As diamonds are all about the mystery, maths and metaphysics to me, upon securing the opportunity to interview the London-based Jan-Maarten Asscher, – grandson of the master diamond cutter Jacob Asscher – and founder of the recently launched fine jewellery brand JM Asscher, I decided that 13 questions was the perfect number to ask in respect to its feminine luck and the facets of the original Asscher cut:


(5+8 =13)

Jan-Maarten Asscher is a man who now steps into the spotlight with his own diamond designs that pay homage to his illustrious diamond lineage and express his soulful creativity and personal evolution of the Asscher heritage with both a distinctive regal pedigree and classic aesthetic.


The Asscher family have a long and legendary history as diamond cutters par excellence.

unSEEN Peek™ – Master Diamond Cutter Joseph Asscher incising the rough Cullinan Diamond and preparing to strike the first cleave. The 3,106.75 carat rough stone was the largest gem-quality diamond of its time.

How has the legend of the cutting of the Cullinan Diamond influenced your life and relationship with diamonds?

I only became aware of the history probably aged 15 or 16. At that time it did not mean an awful lot to me.

It was only when I went into the trade professionally that I took more of an interest and even then it didn’t dawn on me what the importance was or how big the family was in the diamond industry.

I remember as a little boy, my dad sitting and cleaving diamonds; I just grew up with it. It’s in the blood I guess.


One of my favourite mediums of Art is Sculpture: to me, the Lapidary is the greatest of sculptors as he fuses precise science with transcendental artisanship.

unSEEN Peek™ – The nine largest gemstones cut from the major cleaved pieces of the Cullinan rough stone. The diamond was formed within the igneous rock of Guateng (“place of gold” in the indigenous Sotho language), a Northern Province of South Africa. 

What is your favourite diamond cut and what has your contribution to the lapidary art been?

I don’t think I have a particular favourite.

Any diamond if it is beautifully made whether it is an oval shape or a marquise or a round brilliant can look absolutely amazing.

The same with an emerald cut or a square emerald cut which they also call an Asscher cut which was invented by my grandfather and his brothers in 1910.

As long as the diamond is perfectly made I don’t have a specific favourite.


What is my contribution? My contribution has been that I am not a polisher!

My contribution has been – if it is a contribution, – that I’m trying to revive a very old way of polishing: a special cut which is called the Jubilee Cut which allegedly was created for the diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria.

In terms of lustre it actually has better lustre than a normal brilliant cut. It has more facets.

It is used in our collection and the facets are within the JM Asscher logo.  


You recently published an insight into the diamond world based on your late grandfather Jacob Asscher’s personal memoir.

What was the greatest insight and lesson you learned from his words and wisdom?

I knew the man as a little boy. He passed away in 1976 when I was about 14.

The man worked until weeks before he passed away, right until the end, he was 86 and I was at the time too little to understand the enormity of what they went through in the early 1900s.

There were no pearls of wisdom to share with you.

The only thing I understood from it was that he enjoyed life as he was bon vivant and enjoyed life to the full.


How did you make the journey from Holland to Hatton Garden – what has been your career path and notable highlights in between?

I was born in Amsterdam and as a little boy my parents moved to Belgium, very near to Antwerp.

I grew up actually in the country and at the time I didn’t know anything about diamonds or that my father was active in diamonds until a few years later.

I wasn’t exactly academic so I was given a choice to follow in my father’s footsteps – he had just taken a new position in Johannesburg with a new factory and a mine.

It was either go to university or join him as an apprentice.

I didn’t want to study any more so I followed him and from then on I started a journey.

Jan-Maarten’s diamond vocation has taken him around the world, working with rough stones in South Africa, dealing with polished gems in India, training under the master Willie Katz and working for the highly esteemed company Monnickendam amongst others.

He was also a partner of and ran the Antwerp operation of SNK Diamonds, a subsidiary of Schachter & Namdar, Israel’s largest diamond importer and was Head Diamond Buyer for the UK Ratner Group before striking out on his own with JM Asscher Ltd and currently Clarity Diamonds Ltd.


Harry Winston once said:

“Diamonds are like people, no two are alike.”

How did JM Asscher the man make the decision to develop and launch the brand that bears your name?

The answer is very simple in fact.

It is my desire to create.

I always had a wish to put my stamp on my own creations and of course incorporate the old heritage of the family.

PRINCESS WORTHY unSEEN Peek™ – Ornate  JM Asscher earring and ring designs which feature blue topaz and were inspired by the Sovereign’s sceptre.

To my eye, the designs also evoke the heraldry and abstract form of the Papyrus aka The Lotus Flower Tiara which was a betrothal gift to HM The Queen Mother (then the Duchess of York) and later favoured by her younger daughter HRH Princess Margaret and worn by The Honourable Serena Stanhope for her wedding to Viscount Linley. The tiara is back to public profiling of late; often worn by HRH The Duchess of Cambridge at State functions.


What were the main influences and inspirations for the JM Asscher design aesthetic and brand DNA and how will you continue to evolve the brand’s core collection? 

I think most brands would have a DNA whether it’s Cartier, Tiffany, Bulgari that will probably make them instantly recognisable.

I decided very early on that as the Cullinan Diamond – Great Star of Africa I and II are set in the Crown Jewels that we would examine the Crown Jewels and see if we could find design elements that we could use, not by blatantly copying them but being inspired by those design elements we could create different designs.

Now I am very well aware that the longevity of that is only so long, so the whole creative side of it is constantly developing but using those motifs as a basis, the world is your oyster.

There are so many opportunities there.

VII94fcb069ae7fd25b3611f07e3ccb8b12.jpgWho is the JM Asscher client and who would be your ideal muse, brand ambassador and celebrity showcase?    

That’s a tough one.

Our target clientele would ideally be people with excellent taste. Stylish.

I want to create jewellery which in 50, 100 years’ time will still be wearable

Now who are my Brand Ambassadors ideally? I would say sophisticated ladies.

I’d say in the past if she were still alive, Audrey Hepburn would be ideal.

You know it has to be somebody really classic, somebody with style so I can’t just put a name.


You are currently focused on fine jewellery, which other precious items would you consider or aspire to design or produce in the future?

Well if we talk about my fantasies, I’d like to in time expand to Watches: fine watches, mechanical watches, automatic watches.

I’m a classical guy.

Taken a bit further, leather goods for men and women, the higher end.


How does it feel going from diamond dealer to the name and face of a brand that is bound to go global?

It’s a challenge representing the history and heritage of the family but one that I enjoy as it allows me to pay homage to my ancestors and evolve my creativity and expand opportunities for the next generation who will also add their own unique interpretation of the Asscher legacy in due course.


JM Asscher pieces of jewellery hold unrivalled heritage, prestigious provenance and regal ornamentation: all hallmarks of collectability and heirlooms of the future.

In your private life what forms of Art and precious articles are you drawn to and do you collect?

I love sculpture and Impressionist paintings although I do like the Old Masters.

In my spare time I like to paint.


You have exhibited great vision and remained true to your family lineage and diamond vocation. Where do you see JM Asscher both man and brand a decade from now?

It depends on Little Boy. If Junior behaves he will follow in the footsteps, maybe even with his sister.

Jonathan Asscher who joined us for lunch said of his father’s stepping forward to launch JM Asscher: “It felt strange at first, but I am happy and proud. A proud son. I’ve been making some designs myself.”

I am very open-minded and I always appreciate any kind of input.

Jonathan explained and sketched one of his creatively awesome and technically complex designs which would be much appreciated by a more avant-garde and urban clientele.

We encourage and help him to develop his own ideas.

Despite the difference in aesthetic perspectives and relative output, the common ground that father and son share will surely empower both of their interpretations of the Asscher heritage and its future evolutions.


What would be your dream piece of jewellery – to own from what has been created and to design from elements within your mind?

My dream would be to create something and it doesn’t have to be a big piece, it’s more about the design itself, a design that will last a hundred years.

That would be my ultimate goal, success and legacy piece.


Diamonds are considered the stone of Mastery as well as being proven as exceptional conductors and amplifiers of energy. You have handled a great many diamonds throughout your lifetime and through heritage, they must almost be a part of your DNA.

Do you believe in or feel the metaphysical benefits of diamonds or any other precious stones?

We use coloured stones to a large extent because we are aware of the cultural resonance.

The metaphysical benefits are well reputed in many ancient cultures and known within many contemporary ones.

They are of course an interesting topic to explore in both conversation and bespoke commissions.

© W. O. Adeyemi/ AFRICA: Seen & Heard Ltd and, 2016. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to W. O. Adeyemi, AFRICA: Seen & Heard and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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READ “A Memoir by Jacob Asscher – The Cullinan Diamond 1905-1908”

CREATE your own legend…

COMMISSION a bespoke piece from Jan-Maarten Asscher’s Hatton Garden atelier: 14 Greville Street, London EC1N 8SB. Schedule appointments via                    Call: 020 7242872 or Email:

PURCHASE a piece of JM ASSCHER fine jewellery:

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