We know that French perfumes are famous and for a good reason. The fragrance industry in France is well established for more than a century and the quality of products is delicate and premium BUT the ingredients that make up the products are not necessarily local. They come from all over the world. From deserts of Africa to jungles of Amazon and Saffron fields of Iran!
Yes, the world famous Iranian saffron is even in your perfume without you knowing it! Other than making your food look appetizing and your desserts taste otherworldly, it smells heavenly unique. It can fill the whole space with just a few stigmas!
Of course, the use of saffron in perfumery is nothing new. The ancients discovered its potent aromatic power. Persian queens, Egyptian pharaohs and Greek princesses all wore its oil as a single note perfume. Romans washed the public floors with it to fill the air with its scent in special occasions. It was used in temples and rituals in ancient India as narcotic!
In order to help you get familiar with saffron note in fragrances, in this article, we will investigate it in global fragrance industry.
Taken from the flower of Crocus Sativus plant in iris family, saffron is the dried stigmas. There are only 3 in every flower, 1-2 inches tall and scarlet red in color. The process of harvesting is unique: only 1 month a year in the fall, the plant will bloom one flower before sunrise and if picked, the next morning another flower will appear. It has to be picked by hand before sunrise so the sun rays won’t touch delicate petals and destroy them! Then the stigmas will be plucked and dried in a very delicate process. 150,000 flowers or 450,000 stigmas are required to make 1 kilogram of the spice. The labor intensive nature of the whole process make saffron the most expensive spice in the world and even pricier than GOLD!
The stigmas contain volatile compounds that provide the characteristics such as healing properties, color, flavor and aroma. The main compounds are Picrocrocin, Crocin and Safranal. The first one creates the bitter taste, the second is responsible for golden color and Safranal is what makes the unforgettable aroma.
Safranal is formed by degradation of glycoside. It smells bittersweet, earthy and herbal-hay like. It is considered an east-west ingredient to support leather chord in oriental perfumes. It adds intricate details and ambiguity to the storyline that all ingredients are trying to create. It has violet and tobacco facets with light alcohol-rum aspect. It is a good company for cool cardamom, warm black pepper and powdery cinnamon to create a magical spicy combination.
Saffron attar is distilled oil in sandalwood medium which amplifies woody and honey characteristic of the spice. It is well matched with agarwood oil and shamama-tul-amber attar. It is often a good company for exotic flowers such as magnolia, frangipani, jasmine sampac, gardenia, gul hina, kewra, auriculatum, nittymallige and champaca.
The essential oil derived from Saffron is small amount and it has to be distilled in an inert atmosphere because it is extremely unstable and easily oxidized. It used to be in the form of tincture obtained from heating the stamens with ethanol but recently a supercritical CO2 saffron extraction is more available. Saffron concrete and absolute are sometimes offered as well.
Saffron has a versatile note, perfect for mixing with other oils and creating unique combinations. The absolute or concrete derivatives of orris, osmanthus and burley tobacco are good examples that in combination with Saffron create olfactory beauty and add fruitiness to a fragrance. That is why chemical additives such as Myrrhone, Dihydro-irone, Irone and Opoponax are popular in fragrance industry.
You may have not noticed that your favorite fragrance contains saffron note! The following products all get their exotic uniqueness from Saffron:
• Giorgio Armani Idole d’Armani
• Givenchy Ange ou Demon
• Lady Gaga Fame
• Donna Karan Black Cashmere
• Agent Provocateur Agent Provocateur
• L’Artisan Parfumeur Safran Troublant
• L’Artisan Parfumeur Dzing!
• Bella Bellissima Royal Saffron
• Laura Mercier Ambre Passion
• Boadicea the Victorious Regal
• Maison Francis Kurkdjian Oud
• By Kilian Pure Oud
• Diptyque L’Eau de Tarocco
• Comme des Garçons 8 88
• Versace Man Eau Fraiche Versace
• Saffron Lazuli Carolina Herrera
• Tuscan Leather Tom Ford
• Noir de Noir Tom Ford
• Liquid Gold Euphoria Men Calvin Klein
• Joop! Homme Sexy In Pink
• True Leather For Her Zara
• Red Temptation For Him Zara
• Saffron Ralph Lauren
• Boss Bottled Oud Saffron Hugo Boss
• Prada Amber Pour Homme
• Purple Oud Christian Dior
• Magnifique Eau de Toilette Lancome
• Starlight Shimmer Michael Kors
• The Voice Of The Snake Eau de Parfum Gucci
• Magnifique Lancome
Saffron is unique in character and scent which makes it an ideal addition to any world class fragrance. Its Safranal is a sought-after compound for creating exotic, oriental fragrances that cross the East-West border. It resembles the always popular scents of leather and wood.
Persian Saffron, with 89% market share is dominant globally for a good reason. Its quality makes the difference. The strong chemical profile makes it an ideal solution for fragrance industry. Its Safranal is the most recognizable feature according to scientific studies. It is described as strong earthy note with bittersweet character. Traditionally, it is well combined with other spicy notes but it can also create surprising new combinations with many flowers.
Best Iranian Saffron has the essence of our precious Earth with the exotic note of Middle East. It is reminder of the soil that nourishes and the hands that nurture the plant to bloom. It is the scent of Iran.