Saturday, February 27, 2021

Jospeh Asscher Cuts the Cullinan Diamond

Every facet of a gem changes the path of a light-ray. Depending on the angle of incidence, it refracts or reflects. Diamonds are cut to maximize reflection inside, return all captured light to the surface. We call this brilliance. Gems cut for brilliance lose at least half of their weight, but become more valuable.

The Cullinan diamond broke the first knife that touched it. Joseph Asscher rebuilt all his tools from stronger steel. Cullinan yielded to the master’s craft: in his hands she bore nine children. These are their cuts: pendeloque, cushion, pear, square, heart, marquise, marquise, oblong, stepped-pear. From brilliance, brilliance.

At the start of World War II, the Asscher family employed more than five hundred skilled cutters and polishers. The Nazis sent them all to concentration camps. Only ten Asschers and fifteen polishers survived. Amsterdam’s community of gem-cutters, gem-traders, and gem-buyers was destroyed. From darkness, darkness.

From the top, a brilliant-cut diamond shows an arrow pattern. From below, a heart pattern. Joseph Asscher looks deep into Cullinan and sees her heart. Does he see the arrows waiting for his children? Does he see the knives that will cut away at least half his family? Does he see the rebirth, the rebuilding?

From loss, new strength.

Books Available
The Day of My First Driving Lesson
Country Well-Known as an Old Nightmare's Stable
High-Voltage Lines
Knocking from Inside

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