There are many different types of diamond cuts, of course. “Fancy cuts” are becoming ever more popular alongside the round brilliant and other standard cuts. Among those standard cuts are the Emerald Cut and Asscher Cut. Both came to prominence during the art deco period, but the emerald cut actually has a far longer history than that.
- Origins of the Cuts
- Similarities and Differences
- Emerald Vs Asscher Vs Royal Asscher
- Pros and Cons of Asscher and Emerald
Origins of the Cuts
Before exploring the differences between the emerald cut and Asscher cut, we must first establish the history and details behind each cut.
As the name might suggest, the emerald cut was originally for emeralds themselves. It became increasingly popular with diamonds as time went by, due to the increased yield possible over that from a round brilliant cut. Although no definitive timeline for the introduction and development of the emerald cut exists, it has been around for about as long as people have used gemstones as decoration and indications of status.
Emeralds are notoriously easy to damage during cutting, and the long proportions and step arrangement is a “gentler” configuration than with other cuts. The emerald cut made the move into diamonds during the early part of the 20th century when art deco took over from the arts and crafts-inspired art deco and Edwardian styles. The cut’s long lines and squared symmetry fitted the style of art deco perfectly, mirroring many of the classic aspects of the period.
As with many classics of design, the emerald cut has been around forever and shows no signs of going away.
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In 1902, the Asscher Diamond Company of Amsterdam filed a patent for their own version of the emerald cut. Where the emerald cut had quite loose definitions, the Asscher cut had strict proportions in its standard. It often has the name square emerald, due to its more regular shape.
As art deco took hold of the entire world of design, the Asscher cut, like the emerald cut, fitted the symmetrical, angled style perfectly. It led to a huge growth in interest for the cut, and exposure for the Asscher company.
Prior to WW2, Amsterdam was the diamond capital of the world. After the persecution of Jews by the Nazis, the city’s diamond center never recovered and trade shifted to Antwerp, which remains the world’s premier diamond center. The patent for the Asscher cut expired during the war. Because the entire Asscher family had been imprisoned by the Nazis, nobody was around to renew it. As a result, the patent lapsed, and other companies started to reproduce the cut. The official replacement, the Royal Asscher cut, appeared in 2001.
Similarities and Differences of Emerald and Asscher Cut Diamonds
The primary difference between emerald and Asscher cut diamonds is the length-to-width proportions. Emerald cuts have an ideal ratio somewhere around 1.45:1, and Asscher cuts have an almost perfect 1:1 ratio. This is where the “square emerald” moniker for non-Asscher produced Asscher cut diamonds comes from.
Both emerald and Asscher cut, although nominally rectangle in outline, are actually octagonal. The corners of both cuts are cropped, creating the extra 4 sides. This is largely for reasons of safety and security, rather than aesthetics. Diamond, although a very hard substance, is also very brittle if impact occurs in the right (or wrong) place. By cropping the corners, the risk of them shearing off under impact or snagging reduces markedly.
The cuts themselves are very similar, with a very regular step configuration and a large table. The emerald and original Asscher cuts have 58 facets, but the newer Royal Asscher cut has 74. This is to increase the brilliance of the cut, a feature that is lacking from 58 facet emerald/square cuts.
Emerald Vs Asscher Vs Royal Asscher
Emerald and original Asscher cuts are very similar in their configuration and performance. The step cut and relatively shallow depth reduce a lot of the brilliance we are used to seeing from other cuts like the modern round brilliant. However, it produces momentary flashes of extreme brilliance, which make both cuts very appealing. The Royal Asscher’s increased facet count makes some progress toward the brilliance of other cuts. But the nature of step cuts means that it will always be more difficult to fully realize.
If you are a fan of antique diamonds, then emerald cut is by far your best bet. Not only are there more antique emerald cut stones available, but they tend to cost less. Genuine Asscher cuts diamonds still carry a premium thanks to the reputation of the company’s polishers. This is even more obvious in the price of the Royal Asscher. Square-emerald cuts, or Asscher cuts by anybody other than Asscher, tend to be less expensive than the genuine article.
The downside of older emerald-cut diamonds is that they are likely to contain more inclusions than either Asscher cut. Although the yield from rough stones is much greater for rectangle step cuts, it also means that inclusions are much more difficult to avoid. However, because of the nature of the optical properties of emerald cuts, these inclusions usually don’t detract too much from the overall visual effect.
Pros and Cons of Asscher and Emerald
Cost differences aside, there are really no downsides to an emerald or Asscher cut diamond in an engagement ring. Both are classic cuts that look wonderful in any setting. They also show bigger than the actual size. By that, we mean that with an emerald/Asscher and round brilliant of equal weight, the emerald/Asscher will appear larger. This is because there is a larger proportion of the overall weight visible in the table.
Not so much a problem of practicality, but perhaps one of preference, is the lack of sparkle in emerald and Asscher cut diamonds. We live in an age of bright shiny things. Round brilliant-cut diamonds show far more of the brightness and shine that society often demands, making them extremely fashionable
Emerald cut diamonds need care when choosing, because of the inclusions they often contain. Asscher cut stones are less susceptible to showing the inclusions, as the company chose only the best diamonds for the cut.
A slight oddity of emerald cut diamonds is their usual orientation in engagement rings. Diamonds with a long side, such as marquise or pear cuts, usually occur set lengthways. This helps to elongate the look of smaller or wider fingers. Emerald cut stones, though, are usually set across the finger. There’s no real explanation for why this might be.
The diamond choice is always a question of preference. Cushion cuts are very popular at the moment. This has brought the square shape of the related Asscher cut into greater focus. Emerald-cut diamonds require a little more appreciation. This is partly due to how long they have been around, and the sometimes varying quality of stones available.
Genuine Asscher cuts, because they come from one of the most renowned names in the industry, are always high quality. But they mean they usually have a high price tag. Balance quality against cost, and you will find a stone that works for you.
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