Perfume Directory

Émeraude (1921)
by Coty


Émeraude information

Year of Launch1921
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 146 votes)

People and companies

PerfumerFrançois Coty
Parent CompanyBenckiser > Coty Inc > Coty Beauty
Parent Company at launchCoty Inc

About Émeraude

Émeraude is a feminine perfume by Coty. The scent was launched in 1921 and the fragrance was created by perfumer François Coty

Émeraude fragrance notes

Reviews of Émeraude

Well, this takes me right back to high school and to Joanie Fulmer, the girl I sat next to in history class each day. And because I simply cannot bear orientals and especially sweet, powdery ones, I can only handle sniffing this from the bottle. Soooo heavy and sooo powdery and sooo thickly sweet. Whew! I can only appreciate this in the same way I appreciate Shalimar...i.e., theoretically.
27th January, 2019
Émeraude (1921) is to François Coty what Shalimar is to Jacques Guerlain, and perfectly shows where Coty as a house sat in relation to most other perfume brands. Coty can be seen as something of a pioneer, forging new genres with his Chypre de Coty (1917) in the same manner Paul Parquet forged the fougère in the makings of Houbigant Fougère Royale (1882), while houses such a Guerlain - and later Chanel - would be focused on expanding and perfecting those genres. Coty wanted to put more perfume into the hands of more people, and that "downmarket" mindset would pay off handsomely in the end, but at the cost of reputation as Coty joined the ranks of Arden, Revlon, Avon, Matchabelli, and Charles of the Ritz as the perfume people who couldn't afford Guerlain or Chanel bought. The same would be said of Émeraude in time: it was the perfume Suzy Homemaker bought at Sears because her husband Blue Collar Bob wasn't shelling out the big bucks for a trip to Bloomingdale's. In truth, Émeraude presents a neater, drier, and greener precursor to Shalimar, plus was unlikely a source of inspiration to Jacques Guerlain after that fateful day of spilling vanillin into a batch of his uncle Aimé's Jicky (1889). Émeraude is the safer of the two to wear to work, and far more aromatic, being perfect for a smoker. Shalimar feels more at home on the bedsheets before whoopie is made due to all the animalics and sweet oriental tones in it, and just feels more romantic overall. Émeraude is the older, more serious sister from a working-class upbringing; she wants to be presentable but not taken for face-value, and has no time for flirting. My grandmother loved this scent, and I am beginning to see why.

Coty Émeraude has come in a huge variety of concentrations and subtle tweaks over the years, from parfum (which this review is based on), to eau de colognes, parfum de toilettes, oils, you name it. All of these permutations rest green florals and sweet citrus on a bed of woods, patchouli, amber, oakmoss, and benzoin. Only the orange opening and subtle hint of vanilla in the base really gives much link to the later Shalimar, but it's enough to spark a generations-old debate. The opening of Émeraude parfum starts with a huge green rounded citrus mix that almost smells of tobacco and vetiver despite not officially containing either note in the published pyramid. I chalk this up to the way orange and bergamot plays with the meaty tarragon in the top, with elements of the rosewood coming on early from the heart to give a tarry ochre presence. I get a bit of clean orris root surrounded by rose, jasmine, ylang-ylang, and a bit of powdery heliotrope to let you know this was pitched to a proper woman, but that "smoker's ambiance" can't be shaken and follows through the floriental heart. The base is amber, patchouli, opoponax, and sandalwood first, continuing the green aromatic tones of the fragrance. The orange, orris, heliotrope, and amber fight a losing battle to really make this feel more womanly, and although it's no Bandit (1944), Émeraude is fairly butch for a woman's perfume a century after its introduction. Oakmoss and vanilla smooth and pat down the final glow of Émeraude, but it still isn't enough to remove the butch feeling thanks to the benzoin, and something like this wouldn't feel out of place in a man's wardrobe if he enjoys things like Guerlain Vetiver (1961) or Givenchy Gentleman (1974), especially if he occasionally enjoys dandy smells. Wear time varies on concentration, but I imagine no version lasts under 6 hours nor projects less than anything modern.

My grandmother likely enjoyed Émeraude because she was blue collar too and not blue blood, with accesible drugstore fragrances, like Émeraude alongside Tabu (1932), Heaven Sent (1941), and various Avons rounding out her small boudoir of perfumes loud enough to cut through her smoking of True cigarettes (with the funny triangle filter inserts), while Chanel No 5 (1921) would be too gauche for her (even though my mom loved it), and Youth Dew (1953) too trashy. I feel Émeraude gained most of its fans throughout history by being a Goldilocks of sorts for a lot of women, as it was the right amount of performance (during an era of heavy smoking), versatility, and almost neutral attitude that was an easy-reach generalist to the early through mid 20th century woman in the same way something like Brut (1962) would be to the mid through late 20th century man, and Émeraude isn't far removed from Brut in composition outside its lack of coumarin, which is the missing keystone keeping it from otherwise being a fougère. As it stands, this unique green aromatic oriental is a masterpiece of elegance through efficiency, and François Coty embued Émeraude with just what it needed to be fashion-forward in its day, enough so that it still gets called the inspiration for Shalimar whether it really is or not. I'll definitely keep some around to enjoy its garden tones over oriental warmth, as its a rare green aromatic floral that holds up in cold thanks to the oriental base. I also don't see it as rendundant alongside Shalimar either, nor inferior due to market standing, as both have distinct characters and qualities all their own. One place I would wear Émeraude where I wouldn't wear Shalimar is on a casual outing, so there's that. Seek vintage if you can, as Coty barely cares for its own portfolio these days since it owns half the perfume industry. Thumbs up for good old Émeraude!
21st December, 2018
Stardate 20171205:

Vintage Version.
I find it very similar to Shalimar. The dirty vanilla, the musk , the amber.
But not as good.
And that makes sense cause this came 4 years before shalimar. Guerlain copied and perfected this Coty's oriental just like Mitsouko was a perfected version of Chypre.

Neutral to Thumbs up
05th December, 2017
50's perfume.
Emeraude may very well be the first fragrance I remember. My mother must have worn this in the birthing room. I have distant oedipal associations relate to suckle.
Very similar to Guerlain Shalimar as it shares an accord of 60's pink rubbery plastic dolls.The Coty, easier to wear as a man due to it's Leathery base with a non smothering powder. Vanilla and sugar content is rigorously counterpointed by the Citrus providing beautiful balance.
Glorious, Classic scent that has suffered much from reform.

Hiram Green's Voyage shares some similarity and same finesse.
26th August, 2017 (last edited: 01st September, 2017)
Smells like a feminine powdery version of Habit Rouge. This should have been called Headache, because that's what it is.
15th November, 2016
Post-modern choreographer David Gordon gave a lecture at my university in the early 1980s. His advice to young choreographers was to steal. Steal anything, steal often. Acknowledge the source material or don’t. Take what you steal and do whatever you care to with it. His point was that there is no such thing as a new idea, and if there were, so what? Citation of sources, intellectual property rights and plagiarism are irrelevant—-ideas are shared. Granted, Gordon was a founding member of the Judson Dance Theater, whose dissection of traditional forms had a strong element of sabotage to it. Still, the notion is interesting.

So, did Jacques Guerlain steal from François Coty’s Emeraude when he created Shalimar?

Emeraude preceded Shalimar by 4 years. There are strong similarities in their olfactory profiles. Bergamot topnotes and floral heartnotes enveloped in vanillic-amber bases would come to define the historical “oriental” genre. Sweet, resinous, nearly-gourmand qualities made both perfumes rich and heady but the durable musky, powdery base kept them from becoming desserts. Due to the preponderance of durable, resinous materials (benzoin, labdanum, vanilla, tonka, oppopanax, sandalwood) the perfumes of this era and genre have a long arc that plays out over hours and days. I think of these perfumes as speaking with a drawl.

If these two perfumes were competitors over the years, Shalimar is the clear winner. It has been kept in excellent trim by Guerlain and is a mainstay of the brand. Guerlain have quoted (and flanked) Shalimar many times over the years, but the references have been thoughtful, if not always well-received (see: Shalimar Parfum Initial). Emeraude, poor dear, left the building sometime during the Coty brand’s slow fall from grace after the company was bought by Pfizer in1963. Emeraude, along with l’Origan, l’Aimant, la Rose Jacqueminot and the other seminal early perfumes composed by Fançois Coty were notoriously gutted by cheap reformulation. They became the ‘old and in the way’ models you had to pick past to get to Coty Wild Musk, Stetson and Aspen at the local drug store.

I’ve smelled a few vintage versions and concentrations of Emeraude over the years and while there are differences, they are largely the same perfume. I’m currently sniffing a bottle of the Eau de Toilette Concentrée from the ‘60s. The materials that define the ‘oriental’ genre have distinctive, recognizable scent profiles. Bergamot’s tartness counterbalances a warm, ambery vanilla base, creating a particular dynamic. The unfolding of the topnotes into the heart is quite similar in both but over time the perfumes diverge. Shalimar becomes both sweeter and more animalic. Emeraude veers away from its initial sweetness and leans into the rubbery aspect of amber materials to provide a more leathery drydown The nitro musks that were in use at the time gave amber perfumes a strolling pace. They added endurance to perfumes, but more importantly they added depth and dimensionality. They kept olfactory tones distinct and allowed perfumes made from hundreds of materials to resist becoming porridge. Emeraude smells tart, powdery and leathery at the same time. Smoothness is balanced by angularity, making the perfume interesting from top to bottom.

So who robbed whom? I understand linking Shalimar to the Coty perfume, not only for their olfactory similarities, but for the cliché orientalism that both brands perpetuated. (* Again, Shalimar wins.) Primarily, though, Shalimar is a riff on Guerlain’s benchmark citrus-over-coumarin/musk perfume from 1889, Jicky. Jacques Guerlain simply stole from his younger self. Shalimar has unmistakable similarities to Emeraude, which came first, but it’s likely that Emeraude cribbed from perfumes that preceded it.

The abundance of fairly similar oriental perfumes doesn’t point to mass larceny. It’s a valuable demonstration of how olfactory vocabularies develop and are shared. And even if it were stealing, David Gordon says it’s OK.
23rd February, 2016

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