With Valentine’s Day around the corner, we thought it appropriate to explore one of the most well known aphrodisiac ingredients in perfumery: jasmine. If you have not smelled jasmine yet, it will be quite challenging to imagine its sultry character that, defying expectations, somehow contributes lightness to an accord.
Jasmine has hundreds of species; the two most commonly used in perfumery are Jasminum grandiflorum and Jasminum sambac. Jasmine is thought to have originated either in India or Persia. It is famously nocturnal. The blooms open at dusk and remain open all night, becoming a nectar source for moths and other nocturnal insects. The blooms are harvested ideally in the early morning hours.
Jasmine’s scent is obtained through the process of solvent extraction, producing a “concrete” which is then treated with alcohol to separate the precious jasmine absolute. In the early days of perfumery, enfleurage was used which consisted of placing jasmine blooms onto layers of fat, which absorbed the scent after many days and many blooms used. The blooms are harvested in September and October.
It takes around 8,000 blooms to produce one milliliter of jasmine absolute. One can understand why it is among the most expensive ingredients used in perfumery.
Besides jasmine’s aphrodisiac properties, it also is considered to be an anti-depressant and is used to relieve headaches. In skin care products, jasmine helps to improve the elasticity of the skin and balances oil production.
What do the jasmines smell like? Both are rather intense and strong when smelled on their own, but when used in a blend, they add brightness to an accord.
Jasminum grandiflorum absolute is described as floral, slightly animalic (due to the indole and skatole notes within), resembling orange blossom flowers, rich, sexy, musky and intense. It is the jasmine most well known in the West. It is described as creamy and full-bodied.
Jasminum sambac absolute’s scent is greener, fruitier and fresher than its cousin. It is used more in Indian and Far Eastern cultures than in the West, but it is gaining a strong surge in popularity. J. sambac is the national flower of Indonesia and the Philippines (where it is called Sampaquita) and much loved in India and Japan.
It is important to mention the “jasmines” which are really not part of the Jasminum family, even though they are widely considered to be so.
These include “night blooming jasmine” (really Cestrum Nocturnum), “night flowering jasmine” (really Nyctanthes arbor-tristis), “Madagascar jasmine” (really Stephanotis floribunda) and “Confederate or star jasmine” (really Trachelospermum jasminoides).
Here at Indigo Perfumery, jasmine takes a prominent role in the following perfumes:
Sumatera by Coquillete Paris
Jasmin Rêvé by Aux Pays de La Fleur d’Oranger
Loretta by Deco London
Indochine by Belle Fleur
Pretty Machine by Kerosene
Fiore di Bellagio by En Voyage
Hindu Honeysuckle by Providence Perfume
Néa by Jul et Mad
For a short but sweet view on J. sambac‘s harvesting in India, check this out: