By Dirk Rendel
The Asscher cut may have a name that isn’t exactly what you’d call “demure,” but the truth of the matter is that there is in fact quite an exciting and illustrious history to this unfortunately named diamond shape.
In 1902, two brothers with a stunning reputation for diamond cutting devised a brand new shape that would take the world by storm. These brothers were already renowned around the world for cutting the biggest diamond in the world at the time. So the name Asscher certainly wasn’t anything to scoff at. At any rate, the brothers developed this unique cut that served as the prototype that later cuts, especially the emerald cut, would emulate. For this diamond was one of the first to feature step facets, as we’ve learned about above.
It was indeed a revolutionary diamond shape and, though it was popular at its infancy, it was nothing compared to when the Asscher cut really caught on, in the 1920s. During the Roaring Twenties, virtually every member of the lost generation was sporting Asschers on their ears, on their necks, and on their fingers.
But, like flapper girls, cloche hats, and Ruth Etting, it seemed that the Asscher cut was just a ’20s fad that would eventually collapse with the decade, like the stock market. For the rest of the century, the Asscher was relegated to specialty shops and antiques outlets; anybody who wanted a step cut diamond veered toward the more brilliant and timely emerald cut. This made Asscher cut diamonds very rare indeed, because many stores wouldn’t even bother carrying them. It was far more profitable to cut rough diamonds into more popular cuts.
It seemed like the brothers Asscher would go down in history as has-beens. But, as often happens with dusty old relics, one day it started to become more fashionable to walk around with Asscher diamonds. It wasn’t unlike the way that Roman gladiator sandals suddenly became stylish for women to wear in the late ’00s when previously they hadn’t been cool since the days of Caligula.
These days, the Asscher cut is far more prevalent in the diamond industry and you’ll find them at many, many more retailers than you would only ten years ago. Part of the reason for the regrowth industry is because, with today’s technology, we can make Asschers that shine far more brilliantly than the original. A modern Asscher truly is a sight to behold, especially if it is cut right. As mentioned earlier, the Asscher forshadowed the emerald cut with its step facets. But the step facets on the Asscher cut are larger, and let in more light than the emerald. What’s more, the crown is higher and the table is smaller, making the overall package sparkle far more than it ever had before.
And that style cut is what makes the Asscher so unique in the first place. Looking down at it, you can see a ring of squares that get wider the further out they are. Think of a square ripple in a pond. The corners on an Asscher are often cropped, giving a slightly more round or octagonal look, and this in turn helps to make the diamond look even more brilliant. It also helps to lend itself perfectly to a prong setting.
The name says it all, doesn’t it? “Radiant” just screams brilliance and light and, in a way, it really does deliver on its promise. This square cut does not act like other square cuts at all, and the key to its difference is the fact that it actually has a brilliant cut facet pattern, just like the old stalwart the brilliant round. Think of it as a brilliant square, in a way, because the crown and pavilion have a similar shape to the brilliant round’s design; it’s the only way to get all those facets in, really.
This also makes the radiant cut similar to another popular shape: The princess cut. But the radiant cut isn’t as locked in size-wise as some of these other stones. While a square radiant cut might evoke a princess, there are many radiant cuts that are more rectangular, almost like an emerald cut. In truth, both styles are popular and it is really up to personal taste which shape you would prefer. Keep in mind that, when the prongs are on, a square radiant cut does indeed look like a princess cut.
Either way, it is refreshing to note that the radiant cut has quite a bit of value behind its shiny exterior. Because it is so brilliant, it is harder to see inclusions and imperfections in the stone. So much light shines back that even flaws visible to the naked eye won’t always be noticed. This allows people interested in radiant cuts to buy a bit lower on the clarity scale and still get a beautiful stone. And, what’s more, it is often pointed out that many buyers actually prefer radiant cut stones in the color grades below D-F. Many find that the colorlessness of these top tier grades are a bit too “cool” and are devoid of personality. The slight coloring of, say, an H grade diamond is more appealing to quite a few radiant cut fans. But at the end of the day, the choice is of course up to you.