DANCING LIGHT’S ELEGANT WHITE FLOWER, THE STUNNING JASMINE — PT.1

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

FROM EGYPT…

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! 

 …TO INDIA

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 second Olfactive Studio fragrance to feature Jasmine among its ingredients (after Chambre Noire)! But the first one in a long time.

At the top of Olfactive Studio's very first floral-white fragranceItalian 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.

Famous for its spices and rich biodiversity among a thousand other things, spirituality is also at the core of the Indian nation. Why are we talking about spirituality you may ask yourself? Because flowers are probably one of the best embodiments of this tradition, and not just any flower!

India has grown two particular endemic species of flowers for centuries: Sambac Jasmine for hundreds of years, then Grandiflorum Jasmine for the past forty years. 

We went reporting on-site to Sathyamangalam, in Tamil Nadu (South of India) to see the harvesting and extraction of Sambac Jasmine, and discover the secrets behind the culture of Grandiflorum Jasmine with NESSO, one of the biggest producers of both Jasmine concretes in the country. 

Let us take you on a trip, and jump into the story of Dancing Light’s incredible raw material with Olfactive Studio’s latest blog article!

HERE WE GO AGAIN

Last spring, we introduced you to Jasmine, the different species thriving on our dear planet Earth, a little bit of history, some chemistry, and its usage in perfumery. We basically gave you an overlook of this special flower. Now that you know the basis of Jasmine, buckle up because we’re about to get into the crusty details!

India is the main producer of Sambac Jasmine worldwide, and NESSO is a company that’s been manufacturing Jasmine concrete — the product of the petals' volatile solvent extraction — for over forty years. NESSO isn’t the only one in the game as the competition is strong given the continuous demand for Jasmine in fine fragrance.

Only 35% to 40% of the national Jasmine production goes into industrial uses (perfumery included). The remaining 60-65% that stay in India are used in local industries and mainly serve traditional aims.

Ashwath (Head of Floral Extracts Division & Marketing) and Nanda Kumar (Managing Director at Sathyamangalam Extraction Unit) welcomed our reporting team at one of the main producing belts of Jasmine in the country: the Coimbatore belt, and more specifically in ​​the town of Sathyamangalam — in South West India, Tamil Nadu region, Erode district.

THREE LOCATIONS FOR THREE LEADING INGREDIENTS

As mentioned above, the Coimbatore belt is one of the two major belts for Jasmine production in India. Grandiflorum Jasmine is the leading raw material grown there, but Sambac Jasmine and Tuberose are also produced. The second belt is the cultural capital of Tamil Nadu, Madurai (South East of Coimbatore) which is the major one for Sambac Jasmine — it’s renowned for its traditional flower market where Sambac sales take place.

We must mention Mysore, the third belt — North East of Coimbatore — essentially for Tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa) culture. In Mysore the weather is not ideal for both Jasmine species. Nevertheless, some farmers do grow it in the Mysore area, but not on a large scale and only for domestic purposes.

These belts are specifically and geographically designed for each species to flourish. The best quality of flowers for each species comes from their respective production belt.

But first things first — before we get to the core of the story — let’s take a look (or a smell) at Jasmine among our creations.

JASMINE IN OLFACTIVE STUDIO’S FRAGRANCES

We didn’t wait for the birth of Dancing Light, last May, to embellish our perfumes with king Jasmine! In fact, its big sister Chambre Noire gave us a glimpse of the magic this ingredient could do to a fragrant composition…

DANCING LIGHT

At the top of Olfactive Studio's very first floral-white fragranceItalian 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 start of the perfume the frosted brightness of the great Norwegian north which inspired it. This freshness is also supported by the Siberian Pine Needles (Pinus pinastere) — from the olfactive family of terpenic conifers — both revivifying and with Eucalyptus accents, it perfectly matches the aromatic top notes. 

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 just like its spicy mate the Indian Ocean Pink Berries (Schinus molle), which have 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 Grandiflorum 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 its tree leaf (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's the French Lavandin (Lavandula latifolia) — Lavender's little sister — whose Lavender facet (characterized by linalyl acetate — its main component) brings a refined floral-fresh aspect.

Two noble woods complement the base of Dancing Light — the first one comes from India — the great Sandalwood (Santalum album) with its unique milky facet, extends the same facet given by the Fig Milk accord. The scent of Sandalwood is certainly woody, but it also reminds us of yellow flowers, making it an ideal asset for a floral fragrance! Cedarwood (Juniperus virginiana) comes straight out of Virginia (USA). Its resinous side echoes the Pine Needles, and its earthy facet adds to that of the woody Mosses (Evernia furfuracea) — evoking the undergrowth — which also offer ambery notes. These voluptuous Ambery Notes dance in the base of Dancing Light, hand in hand with the tender mellow Musks.

 

DISCOVER DANCING LIGHT

CHAMBRE NOIRE 

In Chambre Noire, the Jasmine we encounter is none other than Grandiflorum Jasmine — a dark Jasmine — animalistic and floral at once. From the top of the perfume comes the peppery Pink Berries (Schinus molle), with their slightly zesty edge. A quite expensive raw material that blends well with the woody facet of the perfume, which it enhances thanks to its floral-spicy side. The latter ingredient acts as a junction between the head and the heart.

Chambre Noire quickly reveals its heart of Egyptian Jasmine, but that’s not it! Papyrus (Cyperus scariosus), from which the fragrant rhizome is extracted (like Vetiver) brings a spicy facet to the woods of the perfume, while matching them with its earthy facet reminiscent of Vetiver (a woody ingredient). Allied to Jasmine is the Violet accord with its floral-powdery side and its little fruity-strawberry note.

Frankincense (Boswellia carteri) is clearly sensed, emphasising the sensual woody character of the fragrance. It is a very balsamic Incense, a facet supported by the Vanilla Absolute (Vanilla planifolia), itself sweet and creamy. Its spicy side matches perfectly with Pink Berries, and Papyrus, which each have characteristic spicy notes. Rounded by Vanilla, the Prune accord is fruity and sweet, and echoes the fruity side of Violet.

In the base we have the Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin) and Sandalwood (Santalum album) couple. The yellow flower facet of Sandalwood resonates with Jasmine (white flower) and its lactonic facet with Vanilla and Musks. The woody-earthy Patchouli and its dark chocolate note combines with the sweet facet of Vanilla to awaken our taste buds through gustatory notes! The association of these two woody raw materials to Incense accentuates its woody-resinous power and gives an Oud effect (Aquilaria malaccensis).

The Musks have a creamy facet that matches the milky Sandalwood, as well as a fruity side reminiscent of red fruits, combining with the Prune accord at heart. Vanilla, with its spicy side, joins the head of Pink Berries, and makes the spices persist in the base. The Leather accord offers an opulent and bewitching base, whose animalistic facet matches that of Vanilla and Musks.

With Chambre Noire, we have a woody-balsamic fragrance, providing a real sensation of comforting warmth. The ensemble has many oriental aspects with vanilla accents, floral notes of Jasmine and even notes that evoke Oud (a raw material with animal-woody-amber-smoky facets).

 

DISCOVER CHAMBRE NOIRE

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. 

JASMINOLOGY

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