Jasminum sambac and Jasminum grandiflorum are the two types of Jasmine employed by perfumers in fine fragrance. Their delicate pale flowers have in common their bewitching scent, yet J.sambac is more orange flower-like, and greener than J.grandiflorum. The latter has a more fruity and animalistic scent.
If both are cultivated in the southern Indian region of Tamil Nadu (anciently called Madras), Sambac Jasmine is also native to India, and Grandiflorum Jasmine is famously grown in Egypt and Grasse as well. In the 18th century, the traditional enfleurage method was used to extract its delightful scent.
Legend tells Cleopatra perfumed her boat’s sails with Jasmine, to seduce Marc Anthony, her lover. Kama’s bow’s arrows (the Hindu god of desire) are decorated by fragrant flowers among which Jasmine is found.
Discover what’s behind the illustrious ingredient of Olfactive Studio’s brand new Dancing Light!
AN INTRODUCTION TO TWO COUSIN JASMINES
The Jasminum grandiflorum species, also called Egyptian Jasmine in perfumery, commonly Spanish Jasmine, and employed in perfumes is currently grown in Egypt, India, Grasse, and Morocco.
The plant is native to a quite a few regions of the world, namely South Asia, China, Arabia, and East Africa, as its exact origin isn’t known. It was imported to Grasse the ancient French capital of perfumery (south-east of France) in the 17th century.
Botanically speaking both Jasmine species belong to the Jasminum genus which is part of the Oleaceae family.
Its recognizable 5 petal dainty white flowers are freshly picked by hand from bushes very early in the morning and promptly extracted due to their delicacy!
The Jasminum sambac species, named Arabian Jasmine as well, is cultivated in two main locations: South India in the region of Tamil Nadu where the city of Madurai embodies the capital of Sambac Jasmine, and south of the Himalayas.
This particular species of Jasmine was born in the East of India, right at the feet of the mythical Himalaya Mountain range!
The main difference you’ll notice with its cousin Grandiflorum Jasmine is its total of petals, which easily surpasses Grandiflorum’s regular 5!
Historically, it was used to perfume teas in wedding ceremonies in South East Asia and braided into women’s hair.
JASMINE GRANDIFLORUM IN OUR SPRING BABY: DANCING LIGHT
May is finally here, the cold has drifted away, and the tiny flower buds are getting ready to flourish any second now! We’re craving the vernal sun on our pretty faces and eager to smell the new scents of springtime!
We’re welcoming the new flowering season and our just launched fragrance: Dancing Light. Olfactive Studio’s new creation was inspired by radiant colorful glows in the skies, the incredible Norwegian northern lights.
Dancing Light is the first Olfactive Studio fragrance to feature Jasmine among its ingredients!
At the top of Olfactive Studio's very first floral-white fragrance, Italian Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) attracts us with its sparkling sour facet. This refreshing sensation is not only due to this citrus fruit so appreciated in perfumery but also to several aromatic raw materials that mark our nose from the start of the perfume.
First of all we have the Glacial Mint (Mentha piperita glacialis) whose cold side, confers to the departure of the perfume the frosted brightness of the great Norwegian north which inspires it. This freshness is also supported by French Lavandin (Lavandula latifolia), Lavender's little sister, whose Lavender facet characterized by linalyl acetate (its main component) brings a refined floral-fresh aspect.
Can you smell the so-called "cold" spices among the top notes? The Guatemalan Cardamom (Eletteria cardamomum), whose zesty facet combines with that of Bergamot, is also peppery, as is its spicy mate, the Indian Ocean Pink Berry (Schinus molle), which has both fruity and floral facets. The first facet blends with the sunny Pineapple accord and the creamy Fig Milk accord, and the second introduces the floral heart of Dancing Light.
The heart is adorned with a wonderful bouquet of white flowers composed of natural ingredients and subtle accords imagined by the perfumer. We have the splendid Egyptian Jasmine (Jasminum grandiflorum), obviously floral, so solar, fruity, and even animalistic (indole facet), and the sweet Moroccan Neroli (Citrus aurantium) with its soothing honey and green facet reminiscent of the leaf of its tree (orange tree). The Freesia accord interprets the soft scent of this luminous flower close to Jasmine, while the Seringa accord, also called "poets' jasmine" or "mock-orange", gives us a hint of Orange Blossom.
Another ingredient in the heart of Dancing Light makes the freshness last... It is the Siberian Pine Needles (Pinus pinastere), from the family of terpenic conifers, both revivifying and with accents of Eucalyptus, it perfectly matches the aromatic top notes.
Two noble woods complement the base of Dancing Light, the first comes from India, it is the Sandalwood (Santalum album) with its unique milky facet that extends the effect of the Fig Milk accord. Sandalwood is certainly woody, but it also olfactively reminds us of yellow flowers, making it an ideal companion for a floral fragrance! Cedarwood (Juniperus virginiana) comes straight from Virginia. Its resinous side echoes the Pine Needles, and its earthy facet joins that of the Mosses (Evernia furfuracea), also woody evoking the undergrowth, and with ambery notes. We find this last facet in the voluptuous Ambery Notes that dance in the base of Dancing Light, hand in hand with the tender mellow Musks.
GRANDIFLORUM VS SAMBAC
AN ESTABLISHED RAW MATERIAL
Grandiflorum Jasmine was the first Jasmine to amaze noses and perfume lovers as it's been employed in modern perfumery for over 400 years!
The harvesting of Grandiflorum Jasmine takes place in the summer starting in June which corresponds to the flower's blooming period, though the culture continues until December.
After a volatile solvent extraction is conducted, we obtain a Jasmine concrete which is then distillated to collect Jasmine absolute which consists in an orange-yellow liquid. About 400 kilograms of flowers are needed to get 1 kilogram of absolute.
Historically, Grandiflorum Jasmine essential oil was acquired through the enfleurage technique by placing its petals among layers of a fatty substance, to saturate it with the flower’s oil.
AMID PERFUMERY'S MOST ICONIC FLOWERS
On a scented level, Grandiflorum Jasmine absolute belongs to the floral jasmine olfactive family and is characterized by animalistic, fruity and jasmine tea-like facets. It’s employed as a heart note, and used in floral bouquets for rich, fresh, floral hearts. It’s also interesting in chypres perfumes.
Can you guess this incredible ingredient’s price? Grandiflorum Jasmine absolute costs near 8000 euros per kilogram, which explains why many cheaper jasmine bases like Firmenich’s “jasmin 231” are used in the industry.
These were created to adapt the Jasmine absolute to the price limitations often faced by perfumers (much less in niche perfumery), to the restrictions, and to the variability of the supply. These bases can contain Jasmine absolute, making them more expensive, and can also promote new molecules called "captive bodies".
ENCLOSING ASTONISHING AROMATIC COMPOUNDS
And what about its chemical components? The main aromatic molecules in Grandiflorum Jasmine absolute are benzyl acetate (25 to 30%) discernible by its jasmine-like scent also reminiscent of banana, other benzyl esters such as benzyl benzoate (10 to 15%) marked by a balsamic scent reminiscent of almond, phytol (also 10 to 15%), methyl jasmonate, and indole, recognizable by an animalistic, deep, and rich scent.
Along with the presence of allergens, the IFRA (The International Fragrance Association) has regulated this raw material. Nevertheless, these regulations are often overcome by Jasmine Grandiflorum’s self-limitation due to its elevated price.
Grandiflorum Jasmine is an all-time classic in perfumery, and its solar scent has put it under the spotlight in floral bouquets as well as a sole note in soliflores (perfumes olfactively built around one main floral ingredient).
A NEW INGREDIENT IN THE GAME
Sambac Jasmine has only recently been employed in perfumery since the 1980’s, and its ancestrial traditional purposes grant the industry with no more than 10% of the flower’s production! The remaining 90% are dedicated to ornaments and sacred offerings.
The same process as Grandiflorum is used to extract Sambac Jasmine, meaning an absolute is obtained after the concrete is collected by volatile solvent extraction.
WITH A DIFFERENT TYPE OF STRATEGY
Although this species has the uniqueness of being harvested during the first hours of daylight when the flowers haven’t completely blossomed and remain in a bud form. Unlike Grandiflorum Jasmine, the extraction happens two hours later, after the flowers have completely bloomed and released their peculiar fragrance.
With 800 kilograms of flowers, the yield allows 1 kilogram of concrete to be attained, and 600 grams of Sambac Jasmine absolute under the form of a brown to reddish liquid. This dark color is due to the presence of indole (2%), a molecule that darkens the solution with time.
AND ITS OWN SCENTED MOLECULES
On a chemical level, the major components of this absolute are farnesene (20 to 25%) which is responsible for the pronounced green facet, the characteristic benzyl acetate (15 to 20%), linalol (15%) always so clean scented, methyl anthranilate (8%) which brings the orange blossom aspect (also one of the main molecules in Orange Blossom absolute), cis 3 hexenol and its esters cis-3-hexenyl acetate and benzoate (8% and 2%) which bring a refreshing fruity facet.
Sambac Jasmine is regulated just like its cousin, and often self-limited by its cost. Speaking of cost, which Jasmine do you think is more expensive? The answer is Grandiflorum, since Sambac cost half of its cousin’s price per kilogram aka 4000 euros per kilogram.
FRAGRANCES' NEW FAV
As a flower, Sambac Jasmine remains a heart note belonging to the floral jasmine olfactive family. This ingredient’s amazing scent is quite different from its Grandiflorum cousin, and offers us a greener, less fruity scent, reminiscent of orange blossom and with a prominent indole facet.
In modern compositions, it’s appreciated to add a jasmine effect to formula. This raw material is also perfect in orange blossom, honeysuckle, freesia, and magnolia notes.
With its fresh petal-like and almost “orange blossom-hybrid” scent, Sambac Jasmine is nowadays as popular, if not more, than its Egyptian cousin and fine fragrance noses don’t hesitate to imagine a thousand and one ways to compose with their new favorite Jasmine!
SOME JASMINE ON OUR SKIN
CLASSICS TO START WITH
In modern perfumery, this emblematic flower can be found in legendary fragrances! Can you recall Jasmine’s mythical fragrance? It includes an odd number…
The one and only Chanel n°5! That’s right, Ernest Beaux composed this floral aldehyde fragrance (referring to its olfactive family) for Coco Chanel in 1921 in which Egyptian Jasmine is joined by Bergamot, Ylang Ylang, Vetiver, and Sandalwood alongside more fragrant ingredients. Today Chanel n°5 is still part of the worldwide bestsellers on the fragrance market by the way.
Following this masterpiece was created Joy by Patou in 1935, a perfume formulated by nose Henri Almeiras and turning out to be one of the first floral bouquets out there, featuring the majestuous Rose, Tuberose, and Jasmine.
More recently in 1999, Dior’s J’adore, a fruity floral perfume commercialized for women created by Calice Becker became the most popular fruity floral perfume of the 21st century with its unique Pear-Jasmine accord (an accord is a blend of a handful of raw materials which are combine to create a new scent following the scheme A + B = C).
TIME FOR NEWBIES
You’ll often come across Sambac Jasmine in oriental and modern floral fragrances. Among these are Hypnôse by Lancôme, created in 2005 by Annick Ménardo and Thierry Wasser, in which Sambac Jasmine is sensually surrounded by a Gardenia accord and a warm base of Vetiver and Vanilla.
Lancôme’s bestseller La vie est belle composed by IFF perfumers Anne Flippo, Dominique Ropion, and Olivier Polge in 2012 is a feminine floral fruity fragrance where Sambac Jasmine sparks besides Orange Blossom at heart, preceded by top notes of Pear, and followed by a base of Patchouli and Tonka Bean.
Did you know the word used in old French for jasmine was “jessemin”? This little explanation on the word’s root might help you understand its origins.
The word “jasmine” comes from French “jasmin”, borrowed from Latin jasminum, itself derived from Persian “yāsamīn” meaning “gift from god” and “fragrant flower”.
Often mentioned in Hindi, Arabic, Persan, and Turkish litterature, Jasmine is perhaps the most revered flower in the East. An ancient oriental poem translated in the 19th century by Garcin de Tassy exalts king Jasmine :
"My penetrating scent prevails over the perfume of other flowers; thus lovers choose me to bestow upon their mistresses. I am drawn from the invisible treasures of the divinity, and I rest only in the kind of traps that the folds of a dress form on the breast."
Anna Grézaud-Tostain for Olfactive Studio