Jasmine is an emblematic raw material that is used in our gardens and our plates, but also in the composition of our fragrances. This symbol of beauty and femininity has crossed borders and eras to become one of the most used ingredients in perfumery, alongside the rose. Romantic, sensual and bewitching, discover the richness of the olfactory facets of this white flower.
The origin of jasmine
Legends and botany
Jasmine is a perennial climbing plant that comes from eastern India and China, discovered at the foot of the Himalayas. It is part of the botanical family Oleaceae, like the lilac. If its origin is Asian, this plant is cultivated in the whole world since several hundreds of years. Moreover, the word jasmine comes from the Arabic yasamin, which translates as “gift from God”, but also from the Persian yasmine, which means fragrance. Depending on the species, the jasmine unveils yellow or white flowers that are very fragrant and grow in creepers.
Thanks to its bewitching perfume, it symbolizes femininity and beauty in the East. Cleopatra had perfumed the sails of the boat on which she set out to win back Mark Antony. If it embodies feminine temptation, jasmine is also widely used for its taste, notably to perfume rice or tea. It was also used for its therapeutic virtues against headaches.
The use of jasmine in perfumery
One flower, two species
There are more than 200 species of jasmine, but only two of them are of particular interest to perfumers: the Grandiflorum and the Sambac. The first variety is the best known and most used by noses. Also known as Spanish jasmine, Grandiflorum produces a white, almost pinkish, five-petaled flower with a strong and persistent fragrance. Originally from India, it was cultivated in Grasse, in France, for a very long time, which largely contributed to the city’s fame and its reputation as the world capital of perfume. Today, there are only a few hectares of cultivation of this plant, alongside the Centifolia rose. Now the Grandiflorum jasmine is cultivated in India, Morocco but also in Egypt and Italy.
The second species, the Sambac jasmine, has small flowers with six petals and is native to Asia. Its smell is more animal, with nuances of orange blossom.
Harvesting and extraction
To capture the essence of the plant, you must harvest its small delicate flower, but be careful, not at any time! Jasmine blooms in May for the Sambac and from August for the Grandiflorum. To be able to collect quality flowers, you have to get up early! Indeed, the harvest is generally done at dawn, before the sun is too high. Picking is a long and tedious job, where precision and dexterity are very important because it is necessary to detach the flower without damaging it. And this requires a real handiness! You take the flower by the base, the hand makes a quarter of turn, while taking care not to catch at the same time flower buds, and to select only the mature flowers.
Once the basket is filled, the flowers are extracted with volatile solvents. This technique allows to obtain a jasmine absolute. Grandiflorum jasmine absolute reveals an opulent, rich, sweet fragrance with a medicinal aspect and fruity tones. The absolute of jasmine Sambac is greener with fruity and solar undertones (we detect a smell of banana and orange blossom). It is necessary to extract approximately 1 ton of flowers (more than a thousand flowers) to obtain 1 kg of absolute.
Hedione, the molecule of olfactory pleasure
Because of its high cost, perfumers have tried to “deconstruct” the components of jasmine to reproduce its scent using synthetic molecules. There are about 250 fragrance components in jasmine absolute, but one molecule in particular has revolutionized perfumery. Hedione, which means pleasure in Greek, was synthesized and patented in 1962. At first very expensive, it was gradually democratized to be used in many fragrances. This molecule brings a real breath of floral freshness to a composition. It is found in very large quantities in children’s perfumes for example and in light fragrances. Its soft but relatively tenacious perfume is used as a scent enhancer.
Olfactory interpretations of jasmine
Thanks to the richness of its olfactory facets, jasmine can be used in a thousand and one ways depending on the composition. If it can be interpreted alone, in a soliflore, it is generally found in a bouquet accompanied by other flowers. This is the case of label rose where it sublimates a floral accord between the Damascena rose and the peony, in an elegant and romantic fragrance. Jasmine also works well in woody and oriental essences, such as ippi patchouli, SO and kilim, where it exudes all its warm and sweet power. Its animalic side also settles in the sensuality of musc and original musc, our two intimate and wild fragrances. It also sublimates the marine and chypre notes of ïōdé in which it brings a floral and comforting note. Thanks to its universal and malleable character, jasmine is balanced in many compositions, whether they are rather feminine or with more masculine tonalities, as in our eau de parfum alfred kafé for example.
Sometimes luminous, airy or powerful and warm, jasmine is one of the most emblematic raw materials of perfumery. Did you know the different species and facets of this plant?
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