Asscher-Cut Engagement Ring with Buckles

The Peter Norman Guide to Asscher Cut Diamonds

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If you’re new to the world of diamonds and engagement rings, you’re probably encountering a range of (as-yet) unknowns. The ins and out of clarity, how clarity relates to cut, and the sometimes complex specifics of GIA grades, for instance. To make your search that little bit easier, Peter Norman has put together this guide to one of your options, the Asscher cut diamond. Read on to learn more about this historic cut and whether it’s the right choice for your engagement ring.

What is an Asscher cut?

The Asscher cut is sometimes known as the ‘square emerald cut.’ This name makes sense because, unlike the rectangular emerald cut stone, an Asscher cut diamond is square — albeit with cut corners that give the gem a slightly octagonal shape. Asscher cut diamonds feature 58 open facets (faces or sides) that are layered in symmetrical steps, cut to an exacting length-to-width ratio, and culminate in a high crown or apex. This symmetry of steps on either side of the stone gives a diamond a distinctive look that many people liken to staring down a hallway lined with mirrors. Take a look below at the custom Asscher cut engagement ring that Peter Norman created. You can see that the diamond’s facets do indeed draw your eye into the central stone. Asscher Cut Engagement Ring with Buckles 1 You can also see that the engagement ring’s halo (the ring of smaller diamonds around the center gem) and the setting slightly obscures the Asscher cut’s cropped corners, making the stone appear more square. In this three-stone ring by Peter Norman, the Asscher cut diamond is perfectly complemented by two flanking half-moon gems. Asscher Cut Engagement Ring with Buckles 1 This engagement ring doesn’t have a halo and the Asscher cut gem stands alone in its brilliance. A halo can make a central stone appear larger, but as this example shows, a well-cut Asscher diamond is the epitome of vintage elegance, with or without a halo.

What’s in a name? How the Asscher cut came to be

The Asscher cut was first developed in 1902 by its namesake, the diamond-cutter Joseph Asscher, in the Netherlands. The cut’s unique step design and geometric appeal saw it flourish and gain widespread popularity in the 1920s and 30s, where it perfectly matched the prevailing Art Deco aesthetic. Asscher himself was a well-known artisan, which no doubt helped to cement his creation’s reputation as a classic. Edward the VII, then King of England, chose Asschers of Amsterdam to handle the famous 3,106-carat Cullinan diamond. Asscher cleaved the exceptionally large gem into two stones in 1908 before embarking on the creation of nine diamonds, which are still part of the English monarchy’s Crown Jewels. Because the original Asscher cut’s design has not been patented since the end of WWII, diamond cutters and jewelers around the world can replicate Asscher’s work and attempt to produce gems of equal brilliance and intrigue… to varying levels of success. As in Asscher’s day, there are diamond cutters of renown and those who fail to quite hit the mark. The Asscher is a deceptively demanding cut to perfect, and one that necessitates a high level of skill. Otherwise, the trademark ‘hall of mirrors’ effect is hindered and the stone’s symmetrical brilliance suffers. Peter Norman has handled numerous Asscher cuts over our 40-plus year history. We have both the experience and craftsmanship needed to create the perfect Asscher cut diamond each and every time. Please get in touch with us to chat about your ideal Asscher engagement ring.

The Royal Asscher cut

We would be remiss to not mention the Royal Asscher cut here, a term you may have encountered during your research.  This cut is a modification to the original Asscher design and was introduced by Joseph Asscher’s great-grandnephew. Featuring 74 step-cut facets, 16 more than the original Asscher cut, the design reignited interest in the Asscher jewelry brand. Unlike the original Asscher cut, the Royal Asscher™ carries a patent today.

Why choose an Asscher cut diamond?

We mentioned the Asscher cut’s timeless vintage elegance earlier, but it’s certainly not the only reason to choose an Asscher.  For one thing, this cut is slightly less popular than others (although it is currently experiencing a surge in popularity), so there’s a higher chance of finding an engagement ring that isn’t adorning the fingers of numerous brides to be, especially if you choose a custom design. With an Asscher cut, you can see right into the heart of the gem, which means there’s nowhere to hide and this cut displays color well. In general terms, an Asscher cut is well suited to near-colorless diamonds with a grade of I or higher. Besides that, an Asscher cut is an ideal choice if your diamond has excellent clarity. You want to showcase the gem’s best aspect, and an Asscher cut allows this to be the star of the show. We recommend a rating of VS2 or above for an Asscher cut. A well-cut Asscher is also the brightest step-cut option, with brightness referring to how well a gem refracts and reflects light.

The potential cons of an Asscher cut

As with any diamond cut, there are downsides to consider, and the Asscher is no different. The main con of an Asscher is the skill level of the jeweler cutting the gem, or rather, the lack thereof.  Because this cut is so dependent on symmetry, a poorly cut Asscher just doesn’t have the same effect. Choosing a jeweler wisely is key to a quality Asscher cut engagement ring. For those who value plenty of sparkle and glitz, an Asscher cut probably isn’t the best choice. The cut’s parallel rectangular facets do sparkle, of course, but the effect is more understated and not as dazzling as the diagonal facets that brilliant cuts feature, for instance. Choose an Asscher for clarity and to showcase a high-quality diamond, not brilliance. In general, Asscher cut diamonds can be more expensive than their counterparts. For one, there’s often more weight and size in an Asscher cut, and secondly, the stones need to be of high grade.  If you have your heart set on an Asscher, there are ways to mitigate the potential downsides. Choose a reputable custom jeweler with an outstanding reputation, such as Peter Norman. And consider a lab-grown diamond to bring down those higher Asscher costs.

The Asscher cut is not just for diamonds

Although commonly associated with diamonds and diamond engagement rings, other precious stones can also carry an Asscher cut well. Sapphires and emeralds, in particular, are a good alternative choice for this cut as some gems are clear enough to still offer a hint of the ‘hall of mirrors’ illusion.  Colored engagement rings are becoming more popular, no wonder as these rings run the gamut from bright and playful to sophisticated and pared-back. If you’re interested in a non-traditional Asscher cut engagement ring, get in touch with the Peter Norman team today. Asscher cut emeralds

Famous Asscher cut diamonds

Perhaps the most famous Asscher cut diamond is the massive 33.19-carat Krupp diamond, which you might know better as the Elizabeth Taylor diamond. This often photographed gem was given to the actress by Richard Burton in 1968 to mark the couple’s engagement. [Image] There’s also the engagement ring worn by Pippa Middleton, which features an Asscher cut diamond of around three carats, which is complemented by an unusual octagonal halo that’s set with smaller diamonds. Although this ring isn’t as well-known as that worn by Pippa’s sister, the Duchess of Cambridge, we would argue that it’s equally as stunning and an excellent example of an Asscher cut’s timeless beauty. [Image] Jessica Alba’s engagement ring is another Asscher cut dazzler. Given to the actress in 2007 by her then-fiance, Cash Warren, the large five-carat diamond is perfectly complemented by the icy platinum setting and the halo of smaller gems.  [Image]

Custom Asscher cut diamond rings

There’s nothing quite like an Asscher cut diamond, the luxe yet understated cut has adorned spectacular rings since it was first designed at the turn of the last century. Synonymous with class, good taste, and opulent subtlety, the Asscher is a unique cut with a cult following that includes celebrities and the well-heeled around the world. If you’d like to create a custom-made Asscher cut diamond ring, Peter Norman can help. We only create bespoke rings, meaning you get a one-of-a-kind design that will never be replicated. And with more than 40 years of experience cutting diamonds, we know how to make an Asscher really shine. Contact Peter Norman or come and see us at our LA showroom and let’s chat about your Asscher ring.   We hope our concise guide to Asscher cut diamonds was helpful, but if you still have questions, please take a look at the frequently asked questions below.

Asscher cut diamonds FAQs

  • Is clarity important in Asscher cut diamonds?

    Yes, it’s very important. There’s nowhere to hide with an Asscher cut, and you can see straight into the heart of the gem, so clarity is a key factor. While other cuts help to mask inclusions and other imperfections, an Asscher cut is best reserved for stone with a VS2 clarity grade or above.

    If you have your heart set on an Asscher, but you’re not sure you have the budget to match, a lab-grown diamond is an excellent idea. Please call Peter Norman to discuss your options.

  • What is the difference between Asscher and princess cut diamonds?
    • Asscher diamonds have cropped corners while princess cut diamonds have sharp corners.
    • Asscher cuts have 58 step-cut facets while princess cut diamonds have from 50 to 144 facets, although the standard is 58.
    • The princess is a brilliant cut, one that’s designed for maximum sparkle and ‘fire,’ while the Asscher is a step cut, one that’s best for displaying a diamond’s clarity.
    • The design of the facets and the layout is different in princess and Asscher cuts.
    • An Asscher cut won’t hide inclusions and other imperfections while a princess cut can.
  • How do you pronounce Asscher cut?

    Ash-er. Although there’s a ‘ch’ in the Asscher cut’s name, this isn’t pronounced like it is in words such as ‘cheese’ and ‘chin.’ 

    Fun fact, the Asscher is named after Joseph Asscher, a Dutch diamond cutter who designed this cut in the very early 1900s.

  • Are Asscher cut diamonds more expensive?

    They can be, but it’s not the cut itself, it’s to do with the quality of the diamond. With an Asscher cut, the gem’s flaws are readily displayed, which means that people choose a higher-grade diamond with excellent clarity.

    One way to mitigate the (often high) cost of good clarity is to choose a lab-grown stone over an ethically mined gem. 

  • Are Asscher cut diamonds real?

    Yes, absolutely! And they have a long and illustrious history that harks back to 1902. You might be wondering if this cut is mere fantasy because you’re yet to see an Asscher cut diamond in real life. That’s because far fewer stones are shaped into Asscher cuts than the other cuts available.

    To see an Asscher cut diamond ring made by a custom jeweler, click here

  • Do Asscher diamonds sparkle?

    Yes. All diamonds sparkle and the Asscher cut is no different. However, the open facets lend themselves to a different type of sparkle than cuts with diagonal facets. Expect longer flashes of bright light instead of the glitzy sparkle of cuts such as the round brilliant or oval cut.

    It’s also important to remember that cut isn’t the only factor in a diamond’s sparkle level. Sparkle comes from how well the diamond refracts and reflects light, and while the facets in each cut play a major role in this, the stone’s overall quality is also a factor.

  • Is the Asscher cut always square?

    Yes. This cut relies on the symmetry of the square for its unique ‘hall of mirrors’ effect. If you’re looking for a stone that features the open facets and understated elegance of the Asscher cut, consider the rectangular emerald cut.

    Another alternative is to set an Asscher cut diamond in a diamond-like orientation with the prongs holding the sides instead of the cut corners (see an example of the orientation here). Because these corners are visible, the gem will have more of a rounded appearance. 

    To chat about creating a ring like this, please contact Peter Norman custom jewelers.

  • Is an Asscher cut more expensive than an emerald cut?

    Not as a general rule. Both are similar in price and are also less expensive than round brilliant-cut diamonds, for instance, which generate more wasted material than the step-cut Asscher and emerald shapes. 

    However, with both Asscher and emerald cuts, you are better off with a higher quality gem, which can push the price up higher than you may have first anticipated.

  • Where is the Krupp diamond now?

    It might be in Korea. The South Korean conglomerate E-Land bought the Krupp diamond for US$8,818,500 in an auction after Elizabeth Taylor’s death in 2011. 

    The company said they would display the gem in its theme park, however, this has yet to transpire and the exact location of the Krupp diamond, arguably the most famous Asscher cut in the world, is unknown.

  • What diamond cuts look the biggest?

    The marquise, pear, and oval cuts can look bigger carat for carat than other cuts. These three are closely followed by the emerald and Asscher cuts. 

    The cut isn’t the only way to help a gem appear bigger than it is, though, the setting also plays a huge factor. For example, a halo can make even a diminutive diamond seem larger, and add some extra sparkle.

  • By Peter Norman

    Peter Norman is one of Los Angeles’ most celebrated wedding jewelers, with his custom-made engagement rings and wedding bands taking center place in hundreds of weddings over the last 20 years. Each engagement ring is custom designed, built to order, and can suit any budget: from the simply elegant 1-carat solitaires to the exquisite pieces fit for (and sometimes purchased by) royalty.

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