The Asscher cut represents a unique gemstone faceting technique that was nearly lost to the passage of time. Developed in the past century, this one-of-a-kind cut combines modern gemological understanding, timeless appeal, and understated elegance that allows precious gems to flourish in ways never thought possible.
Joseph Asscher, the Man Behind the Asscher Cut
The Asscher family of Amsterdam are one of the oldest and most notable firms to ever work with precious stones and jewelry. Established in 1854, the Asscher Diamond Company rose to prominence during the early 20th century for several significant achievements.
Joseph Asscher, alongside his brother Abraham, represented the second generation of the firm, having learned the craft of diamond cutting from their father. Together, the brothers would go on to revolutionize the world of diamonds, not the least of which would be creating the esteemed Asscher cut.
The cut first emerged in 1902. Joseph develops the signature cut which is an immediate hit. As it quickly rises in prominence through European circles, the brothers patented the cut to secure its exclusivity for the company. Within a year, the Asscher cut is known within international circles throughout the world. Eventually, the bold facets and elegant lines would be embraced by the Art Deco movement, securing the cut’s place in history.
Joseph Asscher would also go on to greater renown during his time for cleaving the Cullinan Diamond. Notably, he would go on to develop special tools for working with the diamond after his first blade broke when striking the stone. Some accounts of events also suggest that he fainted after cleaving the stone, waking to check and recheck the diamond to ensure his success. Once faceted and polished, the largest stones were set in the British Crown Jewels, while the smaller diamonds would go on to be privately owned by the royal family. Despite this momentous event, it’s arguable that his lasting legacy is the creation of the Asscher cut.
Asscher Cut Qualities
Asscher cut gems possess several proprietary features. The balance of the cut retains a classic appearance while improving the scintillation of the stone when compared to similar cuts, such as the emerald cut. Asscher cut gems are nearly octagonal in shape and feature 58 facets. Large and wide-set, rows of three steps are found both at the top and bottom of gems exhibiting the shape. The style better utilized the rough shape of diamonds than other forms of the day did, retaining more weight while improving the appearance of gem’s color and clarity.
Though technically an octagon shape, once an Asscher cut gem is set in prongs it takes on a square appearance. Well cut stones should possess a near one-to-one length-to-width ratio. A sign of excellent quality in white stones with the cut are the “windmills.” An “X” shaped pattern should crisscross the center of the gemstone, with the light reflecting in such a way that it appears as an endless hall of mirrors upon viewing. As the culet comes to a point, its presence should not interfere with this effect.
Modern Asscher Cut Gemstones
The Asscher cut retained great popularity until the outbreak of World War II. During this horrific period of time, the assets of the Asscher family were seized, and the family, along with its employees, were placed in concentration camps. As a result, their exclusive patent for the proprietary cut lapsed. Eventually, other manufacturers would begin utilizing the popular cut. Despite the newfound circulation, Asscher cut gemstones slowly dwindled in popularity in favor of other shapes, such as the round brilliant.
The Asscher cut would once again rise in prominence, experiencing a revival during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Celebrities and trendsetters gravitated to this intriguing stone cut, enthralled with the timeless elegance it represents. With examples of Asscher cut gems making appearances on television and splashing across magazine pages, a whole new generation has been introduced to this exciting gemstone style.
In fact, the enduring popularity of this classic shape inspired Joseph Asscher’s grandsons to revisit the original cut, reimagining the form into a new proprietary gemstone cut patented by the rebuilt Asscher Diamond Company, now known as the Royal Asscher Diamond Company. The reinvented cut is known as the Royal Asscher cut and features 74 facets (compared to the original 58). Trademarked since 2001, Royal Asscher cut gems are inscribed with the mark of the firm, ensuring that they will remain exclusive for years to come.
Emerald Cut Versus Asscher Cut
Of all traditional gemstone cuts readily available for consumers, the emerald cut is most similar to an Asscher cut. In fact, Asscher cut gems might even be referred to as “square emerald cuts” at times. However, knowing the similarities and differences allows you to distinguish between these types easily.
The primary difference is the overall shape. Emerald cuts are rectangular-shaped, while Asscher cuts are square-shaped. The emerald cut was developed to protect emerald gems from damage while also improving their color. Asscher cuts were designed to provide a larger diamond while enhancing its color and clarity.
Both feature step-cut faceting. However, the tables of these cuts also differ. Emerald cuts feature a wider and more open table that favors the elongated rectangle shape of the cut. The Asscher cut has a smaller table, with more faceting, which creates its characteristic “windmill” pattern described earlier.
An emerald cut emphasizes color, which enables the emeralds it was designed for to look their best. However, it also, emphasizes inclusions. Since emeralds are readily accepted for this quality, it’s not a big concern. When used in stones with lots of fire, like a diamond, enhanced scintillation often masks the inclusions. Meanwhile, the Asscher cut provides a balance of scintillation between the emerald and round brilliant cut.
Finally, the culets of each stone vary significantly. Emerald cut gems have an elongated, troughed culet that follows the length of the gemstone. Asscher cut culets come to a point. The Asscher culet keeps the focus towards the center of the stone, letting the trademark “X” mark the spot, so to speak. The troughed culet of an emerald cut gemstone helps light pass through it better, making the color more vivid.
Asscher Cut Colored Gemstones
Outside of diamonds, it’s very uncommon to see colored gemstones that feature an Asscher cut. They are usually custom, one-of-a-kind jobs. Square-shapes remain more common, such as princess cuts. Despite this, Asscher cut colored gems are an exciting a unique option to consider! Just as with diamonds, it provides a pleasant balance of color and fire, while maintaining its particular mesmerizing effect. Darker gems, like many sapphires, won’t overwhelm with color as they might in an emerald cut.