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Grey Amber: An Ingredient with the Value of Gold
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June 29, 2022

What is Grey Amber?

A gem of an ingredient for perfumers and an iconic perfume note that every high-end perfume house desires...After the gold rush, came the rush of whale vomit! Natural Ambergris, also commonly known as Grey Amber, is a raw material derived from the vomit of a sperm whale.

Yet why is this ingredient so valuable in the perfumery world after all?

A Little History

Ambergris is produced in the digestive system of the male sperm whales, during the process of intestinal irritation that whales encounter when facing difficulty digesting shard objects, such as giant squid beaks. The sperm whale will then reject this into the sea. Initially a sticky, gelatinous product of excrement; as the organic waste oxidizes, in contact with seawater, salt and sun, the waxy substance hardens to produce what we call: ‘ambergris’.

Eventually floating to the surface, it is then collected along the shores of South Africa, the East Indies, China, Japan, New Zealand, and even the coasts of England. Grey Amber doesn’t have a specific generic form and can be found in bulks or in small substances.

With only one percent of sperm whales able to produce viable ambergris, the rarity of this substance makes it extremely expensive! Let's put it into perspective for you. In 2016, a British couple found a lump of ambergris (1.57kg) during their walk on a beach in Sri Lanka; to then discover that it was worth a heart-stopping value of $70,000!

Quite literally worth more than gold; the scarcity, the exclusivity, and the excitement revolving around the find of this raw material are just unquestionable!

What does Amber smell like?

A scent that is rather difficult to illustrate in words. Strong, almost pungent, and often described to be musky, with very animalic characteristics; thus, commonly associated with civet in Guerlain perfumery. On top of that, add a dash of woody, marine notes, then a layer of a sweet- earthy scent, and nuances of damp moss. With such a mix of scents, it is the exquisite yet elusive notes, that make the contradiction of ingredients, to be part of the attraction.  

Our sense of smell usually works with our associations, and although some consider ambergris to be revolting, others find it hypnotic and are lured in, as they dissect its wonders. Either way, the characteristics of this raw material are undeniable and highly valued.

As an ingredient, Grey Amber also has the ability to sublimate the sexy dry down of any oriental perfume and is an excellent fixative on human skin. Moreover, it is a majestic base note, that collaborates with other ingredients to perform aphrodisiac wonders, leaving a sexy trail to those that wear it.

An Underlying Tragedy

However, to this ingredient, a tragedy is attached. Unfortunately, the sperm whale was declared an endangered species in 1970 and therefore are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act. Although there have been conflicting discussions on the production of Grey Amber as a natural process, with no harm caused to the whale; unfortunately, there have been a widespread of terrible cases of commercial whaling.

Sperm whales were specifically hunted for ambergris and other valuable products such as oil, and therefore, conclusively, the decided law for most countries prohibits the sale of Grey Amber.

In correlation with this, the raw material is now, typically replaced by synthetic materials, such as ‘Ambroxan’.  Although this substance is still commonly found in extracts of big branded perfumes, there is a significant decline in its use, with most brands avoiding the use of ‘animal products’ to protect their corporate image.

Amber's Rise to Fame

An ingredient that truly has travelled through time and history, starting in ancient Egypt, where natural ambergris, one of the world’s strangest natural occurrences, had been used as a fragrance for incense. Spreading into Europe, its scent had been uniquely utilised to cover the smell of death.

The word of this elusive ingredient spread, and it is clear that we weren’t the first to be astounded by this phenomenon. Records as early as 1851, show Grey Amber’s claim to fame, when Herman Melville published the famous book titled “Moby-Dick”. Melville devotes a chapter to a discussion of ambergris, with special attention to the irony that "fine ladies and gentlemen should regale themselves with an essence found in the inglorious bowels of a sick whale.”

So, it has been established, Grey Amber truly is a treasure for the perfumery world, and with a correct blend for your custom perfume can be devoured and enjoyed by all!

Our Recommended Mixes

Our variation of Ambergris, also known as our AMBER AFFAIR perfume, is something you shan't resist to try. A light spray on the blotter, and your nose will be tantalized with a potion of seduction, a mix of warm light spices, and ozonic notes.

If perhaps the iconic fragrance, Shalimar from Guerlain, maybe one you admire, then the mix of AMBER AFFAIR with the beautiful, refreshing BERGAMOT BLAST scent, will be closest in replicating that structure. Nevertheless, if you would prefer to enhance the natural ozonic facet, then your mix of AMBER AFFAIR and our OCEAN ODYSSEY fragrance is the match for you. With hints of marine, it is deliciously fresh and addictive.

For those that prefer the spotlight, there is no better way, than by producing a beautiful, floriental blend, with white florals, such as Frangipani, Jasmine, or Tuberose! Nobody will resist the feminine, alluring appeal you will be wearing!

Finally, we recommend trying the mix of the SUPREME SAGE perfume with AMBER AFFAIR, where you will see how contrasts attract, producing a clean, raw, and of course, seductive perfume!

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