Asscher cut diamonds are a pretty special topic in the diamond world. They leave a very different impression than the majority of other cuts out there.
Instead of capturing your attention with the expected sparkle or shine that you’d expect, it lures you in with its hallway-looking pattern that appears to sink into an infinite depth.
The story of the Asscher and its rise to fame is also the story of the Asscher family itself. Let’s first go over what Asscher cut diamonds are and then delve into how they came about, shall we?
What Are Asscher Cut Diamonds?
The term refers to a unique diamond shape that first appeared in the 20th century. The traditional Asscher cut was created by Joseph Asscher back in 1902. It’s known as the first patented diamond cut.
Some consider it a staple of Art Deco jewelry, with its straight lines and brilliance. This original Asscher cut came with 58 facets. It’s often thought to be square-shaped – even one of its names is the “square emerald cut.” But that’s because we often see these diamonds in rings that hide their edges!
In reality, the Asscher cut is octagonal – or, more precisely, it has a square shape with every corner cropped.
Asscher Cut’s Brilliance
There’s a common misconception about the Asscher cut diamonds – that it shines like a brilliant.
You might have seen – or read about – someone saying that an Assher cut diamond has a “brilliance unlike any other.” That’s true, but it might not be what you’re thinking.
The principle on which the Assher cut is done does not align with the usual diamond shine; its purpose isn’t to give off magical sparkling effects.
While such effects are beautiful indeed, actual brilliant diamonds serve that purpose. What the phrase “brilliance unlike any other” means is that there’s a core difference in the type of shine you’re dealing with here!
An Asscher cut diamond lacks brilliance, but it makes up for it with its step cuts and its number of facets.
Diamond experts most often describe the effect of an Asscher cut as an “endless hallway of reflective mirrors.” In other words, these cuts focus on clarity, more so than sparkle.
What To Watch Out For
While these diamonds certainly have an alluring style, it comes with their downsides – or rather, difficulties. Asscher cut stones are very clean – and they’re very orderly. That order and proportion are what give off the proper shine.
Let’s take, for example, VS2 clarity inclusions. These inclusions wouldn’t usually pose a problem on a round diamond, only in some rare cases.
But on an Asscher cut? Completely different story.
The table facet of this cut is significant and clean. It shows a considerable part of a diamond’s inner beauty. Because it’s so clean, you can see any and every irregularity that a stone carries.
Needless to say, a proper Asscher cut with no noticeable flaws is both hard to find and pricey. With that said, sadly, most diamonds with this cut are done poorly. You will see low-quality Asscher cuts with too much depth, inadequate symmetry, indentations, etc.
You can notice a dead giveaway right away. When looking at the windmill pattern on the top, take a good look at the center. Are all the corners meeting neatly in the middle? Or does the pattern seem a little skewed? If you notice any minor flaws, remember this:
If you’re noticing it right away, no matter how small of a flaw it may be, it will only get worse in time. What we mean by that is that any slight imperfection will become more annoying and apparent to you, even if nobody else sees it. It’s the sad – and very annoying – truth.
Art Deco And The Asscher Cut Popularity
Art Deco was a very popular style of visual arts, architecture, and jewelry. This style was at its peak in Europe and the USA during the 1920s and 1930s. Most people associate this style with wealth, elegance, and sophistication.
Naturally, it was people of very high social status and fame who wore Art Deco jewelry at the time.
The style has a few prominent features – such as contrasting colors, different geometric patterns, and filigrees. Designers generally focused on triangular, rectangular, and circular shapes in their work.
In short, Art Deco was bold and modern.
Jewelry was also sleek, made chiefly with platinum, white gold, or sterling silver.
It’s no wonder that the Asscher cut was so coveted and loved. The geometric shape, repeating patterns, and bold design – it ticks all the boxes!
History Of The Royal Asscher Diamond Company
The Asscher family’s famous company started in 1854, under the name “I. J. Asscher.” It was founded by Joseph Isaac Asscher, a well-known gem cutter at the time. Coincidentally, the “I.J.” initials suit both his father Isaac Jacob and his son Isaac Joseph.
Joseph wasn’t the first in his family to do this kind of business. In fact, he followed in his father’s footsteps. The family trade continued unto the next generation, and Joseph Isaac’s sons – Joseph and Abraham – continued the legacy.
The following two generations of Assher gem cutters made quite a name for themselves during the 20th century. It was Joseph – the youngest – and Abraham that renamed the company into the “Asscher Diamond Company.”
The famous Excelsior diamond was discovered in 1903. And at the time, it was the largest diamond ever found.
Because the original Excelsior stone was a little “rough around the edges,” it needed a proper diamond cutting master to bring out its potential.
In the end, Abraham Asscher was tasked with cutting the stone in a way that would do it justice. He cut the original stone into ten smaller pieces that now carry the “Excelsior” name. The diamond had to be cut into smaller pieces to minimize potential flaws.
The finished project was the first of the two that would send the Asschers’ reputation sky-high.
The famous Cullinan diamond was discovered in South Africa in 1905, just like the Excelsior. Its discovery was tremendous news.
The Cullinan was the diamond that surpassed the Excelsior as the biggest gem-quality diamond in the world – and only a few years since Excelsior had made such a strong impression.
As diamonds usually do, the stone had changed many hands before arriving in Europe. And after a year or two, it had reached the hands of one very reputable individual.
Namely, in 1908, it was King Edward VII of England that commissioned Joseph to cleave the Cullinan into smaller pieces. Now the second brother had his own herculean feat to perform. And he did a marvelous job indeed – the original stone produced over a hundred smaller diamonds.
The most valuable ones are now part of the Crown Jewels, which belong to the Royal Family.
World War II
The World War period was a very dark and bloody one. The Asscher family were no exception to the misfortunes brought on by the Nazi army.
In the last year of the war, the Nazis had ransacked the Asscher Diamond Company in Amsterdam. They took all valuable property and captured the company’s workers and family members.
The Asschers are of Jewish heritage. Because of this, all family members and nearly all of their workers were sent to concentration camps. And sadly, it was only a minority that survived.
After the war ended, rebuilding everything and starting over seemed like an impossible task. The Asschers found their business incredibly arduous to rebuild.
Even more so, during the war, the patent for the Asscher cut expired, which led to other companies stealing the work and selling it.
No company could replicate the quality and craft of the original cut – but it didn’t stop them from trying.
To make things worse, the remaining members of the family did not know how to renew the patent; they had only their craft and skill.
After The War
Two members of the family, Joop and Louis Asscher, were offered a job in New York shortly after being released from concentration camps. However, they chose to stay in Amsterdam and rebuild their company from the ground up.
Their work had paid off! Soon after restarting their business, the company made a name for itself in the far East – in Japan.
That was during the 50s and 60s.
Fast forward a little into the ‘80s, and we have the Queen of Netherlands, Juliana, bestowing a royal title to the Asscher Diamond Company.
Their worldwide reputation has left no heads unturned, that’s for sure. After being granted the honors for their craftsmanship, the company changed its official name to the “Royal Asscher Diamond Company.”
Thankfully, the company had eventually re-established patents for their designs. That once again prohibited other companies from attempting to make copies of Asshers’ work.
Reinvention Of The Asscher Cut
Remember Joop Asscher from earlier? One of the family members that rejected the New York offer and stayed in Amsterdam? Suffice to say, it all worked out in the end.
He and Edward Asscher reinvented the world-famous Asscher cut almost a hundred years after the original was developed.
They wanted to capture the allure of a round brilliant and were inspired by their grandfather Joseph’s work on the Cullinan. However, they also wanted to keep the authentic Asscher design.
Finally, in 2001, Joop and Edward Asscher had perfected their great-grandfather’s work.
The hundred years separating them saw new and improved diamond cutting technology. That new technology allowed for cuts that were far more precise and refined.
These two masters took the original design and added sixteen additional facets to it!
It was an ambitious goal, but they ended up increasing the number of facets up to 74. Not only that, but the new cut also featured a higher crown. The higher crown was the second significant change, implemented to reflect more light than the traditional cut.
The results speak for themselves in the end. We have a 74-facet step-cut gem that absorbs rays of light from nearly every angle imaginable. It flashes light in a way comparable to a round stone – but it’s combined with the intricacies of a well-cut emerald.
The Asscher Family Today
Edward Asscher, the fifth generation gem cutter of the family, had officially retired from the company in 2020. His children, Mike and Lita, are now co-presidents of the firm and are continuing the long-honored family tradition.
The company’s royal title was extended for another 25 years in 2011. Such a feat speaks volumes about the devotion this family has. It also shows the evident love they have towards the beautiful craft of gem cutting.
The secured patents that the Asscher company has on their work are not the only guarantee of authenticity. Today, each diamond produced by the company comes with a laser-inscribed logo and an ID number unique to each stone.
And there we have it – the Asscher cut diamond. We rarely run into something so simple yet with such a rich history behind it.
It started with a deceptively simple pattern on a diamond, crafted by one man with a devoted family. Through decades of hard work and constant effort, they are now a dynasty with a world-famous design.
The next time you come across an Asscher cut diamond, look deep into its mesmerizing hallway. Let it take you in completely.
Let the diamond tell you its long and oh-so-interesting story.