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Saintpaulia

A Beginnerís Guide to Buying a Fragrance on a Limited Budget - Part 2

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The samples duly arrived and I tested all three. My reviews of these perfumes appear on my long-running thread in the Just Starting Out forum,i.e. ďNew Member ContinuationĒ. I will not repeat them here. I will say though that I was immediately, strongly attracted to the basic violet scent. The Serge Lutens product was not really a violet soliflore and was quickly excluded from further consideration. The two remaining violets, however, were very much soliflores. They were very closely related with only the slightest differences. Basically I found the violet from Penhaligonís to be softer, more rounded and less persistent, while the Santa Maria Novella violet was a bit harder, more pointed and with greater longevity. It is difficult for me to talk about fragrances as I do not have the experience to use the proper vocabulary. But the Santa Maria Novella violet was, for me, just slightly more interesting (perhaps it has a green note lacking in Penhaligonís?).

In the ensuing weeks I frugally conserved my little sample vials of the two Violettas. On one occasion I even put the Santa Maria on my left wrist and the Penhaligon on my right in a direct comparison. After each test I consistenly found the SMN Violetta preferable, and I found, sadly, that my sample of it was used up much more quickly.

In fact I liked the SMN Violetta so much that I found myself beginning to search the Internet for an affordable bottle. But alas, being a niche fragrance house, Santa Maria Novella products were not to be had cheaply! Nor were those of Penhaligonís. I could buy a 2 ml. sample of SMN Violetta on eBay for $10 plus shipping, which worked out to over $5/ml. The same situation existed for Penhaligon. And I did not want tiny samples anyway. But, to buy these fragrances in the sizes in which they are sold new costs between $110-120 for a 100 ml. bottle. These amounts were more than I had spent during the entirety of my fragrance experience up to that point!

I had reached a situation that would not yield to my ingenuity. No matter how I looked at my prospects of obtaining one of these perfumes, it was going to cost what for me was a lot of money. This was a quandary that existed for several weeks. And then my sample of Penhaligonís Violetta was finally used up.

Then, just this week, I found on the Basenotesí For Sale forum a 100 ml. bottle of Penhaligonís Violetta for $75.00. This was tempting, but I reasoned with myself, ďYou distinctly preferred the Santa Maria Novella and if you buy this Penhaligonís you are always going to be just a bit unhappy that you did not get what you really likedĒ. At that point I had a mini-epiphany of sorts. Another voice said, ďOK, letís say that you did order a 100 ml. bottle of SMN Violetta for $110 plus shipping. That is more perfume in volume than you have ever had; much more than your bottle of Vanilla. How do you know that you might not get over-loaded with violet as a scent? And then if that happened there you are with alot of it and you are $120 poorerĒ. HmmmÖgood point Ďother voiceí.

So I decided to Ďhedge my betsí and compromise. I would order a decant of SMN Violetta from The Perfumed Court. They offer several sizes. For me the right amount of money to spend on this violet kick of mine (about $20 plus shipping) bought me 8 ml. of Violetta. This volume is more than I have ever had of any of my samples and will last me for a goodly amount of time. It will tell me if I really do like SMN Violetta so much that I would spend over $110 on it. So I placed the order last night and now I feel like I have come full circle on this ďViolet Odysseyď.

And it occurred to me this morning that my story might be of some value to other beginners -- at least those who are as anal retentive as I am. For the rest of you free-wheeling souls I cannot be of any help. Fling caution and money to the winds and enjoy yourselves! We who live less impulsively salute you and miserly husband our decants with great devotion.
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  1. Attar's Avatar
    I enjoyed reading this blog and found it very interesting..I also have a background in horticulture and botany but i am fairly new to the world of the perfume making but i think my passion for plants and raw materials fueled my desire to learn more about the process... thank you for sharing your thoughts.
  2. Saintpaulia's Avatar
    You're welcome! It was a fun excercise in writing - to see if I can still do it halfway decent.
  3. Attar's Avatar
    Yeah I have just started writing my own blogs so i am an amateur at best (never written a blog before) but you inspire me to write more.
  4. adonis's Avatar
    Good idea with buying smaller amounts. It's hard to finish a bottle without getting sick of it at the end. And if you have several different scents in your rotation it could be many years before you've emptied a bottle. There are very few I've been able to polish off - Gendarme and Trumper Portugal are the only ones.

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