A squarish step-cut diamond with an octagonal shape, the Asscher Cut was developed by the legendary Dutch polisher Joseph Asscher in 1902, although it only burst to prominence about 20 years later, when the Art Deco movement was in full swing.
The Asscher name is most famously associated with the 3,015-carat Cullinan diamond, discovered in South Africa at the turn of the 20 Century, which holds the record as the heaviest rough diamond ever mined. Joseph and his brother Abraham were tasked with cutting and polishing the two largest stones to be extracted from that piece of rough, the pear-shaped Cullinan I, which weighs 530.2 carats and today stands atop the royal scepter in the British crown jewels, and the cushion-shaped 317.4-carat Cullinan, which is set in the British imperial state crown.
The original Asscher Cut, which is almost exactly octagonal in shape, has three step-cut rows on the top and three on the bottom, and is comprised of a total of 58 facets. They provide a better balance of scintillation than a similarly step-cut emerald cut, but are more understated than brilliant cut stones.
In 1999, Joseph Asscher’s grandson, Edward, decided to create a version of the shape that would be capable of capturing a greater volume of light, making it more brilliant than its predecessor. Adding 16 more facets, for a total of 74, he added two additional rows of eight facets each to the pavillion of the stone, making the rows narrower. This retained the classic feel of the original cut, but made the stone’s appearance more dynamic. It was called the Royal Asscher.
According to the Royal Asscher company, the more recent version of the shape can only be cut from an octahedral shaped rough diamond crystal, which is sawn above the girdle of the stone. This crucial action, it says, sacrifices 15 percent more of the rough diamond and achieves a higher crown, which is what gives the Royal Asscher Cut greater dispersion of color and light, and the superior brilliance than the original Asscher Cut.
Since the original Asscher Cut was never patented, it can be found in variations in the various proportions and angles. The Royal Asscher, on the other hand, is patented internationally, meaning that the Royal Asscher company, which decides who can produce such stones, demands that the angles used remain within a very narrow range.
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