been wondering why the name Asscher was ascribed to this cut. It was invented by legendary diamond cutter Joseph Asscher, founder of I J Asscher Diamond Company. At the time of its invention, Joseph Asscher had a patent put on his unique design. It was the first time in history that someone actually patented a diamond cut. Its patent was extended until World War II, and it protected Asscher's elegant facet design from being replicated by other diamantieres.
At the time of this groundbreaking cut, the Asscher family of diamond cutters had already established themselves as the preeminent diamond experts in the world. Founded in 1854 in Amsterdam, its global headquarters is still located at the original site on Tolstraat 127, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The Asschers were responsible for cutting some of the world's most important diamonds, and some of the largest too. Possibly the most well-known of its prestigious diamonds would be the Cullinan, discovered in 1905, and weighing a whopping 3,106 carats. Found in S. Africa, it was immediately presented to Britain's King Edward VII. Much discussion went into considering how it would be cut and into how many individual stones. History now recounts that Joseph Asscher would eventually cleave the Cullinan into three parts, guided by inclusions within the stone. Nine large stones were eventually cut from that one rough. The largest is the famed Cullinan I at 530.20 carats, which today is part of Great Britain's Crown Jewels.
A Cut Fit For A King Or Queen
Like many other exquisite diamond cuts, the Asscher has gone through some clever revisions to improve light performance and enhance its luxurious impression. The original Asscher cut diamond pattern was created to have 50 or 58 facets. It was almost square in its original iteration, being ideally cut to 1:1.04, very slightly longer than square. Its unique facet arrangement results in a sparkling effect called "the hall of mirrors."
Nearly a century after the first Asscher Cut debuted, Joseph Asscher's descendants Edward and Joop Asscher revised the design by adding sixteen more facets to the plan, so that the new Royal Asscher cut diamond would pay homage to the Cullinan II diamond (the 2nd largest diamond cut from that Cullinan rough) of the Imperial Crown.
The result is a 74-facet step-cut square diamond, which absorbs light from each angle. This way, it creates an infinite mirrored pool effect. Another intended consequence of this genius cut is the resulting parade of kaleidoscopic color flashes found in the spectrum of light. It is specifically designed to catch the eye with the same dazzling brilliance of a round brilliant cut, plus all the intricacies of the skillfully arranged angles found in an emerald cut.
The purely imaginative nature of the Asscher diamond cut, and its flashy Royal Asscher cut has given rise to other exciting Asscher cuts of late, specifically the Royal Asscher Round Brilliant, boasting 74 distinctive facets, contrasted to a classic round cut's 58. The Royal Asscher Oval Cut diamond salutes the delicate way oval cut diamonds flatter the wearer's hand. Launched in 2018, the patented design offers a consistently beautiful oval by tweaking the conventional oval facet pattern without sacrificing its elegance. Around that time, they also launched a glamorous Royal Asscher Cushion cut diamond which amplified the stone's sparkle quotient while keeping its signature pillowy charisma.
Today's diamond consumer may want to consider adding a true Asscher cut diamond to her jewelry wardrobe. An Asscher cut diamond engagement ring makes an enviable choice—whether the center stone is large or small. They both yield that awe-inspiring look of pure class.
(And if you already have your bridal jewelry, this may be a good time to consider a pendant or even studs in this stylish diamond shape!)
Diana Jarrett GG RMV
Creative writer, author and Gemologist, Diana Jarrett is a graduate gemologist (GG GIA) and Registered Master Valuer.
Radiant-Cut Diamonds Buying Guide: Modern & Durable
The History of Princess Cut Diamonds
Oval Cut Diamond Buying Guide
Different Diamond Shapes: Ultimate Guide with Size & Price Chart
How Does Topaz Form?
Prosopite Value, Price, and Jewelry Information
Gemstone Doublets, Triplets, and Other Assembled Stones
Void Reaver Gem Design for a Lab-Created Alexandrite
When you join the IGS community, you get trusted diamond & gemstone information when you need it.
Get started with the International Gem Society’s free guide to gemstone identification. Join our weekly newsletter & get a free copy of the Gem ID Checklist!