Welcome to the definitive buyers’ guide to Asscher cut diamonds. As one of the most sophisticated diamond shapes, the Asscher cut embodies a rich history and distinct geometric appeal that has made it a sought-after choice among diamond connoisseurs and vintage enthusiasts alike. Rooted in the early 20th century and reflecting the artistic elements of the Art Deco movement, this cut encapsulates an era of grandeur and class. If you're considering this exquisite diamond cut for an engagement ring or other piece of fine jewellery, this guide will equip you with all the knowledge you need to make an informed purchase, ensuring you select an Asscher cut diamond that resonates with both quality and character.
Definition of an Asscher cut diamond
Like all diamond cuts, the Asscher cut is defined by its shape and its faceting pattern:
- Shape: viewed from above, an Asscher cut diamond is essentially square but with deeply trimmed corners, making it resemble an octagon. These deeply cut corners are a signature feature of the Asscher cut but can help make the diamond less susceptible to chipping.
- Faceting pattern: unlike brilliant cuts, the Asscher has a step-cut faceting, similar to an emerald cut diamond. This means the facets run parallel to the diamond's edges, creating a hall-of-mirrors effect. The facets are arranged in a way that they provide depth to the stone, drawing your gaze inward, and as you peer into the stone, you'll notice a mesmerizing interplay of light and dark planes.
The anatomy of the Asscher cut
The Asscher cut diamond has 57 or 58 facets: 25 on the crown (the top part of the diamond, above the girdle) and 32 or 33 on the pavilion (the bottom part of the diamond below the girdle). Asscher cut diamonds often have a greater depth compared to other cuts due to both a higher crown and deeper pavilion sections. This depth gives them their unique light play and "hall of mirrors" effect.
- Table facet: This is the large, flat top surface of the diamond. It's the largest facet on an Asscher cut diamond and plays a crucial role in its overall appearance and brilliance.
- Crown facets: there are 24 of these, a first row of eight arranged around the table, stepping down to a second concentric row of eight facets and then a third, which sit above the girdle.
This is the outer edge of the diamond when viewed from above and the widest part of the diamond when viewed from the side. It can be smooth, faceted, or slightly rough.
- Pavilion facets: Like the crown, these are arranged in concentric stepped rows of 8, but in the pavilion, there are a total of four rows rather than three. Note the windmill pattern above, created by the facets with radiate from the centre (the culet) to the corners.
- Culet: This is the very bottom tip of the diamond. Ideally, it should be pointed rather than faceted in a well-cut Asscher diamond. If the culet is faceted, it can be visible through the table and appear as a hole or inclusion in the diamond.
The history of Asscher cut diamonds
In 1854, Joseph Isaac Asscher founded the I.J. Asscher Diamond Company in The Netherlands, naming it after his son, Isaac Joseph Asscher. In time, Isaac took on the business from his father, and in turn, Isaac's five sons also followed in his footsteps. Notable among them were Joseph, a masterful diamond cleaver, and Abraham, an innovative and savvy entrepreneur. The brothers rose to prominence as the foremost diamond experts of the 20th century, and under their leadership, the Asscher Diamond Company became known as one of the era's top diamond polishing firms.
In 1902 Joseph Asscher introduced a new cut that was distinctly different from anything else at the time and named it after his family. The early 20th century, particularly the 1920s and 1930s, saw the rise of the Art Deco movement, which celebrated geometric shapes, symmetry, and lavishness. The Asscher cut, with its geometric appearance and unique light play, became increasingly popular during this era, making it synonymous with the aesthetics of the time.
Such was Joseph Asscher's reputation that King Edward VII of Great Britain tasked him with the responsibility of cutting the Cullinan diamond in 1908. The Cullinan was discovered in 1905 in South Africa and is the largest diamond that has ever been found, originally weighing a staggering 3,106.75 carats.
Joseph Asscher cut the Cullinan into nine stones which remain to this day some of the most valuable diamonds in the world.
Pros and cons of Asscher cut diamonds
Asscher cut diamonds have a unique and captivating design that sets them apart from many other diamond shapes. However, as with all diamond cuts, there are both advantages and disadvantages associated with the Asscher cut, and when choosing one diamond cut over another, it is essential to weigh the pros and cons and see which factors matter most to you.
Advantages of Asscher cut diamonds
|Distinctive appearance||The Asscher cut stands out compared with more popular cuts like the round brilliant cut.|
|Heritage||The Asscher cut has a rich and distinguished history and is strongly associated with the Art Deco period.|
|Hall of Mirrors effect||This is a mesmerising property of stepped cut diamonds that is sought after by enthusiasts.|
|Versatility||The Asscher cut is suitable for a variety of jewellery settings, including solitaire, halo, and vintage designs.|
|Durability||The cut corners can reduce the risk of chipping compared to sharp-cornered stones.|
Disadvantages of Asscher cut diamonds
|Visibility of inclusions||Due to its large and open facets, inclusions are more visible than they are in brilliant cut diamonds. This means you may wish to select a higher clarity grade.|
|Sensitivity to colour||Asscher cuts display colour more than brilliant cut stones, so if you're sensitive to colour, you might wish to choose a higher colour grade.|
|Reduced brilliance||Asscher cut diamonds are not designed to sparkle as intensely as brilliant cut diamonds.|
|Cost||The cost per carat of Asscher cut diamonds is often lower than comparable brilliant cut diamonds, but since they show colour and inclusions more readily, you may wish to choose higher grades which can offset any cost savings. Also, you may wish to choose a higher carat weight since Asscher cut diamonds appear smaller (when viewed from above) than many other cuts due to their depth (which you don't see from above).|
Asscher cut vs emerald, radiant and princess cuts
If you're considering an Asscher cut diamond, the other shapes that are perhaps most similar, and therefore most likely to be those you might also consider, are the emerald cut, radiant cut and princess cut. Below we set out the main differences between them.
|Shape||Typically square, though can be slight rectangular with pointed corners||Square with deep-cut corners (octagonal)||Typically rectangular, though can be square with trimmed corners||Typically square, though can be slightly rectangular with pointed corners|
|Faceting||Stepped||Stepped||Mixed (stepped and brilliant)||Brilliant cut|
|Visibility of colour||High||High||Low||Low|
|Visibility of inclusions||High||High||Low||Low|
Both the Asscher cut and the square emerald cut diamonds are step cuts and have similarities in terms of faceting and appearance, but there are subtle differences between the two. In particular, the Asscher cut has more deeply trimmed corners, giving it a more octagonal appearance, and a higher crown, giving them more depth and a more pronounced hall of mirrors effect. A well-cut Asscher will also produce slightly more scintillation and brilliance than a typical square emerald cut.
For more detailed information on each of these alternatives, read our guides:
What to consider when choosing an Asscher cut diamond
As will all diamond shapes, start by considering the 4Cs of carat weight, colour, clarity and cut, and aim to achieve a sensible balance to get the most out of your budget:
Carat Weight: Choose a carat weight that suits your personal preference and budget while considering the overall appearance of the diamond in your chosen setting.
Colour: Since Asscher cut diamonds also show colour more than brilliant cut diamonds, we recommend a minimum colour grade of F if you’re looking for bright white or colourless stone.
Clarity: Since inclusions are made more visible due to the Asscher cut’s stepped facet, we recommend a minimum clarity of VS1 if you’re looking for an “eye-clean” stone.
Cut: As a fancy cut, Asschers are not assigned a cut grade on diamond grading reports from reputable gemological laboratories. However, the cut quality is of paramount importance:
- Look for Excellent symmetry and polish grades if possible.
- Look for a stone that is very square in proportions. The length-to-width ratio should be as close to 1 as possible and, ideally, no more than 1.03.
- Length-to-width ratio is the length of the stone divided by the width.
- For optimal light performance, we recommend a table percentage between 61% and 69% and a depth percentage between 61% and 67%.
- Table percentage is the width of the table as a percentage of the width of the diamond.
- Depth percentage is the depth of the stone as a percentage of the width of the diamond.
There’s also a fourth C to look for, which is certification. To be able to rely on the information about the 4Cs, it is important that the diamond comes with a certificate from a reputable independent authority such as the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) of the International Gemological Institute (IGI).
The best settings for an Asscher cut diamond
If you're looking for an Asscher cut engagement ring, Asscher cut diamonds are versatile stones that look good in a wide variety of setting styles, but the most popular include:
Solitaire Asscher cut engagement rings
A solitaire Asscher cut engagement ring is a classic and elegant choice that showcases the beauty of the Asscher cut diamond without any distractions from additional diamonds or gemstones.
Asscher cut engagement rings with diamond shoulders
Asscher cut engagement rings with diamond shoulders combine the elegance of the Asscher cut centre stone with the added sparkle of small brilliant cut diamonds around the top of the band.
Asscher cut halo engagement rings
Asscher cut halo engagement rings surround the Asscher cut diamond with small round brilliant cut diamonds that accentuate the size of the centre stone and add extra sparkle.
Asscher cut vintage engagement rings
Asscher cut vintage engagement rings offer the ultimate in opulence, combining both diamond shoulders and diamond halo!
What is an Asscher cut diamond?
An Asscher cut diamond is a square step-cut diamond with deeply cropped corners, giving it an octagonal appearance. It features a pavilion with concentric stepped facets, a high crown and a small table, creating a unique "hall of mirrors" effect. The Asscher cut is often associated with Art Deco engagement rings.
How does the Asscher cut differ from the emerald cut?
Both the Asscher cut and emerald cut are step-cut diamonds, but the Asscher cut always has square proportions, whereas the emerald cut is usually rectangular (cut can be square). The corners of the Asscher cut are more cropped than those of the emerald cut, whose corners are only slightly trimmed. Additionally, the Asscher cut has a higher crown and smaller table, giving it a more brilliant appearance compared to the emerald cut.
Are Asscher cut diamonds a good choice for engagement rings?
Asscher cut diamonds are an excellent choice for engagement rings, especially if you want an Art Deco look. They offer a unique geometric appearance that stands out from more traditional diamond shapes.
Are Asscher cut diamonds more expensive than other cuts?
Like all diamonds, the price of an Asscher cut diamond can vary widely based on factors such as carat weight, colour, clarity and cut. They tend to be priced relatively competitively on a cost-per-carat basis, but they appear slightly smaller face-up than some other shapes, so you may end up wanting a larger carat weight. Also, they show inclusions and colour more strongly than brilliant cuts, so you may want to choose higher grades than you would otherwise.
With their distinctive geometric shape, rich heritage and association with the Art Deco era, Asscher cut diamonds are a sophisticated diamond choice for those looking for something a little different. Their unique stepped cut faceting pattern created a mesmerising hall of mirrors effect, which is prized by those who appreciate this unique cut. Nonetheless, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and they are not for everybody. If you’re looking for maximum sparkle, then you should focus instead on brilliant cuts. If an Asscher cut is for you, then make sure you choose a stone very well-cut stone with higher colour and clarity grades, and look for a setting that shows the stone off at its best. Hopefully, this guide has given you the information you need to choose the best stone for you, but if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’d be delighted to help.