le donne ti disiano, pulzell’ e maritate"
"Very fragrant fresh rose ye appearing close to summer,
women desire ye, maids and married"
Reading these rhymes one can almost imagine Francois Coty while smashing on the floor of the Louvre department stores a big bottle of La rose Jaqueminot (1906) and suddenly seeing all the ladies flocking attracted by the bewitching smell of dewy rose. This is what a famous anecdote about Monsieur Coty beginnings tells: power of rhodinol (geranium) and ionones (violet)?
Women desire ye says the poet and let me add also the men. Even though the thing may sound strange, rose offers so many olfactory facets to likely be the most versatile and used smell in modern perfumery. This is probably the thing that mostly thumbed up to the noses during the meeting organized by the friends of Adjiumi's forum at Calé. Silvio Levi welcomed us in his drawing-room to speak with Maurizio Cerizza about rose and its facets within the raw materials used by a nose. In fact we can find more than four hundred kinds of smelling molecules in the smell of rose. This can help us figuring out how incredibly complex nature can be to reconstruct.
Rose varieties used in perfumes are basically two.
Rose centifolia (or May rose) coming from Morocco and Egypt and above all from Grasse in France, has a, airy smell floral-green with the sweetness of honey and beeswax and slight acid hints. Essence estraction is done using solvents to produce the rose concrete that further refined gives the purest and most concentrated form, the rose absolute (from 500 kg of rose petals it's produces 1 kg or rose concrete giving later 150g of absolute).
Damask rose (or turkish rose of bulgarian rose) is grown in east-europe above all in Turkey and Bulgaria in the so known roses valley of Kazanlăk and its smell has more character, fruity, musky and velvety. Also the essence estraction is completely different and in this case the essential oil is made distilling the rose petals with steam distillation(3.000-10.000 kg of rose petals give 1kg of essential oil).
|Bulgaria: hand-picked roses|
Then it has been impressive to decompose the smell of rose in its main smelling components that can be synthetically reproduced to be employed also on their own in fragrances to emphasize some facets. In particular among the various molecules closer to the flowery sweet smell of rose like geraniol, limonene and feniletilic alcool (often used to aromatize foods), damascenone got my attention (constituting only 0.14% in weight of damask rose absolute but a good 70% of the released smelling molecules) with its floral-fruity almost boozy aspects and on the opposite rose oxide smelling metallic and green reminescent of tomato leafs or even the beta-damascone with fruity (blackcurrant plum) and woody shades or also linalool with its green-floral smell, similar to lavender (you can detect it clearly also in rosewood and coriander).
Too bad meetings like this happen seldom. They let people better understand raw materials and enjoy them in the fragrances. They also help avoiding false believings above all about the use of synthetics often seen as the devil. Modern perfumery couldn't exist without synthetic molecules and also tasting the various molecules of rose smell you understand that it's not only a matter of quality or more or less high costs, there are really expensive synthetics and cheap ones. You understand that many synthetic raw materials are taken from natural materials and in many cases it's easier, economically sustainable and ecologically compatible to obtain for example, fruity notes from a rose rather than obtain them from fruits. In some cases is even impossible and in many cases it takes long and very expensive processes with very low yeld. In the end it's possible to enjoy the colours in the olfactory palette as they are, in a natural light without shades of prejudice.