The most elegant flower of them all: The Rose

Perfect and immaculate round shaped and structured flower, the Rose has always been considered a symbol of wholesomeness with an ambiguous meaning such as time and eternity, fertility and virginity, heavenly perfection and earthly passion. Despite having the hand of a man intervene in order to create hybrids, the most scented ones have authentic colours. The body is dry and elegant; the ovary is surrounded by sepals like pearls on a neck.

May, Her Majesty the Rose

Red, pink, yellow, in nature they have various shades, but in an olfactory pyramid there are many more, and often invented. One thing is for sure, when you read, for example, "night rose", it does not mean that there is an essential oil extracted at night in the perfume. It is probably a dark, velvety accord composed in a lab, something between natural and synthetic. Ever read there was "blue rose" in the heart notes? I'm sorry to break it to you, but from that artificially coloured rose nothing being extracted is any different to any other roses with the classic nuances.

On Valentine's Day, they are given as gifts and grown in space so you can smell them in microgravity conditions.

You should know that in 1998, during the STS-95 mission of the Shuttle Discovery, Nasa and the International Flavours and Fragrances (IFF) company collaborated during the ASTROCULTURE project.

A romantic experiment that showed that the smell of the flower is different than scientists expected. In Space the rose gave off fewer volatile components than it did on Earth, its scent turned out to be much more intense.

The main roses used in perfumery are Rosa Centifolia (May Rose) and Rosa Damascena (or Bulgarian Rose). The first one is mainly cultivated in Grasse, France, and the second one, as it can be guessed from its name, in Bulgaria and Turkey.

What about Taif Rose?

It is a type of Damask rose that is grown in Taif (Saudi Arabia) at 2000 meters above sea level. Here the roses are not weighed but counted. The wonders deriving from a thousand roses equals a full basket, and once 12 baskets are fully reached, the contents are introduced into the stills.

The classic distillation process involves the flowers being in contact with steam, whereas in Taif the roses are immersed in water. The water used for distillation is derived from previous distillations (about 40% of rose water).

Are you able to perceive the scent even just from my words?

Rose essential oil is relatively costly and can easily touch 15,000 Euros per kg, this is because its yield is very low, even compared to an absolute which is obtained with a solvent. 1 Kg of essential oil can only be extracted from over 6.000 Kg of petals.

How to make a perfume with Roses

If for humans the first approach to mathematics is to count the with ones’ fingers, in perfumery the construction of a rose perfume is the first exercise.

The construction of a rose flower base consists mainly of:

- Phenylethyl alcohol, a colourless liquid with a pleasant, soft, almost talc-like floral aroma;

- Geraniol, a terpene alcohol found in many plants and flowers, this is one of the reasons that makes olfactory profiles (rose/geranium, for example) similar;

- Cintronellol (acyclic monoterpenoid), present in several plants.


These three components, depending on the perception of the perfumer and the proportions of the structure of the formula, eugenol, rose oxide, damask and much more would be added.

Just think that the molecular construction of the scent of a rose is composed of over 100 elements, and those present in a lower % are the ones that characterize the scent of the flower the most. Damascene, which constitutes about 0.13% of the weight of the absolute of a Damask Rose, consists of about 70% of the odorous molecules released, and are therefore the ones we perceive with our nose.

The Jaqueminot Rose of Coty

The most famous rose is that of François Coty, who, before anyone else, sensed the importance of marketing and packaging.

He decided to market his perfumes and various beauty products not only in his own boutiques, but also in department stores.

The scepticism of the insiders was definitely the first major obstacle.

Rumour has it that Coty, after failing to pitch his product to the director of the Stores of the Louvre, who rejected the possibility of letting him occupy a space in the store to launch his new perfume, smashed a bottle of La Rose Jacqueminot into a thousand pieces.

The magical effluvium, released from the floor, unleashed dozens of customers who rushed to ask for information about how to purchase the perfume.

Of course as a consequence, the director changed his mind, and the Store at the Louvre accepted to sell the perfume, and within a few day over 500 bottles were sold.  

There is little to do, in nature there will always be flowers with the longest stalk, the highest pistil and the most impressive corolla, but no one will ever be able to outdo a rose.

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