While last weekend saw most people reeling under the intense heat-wave, it certainly brought a happy flush to Pippa Middleton’s face, one that refuses to ebb. The author and party planner has been sporting a sparkling Asscher since her beau, hedge fund millionaire James Matthews, popped the question over the weekend with one of the most interesting engagement rings we’ve seen in a long time. Experts say that the centre diamond appears to be a 4 carat Asscher cut set in an octagonal halo ring and is estimated at £200,000. Surrounded by round brilliant cut diamonds, the Asscher cut is set in white gold or platinum and is inspired by the theme of Art Deco, though its bezel fit adds a touch of modernity. No wonder then that Pippa, the younger sister of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, had it on even while walking her dog or going for a jog!
While the 32-year-old plans to wed next year, the engagement certainly brought the focus back on one of the most ‘ageless’ shapes – the Asscher cut – once a popular cut for the 1920s engagement rings. Having rows of facets similar to a staircase, precise lines and typical cut corners makes this shape timeless, one that will be in vogue even 50 years from now. We certainly can’t help ogle at Pippa’s huge bauble and it might just inspire a host of women getting hitched this year to go for the Asscher cut.
While we are on the topic of fancy shape stones, it doesn’t hurt to know that a diamond’s cut can alter the stone’s appearance in its entirety, giving the stone a larger appearance, helping make stocky fingers look slimmer or lending the wearer’s personality an edge. Apart from the classic round, there are nine other basic shapes that diamonds come in, each one unique in its own way. However, it is important to note that a diamond’s cut refers to its facets and proportions – elements that accord it its brilliance – while its shape is its geometry or form. When out to acquire this timeless jewel for yourself, your fiancé or a loved one, it would help to know your ‘Pears’ from your ‘Asschers’.
1. The antique Asscher cut: The Asscher cut, which was created in 1902 by the Asscher Brothers of Amsterdam, is chunky, vintage and stunning. It is said to be the emerald cut’s close cousin, strikingly similar in shape (square) but differing by having clipped corners and stepped sides. More recently, modifications in cutting have accorded this shape greater brilliance, leading to its resurgence.
Seen on: Apart from Pippa Middleton, the cut was made famous by Hollywood heartthrob Elizabeth Taylor, who was given a 33.19-carat Asscher cut ring by her fifth husband Richard Burton in 1968.
2. The regal Princess cut: Created back in 1961 by London-based jewelry designer Arpad Nagy, princess cut is a square or rectangular diamond with pointed corners, fewer noticeable flaws and an added glitter bounced off by its facets. Not only is it appealing to look at – spotted often as a single solitaire engagement ring – the fact that it is less expensive than the round cut (it can be made with half of a whole diamond) makes it an economical buy.
Seen on: American fashion designer, socialite and model Nicky Hilton Rothschild was gifted a stunning princess cut ring by husband James Rothschild.
3. The charming Cushion cut: One of the oldest cuts created almost 200 years ago, cushion cut is synonymous for elegance and classic beauty. Also called the ‘pillow cut’, it’s a square or a rectangle with rounded corners and larger facets that expel brilliance. Lately, refinements in the cutting process have made this more popular, though it can’t as easily be executed on smaller stones. So, for the romantics-at-heart, only a larger rock will make the cut.
Seen on: None other than Kim Kardashian, who sports a 15-carat cushion cut set on a pave band gifted to her by husband Kanye West. American actress Lucille Ball had also chosen a cushion cut diamond on a thin gold band for her wedding to Desi Arnaz.
4. The ethereal Emerald cut: Most celebrities who love flashing rocks on their fingers are huge fans of the emerald cut. An off-shoot of the Art Deco period, it gets its name from the most popular cut of the emeralds in the 1920s. Rectangular in shape with long facets, cut corners and a flat top, the emerald cut screams vintage. Since it looks rather large, it gives off what is often called the ‘hall of mirrors’ effect. The fact that only three percent of the diamonds in the world are emerald cut makes it exquisite and expensive. However, it’s still about 15-25% less expensive than the round cut.
Seen on: Beyonce rocks an 18-carat emerald cut diamond given by husband Jay Z; as does Mariah Carey, whose emerald cut stunner was presented by boyfriend James Pecker. The cut also finds patrons in the uber chic Amal Clooney (who sports a seven-carat diamond set in platinum), as well as Jennifer Aniston and Anne Hathaway.
5. The retro Radiant cut: A fond reminder of the retro ’80s is the radiant cut, borrowing features from both the princess cut and cushion cut diamonds. A rare cut, radiant is a square with trimmed corners, brilliant-cut surface pattern and an underside with 70 facets that maximize colour refraction. It is uncommon to spot a radiant cut on engagement rings, so if you do, you know the wearer is rather special.
Seen on: A cut as exceptional as the radiant was spotted on Jennifer Lopez when she was gifted a 6-carat radiant pink diamond by beau Ben Affleck. Drew Barrymore was also given one by recently-estranged husband Will Kopelman.
6. The unusual Oval: Perhaps the best part about the oval diamond is that it gives the illusion of a larger size, apart from the fact that it’s a brilliant cut, just like the round cut. It was first created in the 1960s and still carries the aura of that era’s magnificence, being more popular as a solitaire. Symmetrical in shape, it gives the illusion of slender fingers to its wearer and looks best when flanked by side stones.
Seen on: Beauties Sofia Vergara and Salma Hayek. Blake Lively’s oval diamond is light pink and sits on a rose gold band of pave diamonds.
7. The majestic Marquise cut: This cut is as dramatic as they come, enveloped in a curious case of history. Legend has it that the cut was created for King Louis XIV, who wanted a stone carved into the shape of the ‘perfect mouth’. Thus was born the football-shaped stone with an elongated form that maximizes the entire surface of the diamond to give the illusion of a greater size. What more could a woman ask for?
Seen on: Victoria Beckham’s 3-carat marquise-cut speaks of her love for exclusivity, as does Catherine Zeta Jones’ 10-carat ring.
8. The befitting Pear: If it is rarity that you seek, try and get your hands on a pear cut diamond for your loved one. This teardrop-shaped stunner is a combination of oval and marquise cuts, extracting their best attributes to stand out. Being conically-pointed on one end, it makes fingers look elongated and is best suited for engagement rings. But because it is best appreciated in larger sizes, you have the option of settling for a pear-shaped diamond set in a pendant or earrings.
Seen on: Excessively rare, Mia Farrow’s pear-shaped solitaire ring by Frank Sinatra is to die for.
9. The exotic Heart cut: A literal symbolic representation of love, the heart cut diamond is reserved for those who like to wear their hearts on their fingers (or necks). It is a modified brilliant cut that should ideally be more than .50 carats in size to make lasting impressions. Understandably, the cut tests the skills of the diamond cutter and is therefore difficult to execute. Undoubtedly, securing it should be worth it.
Seen on: The very lavish Lady Gaga was given a 15-carat breath-taking heart cut gifted to her by Taylor Kinney before they called it quits.