James Assael, a diamond dealer based in Milan, Italy, founded the business of Assael-Ventura in Europe in the early 20th Century. Before the onset of World War II, James moved his family to the United States via Cuba. His son, Salvador served with distinction in the U.S. Army in Europe, and post-war, began to work with his father and learn the trade. Salvador eventually changed the focus of the company to precious colored gemstones. In 1972, he took over the business and named it Assael International (now simply known as Assael). By that point, Salvador had established the company as a renowned purveyor of fine gemstones, and a leader in the rare pearl market.