Magical, Mysterious Amber!
Here at the Haus, we are lucky to have a wide collection of fragrances to sample, but after all this time, we have found few notes as magical as Amber!
What exactly is Amber (and can you really use it to make dinosaurs)?
Amber is the prehistoric resin of trees. This resin has gone through many changes over millions of years to get to the state it’s in. This fossilized version of tree resin is much sought after and coveted by both gem sellers and scientists alike. The process it goes through leaves this gem with extraordinary properties, such as static electricity, and its colors are determined by which tree the fossilized resin came from and what kinds of materials were captured within it.
Is Copal the same thing as Amber?
While copal is also made from tree resin, it’s not nearly as old as amber. It’s a problem when sellers at online auctions and gem shows try to sell the younger copal as amber. If copal is tree resin, then they aren’t really lying, right? Wrong. What makes amber have the demand and value that it does is all in its age. Copal is softer and does not have the same properties as amber because it hasn't had enough time to fossilize. Copal resin most often comes from the aromatic copal tree, and can be burned as incense.
Where do we get the name "Amber"?
The English word amber derives from Arabic ‘anbar’ (Middle Persian ‘ambar’) via Middle Latin ‘ambar’ and Middle French ‘ambre’. The word was adopted in Middle English in the 14th century as referring to what is now known as ambergris (ambre gris or "grey amber"), a solid waxy substance derived from the sperm whale.
In the Romance languages, the sense of the word had come to be extended to Baltic amber (fossil resin) from as early as the late 13th century. At first called white or yellow amber (ambre jaune), this meaning was adopted in English by the early 15th century. As the use of ambergris waned, this became the main sense of the word.
The classical names for amber, Latin electrum and Ancient Greek (elektron), are connected to a term (elektor) meaning "beaming Sun". According to myth, when Phaeton son of Helios (the Sun) was killed, his mourning sisters became poplar trees, and their tears became elektron, amber. The word elektron gave rise to the words electric, electricity, and their relatives because of amber's ability to bear a charge of static electricity.
Is the Amber used in perfume made from actual amber gemstones?
If amber is heated under the right conditions, oil of amber is produced, and in past times this was combined carefully with nitric acid to create "artificial musk" – a resin with a peculiar musky odor. 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 to emulate the opulent golden warmth of the fossil.
The term "amber" is loosely used to describe a scent that is warm, musky, rich and honey-like, and also somewhat earthy. It can be synthetically created or derived from natural resins. When derived from natural resins it is most often created out of labdanum. Benzoin is usually part of the recipe. Vanilla and cloves are sometimes used to enhance the aroma.
"Amber" perfumes may be created using combinations of labdanum, benzoin resin, copal (itself a type of tree resin used in incense manufacture), vanilla, Dammara resin and/or synthetic materials.”
Want to add a little magic to your fragrance collection? The Haus has a number of Amber based perfumes to try! You can shop at the links below: