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  1. #1
    atrac's Avatar
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    Default What does Amber smell like?

    I know that this question sounds *really* stupid, but what does amber smell like? I know that question can't be easily answered, so a better way of asking would be to inquire what cologne has the heaviest amber smell?

    Even better, let me explain my confusion. I wore M7 to work a few months ago...put on way too much and alienated a lot of people. But one girl who got near me well after the drydown said "oh you're wearing amber!" I said it was M7 and she said "I bet there's a lot of amber in it." So, the smell that permeated from me is what I concluded to be amber.

    A little while later I smelled "The Lover" from The Gap and one of the dominant notes reminded me of the M7 dry down. "Heavy on Amber," I noted.

    Soon after I smelled "Adventurer" from Eddie Bauer and also noticed a strong note similar to both M7 and "The Lover." "There's another amber one!" I proclaimed (internally).

    Well, I was set to living my life believing that I knew what amber smelled like, then I decided to go into Bath & Body Works and smell they're line of fragrances entitled "Amber." I was set to smell M7, The Lover, Adventurer....nope! Not even close. This "Amber" immediately reminded me of Hanae Mori EDT and "Tomorrow" from Avon.

    So now I'm confused...and I ask "what does amber smell like???" The M7/Lover/Adventurer note that I smell (heavily in all) or Amber(BBW)/Hanae Mori/Tomorrow? Since the predominant note in each set is completely different to my nose, I can't believe "both" would be the right answer.

    Sorry for being so wordy, I just had to justify my possibly silly question.

  2. #2

    Default Re: What does Amber smell like?

    The only way I can describe what amber smells like is to tell you its a warm, resinous scent that can produce a faint prickle at the back of the nose. Its rich and earthy.
    Vegetal amber - the hardened resin from tree sap - is fragrant when ground or warmed.

    In perfumery the smell can vary greatly as generally Amber is produced synthetically. Your own exploration with amber fragrances is testament to the diversity of amber interpretations in a fragrance.

    Amber Narguile, Gaultier2 and Rochas Absolut are all excellent examples of where you'll easily recognise amber.

  3. #3

    Default Re: What does Amber smell like?

    is Azzaro PH amber based....?

  4. #4

    Default Re: What does Amber smell like?

    Amber is also made with natural ingredients. It is often a combination of woods, resins, incense notes, patchouli and vanilla. It can be light and fresh (heavy on the frankinscence), or dark, thick and sweet (lots of patchouli and vanilla). Eden Botanicals makes wonderful, pure ambers.
    ~Grenouille knew for certain that unless he possesed this scent, his life would have no meaning.~
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  5. #5

    Default Re: What does Amber smell like?

    Quote Originally Posted by lookingglass View Post
    Amber is also made with natural ingredients. It is often a combination of woods, resins, incense notes, patchouli and vanilla. It can be light and fresh (heavy on the frankinscence), or dark, thick and sweet (lots of patchouli and vanilla). Eden Botanicals makes wonderful, pure ambers.
    Yeah, the Eden Botanicals ambers are excellent. Amber Rose is awesome, as is Amber Royale.
    Currently digging: Le Labo Rose 31 and Oud oils.

  6. #6

    narcus's Avatar
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    Default Re: What does Amber smell like?

    Quote Originally Posted by atrac View Post
    So now I'm confused...and I ask "what does amber smell like???" The M7/Lover/Adventurer note that I smell (heavily in all) or Amber(BBW)/Hanae Mori/Tomorrow? Since the predominant note in each set is completely different to my nose, I can't believe "both" would be the right answer.

    Sorry for being so wordy, I just had to justify my possibly silly question.
    Atrac, by no means is your question silly! To give you a good answer is not as easy, though.(I don't know Hanae Mori, unfortunately). Generally, it has to be said that not all of the ingredients in any one perfume can always be detected by a healthy nose. Even if you are trained to do that (and who, other than pros really are?) you will miss some. Artistic perfumes are meant to be absorbed as a whole, not by its elements. And there are always main notes, and supportive ones, like the amber in M7. I never thought about M7 as being oudhy or ambery. I only got the oudh after having really been exposed to several oudhs.
    And the amber? I am not sure I get it even though I know it's there. Ambers can give perfumes a very velvety, soft feel. That's why it's often used in leather fragrances, for example. I think I get warmth, and softness from the amber in M7, but not much of a detectable smell.

    BUT a prominent amber note (a combination of several notes) has a a very distinctive smell. Rather than adding more words to describe it, I recommend you note down a number of perfumes from the directory which have Amber or Ambre in their names. Take this list to the perfume counter and ask to smell some of these. They should be good quality perfumes. After having smelled a few different samples from your list (or whatever the store has that would be equivalent) also on your forearm, I am sure you will know what unites these perfumes: the heavenly, slightly sweet and inspiring smell of AMBER!

    (most of the weekend I spent sampling ambers and also ambergris. Maybe in the meantime you have done similiar sampling, and actually no questions any longer )
    Last edited by narcus; 25th February 2008 at 10:48 AM.
    'Il mondo dei profumi è un universo senza limiti: una fraganza puo rievocare sensazioni, luoghi, persone o ancora condurre in uno spazio di nuove dimensioni emozionali' L. V.

  7. #7

    Default Re: What does Amber smell like?

    Aren't "amber" and "ambergris" two different things and two different scents?

  8. #8

    Default Re: What does Amber smell like?

    Quote Originally Posted by GMF View Post
    Aren't "amber" and "ambergris" two different things and two different scents?
    yes and no LOL

  9. #9

    Default Re: What does Amber smell like?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheCure View Post
    yes and no LOL
    I guess it depends on the scent. The ambergis in the base of Creed scents is certainly different than opposing 'amber' scents. I think it just comes down to the quality of ingredients used.
    I have: Davidoff Relax, Dior Homme Sport, Boss Selection, Azzaro Visit, and Creed MI (will provide # on bottle for verification) available.

    Looking for the following: DG The One, Himalaya, YSL L'Homme, John Varvatos (not vintage) Canali For Men or Paypal.

  10. #10

    Default Re: What does Amber smell like?

    A simple amber "synthetic" could be made from Benzoin, Vanilla and Labdanum (I *think* labdanum) mixed in the correct proportions. Of course, it can and does vary from this, but there will be a whiff of vanilla, a lot of benzoin and Labdanum like notes. Of course lots of other things in most "ambers" too as the above is very very simple.
    Last edited by Bromo33333; 25th February 2008 at 06:45 PM.
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  11. #11

    Default Re: What does Amber smell like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Regis Philbin View Post
    I guess it depends on the scent. The ambergis in the base of Creed scents is certainly different than opposing 'amber' scents. I think it just comes down to the quality of ingredients used.
    Let me ask it another way: If a scent is "crafted" to have an "amber" note, are they going after an ambergris scent without using real or synthetic ambergris? Or by "amber" do perfumers mean the fossilized resin from trees, while "ambergris" is the whale excretion, each having a unique scent?

  12. #12

    Default Re: What does Amber smell like?

    "Amber" IIRC is said by Mandy Aftel in her book, to be an accord based upon Ambergris scent.

    Based upon amber-sap incense I have smelled burning, the vanilla-benzoin-labdanum accord is pretty close to that.

    So ... who really knows except if someone claims "Ambergris" you can be pretty sure they are trying to replicate whale vomit! "Amber" I think can be all of the above, or none of it.
    Last edited by Bromo33333; 25th February 2008 at 07:38 PM.
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  13. #13

    narcus's Avatar
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    Default Re: What does Amber smell like?

    Quote Originally Posted by GMF View Post
    Aren't "amber" and "ambergris" two different things and two different scents?
    - Yes, they are indeed. The trouble is, that the average Joe will never know as long as perfume houses (Creed), and even a few perfumers keep muddling facts. Reason: more than (an estimated) 98 % of so called amber, and so called ambergris are in fact various synthetics, patented by the chemical industry.

    "How do you make an amber? Labdabun + Vanillin + Ambroxide", says Jean-Claude Ellena in The Perfect Scent (p 108). (I suppose Ambroxide is a Symrise product, i.e. from the German company who had Ellena under contract for a number of years. Ellena is a minimalist. There are far more complex amber compositions, and if the synthetics are from Roure or Givaudan, they will have different names. The art of making perfect natural ambers was developed in northern Africa. Ambers, slaves and gold were the three most precious goods of mankind in biblical times, and the production of ambers had been a well guarded secret.

    Ambergris itself does not have a very pleasant smell, but it is known to emphasize floral notes in perfume or harmonize compositions, and make them last longer. It enhances the perfume on skin noticeably. Guerlain and other French perfume houses have more or less stopped using ambergris between 1960 and 1970, and critics say that a lot of perfumes never smelled as good ever after. You can layer ambergris on perfumes and cologne, they say. And you can order small quantities of ambergris tincture form www.profumo.it (Abdessalaam is a BN member also.)

    The Swiss niche perfume house LesNez (René, BN aka EauxM) uses real ambergris in his first (three) perfumes issued in 2006. For details, maybe you want to start here:
    Quote Originally Posted by hirch_duckfinder View Post
    These are three very well made perfumes. My wife has worn LMPTL almost exclusively for a year or so, it has become her very refined signature. She is on her third bottle now. L'Antimatiere is a fantastic, subtle perfume with lots of natural ambergris which is very beautiful and interesting. It is not for everyone because it takes a while to tune the nose to ambergris (the reason why some smell nothing). It is not for those who want a loud announcement of their presence but for another kind of perfume user.The Unicorn is a stark, natural green violet, with a cool impression. Unusual as a "cool green"...
    Balmain is going to release a new perfume in a few weeks. Its name: Ambre Gris (more details on Osmoz)
    Last edited by narcus; 26th February 2008 at 10:38 AM.
    'Il mondo dei profumi è un universo senza limiti: una fraganza puo rievocare sensazioni, luoghi, persone o ancora condurre in uno spazio di nuove dimensioni emozionali' L. V.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: What does Amber smell like?

    I just saw that L'Artisan has these decorative pomander-like spheres that are filled with amber. Text from the L'Artisan site says, 'We have created an amber note made entirely of vegetable ingredients blended together to form a solid substance similar in nature to organic amber.'



    So, I'm gathering from this, that L'Artisan is interpreting amber as amber from sap, trees, etc. and NOT ambergris from whales, right?
    Currently wearing: Epice Marine by Hermès

  15. #15

    Default Re: What does Amber smell like?

    I dont know who Amber is but im sure she smells great!

  16. #16

    Default Re: What does Amber smell like?

    To me, the amber note in many frags smells like Play-Doh.
    I get so overwhelmed ... by olfactory hues. ~ Phish

  17. #17

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    Default Re: What does Amber smell like?

    Amber(gris) is what stays on your skin, after everthing else is gone. For me it smells like vanilla. Example: M7 according to YSL contains amber(ambergris) and Opium PH contains vanilla. In the end, the very end, both smell almost the same for me.

  18. #18

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    Default Re: What does Amber smell like?

    NOTHING better than going out and smelling some good examples:

    A VERY good fragrance that encapsulates (and then goes beyond) the essence and mystery of Ambergris is Eau des Merveilles by Hermes....

    Two reasonably accurate and also interesting takes on Amber (the vegetal side of the name) are Ambre Sultan - Serge Lutens and also Amber Absolut - Tom Ford.

    One very very popular synthesis of both sides (also heavy with 'fougere' notes and sandalwood though) is Azzaro's classic Pour Homme

    and a most interesting modern kick off from all this is Guerlain's L'Instant (especially the original woman's perfume)

    do note that the last two are twisted but wildly successful modern takes on what you seem to be looking for (the original smell of amber and ambergris)
    Last edited by zenman7; 13th March 2008 at 03:41 PM.
    Currently wearing: Insensé by Givenchy

  19. #19

    narcus's Avatar
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    Default Re: What does Amber smell like?

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeperez23 View Post
    So, I'm gathering from this, that L'Artisan is interpreting amber as amber from sap, trees, etc. and NOT ambergris from whales, right?
    Right. By the way, I have that one, and it's the greatest amber smell I know. Never came across an amber perfume like it, but there are a hundred good ones, including Ambre Extrème.
    Last edited by narcus; 13th March 2008 at 06:44 PM.
    'Il mondo dei profumi è un universo senza limiti: una fraganza puo rievocare sensazioni, luoghi, persone o ancora condurre in uno spazio di nuove dimensioni emozionali' L. V.

  20. #20
    atrac's Avatar
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    Default Re: What does Amber smell like?

    Quote Originally Posted by olfactory bulb View Post
    To me, the amber note in many frags smells like Play-Doh.
    That's quite interesting, because the Amber note I detect in M7/The Lover/Adventurer/Givenchy Pi (I'm adding this one to the mix) DOES smell like Play-Doh!

    The "other" Amber in BBW Amber/Hanae Mori/Tomorrow by Avon smells nothing like Play-Doh!

  21. #21

    Default Re: What does Amber smell like?

    I do not agree is amber smells like vanilla. Natural Copal is the closest one can get to real amber without having to wait a couple million years. Amber is a fossilised (is that the right word?) material, it is hardened, like a stone. It does not have an actual smell unless you start to burn it. Copal, on the other hand, is used as a substitute for incense. Imagine smelling Tam Dao with a very, very oily base. Copal is not even close to being sweet.

    I always thought that Ambergris and amber were not related on origin or scent. That said, I have never smelled real ambergris. I think that the real word perfumers should use is "resin" instead of amber, eventhought the latter sounds much more luxurious.

    So your question is not stupid at all, it is actually very intriguing...
    Last edited by irish; 30th November 2009 at 10:07 PM.

  22. #22

    Default Re: What does Amber smell like?

    Wow, lots of confusion in this thread.

    There are three things called "amber" associated with perfumery.

    The first is ambergris. It's produced in whale stomachs, possibly to protect them from hard sharp objects (squid beaks, for instance), hence the nickname "whale vomit", although "whale pearl" might be just as accurate. Fresh ambergris is a byproduct of the whaling industry, but considered unsuitable for use in perfume; the good stuff spends years in the ocean before finally washing up on shore. I haven't smelled the real thing, but the synthetics have a distinctive fresh-woody character with some resemblance to clary sage; the real thing is said to be smoother, more complex, and somewhat animalic.

    The second is mineral amber. This is fossilized tree sap. It's translucent and kind of an orange brown color, like honey; it is, I suspect, what the color "amber" refers to. Actually, this isn't used in perfumery at all; mineral amber has no smell unless it's heated (by burning, or working with power tools) and the smell is supposedly an unpleasant resinous or "burning plastic" smell. According to some sources on the internet, it's possible to extract an oil from the resin, but the smell is similar to when it burns.

    The third is perfume amber, which is often confused with mineral amber. Perfume amber isn't any kind of fossilized sap; it's a solid perfume, typically composed of labdanum, benzoin, and beeswax, with any number of other ingredients as the maker desires (patchouli, frankincense, and vanilla being probably the most common). The scent is heavy, resinous, and sweet, but not particularly like ambergris. It's also possible to extract an amber oil from the solid, or to construct an amber oil by using extracts of the resin ingredients.

    So when a scent says it has "amber" notes in it, which of these three do they mean? Unfortunately, there's no way to tell. Ambergris has a kind of legendary status, being known as a precious material that makes any perfume better but is too rare and expensive to use in modern commercial formulation.. a kind of unattainable exotic luxury from the past. The word "amber" has an evocative, mysterious quality that makes it sound desirable even to people who don't know what it is. No perfume marketer would hesitate an instant to claim that something has "amber" or "ambergris" notes; their real stock in trade is genuine 100% Grade A bullshit, and they'll say anything, anything, to sell a bottle of juice. But since ambergris has its own word, I generally assume that when a perfume says it has amber in it, they mean the solid perfume kind.. and I think most perfumes with "amber" in the name have the characteristic smell of perfume amber.
    Last edited by Xplo; 1st June 2008 at 05:55 PM.

  23. #23

    Default Re: What does Amber smell like?

    Labdanum, the resin from the Rockrose plant (Cistus Ladaniferus) is the closest oil or absolute in chemical structure to true ambergris - although not having actually smelled the latter I can't say how similar they actually smell. Labdanum is a very rich smelling substance though that goes through quite an evolution all by itself. Rich, resinous, hints of leather, myrhh like notes, and much more.
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  24. #24

    Default Re: What does Amber smell like?

    Quote Originally Posted by SculptureOfSoul View Post
    Labdanum, the resin from the Rockrose plant (Cistus Ladaniferus) is the closest oil or absolute in chemical structure to true ambergris -
    I've heard this too, but I have serious doubts about its veracity. Near as I can tell, they smell nothing alike, except possibly in having an animalic note. I suspect the amber/ambergris confusion has led some people to believe that perfume amber is a recreation of ambergris (and if I am wrong: cite sources, please).

  25. #25
    Lian's Avatar
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    Default Re: What does Amber smell like?

    I´ve bought solid perfume amber in Marrakech, it´s unbelievably strong, powerful and addictive. I keep it locked away and still you can smell it if you open the cupboard. I love and adore it and if thL´artisan wooden balls smell the same I need to get one soon!
    Currently wearing: L by Lolita Lempicka

  26. #26

    Default Re: What does Amber smell like?

    Throughout this thread nobody seems to have described what amber actually smells like, is it sweet, tart and sour, woody, animalic, balsamic , ?

  27. #27

    Default Re: What does Amber smell like?

    afraafra, it varies ... Amber is not a material you can find in nature, it is made by men. This means that the smell varies a lot from one house to the other.

    To me it has to be balsamic, slightly animalic, medicinal and warm.
    L'amour fait songer, vivre et croire. Il a, pour réchauffer le coeur, un rayon de plus que la gloire; et ce rayon, c'est le bonheur. (Victor HUGO)

  28. #28

    Default Re: What does Amber smell like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Night View Post
    afraafra, it varies ... Amber is not a material you can find in nature, it is made by men. This means that the smell varies a lot from one house to the other.

    To me it has to be balsamic, slightly animalic, medicinal and warm.

    Night, this is quoted from http://ayalasmellyblog.blogspot.com/.../anbar_21.html

    Anbar, or amber in Arabic, refers to both ambergris and the fossilized resin used as a gemstone whose beads are often used in Masbaha (prayer beaded chains). I got the perfume oil by this name at Majed’s shop, and it is also dark in colour.

    Anbar perfume oil is not as animalic as Al Mesk Aswad, but is still fecal, dark, sweet, and has hints of civet. It smells so animalic it may have some ambergris to it. Like Al Mesk Aswad, I smell hints of camphor at first, which smells cool and metallic, with hints of myrrh and benzoin. Most of all, Anbar reminds me of antiques made of dusty copper and brass and of chains of amber Masbaha displayed in abundance in a crowded souk, where fumes of incense weave their way through the abundance of old Persian carpets, coin-decorated belly dancer’s outfits, piles of dusty incense tears, copper lanterns and hookas laid out on the cool, footsteps-polished dusty stone floor.

  29. #29

    Default Re: What does Amber smell like?

    Amber is made of labdanum and vanilla. All the other materials go on top (musk, civet, patchouli, oakmoss, sage, etc.).

    Ambregris is natural as you said.

    These are two different materials.
    Last edited by Night; 2nd August 2008 at 03:52 PM.
    L'amour fait songer, vivre et croire. Il a, pour réchauffer le coeur, un rayon de plus que la gloire; et ce rayon, c'est le bonheur. (Victor HUGO)

  30. #30

    narcus's Avatar
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    Default Re: What does Amber smell like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lian View Post
    I´ve bought solid perfume amber in Marrakech, it´s unbelievably strong, powerful and addictive. I keep it locked away and still you can smell it if you open the cupboard. I love and adore it and if thL´artisan wooden balls smell the same I need to get one soon!
    Yes In Morocco they make very good amber. You can order solid Amber via Ebay in Europe for very little. They come as sugar lumps, white color going into cream. There are two dealers, on in France, the other in Belgium ( I believe it was). But the solid Amber from L'Artisan is much better still. No amber perfume compares to it, including Ambre Sultan. OOPS, just noticing that this is the old thread where I have said about the same things before, sorry!
    Last edited by narcus; 2nd August 2008 at 04:21 PM.
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