The elegance of Rose
Our love affair with roses
Roses are the most romantic flower, and they are a foundation of the world of perfume. Over 75% of all female fragrances today contain rose. Our love affair with roses has stood the test of time. This aromatic and velvety bloom has a mystical and elusive essence that poets, artists and perfumers have strived to capture down through the passage of time. Notes of roses in a fragrance renders a scent that is potent and intoxicating.
History of Roses in fragrance
Roses have been spreading their fragrances around for thousands of years. The earliest archaeological record dates their appearance back 35 to 32 million years to the Paleolithic era. Their first appearance in artistic motifs was in Asia dating back to about 3000 BC. This famous Queen of Flowers is associated with the Greek Goddess Aphrodite and Cleopatra is said to filled a room more than a foot deep in rose petals while having a passionate affair with Mark Anthony.
The roses most commonly used in perfumery are the Turkish rose, the Damask rose and Rosa Centifolia (the hundred-leafed rose), which is grown around Grasse in the south of France, and generally considered to produce the highest quality rose absolute.
Around 70% of the rose oil in the world comes from Bulgaria; other significant producers are Turkey, Iran and Morocco, and precious, limited quantities from Grasse.
Roses release their fragrance when they are ready for pollination, which occurs when the flowers are half open. Scent is elusive and can even change from garden to home because the process of cutting them alters the release of chemicals. Rose scents fall into seven distinct categories. They are: rose (or damask), nasturtium, orris (which is similar to violets), violets, apple, clove and lemon (the fruit, not the blossoms). There are also twenty-six other less common aromas that can be discerned. Among them are: honeysuckle, moss, hyacinth, honey, wine, marigold, peppers, parsley, and even fruity raspberry.
There are two distinct types; of rose essential oil; namely, Rose Otto and Rose Absolute. Rose Otto essential oil is derived via hydro-distillation, a process in which the rose petals are soaked in water and then heated, which releases their oils. Volatile materials are then dispersed into the steam, condensed and thickened, and when they are cooled, the oils float on the surface and are ready to be collected and sold. Rose Absolute, on the other hand, is derived via solvent extraction, a method consisting of adding rose petals to a large receptacle containing solvent. The petals’ aromatic elements are extracted by rotating the container, which causes the solvent to evaporate, leaving behind a residue known as “rose concrete.” To this material ethanol alcohol is then added, which serves to filter out non-aromatic components. The resulting liquid is known as rose absolute essential oil.
Rose cultivation and the making of rose fragrance is a cherished ancient art.