Formally known as Oriental fragrances and generally comprised of tonka bean, elegant vanilla, almond-like vanillin, nutty coumarin, leathery labdanum and sensual patchouli, amber fragrances represent a growing category of fragrance compositions our master perfumers are often asked to design and supply for a wide swath of scented product and product line manufacturers.
Continue on to learn more about the fragrance family of amber fragrances and its evolution within the fragrance industry, or contact our team today for any of your amber fragrance needs!
The Fragrance Family of Amber Fragrances
While a rose by any other name may still be a rose are just a string of words referring to the doomed Shakespearean family names of Romeo and Juliette, they have an unmistakable power in both literature and the real world.
Within the realm of fragrance, words are surprisingly potent and suggestive.
As part of a global context, terms can be misleading and sometimes inadvertently offensive. The word, ‘oriental’, presents such an example.
Originally referring to a fragrance family classification that embraced base notes such as: dark, warm and honeyed amber, creamy sandalwood, sweet, heavy and nutty coumarin, floral, powdery orris, lush vanilla and green, sugary and fresh gum resins, these sensual facets are known for their ability to linger on the skin for longer periods of time than other perfume notes.
For years, the perfume industry has categorized scents into neat, olfactory families which are commonly used by brands, retailers, and journalists.
Over time, however the meanings and societal implications of words have changed, causing the mind set of perfumers to change along with them.
According to Tania Sanchez, co-author of Perfumes: The A-Z Guid —
“Orient comes from a word meaning East. The question is East of where? In this case, France, where the perfume genre was born. This vague, ever exoticized, mysterious Orient includes the Persian Iran of the carpets, the Taj Mahal of Shalimar, and what is sometimes called the Far East’s far from France, at least. China and Iran have little in common except the fact that they are East-from Europe…Perfume is a global product, made everywhere, sold everywhere. Why not use a global term?”
Other Negative Implications Surrounding The Oriental Moniker
The Eurocentric term, oriental, is confusing to say the least.
According once again to Ms Sanchez, the moniker, ‘oriental’, carries with it a prickly visual aesthetic.
She states:: “European cultures have historically fetishized and sexualized Asian people and cultures, and perfume marketing has, unfortunately, often played into this harmful fantasy.”
In 2016, the U.S. government banned the term, ‘oriental’, from use in federal law, in favor of “Asian American.”
The winds of change are in the perfumed air as marked by the support of The Fragrance Foundation.
The group’s president, Linda Levy, refers to the word, oriental, as both “outdated” and “offensive”and made the following bold statement in an interview with Harper’s Bazaar.
“Every brand, fragrance house, and retailer has the freedom to determine its own language. So the term, Oriental, is not formal or official… Other terminology should definitely be applied instead.”
The Time For Change Has Come
Although the term, ‘oriental’ was probably never intended to be offensive, times and sensibilities have changed over the years.
According to our CEO, Arnold Zlotnik, “Our company and our teams are thrilled to be one of the many major fragrance houses embracing the language of the modern fragrance industry.”
For Alpha Aromatics, the formerly Oriental and now Ambery family of fragrances is generally composed of exotic, coconut-like and creamy tonka bean, lush, elegant vanilla, sugary, intense and almond-like vanillin, sweet, creamy and nutty coumarin, rich, complex and leathery labdanum and sensual patchouli.
Resins such as sweet, smooth benzoin, aromatic frankincense or rich, sugary, balsamic opopanax are also often found in this accord. The fruity facets of iris also complement this accord very well.
The changes for the category are not monumental, but they are significant.
They are as follows:
Soft Oriental Is Now Known As Soft Amber
These ethereal and elegant scents are dark and warm but less balsamic than other varieties. The mysterious allure of sacred incense and dark ruck amber predominate.
Floral Oriental Will Change to Floral Amber
Our perfumers create these fragrances by combining the floral properties of softness with the warmth of amber blends. Sweet spices meld with florals to formulate sensual scents of great depth and complexity.
Woody Oriental Will Become Woody Amber
Perfumes within this category have a lustrous element to their character that is nurtured by the inclusion of creamy, buttery sandalwood and other rich woods.
Oriental Spice Will Become Ambery Spice
This was the original old Old Spice back in the day, which was known as an old fashioned men’s cologne.
A Short History of Ambery Fragrance
The origins of the amber ( formerly oriental) accord in perfumery is not what the word may suggest, as it does not derive from amber stone, a fossilized resin that has no smell.
It is believed that the word comes from ambergis, a substance secreted by the cachalot (sperm whale), which was used extensively in perfumes in past decades. Ambergris is still authorized by the International Fragrance Association. (IFRA) because the animal is not harmed in any way or killed.
Today, however, it is mostly found in synthetic versions because its cost is prohibitive.
Oriental perfume dates back to the days when the world was young.
Ancient Greeks, Egyptians and Romans used resins, balsams and exotic spices as ingredients for sacred incense and unguents.
The first modern day perfume in this category was Shalimar by Guerlain, which was formulated in 1921 via a new synthetic molecule known as vanillin.
Opening with a citrus burst of fresh lemon and spicy elegant bergamot, the heart notes were floral with aspects of haunting jasmine, romantic rose and fruity iris.
Completing base notes were a blend of rich, leathery labdanum, creamy, sugary coumarin, aromatic incense and rich, earthy and woody nuanced opoponax.
This exotic and passionate fragrance became the bulwark of a scent category that to this day holds a sense of mystery and excitement.
The fragrances within this coveted family of are always formulated around an amber accord, which is a blend of elegant vanilla and rich, complex labdanum.
It is also important to note that there is no such thing as amber essential oil.
Other resinous notes that are often added to these compositions include: tonka bean or balsams to sweeten, and frankincense, myrrh and opoponax to darken the formulation.
Alpha Aromatics — Amber Fragrance Design and Supply
With routes that stretch as far back as the late 1940s, we are a creator, manufacturer and purveyor of superior, custom fragrances.
A family-owned and operated business, we are renowned for our fragrance compositions, which are used for quality perfumes, personal care products, candles and diffusers, fragrances for home products.
Additionally, our array of multifaceted odor neutralizers are highly coveted by those who use the services of private label manufacturers, custom packaging companies and toll blending (the specialty service of custom mixing a company’s unique formula into a final product).
We rely on meticulous research to stay on top of industry trends.
Over the course of the last two decades, scent branding, aka scent marketing, has become a phenomenon undertaken with careful precision and superior advertising strategy.
It is not a quick solution, as building a brand requires careful thought and development and the patient coalition of professional promotion and scent creation skills.
Ambery fragrances demand their own unique scent formulations and our perfume masters know that developing and perfecting a customized scent takes time and skill.
A Few Of Our Recently-Formulated Amber Fragrances
Below are some of our recent, popular (formerly oriental) ambery fragrances.
Black Orchid Amber
Sweet hot black cherry, and citrus bursts of fresh lemon and sharp lime open this fruity floral bouquet of elements that soon drift into heart note marked by intense and intoxicating jasmine, powdery, vanilla-like orchid and creamy, rich gardenia.
These aspects eventually combine with a finishing base note of powdery, buttery sandalwood, earthy musk and elegant and lush vanilla.
Burnt Vanilla Amber
Streams of spicy, clean and refreshing bergamot, velvety, aromatic peach and soft, nutty almond are expressed in the top notes of this alluring fragrance.
These facets soon fold into a heart note bouquet perfumed by light, floral and tart neroli, wild, heady and sweet honeysuckle, intoxicating and intense jasmine, and creamy, smooth gardenia.
The scent completes with a base note marked by aspects of earthy musk, warm, honeyed amber, buttery sandalwood, lush and noble vanilla and dark, sensual patchouli.
Dark Patchouli And Amber
This refined fragrance opens with facets of complex, spicy and fruity bergamot, clean, crisp and meaty almond kernel and succulent, honeyed mandarin.
These elements soon float into a redolent floral heart note featuring facets of dreamy, musky rose, haunting jasmine and sweet, grassy green clover.
The scent completes with a base note characterized by dark, warm amber, erotic and earthy patchouli and creamy sandalwood.
White Musk Amber
Dry acidic and very fragrant citron, crisp apple and slightly sugary, dense pear form the opening notes of this highly aromatic fragrance.
These ingredients soon flow into a floral middle note characterized by expressions of light, bitter neroli, musky, passionate rose, rich and deeply intoxicating jasmine and earthy star anise.
The scent culminates with a base note of cozy, honeyed amber and aromatic, earthy white musk.
Wild Saffron And Amber
Top notes of tart, refreshing and fruity rhubarb, clean, sharp lime and soft, intimate and earthy saffron introduce this unforgettable fragrance.
These aspects soon flow into a floral heart note comprised of rosy and green geranium, banana-nuanced, rich and sugary ylang, soothing and redolent lavender, powdery, woody violet and deeply sensual and haunting jasmine.
Base notes of passionate, animalistic musk, balsamic, musty vetiver, dark, potent patchouli and warm, honeyed amber complete this scent.
Ambery fragrances are here to stay. Their intriguing allure remains unchanged and unchallenged upon that universal fragrance wheel, and they will always present a masterful and mysterious reckoning to the perfume masters of the world.
Contact our teams today, and let us create a unique and unforgettable fragrance for your particular brand!
Originally created and published by Alpha Aromatics Inc., on December 15, 2021.
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