Almost everyone is familiar with amber, the organic gemstone made from ancient resin. The amber fragrance used in modern perfumery, however, is not usually derived from amber; it is actually a construct. Amber does have a musky scent when burned, but it’s a precious and costly material, and the scent is subtle. That’s why perfumers over the centuries have developed a mixture of other ingredients that reflect the richness and warmth of its fragrance. Since amber starts out as tree resin, the smell of resin is an important component in amber scents, and there are often subtle hints of vanilla and clove, as well. Amber adds a warm, sweet, woody and sometimes powdery note to fragrance blends.
It's all in the mix
The traditional amber scent is a mix of benzoin, a tree resin; labdanum, a flower resin; and vanilla. Each perfumer has their own interpretation of the scent and varies the ingredients and the ratios in the mix. Amber has been long considered a default oriental note, but in recent years, perfumers have been creating amber scents that are much more flexible by adding new elements. Additions like frankincense or herbal scents make the fragrance lighter, patchouli makes it earthier and florals make it sweeter. As a result, Amber has become an important note in a variety of unexpected fragrances.
Much like the colour of natural amber varies from white to deep red, so too does the scent fluctuate between light and dark. Lighter or ‘white’ amber scents are cleaner and compliment other light, green or watery scents. Darker, stronger amber scents are usually sweeter and earthier with more of a musky quality, and compliment other resinous, musky and spicy scents.
If you're not very familiar with amber, it is best to try it as a main note first. Then if you like it, you can recognise it other blends. Three great scented candles with a strong amber scent are 1966- Gardenia & Amber by Circa Home Candles, Golden Amber by Aquiesse Candles, and Spanish Amber by Pacifica.
A jewel of perfumery
To a perfumer, a good amber fragrance is just as valuable as a high quality piece of amber is to a jeweller. Both are beautiful, opulent, and versatile. The scent of amber can enhance and extend the life and throw of other fragrances, like florals. As a result, amber is used as a base or middle note in countless fragrances to give them above average lasting power, and to amplify scents that are otherwise hard to detect. Many scented candles at Scentiments contain an amber note for just that reason, from vanilla scents like Archipelago Botanicals’ Vanilla Santal, all the way through florals like Glasshouse Candles’ Kyoto- Camellia & Lotus, to surprising scents like Glasshouse Candles’ Montego Bay – Coconut Lime. Order all of these (and more) online today, and add a little amber to your collection.