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What is Amber?

What is Amber?

What is Amber?

Ambergris, Ambra Grisea, Ambergrease, Grey Amber…….

This note has long been used in perfumes. It is warm, resinous, slightly sweet, balmy, sometimes smokey, exotic and sexy. It can be found in warmer perfumes and helps these scents to last longer.

While it has most popularly been used in fragrance, Ambergris was historically used in food and drink. Ancient Egyptians and Arabs burned it as incense, Europeans used it as medications for different ailments, and it was even believed that carrying a ball of Ambergris could ward off the contraction of the plague during the Black Death.

Real Ambergris is produced within the digestive system of the Sperm Whale. It is thought that it is a special secretion to help pass harder, sharper, objects through the whale’s intestines, like Squid beaks. It is possible that it comes from either end of the whale, and develops its unique odor after years of floating in the salty sea, baking under the sun. It is estimated that real Ambergris is produced by only 1-5% of Sperm Whales.

It is found primarily in the Atlantic Ocean and its coastlines, and is most commercially collected around the Bahamas. It is also occasionally found in the abdomen of dead Sperm Whales. 

Its years in the ocean help to form a scent that is sweet, earthy, marine, and animalic.

This “treasure of the sea” is not regularly used in perfumes much anymore. Due to a large amount of commercial whaling in the 18th and mid-19th centuries, many whales became endangered and commercial whaling moratoriums were put in place. On top of this, many countries have added their own bans to the trading and selling of Ambergris. 

Today, the rarity and legality of using Ambergris has led perfumers and chemists to find alternatives for this sought after scent. Much of the Amber we find in fragrances now are created synthetically using natural plant essences.

Ambroxan, or Ambroxide, is a molecule extracted from the essence of Clary Sage, and is the most popular alternative to real Ambergris. 

Other alternative essences are Labdanum Absolute, which comes from a plant that grows in Mediterranean countries, and Benzoin Resin, which comes from Styrax trees.

At Parfumerie Nasreen, you can find quite a few Amber based scents, including some of our favorites.

Amber Aquilaria from Electimuss London, a rich and resinous scent created with Amber and Oud from the Aquilaria Tree.

Dark Cherry & Amber from the Banana Republic collection boasts sweeter essences for a warm, slightly gourmand scent.

Ambre d’Or by Christian Provenzano is a cleaner, slightly sweet scent with flowers and Vanilla essences.

Grand Soir from Maison Francis Kurkdjian is an Amber, Vanilla, and Leather scent that brings a sense of warm, sweet, sensuality.

Discover the world of Amber at Parfumerie Nasreen!