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  1. #1
    jdnba's Avatar
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    Question Is amber ambergris?

    I know that ambergris is a by product of a sperm whales vomit, but when colognes contain amber notes are they referring to ambergris or is this some other olfactory variation?
    Thanks for the help

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Is amber ambergris?

    I am 99% sure that amber is a natural mineral that is found within the earth itself.


    From Wikipedia.org:
    Amber is the common name for fossil resin or tree sap that is appreciated for its inherent and interesting mixture of colours and it is widely used for the manufacture of ornamental objects. Although not mineralized, it is sometimes considered and used as a gemstone. Most of the world's amber is in the range of 30–90 million years old. Semi-fossilized resin or sub-fossil amber is called copal.
    Last edited by Thrax; 29th September 2007 at 05:36 AM.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Is amber ambergris?

    Quote Originally Posted by jdnba View Post
    I know that ambergris is a by product of a sperm whales vomit
    are u serious?

    Where does Creed get all its Ambergis from?

    gupts

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    Default Re: Is amber ambergris?

    A lot of perfumes with ambergris notes do not contain actual ambergris. Amber and Ambergris notes are completely different.
    Last edited by matreal; 29th September 2007 at 05:49 AM.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Is amber ambergris?

    Quote Originally Posted by gupts View Post
    are u serious?

    Where does Creed get all its Ambergis from?

    gupts
    Yes i am serious...ambergris is a very precious substance and apparently extremely expensive...i dont know where creed getstheirs from.

    I understand that amber is fossilized tree sap, but i didnt think it had a smell! I mean...diamond does not have a smell, but then again i have seen "ebony" listed as a note...i dont understnd how minerals(other than maybe sulfur) have smells....i am not a chemistry major, but i didnt relize that stones and rocks had scents. So what exactly is AMBER then as far as scent is concerned...i know that prada pour homme is also called amber so i will asume that it has that as a major note, but idont like it.
    --------------------------------------
    Ambergris occurs as a biliary secretion of the intestines of the sperm whale, and can be found floating upon the sea, or in the sand near the coast. Because giant squids' beaks have been found embedded within lumps of ambergris, scientists have theorized that the whale's intestine produces the substance as a means of facilitating the passage of hard, sharp objects that the whale might have inadvertently eaten. Ambergris can be found in the Atlantic Ocean; on the coasts of Brazil and Madagascar; also on the coast of Africa, of the East Indies, The Maldives, mainland China, Japan, India, Australia, New Zealand and the Molucca islands. However, most commercially collected ambergris came from the Bahama Islands, Providence Island, etc. It is also sometimes found in the abdomens of whales.

    This is from wikipedia

    According to osmoz.com amber does refer to various olfactory variations including ambergris, ambrette, and clary sage...i guess i answered my own question. ha ha
    Last edited by jdnba; 29th September 2007 at 06:09 AM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost

  6. #6

    Default Re: Is amber ambergris?

    Amber is a very hard wood resin, so it does have a smell. Like pine resin or maple syrup - just much more refined.

    Ambergris ("grey amber") used to be valued as an alternative source of amber-like scent. It's a bit more marine and animalic though.

    Ebony is a hardwood, not a mineral.

  7. #7
    jdnba's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is amber ambergris?

    thanks alkman...i was wondering what ebony was. Sometimes i see notes that just confuse the hell out of me and i consider myself fairly well educated in the world of fragrance...though i still have a lot to learn and am very curious about the chemistry and ingredients that make cologne and all the wonderful variations that exist...i think that is why i got into frags in the first place....thanks for the posts everyone

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Is amber ambergris?


  9. #9

    Default Re: Is amber ambergris?

    Ambergris can fetch around $10,000 per KILO! This in part will account for the cost of fragrances, particularly when considering the cost of the raw material and the refining process involved.
    Its found along the tidelines (usually just above the line where the seaweed has been deposited after a storm).
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Is amber ambergris?

    Here's some good discussion on ambergris with comments by Luca Turin:

    http://www.profumo.it/perfume/natura...ambergris.html
    --------------------------------------
    I haven't smelled natural ambergris myself, but those who have say that mature high grade ambergris smells "sweet and tart/anise-like".
    Last edited by zztopp; 29th September 2007 at 08:16 AM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
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  11. #11

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    Default Re: Is amber ambergris?

    ...I hope this does not add to the confusion. Amber, myrrh and frankincense are different tree resins, and somehow related to year zero of our time (if I remember that properly).

    (1) Amber (aged tree sap,resin, hardened) is not a mineral, and also found on beaches, particularly on the sandy shores of the Baltic sea (jewelry).
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amber

    (2)
    Ambergris is commonly referred as "amber" in perfumery and should not be confused with yellow amber, which is used in jewelry." ... n.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perfume - 121k Perfume - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    (3)
    Wholesale Amber Oil, Organic Amber Oil, Amber Essence Oil, Amber ...
    "Due to its unpleasant aroma, it is not used in aromatherapy or perfumery". Amber Resin. Is Eden Botanicals' Amber Essence Oil pure? Amber Essence Oil made by ..." www.edenbotanicals.com/about_amber_oil.html - 22k - Cached - Similar pages
    Last edited by narcus; 30th September 2007 at 05:58 AM.
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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Is amber ambergris?

    Many perfumes get their amber notes from synthetics or from natural ingredients other than ambergris. Two of the most common natural sources are ambrette seeds, which have a vanilla-like odor, and labdanum, also called gum cistus or rockrose, which is the closest other natural ingredient to the scent derived from sperm whale ambergris.

    The whale product is fetid in the natural state, and like other animal notes, must be greatly diluted before it acquires a pleasant aroma.

    Also, amber from trees has no resemblance in odor to ambergris.
    Last edited by JaimeB; 29th September 2007 at 11:10 AM.
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  13. #13

    Default Re: Is amber ambergris?

    so when a scent is noted as very ambery or an amber scent does it refer to more the labdanum ambergris type note or is the amber fragrance usually based more on the tree resin type amber scent. I understand the difference between the two terms but when somebody says oh that is an amber fragrance is it closer to one or the other type of "amber" that being the animalistic amber or the plant resin "amber"

  14. #14

    Default Re: Is amber ambergris?

    When I say "ambery," I think I mean the tree resin, prominent in frags like Gucci Envy, Jovan Sex Appeal, KL Lagerfeld, and Prada (all men's versions). Am I wrong? A strong ambergris frag does not sound too appealing to me. The chemist on the web page zztop mentioned described it as "humid, earthy, fecal, marine, algoid, tobacco-like, sandalwood-like, sweet, animal, musky and radiant.” I don't know if this is somewhat similar to what I get from Horizon, which is humid, earthy, and marine, but I can do without the fecal, animal, and tobacco (I'll go with Bogart PH when I want tobacco), so I'm not too jealous.

    ;-)
    Last edited by Bigsly; 29th May 2008 at 04:05 AM. Reason: needed to add more

  15. #15

    Default Re: Is amber ambergris?

    Well, Gucci envy has an incense note in it, I'd say frankincense, and Prada's predominant note is Myrrh, so I think you are misusing the term ambery for 'incensey', Bigsly. Not sure about the Jovan or Lagerfeld though.
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  16. #16

    Default Re: Is amber ambergris?

    I think the majority of the time, in perfumery, a reference to amber means ambergris, be it real or synthetic. I find little reference to tree sap / amber being used extensively in perfumery, while ambergris holds a place of huge significance, right along with civet/musk. As you probably know, civet has an even less savory origen (anal glands of cats), and certainly smells somewhat offensive until diluted, just like ambergris.

    Again, I'm sure most is synthetic in most applications, but the smell is meant to be ambergris, which is often referred to simply as amber in historical perfumery.

  17. #17

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    Default Re: Is amber ambergris?

    Quote Originally Posted by gupts View Post
    are u serious?

    Where does Creed get all its Ambergis from?

    gupts
    It's true.
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  18. #18

    Default Re: Is amber ambergris?

    so when a scent is noted as very ambery or an amber scent does it refer to more the labdanum ambergris type note or is the amber fragrance usually based more on the tree resin type amber scent.
    The petrified pine tree resin that is called amber is not used in fragrances. So when the term amber is used in a fragrance description it can mean many things none of which have anything to do with petrified tree resin.

    Amber in perfumery could refer to ambergris or it could refer to various accords of other gums, resins, spices and vanilla.

    Here is one vendors take on the term:
    http://www.edenbotanicals.com/essentials1.html#amber
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  19. #19

    Default Re: Is amber ambergris?

    I noticed that in orientals the note 'amber' is usually NOT of the ambergris type.

    I doubt this is of any help of course...
    Last edited by Domingo; 29th May 2008 at 03:22 PM.
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  20. #20

    Default Re: Is amber ambergris?

    I have spent a small fortune and over 10 years tincturing ambergris. It seems to me there are 3 forms of amber:
    Distilled fossilized jewelry amber: bitter and phenolic, but delicious when sweetened
    Ambergris (sometimes called "Ambra")
    An accord based on labdanum.
    There is one producer--Medicine Flower--that sells an ambergris "concentrate." I've never been able to get a straight answer from them as to what it is, but it seems to me to be a very black and fecal ambergris--almost too fecal to use. However, after two years tinctured and sitting in the sun, the fecal quality disappeared and the ambergris aroma became quite delightful.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Is amber ambergris?

    Read the first few comments then skimmed down, so if not already answered, but I'll have a crack. Ambergris mean grey amber in French. Ambre Jaune means yellow amber. These are two different things, unfortunately labelled 'amber' in Anglocentric perfumery, it seems.

    Ambergris, as you say, is the whale bile excretion, likely a by product of consuming animals that are a bit heftier than krill - therefore being a tad more punishing on the digestive system. That's why a lot of ambergris contains squid beaks in it.

    Yellow amber is the fossilised resin that's been mentioned. Very different. Think of the National Geogrpahic pictures of insects caught and frozen forever in amber. It's an absolutely amazing and captivating fossil that's purportedly used for a long, long time in perfumery - millennia. The general idea was/is to 'shave' the fossil, heat it like incense, and this rich, earthy scent. Obviously the vast - if not all - modern perfumes don't contain real amber, but an approximation of that smell, and they are typically opulent and semi-sweet.

    Where the confusion comes in is where labdanum resin often gets conflated with the amber fossil as one and the same, largely because it's a resin and in oil form has the same 'amber' colour, as you can see mentioned here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amber#...mber_perfumery No doubt it was also used for a time as something interchanged with fossilised yellow amber, which itself was used in place of whale ambergris. The wiki also touches upon the issue and confusion of ambergris - it seems even the name 'amber' for the fossil is because of its assocation with ambergris and how one would be used in place of the other in fragrance.

    Basically, think of synthetic 'yellow' amber as something close to a rich, semi-sweet vanilla-resin. It's not vanilla, but it's not frankincense either. It's one of my favourite accords in fragrance and I would recommend trying Tom Ford's Amber Absolute for the full on 'amber overload' if you can get your hands on sample. A nice use of amber as a base ingredient would be Tom Ford's Beau de Jour, where the oriental sweetness of amber plays off against herbal and green notes.

    The 'real' smell of amber is something I'm not sure I've smelled, as I bought an 'oil' of amber and I'm not sure how accurate it would be to the real thing - it wasn't sweet, but it obviously wasn't actual amber oil, derived from heating the fossil. It would likely be an expensive endeavour to achieve smelling the real thing, and largely irrelevant in the realm of perfumery considering the vast majority of amber fragrances are rich, opulent, and sweet, while the 'real' fossil is more similar to ambergris in its earthy richness. But definitely a cool venture in and of itself.

    Hope that clears things up a bit. Ambregris is a very expensive ingredient given that it cannot be 'farmed' for both legal and biological reasons - it often washes up on beaches, and some people in Britain happen to find one washed up on the beach, and find themselves several thousand pounds richer as a result. Fishermen can come across some truly massive excretions in the ocean which can make them hundreds of thousands of pounds, even millions for particularly massive finds. Nearly all fragrances use the synthetic ambergris, but obviously some niche and boutique scents use tiny portions of the real thing still for the luxury element.
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    Default Re: Is amber ambergris?

    Oh man, this post was from 2007...
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    Default Re: Is amber ambergris?

    It cleared everything up, but I already knew all about it! I love the true amber note so much, that I created my own amber perfume, using perfumers alcohol and amber essential oil. It is almost as good as Ambre Sultan, only more powerful. I love the ambergris basenote in Bois du Portugal too.
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    Default Re: Is amber ambergris?

    Quote Originally Posted by slpfrsly View Post
    Oh man, this post was from 2007...
    I thought you knew.
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    Default Re: Is amber ambergris?

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrei Bolkonsky View Post
    I thought you knew.
    Haha, no. I have an unfortunate habit of just assuming every post is recent...

    It also shows how much times have changed/how popular the synthetic labdanum-amber has become in perfumery. In 2007 people associated amber with ambergris. That's definitely not the case now given how many amber perfumes there are on the market, and how Ambra - like Acqua di Parma's - is separated from the 'ambers' and Ambre of Serge Lutens, Tom Ford, Armani etc.
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  26. #26
    Basenotes Member Sultan al Hindi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is amber ambergris?

    Quote Originally Posted by slpfrsly View Post
    Read the first few comments then skimmed down, so if not already answered, but I'll have a crack. Ambergris mean grey amber in French. Ambre Jaune means yellow amber. These are two different things, unfortunately labelled 'amber' in Anglocentric perfumery, it seems.

    Ambergris, as you say, is the whale bile excretion, likely a by product of consuming animals that are a bit heftier than krill - therefore being a tad more punishing on the digestive system. That's why a lot of ambergris contains squid beaks in it.

    Yellow amber is the fossilised resin that's been mentioned. Very different. Think of the National Geogrpahic pictures of insects caught and frozen forever in amber. It's an absolutely amazing and captivating fossil that's purportedly used for a long, long time in perfumery - millennia. The general idea was/is to 'shave' the fossil, heat it like incense, and this rich, earthy scent. Obviously the vast - if not all - modern perfumes don't contain real amber, but an approximation of that smell, and they are typically opulent and semi-sweet.

    Where the confusion comes in is where labdanum resin often gets conflated with the amber fossil as one and the same, largely because it's a resin and in oil form has the same 'amber' colour, as you can see mentioned here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amber#...mber_perfumery No doubt it was also used for a time as something interchanged with fossilised yellow amber, which itself was used in place of whale ambergris. The wiki also touches upon the issue and confusion of ambergris - it seems even the name 'amber' for the fossil is because of its assocation with ambergris and how one would be used in place of the other in fragrance.

    Basically, think of synthetic 'yellow' amber as something close to a rich, semi-sweet vanilla-resin. It's not vanilla, but it's not frankincense either. It's one of my favourite accords in fragrance and I would recommend trying Tom Ford's Amber Absolute for the full on 'amber overload' if you can get your hands on sample. A nice use of amber as a base ingredient would be Tom Ford's Beau de Jour, where the oriental sweetness of amber plays off against herbal and green notes.

    The 'real' smell of amber is something I'm not sure I've smelled, as I bought an 'oil' of amber and I'm not sure how accurate it would be to the real thing - it wasn't sweet, but it obviously wasn't actual amber oil, derived from heating the fossil. It would likely be an expensive endeavour to achieve smelling the real thing, and largely irrelevant in the realm of perfumery considering the vast majority of amber fragrances are rich, opulent, and sweet, while the 'real' fossil is more similar to ambergris in its earthy richness. But definitely a cool venture in and of itself.

    Hope that clears things up a bit. Ambregris is a very expensive ingredient given that it cannot be 'farmed' for both legal and biological reasons - it often washes up on beaches, and some people in Britain happen to find one washed up on the beach, and find themselves several thousand pounds richer as a result. Fishermen can come across some truly massive excretions in the ocean which can make them hundreds of thousands of pounds, even millions for particularly massive finds. Nearly all fragrances use the synthetic ambergris, but obviously some niche and boutique scents use tiny portions of the real thing still for the luxury element.

    Customers are frequently confused by perfumery terminology and the words "Amber" and "Ambergris" are at the top of that confusion. Both are, in fact, terms which are almost always used for perfumery "notes" rather then an actual oil extracted or distilled from Amber Resin (which would be called an Oil of Amber) or from Ambergris which is produced from sperm whales .

    That is to say, they are blends of different essences, both natural (and in the commercial industry, often entirely synthetic), to create products which are, in a general way, associated with the words "Amber" and "Ambergris".

    An Indian Amber Attar for instance is often composed of a wide variety of ingredients ranging from:
    Ambrette Seed
    Oak moss
    Labdanum
    Clary Sage
    Nagarmotha
    Vanilla
    Hints of Spice
    As well as a host of other natural materials resulting in a sweet, complex "Amber" oil that is incredibly rich and long lasting.

    Excerpt taken from the Rising Phoenix Perfumery Etsy page.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Is amber ambergris?

    I think that maybe complicates it even further!

    I think the best way of summing up the fossilised amber 'problem' is this - and something I'd suspected myself for a long, long time: "Although when burned, amber does give off a characteristic "pinewood" fragrance, modern products, such as perfume, do not normally use actual amber due to the fact that fossilized amber produces very little scent. In perfumery, scents referred to as "amber" are often created and patented[62][63] to emulate the opulent golden warmth of the fossil.[64]"

    It makes 'sense' in our head that this rich, viscous, amber coloured accord/perfume would smell rich, warm, and sweet. Just ignoring the labdanum-amber connection, that visual cue surely makes the most sense. Perhaps it's different in India and other areas where there's an existing understanding - or different understanding - of 'amber', and what that might mean, but it's easy enough to separate 'amber' (yellow) from 'ambergris' for the sake of identifying/smelling EDTs: the rich, oriental, sweet accord of synthetic 'amber-as-you-imagine-it-might-smell-based-on-how-it-looks' v the cool, earthy, saline accord of ambergris.
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  28. #28
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    Default Re: Is amber ambergris?

    Thanks for clearing things up. I love ambergris but definitely not amber, so the distinction really matters to me. In my limited experience, however, the amber note is sometimes used to refer to both kinds of smells, so it can be difficult to navigate the note breakdowns when amber is listed. Sometimes it seemingly refers to the tree sap kind (e.g. The One) and sometimes it seems to refer to the whale vomit kind (e.g. Versace Pour Homme). Maybe my nose is off, but this apparent ambiguity (no pun intended) only adds to the confusion.




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