Ingredient Focus: Amber

Posted on July 16 2020

Ingredient Focus: Amber

In perfumery, amber has nothing to do with the yellow-brown resin gemstone which bears the same name and doesn’t have any scent but is a reference to ambergris.


As surprising as it sounds, ambergris is formed from a secretion in the intestines of sperm whales. They produce it to protect their insides from the beaks of the squids they eat. Lighter than the sea water, lumps of ambergris float for months under the sun before reaching a shore. Their distinctive scent comes from its exposure to salt water and sun. Once it’s reached a seashore and dried up, it takes on a grey colour speckled with white.


This most famous fragrance material has been known known since Antiquity as a fixative in fragrances. Ambergris is a very rare and expensive material. Its warm scent smells of stables, honey, tobacco and incense. Its sensual and slightly animalic notes have a radiant quality with salty marine accents that are reminiscent of the seaside and fresh algae.


Due to the fact sperm whales are now an endangered species, the scent of amber is mostly created from other ingredients. The term “amber” is loosely used to describe a scent that is warm, musky and rich, with earthy or honeyed notes. It can be synthetically created or derived from natural resins. When made from natural ingredients, it is most often created with labdanum and benzoin, two types of resin. Vanilla and incense notes are also often added to enhance the aroma.


Many of our fragrances in the Oriental family feature an amber accord. Opulent and voluptuous, they feature heavier base notes that are perfect for this season as they create a sense of warmth and comfort. Fragrances in the Oriental family are inspired by traditional blends that have been used by Arab perfumers since Ancient times. Warm and seductive, they feature sweet, powdery and animalic notes and ingredients such as precious woods, notes of balsams, musks, incense and vanilla, sometimes used with other exotic spices and floral notes. Evocative of faraway destinations, our oriental fragrances are definitely grown-up and their rich notes will linger sensually on your skin through the night…



 [originally published on 9th November 2018]

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