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The Asscher shape diamond was introduced to the world in 1902 by Joseph Asscher, and was the first signature shape to be patented. The design is based on a cushion shape with deeply cut corners to create an octagon. It's sometimes known as the square emerald shape or modified cushion shape. Once popular during the 1920s Art Deco period, it has seen a resurgence of interest after Ashlee Simpson was photographed wearing a diamond engagement ring with an Asscher shape diamond set in the center.
A diamond has three cutting areas: the crown, girdle, and pavilion. Brilliant shape diamonds are polished with wedge-shaped facets that go vertically around the pavilion, or point, of the diamond. The top is faceted with different types of facet cuts to refract light. The Asscher shape is created with parallel step facets in the same pattern all around the diamond, starting at the crown and going all the way to the tip of the pavilion, known as the culet. Sometimes the culet is cut. This results in a diamond with a higher crown and larger facets than an emerald cut, but a smaller table, or center of the top. Looking down through the top creates a hall of mirrors effect as the light refracts off the facets. Modern Asscher shapes are now known as the Royal Asscher after being bestowed with the Royal Prefix by Queen Juliana of the Netherlands in 1980. The original Asscher shape has 58 facets, and the Royal Asscher has 74.
This shape is best suited for diamonds of higher quality. Anything between D to H on the color scale and flawless to VS2 on the GIA clarity scale or 0 to 4 on the AGS clarity scale is best. Anything outside of these parameters won't show off the shape nearly as well. The deeper the pavilion on the diamond, the better. A large part of the flashiness of the shape comes from the parallel step facets on the pavilion. A shallow pavilion won't have as much area for cutting, resulting in fewer facets from which to refract light from. Look for a diamond with a deep pavilion in order to get the most out of the shape. The ideal ratio for the stone is 1:1 in order to get the most out of the faceting and design. It's possible to get away with a ratio of 1:1.05 as the stone appears to be a true square once set. However, anything larger than 1:1.05 and the stone has an obvious rectangle shape that won't show off the cut to its true potential.