Warm, sultry and smoky, amber is an olfactory concept. Used as a descriptor for a chorus of scents, amber perfumes are typically rich and spicy, with hints of sweetness.
Your Guide to Amber Perfumes
Amber is what is known as a ‘fantasy’ scent in perfumery: it is not a single ingredient, but an evocative descriptor for an intimately related group of scents. From the sultry, woody notes of labdanum to the syrupy caramel accents of vanilla, amber perfumes are home to ingredients defined by their warm aromas.
With this signature warmth and intensity, amber is often described as the olfactory translation of the deep orange hues of the semi-precious stone. Perfumers across the globe craft amber perfumes from the finest ingredients – usually an infusion of labdanum, benzoin and vanilla, with a base of ambergris.
Take a luxurious tour of the ingredients used to create amber scents – and explore the exquisite craftsmanship behind The House of Creed’s amber perfumes.
What Is Amber?
Amber, in its purest form, is a resin that forms to create a semi-precious stone known for its glowing hues of golden orange and vibrant ochre.
Amber resin is extracted from pine trees or other conifers and is a substance produced by the tree to repair wounds to its bark – when it is attacked by insects, for example, or a branch is broken. The resin is a protective substance to seal the wound. It is thick and sticky in texture, and an unmistakable shade of orange-gold. Once formed on the surface of the bark, the resin runs down the trunk and – over the course of many centuries – solidifies into the amber gemstone often used in fine jewellery.
The colour of the stone can change depending on where on the tree it is sourced: clearer amber is usually extracted from bark resin, while cloudier amber is usually taken from the inside of the trunk.
Given their woody and earthy notes, it’s unsurprising that amber scents share their name with this semi-precious stone. In fact, many of the ingredients – such as labdanum, benzoin and Tolu balsam – used in amber perfume formulations are also taken from the resin produced by trees and plants.
Although amber resin, on its own, does carry a subtle scent – it is often compared to rubbery frankincense during the tincture process (a method of extraction in perfumery) – it is not an ingredient used in most modern fragrance formulations. Instead, the scent we describe as amber is an exquisite concoction of natural and synthetic ingredients – all united by their warm and smoky aroma.
What Do Amber Scents Smell Like?
Amber scents smell sultry, musky and smoky, and are best known for their sensuality and intensity – ideal for those who prefer a rich, dark perfume profile. Between layers of leather and spice, discover sweetened aromas of caramel and maple – all wrapped in a symphony of distinctive woody and tobacco notes. These notes are sometimes paired with other undertones to intensify or dilute the amber fragrance profile: think hints of licorice, toffee and honey.
What are the ingredients found in Amber Perfumes?
From the honey notes of vanilla bean to the cinnamon smokiness of benzoin and cloves, amber perfumes are crafted using an enticing blend of ingredients. In modern perfumery, most amber fragrances are a harmony of three signature ingredients: labdanum, benzoin, and vanilla.
Combined, these ingredients are the classic characteristics of an amber scent: labdanum gives the fragrance its spicy, woody notes; benzoin captivates with its smoky, leathery aroma, and vanilla offers accents of sweetness.
Delve into a world of olfactory sensuality with our guided tour of these classic amber notes.
Heavy, dark, woody.
Labdanum is perhaps the ingredient most associated with amber: it is rich and balsamic, and is often compared to the caramelised spiciness of root beer or cola. The ingredient comes from the cistus ladanifer plant (otherwise known as gum rockrose), a flowering shrub that grows in the Western Mediterranean region. The plant secretes a sticky gum-like substance that is extracted by boiling the leaves, and the dark brown absolute is then used in amber perfumes.
In its absolute form, labdanum is a strong, complex scent. It is woody, musky and smoky, with an array of undertones. Many fragrance connoisseurs also identify notes of beeswax in its dry down. When we think of a classic amber smell, it is usually labdanum we are imagining.
Warm, spicy, smoky.
Layered with labdanum, benzoin is another signature ingredient in modern amber fragrances. It is often used as it complements the musky, caramelised spiciness of labdanum, conjuring a spirit of cosiness and warmth. Given its comforting scent, benzoin is often used in incense to create a grounding ambience. Benzoin is – like labdanum – extracted from the natural world. It comes from the styrax tree (known colloquially as the snowbell), which grows in the warm and tropical regions of eastern and Southeastern Asia, as well as in South America.
In amber perfumes, benzoin is often used as a base note – it is a fixative which allows each ingredient to linger on the skin for longer. On its own, it is often compared to whiskey and cinnamon: its notes are warm, spicy and smoky, with a hint of vanilla, without being too sweet.
Sweet, velvety, rich.
In amber perfumes, vanilla strikes a decidedly syrupy note. It elevates the subtle vanilla scent of benzoin and complements the dark headiness of labdanum with its lightness – carrying the sumptuously sweet notes of toffee, maple and caramel.
Vanilla is extracted from the seeds of the vanilla plant – grown throughout Madagascar and Indonesia. The seeds are scraped from dried pods and used as the base of vanillin, the synthetic compound used in modern perfumery. The profile of amber perfumes often depends on the quantity of the vanilla: in higher quantities, it cuts through the darker notes of labdanum and benzoin, giving the fragrance its sweet top notes. In amber fragrances with higher quantities of vanilla, you can expect a fluffy, creamy – and almost powdery – scent.
What other ingredients are used in amber fragrances?
Labdanum, benzoin and vanilla are the signature ingredients of amber perfume – though they are often complemented by a rich tapestry of other scents. From the treacle essence of Tolu balsam resins to the musky base notes of ambergris, discover a sample of other signature amber ingredients here:
Tolu balsam is a gum-like resin from the bark of myroxylon balsamum trees found in South America – Colombia, Peru and Venezuela in particular. The resin is extracted by making an incision into the bark, and the resin is collected as it drains. Tolu balsam is often used in cosmetics – as its antioxidant properties soothe the skin – as well as in modern perfume craftsmanship. In amber perfumes, Tolu balsam acts as a complement to labdanum, largely due to its subtle, smoky vanilla and treacle notes.
Similar to Tolu balsam, Peru balsam is also a tree resin. This resin – an oily, dark brown substance – is taken from myroxylon balsamum, a tree grown in El Salvador. With its subtle vanilla notes, Peru balsam is also frequently layered with labdanum in amber perfumes – although, unlike its Tolu counterpart, this balsam is lighter, milder and sweeter.
Many amber musk fragrances are often home to a rich base of ambergris. Known as Floating Gold, ambergris is a solid waxy substance produced by the sperm whale and used as a fixative in perfumery. Its animalic scent pairs perfectly with the rich intensity of amber musk perfumes, offering an alluring base.
Due to its rarity and the time involved in processing ambergris, it is rarely used in modern perfumery – though you can find this fine ingredient in a selection of perfumes from The House of Creed. Look out for our signature fragrances, Aventus and Aventus For Her, an opulent chorus of notes on a bed of ambergris.
With its sweet notes of gingerbread, almond and fresh hay, tonka bean is often found in many amber perfumes. Tonka seeds are found in the fruit from the dipteryx odorata tree, a tropical flowering species found in Central America and northern South America.
When the seeds are grated, they are fragrant – often described as carrying a sweet spice and praline scent. In amber perfumes, tonka bean amplifies vanilla notes, while balancing the heavier character of labdanum.
Crafted from the finest luxury ingredients – from smouldering Mysore sandalwood to syrupy Tonka bean – our amber perfumes at The House of Creed promise sensual elegance. Each fragrance is hand-crafted by our master perfumers using the most prestigious infusion techniques, conjuring sultry evenings and ochre sunsets.
Explore a curated selection of amber perfumes from Olivier and Erwin Creed.
Bold and unforgettable, this Eau de Parfum is a rich infusion of amber scents. Benzoin, ginger, cinnamon and sandalwood combine to offer a warm, spicy and leathery aroma – while vanilla and tonka bean charm with their caramelised sweetness. A signature amber perfume from The House of Creed, Original Santal is indulgent and enticing – a classic portrait of an amber fragrance profile. Charm every room in a decadent, smoky swirl.
Amber notes are given a floral, fruity spin. The tangy opening notes of blackcurrant and green apple are joined by fresh jasmine and rose essence – and layered above a seductive amber base of benzoin and sandalwood. Benzoin provides its distinctive warmth and spice, while floral accords revitalise with their green scent. White Amber is timeless and mysterious, an amber fragrance from The House of Creed with a fresh twist.
Royal Princess Oud
Woody notes meet warm floral accents in this opulent amber musk. Royal Princess Oud is home to a lavish bouquet of rose accord, jasmine and sweet violets at its heart, coupled with fresh top notes of grapefruit, pineapple and raspberry – and just a hint of warm vanilla. This dries down to a base of benzoin and oud, offering the classic woody notes we associate with amber musk. Sensual and captivating, Royal Princess Oud is crafted to entice.
Spicy, woody and smoky scents await you. The zesty top notes of pink pepper, lime and bergamot open out to a chorus of musky heart notes – angelica seed, cardamom, cloves and cedarwood. These dry down to an exquisite amber base of musk, frankincense, Guaiac wood, oud and ambergris, giving Royal Oud its distinctively smoky aroma. A classic unisex fragrance from The House of Creed, Royal Oud is brimming with amber’s characteristically warm, spicy longevity.