Amber, Ambre Gris , and Ambroxan, these terms sound familiar to fragrance lovers. But what is the difference? What do they have to do with the whale?
Anyone who has ever studied perfume fragrance pyramids has probably come across ambergris at one time or another. It is a very sensual ingredient, which is often used as a base note, as it gives the fragrance a warm ambery direction. Amber is the umbrella term for the fragrance direction defined by ambre gris, ambroxan and other molecules of the amber class.
Ambre gris used to be the only type of amber that existed. It is a natural product of the sperm whale found on the beach. When sperm whales eat squid, indigestible parts in their intestines are transformed into ambergris precursor, which enters the sea through excretion and must float on the ocean surface for several years until it is transformed into valuable ambergris by oxidation. It is only by floating around in salt water and coming into contact with the air that it acquires its gray to black, solid appearance and characteristic aroma. Natural finds of this sea gold can weigh up to 100 kg. Since ambre gris is very rare and expensive, the molecule ambroxan is often used in perfumes, an oxidation product of ambre gris that is produced artificially by fragrance companies. Many amber molecules are large and heavy and cannot be smelled by half the human population, but the effect of their addition to a perfume formulation can be smelled by everyone, which is an interesting effect.
The amber tree or the amber as a fossil tree resin that has hardened over up to 70 million years has nothing to do with the perfume ingredient amber. Contrary to widespread opinion, fossil amber is not used in perfumes. The perfume marketing departments have started to use pictures of fossil amber to communicate the amber aroma, because the fossil amber looks very beautiful on visuals. Amber trees, also called liquidambar, grow in Asia, Central and North America and take their name from the Latin term liquidus meaning liquid and the Arabic word anbar meaning amber. Their fragrant resin called styrax is used for medicinal purposes, incense or in perfumery and gives off a heavy, sweet, relaxing smell.
The fragrance Molecule 02 by Geza Schön is made of pure ambroxan. A balsamic, aphrodisiac fragrance, which can be worn alone or in the form of fragrance layering. Ambroxan is also used in Aura Nuit, Rêves Sucrés, or Aqua Glacialis.