One of the greatest diamond industry legacies belongs to the Asscher family of Amsterdam, established by master cutter Joseph Isaac Asscher. His son, Joseph Asscher, designed the original Asscher cut in 1902. Together with his brother Abraham, the duo went on to polish some of the most notable diamonds of modern history, including the Cullinan.
The original Asscher cut is a square diamond with a three-step crown, a seven-step pavilion and cut corners. The design continued evolving over the years to improve its brilliance, among other aspects. In the 1920s, the family introduced the second generation of the diamond shape: a modified emerald cut with large corners, a built-up crown and a small table.
World War II brought their activities to a halt. The Asscher family and hundreds of their company’s workers were sent to concentration camps.
In 1980, Queen Juliana of Holland granted the Asscher Diamond Company a royal title. Not long after, the family developed the Royal Asscher Cut. The modern incarnation of the original design, with smaller corners and a larger table, is the diamond shape we see today. Throughout the years, this art-deco diamond shape has remained a stylish choice, and one with a special story behind it.
The Royal Asscher cut has 74 facets: 32 on the top, 40 on the bottom, a culet and the table. Unlike Round diamonds, which have a faceted girdle, Asschers have a smooth girdle called a “band”. As a step cut shape (like the Emerald shape), it is difficult to hide imperfections in Asscher-shaped diamonds. Therefore, these diamonds are usually high Clarity – VS or better.
Like the Cushion, Radiant and Emerald-shaped diamonds discussed here over the past few weeks, the Asscher is a member of the square shape group of diamonds, one of three groups of diamond shapes. The other two are Rounds and semi rounds – shapes that are based on the Round brilliant, such as the Pear, Oval, Marquise and Heart.
Asscher cut Diamond
A Comparison of Diamond Shapes to Scale
Left to right: Round, Oval, Pear, Heart, Marquise, Cushion, Emerald, Radiant and Asscher-shaped diamonds (not real size)
Polishing the Asscher
Compared to Rounds, the value of Asscher-shaped diamonds is about 34%-61% less, depending on color and clarity. The table below compares the value of one carat and 0.95 carat Asscher-shaped diamonds to 1-carat Round diamonds (1 carat Round = 100%) in all colors and clarities. The 0.95-carat comparison is here to highlight the relatively small difference in size that results in a large difference in value.
Value of Asscher-Shaped Diamonds Compared to 1-carat Round-Shaped Diamonds
Source: Mercury Diamond © 2015
When considering rough diamonds for polishing, a manufacturer is usually faced with a number of alternatives to choose from. He may take into account the shape of the rough diamond (known as the rough diamond model), the location of the inclusions, the color of the rough and the different values of the resulting polished diamonds.
To help them in these choices, modern day polishers use polishing planning technology that maps the rough diamond, detects the inclusions and their locations, and suggests several polishing options. This helps the polisher get the highest value and yield from the rough.
In the following real-life examples, a manufacturer faces two choices when considering two rough diamonds for polishing. The first is a 5.23-carat rough diamond, pictured in the 3D render below. The polisher can polish out of it a Round diamond, which will result in a 2.01-carat, D color and IF clarity. In this case, yield is 38.4%, meaning 61.6% of the rough diamond's weight will be lost in the polishing process.
Alternatively, the manufacturer may polish a larger Asscher-shaped diamond, as shown below. In this case, an Asscher-shaped diamond will take better advantage of the rough diamond’s shape and result in a 3.58-carat, D color, IF clarity polished diamond. In this option, the yield is 68.5%.
For this rough diamond, the polisher preferred an Asscher shape to a Round because of the value. Despite the higher value per carat of Rounds compared to Asschers, in this case the difference in size is enough to result in a higher value Asscher-shaped diamond. The value comparison below is based on an analysis of current prices in the market and represents the total value of the diamonds.
In the next example is a 7.62-carat rough diamond. It can be polished into a 3.01-carat, D/IF Round diamond with an Excellent Cut at a yield of 39.5%, as shown below.
Alternatively, the polisher may consider an Asscher-shaped diamond, because of the shape of the rough diamond. The polisher can better utilize it to get a higher yield. In this case, a 3.88-carat D/IF diamond can be made at a yield of 50.9%, as shown below.
As we saw in the article on Emerald-shaped diamonds or Heart-shaped diamonds, even if the optional Round diamond is smaller than the alternative shape, the Round may still have a higher total value. This is true for all shapes, including Asscher-shaped diamonds. In this case, even though the Round diamond is 22.4% lighter in weight, it has a higher total value than the alternative Asscher, as the following table shows.
The reason the yield is noted in all these polishing options is that from a financial standpoint, it makes sense to try to get the best return out of the cost of the rough diamond. Given the two different possible outcomes, it is worth comparing the value of different options, and seeing which is more economically beneficial to manufacture.
When polishing a diamond, proportions are important for a number of reasons, including aesthetics. A well-proportioned diamond looks much better than one that is not. Another reason is light return. To get the best light return, light must enter through the top of the diamond, bounce inside of it and then reflect out through the top. The more light that is reflected, the more the diamond shines.
To achieve this, the facets must face each other at the right angles. Below is a list of Asscher-shaped proportions by Cut standard:
As stated in previous articles, the intention of this review is to highlight a number of issues relating to diamonds, their value and how to understand the varying characteristics of diamonds that may seem identical but differ enough to affect their value.
In addition, we presented a table that showed the difference in value between the various diamond shapes. This table is part of the Mercury Crystal Clear™ system. It is important to keep it in mind when considering diamonds as part of a wealth preservation belief or even as a gift.
The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his private capacity. No one should act upon any opinion or information in this website without consulting a professional qualified adviser and legal counsel.
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Diamond industrialist Ehud Arye Laniado is a man passionate about diamonds. From his early 20s in Africa and later in Belgium honing his expertise in forecasting the value of polished diamonds by examining rough diamonds by hand, till today four decades later, as chairman of his international diamond businesses spanning mining, exploration, rough and polished diamond valuation, trading, manufacturing, retail and consultancy services, Laniado has mastered both the miniscule details of evaluating and pricing individual rough diamonds and the entire structure of the diamond industry. Today, his global operations are at the forefront of the industry, recognised in diamond capitals from Mumbai to Tel Aviv and Hong Kong to New York.